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Android phones with physical keyboards are not dead yet

With a much more television and computing focus, CES 2022 was not a show chock full of smartphone releases.

There was the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, a range of cheaper devices from TCL plus, apart from the show, teasing somewhat from OnePlus about its upcoming OnePlus 10 Pro.

Ignore the big names, and a couple of quirky, very niche phones were showcased at the event, including the Astro Slide 5G with keyboards from Planet Computers, a device that has been in development for several years now.

It seems fitting that the week that BlackBerry shut down its mobile service, another phone with a real physical keyboard got its first big release.

Astro Slide 5g front

I spent some time with Astro Slide 5G at the Showstoppers event here in Las Vegas and this phone is definitely going to be unique in 2022. It’s absolutely massive, thicker than anything I’ve seen in the past few years, and very flabby. built.

However, there is a certain amount of retro charm to it.

The design is reminiscent of the Psion Series 5 device, with a keyboard that slides out horizontally from under the display. After the keyboard is pulled out, the screen is lifted slightly so that it is at a more comfortable angle.

The design of the hinge and the way the keyboard should almost snap into place gave me the impression that I was going to break off the screen every time I open it. When the keyboard is pulled out, the Astro Slide 5G looks a bit like a tiny laptop, and you can, if you really want to, put it on your desk and start typing.

Astro Slide 5g front
It is very thick

I was more impressed with the typing, even if it was a bit large for a comfortable grip and two-handed typing. The keys have decent travel, if you really need a keyboard on your phone then this might be the phone for you.

The phone certainly becomes less interesting when you look past the keys. There is a 6.39-inch FHD display, Android 11, 5G, and a MediaTek Dimensity chip. To meet the £ 719 asking price, you’ll really want to take advantage of the keyboard and the many keyboard shortcuts and key mapping features built into the software.

Astro Slide 5g front

That said, I’m still glad that phones like this exist – and judging by the amount raised by crowdfunding, there is still a genuine interest in devices that are not just glass rectangles.

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