The MWC is also an opportunity to discover surprising devices, out of the ordinary. The Astro Slide is certainly one of those.
While it was the norm in the mid-2000s, a smartphone that offers a physical keyboard today seems like a UFO, an anachronism. However, the Planet Computer brand managed to convince me that this format should be given a chance again in 2023.
A true pocket computer
The Planet Computer Astro Slide 5G is therefore first and foremost an Android smartphone. It offers a 6.39-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) Amoled display, a MediaTek Dimensity 800 chip, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with Android 11 pre-embedded. The rear camera is based on a 48-megapixel sensor developed by Sony, but the brand does not give details about the rest of the camera that does not promise much.
Let’s be honest, these are not the features that will make me buy this smartphone. It’s the typical spec sheet for a small smartphone brand, right down to the latest version of Android out of the box.
What interested me in this product are the small ideas that the brand knew how to integrate. Before moving on to the main course, there is, for example, the presence of two USB-C ports. Enough to connect a peripheral (USB key, headphones, etc.) while charging your smartphone, or recharging an accessory without having to take a second power outlet.
The brand also promises the integration of a GNU/Linux in dual boot and a fully user-programmable button. We began to perceive the target clientele of the product.
A physical keyboard in 2023
Let’s face it, the strong point of this smartphone is precisely its physical keyboard. It takes up space and thickness, but the smartphone is not much heavier than our modern bricks.
I find that this format fully regains all its interest in 2023 when our smartphones have become real and quite powerful little computers. Obviously, a physical keyboard should not convince the general public, but it deserves a name much more “Prothan many of its competitors.
I can’t deny a bit of nostalgia when I discovered the device. My first smartphone was the Motorola Milestone, of which we can still find proof, from the time, on Frandroid.
Take control of a remote machine, be able to manage some command line scripts or even finish writing an article on the go, such a keyboard can really help. Touch keyboards have come a long way, but they can’t really replace a physical keyboard, especially if you don’t type in French (command lines, programming, etc.).
So call me old, but I was pretty smitten when we first got acquainted with this smartphone. Unfortunately, the price of the smartphone immediately deters any inclination to buy. Count 943.95 euros without taxes or 1132.74 euros with taxes included. The price to pay for what is likely to be very small scale production. The brand’s website promises a QWERTY version for France.
Let’s hope a bigger manufacturer tries this adventure again.