There may still be a market for the PDAs, or personal digital assistants, which were largely made extinct by the iPhone’s arrival in 2007.
But UK mobile startup Planet Computers will be testing just how big that market is with the Gemini PDA, an Android-Linux clamshell smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard.
The device’s design roots can be traced back to early PDAs made by iconic mobile firm Psion, a key backer of Symbian OS, which was later acquired by Motorola.
The connection to Psion is not just philosophical because Martin Riddiford and his design consultancy, which is called Therefore, have had a hand in the Gemini PDA’s design. Planet Computers says Riddiford and co were “instrumental” in the look and feel of the Psion PDAs of the 1990s. His consultancy lists the Psion Series 5, Revo, and Series 3a PDAs among its credits.
The device is on show this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which coincides with the launch of the Gemini’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo.
The Gemini has modern components, but its makers wanted to return to a “fully tactile keyboard” that doesn’t take up screen space like soft keyboards. While it does free up the screen, users will need to contend with typing on the world’s smallest keyboard.
Planet Computers hopes bloggers, creatives, and professionals who frequently need to write documents and email on the go will appreciate the keyboard in a palm-sized clamshell device.
According to the startup, the Gemini is 17.13cm long, 8cm wide, and 1.35cm thick ( 6.74in, 3.15in, 0.53in) and weighs 400gm (0.88lb). It will be available in Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi plus 4G, in gold, black, and silver.
The 5.7in screen has a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels at a density of 564 pixels per inch. It also features a 10-core CPU setup, with 4GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage, a microSD slot, and a large 8000mAh battery.
Connectivity options include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, two USB Type C ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Planet Computers also plans to include stereo speakers, an internal mic, and fingerprint reader. And while it is designed for Android, it will also support dual-boot with another Linux distro.
The campaign is offering backers the Gemini 4G model for $349 under the early-bird special, while the Wi-Fi-only model will cost $299.