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Privacy-focused smartphone runs LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch

Oct 27, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 1679 views

F(x)tec has launched a second-gen “Pro1 X” smartphone that runs the privacy-oriented LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch on a Snapdragon 835. The 6-inch screen slides up to reveal a keyboard.

UK-based F(x)tec has joined with the XDA community to launch a reboot of its Pro1 phone on Indiegogo, this time replacing the mostly stock Android stack with a choice of pre-installed LineageOS 16 or 17.1 or Ubuntu Touch. The phone also supports Android 9 Pie, and will eventually support Sailfish and other options.

The hardware is much the same as the Pro1. You get a Snapdragon 835 and 6-inch, 2160 x 1080 AMOLED touchscreen that slides up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. You can now choose 8GB LPDDR4 as an alternative to 6GB and there’s now a 256GB microSD card option in addition to 128GB. The Pro1 X also boasts a Sapphire Blue housing.



Pro1 X, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Pro1 X has surpassed its $75K Indiegogo flexible goal, running at about $120K at publication time. You can order the phone for another six weeks starting at $649 for an early bird with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage or a $679 pre-early bird price with 8GB and 256GB. There was an early-shipping package that has already sold out. The remaining packages are set to ship Mar. 2021.

Although the octa-core Snapdragon 835 is already considered yesterday’s news in the smartphone world, this is the most powerful phone yet to run LineageOS, the security and privacy-oriented fork of the discontinued Android-based CyanogenMod. The distribution is supported primarily by the XDA community.

The open source, highly customizable LineageOS has appeared on alternative smartphones such as the Eelo, and is supported by more than 20 manufacturers. Privacy and security features are deployed via Privacy Guard (Lineage 16.0) or PermissionHub (Lineage 17.1) software. Both releases provide a Superuser feature to manage permissions and root access, and there are monthly software and security updates.



Pro1 X with LineageOS (left) and Ubuntu Touch
(click images to enlarge)

The Pro1 X also appears to be the most powerful phone yet to offer preinstalled Ubuntu Touch. This touch-enabled version of Ubuntu was salvaged and improved by UBports after Canonical abandoned it and is available as an option on the OnePlus One and the open source Fairphone and Pine64’s PinePhone. Ubuntu Touch can also run on the Raspberry Pi 4 and other devices.

The gesture-controlled, open source Ubuntu Touch brings a desktop experience to the smartphone with multitasking, multi-window support and other enhancements. The distro gives you more things to do with the slider keyboard but is really designed for plugging the phone into a monitor.

The slide-out keyboard (or slide up screen, depending on your point of view), harkens back to early Android phones such as Motorola’s Droid. The 5-row, 64-key backlit keyboard offers a choice of layouts including QWERTY, QWERTZ, and Scandinavian. The keyboard is touted for productivity apps and games. “For the first time on a smartphone, play your favourite emulators with physical keys,” says F(x)tec.



Pro1 X and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The 6-inch FHD+ AMOLED touchscreen has curved edges and Gorilla Glass 3. The phone provides front-facing 8MP and rear-facing 12MP cameras that support up to [email protected] video capture.

— ADVERTISEMENT —


The Pro1 X is equipped with 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS/A-GPS, and NFC with Google pay support. Dual nano-SIM card slots support global 4G LTE, WCDMA/UMTS, CDMA/EVDO, AND GSM/EDGE.

The Pro1 X supplies a USB Type-C port with power delivery and HDMI output support. Other features include a fingerprint reader, dual stereo speakers, a phone jack, FM radio, and the usual sensors, buttons, and LEDs.

Other phones with a privacy focus include Purism’s Librem 5, which ships with its own Linux-based PureOS.

 
Further information

The Pro1 X is available on Indiegogo into early December starting at $649, with shipments due in March. More information may be found at the Pro1 X Indiegogo page and the F(x)tec website.
 

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