Developer community XDA is helping build a phone for nerds

Pro1-X, which works more like a computer will be retailing at a price point of $639

Tech Desk October 30, 2020

The world's largest android enthusiasts community, XDA announced a partnership with a startup called F(x)tec, and together they’re launching a new smartphone called the Pro1 X

The device has a built-in physical keyboard, and it’s designed to boot into either Android or Ubuntu Linux. Nirave Gondhia, XDA’s chief content officer, says his editorial team provided input on the phone’s features and will also be promoting it on the site’s forums.

“We want to build something that’s designed for the enthusiast community,” says Gondhia.

“We’re also really going to be driving a lot of the interest behind it through our community.”

The Pro1 X is technically a new version of F(x)tec’s first phone, the Pro1, which launched in late 2019.

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Both devices are equipped with physical keyboards and similar specifications; the latest smartphone has twice the storage (128 GB) and more RAM (8 GB). The smartphone supports dual-booting, so users can load two operating systems on the same phone.

For Android, the Pro1 X will ship with LineageOS, a popular aftermarket firmware (or ROM) for those who like to tinker with their phones.

Further, Gondhia points out, the histories of Lineage and XDA Developers are deeply connected, “there is a lot of crossover between the XDA community and the Lineage community,” he says.

Developers who create experimental versions of Lineage—either with modified features or support for additional devices often announce their work in XDA’s forums, and XDA’s editorial team frequently covers those developments in its news section, reports Fast Company.

F(x)tec reached out to XDA trying to tap into this community hoping to create a developer version of the Pro1 however, Gondhia says he wanted the site to provide more than just glorified marketing, and his team started providing more input on the product itself.

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XDA and F(x)tec partnership turned out to be a successful one, the smartphone company initially wanted to offer a choice of numerous platforms to boot from out of the box, but XDA pushed to pare the number of operating systems down to two, with the option to install others later.

XDA also emphasised the importance of preloading LineageOS as a major selling point and pushed for the blue color to make it different from F(x)tec’s first phone.

In exchange for its service, Gondhia says that XDA will get a cut of any sales that the site helps generate, somewhat similar to an affiliate fee. He also pushed for a discount that XDA readers can get by clicking through from the site.

“We’ve been using our knowledge to help bring this product to life, and we will look at this as more than just a marketing exercise, more than just consulting,” he says.

“This will be an actual partnership.”

Liangchen Chen, F(x)tec’s founder and director, says that having these two operating systems on a single device fulfills the vision he had when he started the company.

He’s always wanted to have a phone that worked more like a computer and started F(x)tec with cofounder Adrian Li Mow Ching after trying to build a keyboard accessory for a now-defunct line of Motorola smartphones.

However, the major drawback is that F(x)tec can’t afford to access the latest components that major players like Samsung and OnePlus are using.

Further, by the time it launches, the F(x)tec Pro1 X’s Snapdragon 835 processor will be more than three years old, and it will have the same boring camera as its predecessor.

Pro1-X is retailing at a price point of $639 falling in the same range as those companies’ midrange to high-end phones.


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