At CES 2018, Motorola had announced the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod for the Moto Z-series. This keyboard mod would have attached to the back of the phone and brought the functionality of a sliding physical keyboard to the Moto Z lineup. Unfortunately, the mod never saw the light of the day, as Livermorium cancelled the crowdfunding project in favor of a “high-end, landscape slider smartphone” that was supposed to be available for purchase in Q4 2018.
While Q4 2018 has passed without any sign of the device, we do have an update from the Livermorium team. Livermorium is still working on a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard, and is now expecting a release in Q1 2019.
In a series of emails as part of their promotion campaign, Livermorium (now F(x) Technology) has detailed a few key aspects of their upcoming smartphone. The smartphone will be sporting a 6″ AMOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and curved sides. The phone would be skipping out on the notch trend — instead, the phone will simply have slimmer bezels to improve its screen-to-body ratio. All of these decisions would improve the typing experience when the phone is held in landscape orientation.
For the keyboard, the team has chosen a five-row keyboard with a dedicated numbers row in a staggered key layout. The position of some of the symbol keys were adjusted so that the alphabet keys are positioned in the middle of the keyboard and are equidistant to both the thumbs. The Ctrl, Shift and Fn keys are present on both sides to make combo input easier. The keys are also backlit, so you can comfortably use the keyboard in low light. The keyboard will also be easy to modify into QWERTZ and Scandinavian layouts. The phone will be sporting an angled slider mechanism to prop the display into an angle.
The phone from F(x) Tech will ship with a stock version of Android Pie, with a focus on staying clean and not loading up unnecessary bloatware in the form of apps or customizations. However, since the stock Android launcher does not really work all that great in landscape orientation, the phone will come with a new launcher with a focus on improving landscape operations. The team has also developed landscape-friendly apps for email and calendar, and there will be more apps with dedicated landscape UIs once the phone launches.
What perhaps is the most interesting bit of news to us is that F(x) Tech will be supportive of “other independent, community-driven OSes beyond Android”. They claim to be willing to offer loaner devices and driver support (under NDA) to core developers. Apparently, F(x) Tech has already approached some Lineage OS developers, with plans to also work with Sailfish OS developers and other communities. We haven’t heard from any of these project teams about any collaboration, though we wouldn’t be too surprised since there seems to be NDAs involved.
The smartphone from F(x) Tech is expected to be released in Q1 2019. While we want to be excited for this off-beat approach to smartphone design, it is better to not get our hopes too high up since a related project was axed because of difficulties. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.