The Communicator form factor – a laptop-style clam shell with hardware QWERTY keyboard – which was made popular on smartphones by Nokia in the late 90s and early 2000s, is back in 2018, as Planet Computers announce Gemini PDA..
If you are old enough to know what a Communicator or a PDA is, you already know what this is about. Before PDAs were a relationship thing, they were mobile computers – Personal Digital Assistants. They were palm-sized laptops – and often called palmtops too.
The Gemini PDA is a clam shell that runs Android (with a dual boot Linux option) and has a 5.99-inch display, as well as a tactile hardware keyboard. There are two variants – a WiFi only option and a 4G option. So you will be able to make telephone calls on the latter variant.
Images Of Gemini PDA
Here is what it looks like closed:
This looks drop-dead sexy and sleek.
Here is what the device looks like opened up:
For Creators, Not Consumers
The manufacturers affirm that Gemini is not designed for consumers, but for creators. Which makes sense. The average consumer is not likely to be interested in this. If you are the average smartphone user, whose primary purpose is content consumption, Gemini will likely not interest you.
One wonders if the Android OS will be tweaked to take full advantage of the form factor. Owners of the earlier Nokia Communicators will remember that they ran Symbian S80, which had a highly functional, customised UI that was fit for the form factor. Nokia was to later slap Symbian S60 on it, dumbing down functionality and disappointing not a few avid Communicator lovers.
One thing that should excite anyone about the Gemini PDA though is the promise of two weeks stand-by time. That will be something to see: a fully functional modern-day smartphone that will stay alive in standby for two weeks. That will be something. The manufacturers are silent about active battery life.
So, what else should you expect to see? Dual side mounted stereo speakers. Dual USB-C connectors to connect to keyboards, external screens, mice, charging cables as needed and many more. Integrated Voice Assist button. A micro-SD card slot.
Gemini PDA Prototype
UK-based Planet Computers team already have a fully functioning prototype of Gemini. It is powered by a Mediatek Helio X27 processor and the Mali GPU and 4GB RAM. They are currently raising funds to produce and first deliveries are expected to be done this January.
Gemini PDA Specs
- 5.99 touchscreen display
- 4G, wi-fi, Bluetooth
- Android 8 Oreo/Linux Dual boot option
- less than 400g in weight
- Full tactile keyboard
- 10-core Helio X27 processor
- Dedicated graphics prcessor
- 64GB storage
- 4GB RAM
- 4220 mAh battery
- 5 megapixel front camera
Before Gemini, There Were The Communicators
Nokia’s Communicators were the Tyrannosaurus rex of the earliest smartphones back in the day. They were the biggest and most powerful smartphones of the 90s and early 2000s. You can read up some more about them HERE.
Not many other smartphone manufacturers adopted the Communicator form factor. Nokia’s Communicators eventually died off in the second half of the 2000s as the smartphone world caught the bug of capacitive touchscreen. They had ruled the early smartphone terrain for almost a decade.
Can Planet Computers pull off a renaissance of the Communicator? I doubt that a significant movement can be achieved. But I am pretty sure that there is a small crowd of enthusiasts out there who want a Communicator badly enough for this project to be viable. If you are interested in supporting Gemini, head to the Indiegogo page.
January 2019 Update
The Gemini PDA has been shipping for months. Planet did pull it off. I am still itching to give it a spin, though the measly 5MP camera is a put-off
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.