Cosmo Communicator Hands-on: Android Phone Meets Mini Laptop

LAS VEGAS - CES is not a big show for big-name phone makers, which leaves room for smaller players to make a splash. One such company is Planet Computers, which is showing off its crowd-funded Cosmo Communicator.

Like the company's earlier Gemini PDA, the Cosmo ($799, $569 for early orders) is definitely a throwback to the Nokia Communicators of old, with a laptop-like design and chunky physical keyboard. But Planet Computers has made a number of enhancements.

For starters, the keyboard is now backlit, and there's now a 2-inch OLED display on the outside that displays notifications. And because it's a touchscreen, you can do things like make calls without opening the main 6-inch display. There's also a fingerprint sensor on the front and NFC for payments.

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The Cosmo Communicator now has beefier specs on the inside, too, including a MediaTek Helio P70 processor, 6GB of RAM (up from 4GB) and 128GB of storage. The company says that the device will run Android 9 Pie, or you can opt for Linux or Sailfish OS.

I didn't get a chance to try the 24-MP main camera, but the 5-MP selfie cam looked a bit grainy on the preproduction sample of the Cosmo. The 4,220 mAh battery is certainly robust, but it also has a big device to power, so we'll have to see how it fares in our web surfing battery test.

My biggest complaint with the Cosmo is the weight. At 11.2 ounces, this is easily the heaviest smartphone out there. But then again, this is more than just a typical phone, and some people may be willing to deal with the extra bulk in exchange for a real keyboard.

The Cosmo Communicator should be available in June, but you can order one now on Indiegogo. We hope to bring you our review as soon as units become available.

Photos: Tom's Guide

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.