Hardware Phones

Cosmo Communicator: the true successor to its Nokia namesake?

Cosmo Communicator

Planet Computers ain’t going nowhere. The company that brought us the Gemini PDA, its attempt to bring the marvellous Psion Series 5 into the modern day, is doubling down on the fundamental design. This time, though, it’s adding a number of features that it believes will make the all-new Cosmo Communicator a viable phone.

For those unfamiliar with the Gemini PDA, it’s a clamshell pocket computer with a keyboard inspired by Psion’s Series 5. Based on Android, but capable of dual-booting into Linux, you can buy it in a Wi-Fi version for £499 or a 4G and Wi-Fi version for £599. Not cheap.

So how is the Cosmo Communicator different? Funny you should ask.

Cosmo Communicator vs Gemini PDA: key differences

Cosmo CommunicatorGemini PDA
Built-in 24MP cameraOptional camera attachment
Android 9 PieAndroid 7 (updating to 8.1 soon)
Backlit physical keyboardNon-backlit physical keyboard
Secondary 2in external screenNo second external screen, just a series of LEDs
NFC & fingerprint readerNope
8-core MediaTek P70 processor10-core MediaTek H27 processor
128GB storage (plus microSD card)64GB (plus microSD card)

Key things I’d flag from that list: having a decent camera is almost a necessity in a phone these days, while the external screen will make it much easier to triage calls and messages that come through.

The updated processor and chipset isn’t just a speed upgrade either (and it will be faster, thanks to quicker cores; ignore the number of cores!). It means you can use two 4G connections at the same time.

I also think the backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader are excellent inclusions. 

Cosmo Communicator vs Gemini: what stays the same

Physically, the design is pretty much identical between the two. In fact, the base – aside from the updated keyboard – is nigh-on identical, although a faster, more modern processor sits inside.

It also has the same big battery, designed to keep the devices powered for two days. 

The main screen is identical too. It’s 6in with a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, which is more than adequate, and I found it to be an excellent panel when I tested the Gemini PDA earlier this year.

Again, it will include two USB-C ports with OTG support, which means you can plug in a monitor and/or a keyboard should the urge take you.

And the other big similarity is the open thinking behind the device. With the Gemini, Planet Computers opened up the kernel and bootloader so that the open-source community could help it develop a Linux edition. It’s an approach that benefits both parties, and looks set to continue. 

Cosmo Communicator: some other questions

Will it replace the Gemini PDA?Nope. Planet Computers promises it will keep on developing the Gemini PDA (although mainly software tweaks now), with a base Wi-Fi version and 4G/Wi-Fi version both available
How big is the second screen2in, 480 x 320 – so easily enough to see who’s making the call and to read messages. It’s AMOLED, too, so expect it to be easy to read in all light conditions
Weight and dimensions?Around 320g and 171 x 79 x 16mm (width x depth x height)
Dual SIM?Yep. One physical, one eSIM

Cosmo Communicator: how much will it cost and when can you buy it?

Not for a while. Planet Computers is raising funds via Indiegogo, just as it did with the Gemini PDA, and it’s going to cost £549 to the very early bird backers. If that’s you, expect the unit in May or June 2019.

The price will eventually rise to £799, with the aim of being widely available in June and July next year. 

Should you buy it? Now that’s a very different question. There isn’t even a prototype of the Cosmo yet – that will hopefully appear by the start of January next year, as the device is due to be unveiled at CES in Las Vegas – so we’re talking vapourware.

However, the Gemini PDA gives us a very good idea of what to expect. A pocket computer with an excellent keyboard, and thanks to that external screen you can feasibly use it as a phone.

A big phone, to be sure. But if the idea of a PDA/pocket computer still appeals – and don’t forget it can dual-boot Linux, not just run Android – then the Cosmo Communicator will scratch that itch like no other.

Two further things I’d add. One is that it definitely makes sense for Planet Computers to keep the Gemini PDA going, but not at its current price. In light of this launch, the company needs to slash prices to make those older designs look attractive.

The final thing I’d say is don’t delay. £799 for this pocket computer is a whacking price, so, if it appeals, get it much cheaper while you can.

Read this next: 5 reasons to buy the Gemini PDA… and five reasons not to

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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