A '90s-style personal digital assistant that's a smartphone with a keyboard has launched

  • Planet Computers showed off its Gemini smartphone at Mobile World Congress.
  • It's a smartphone that runs Google's Android operating system but also has a QWERTY keyboard attached.
  • Gemini was listed on the Indiegogo crowdfunding website and Planet Computers has raised over $1.9 million and has pre-orders for over 4,000 units.
Planet Computers' Gemini device on display at Mobile World Congress 2018, in Barcelona, Spain.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC
Planet Computers' Gemini device on display at Mobile World Congress 2018, in Barcelona, Spain.

Amid the sea of similar-looking smartphones at Mobile World Congress, one company is trying to stand out with an Android handset and attached keyboard.

British firm Planet Computers showed off its device called Gemini at the world's biggest mobile event in Barcelona, Spain, this week. It's a smartphone that runs Google's Android operating system but also has a QWERTY keyboard attached.

Users can use the touchscreen functions of the 5.9-inch display, but for browsing the web or doing some work, the keyboard can be used. CNBC tested the keyboard out, and it has a good response rate. But the smaller scale will take some getting used to.

Gemini was listed on the Indiegogo crowdfunding website and Planet Computers has raised over $1.9 million and has pre-orders for over 4,000 units.

The handset is priced at $599 and the company behind it has begun mass production.

Gemini, made by Planet Computers, has a keyboard attached. A user can flip open the device to reveal the smartphone screen and QWERTY keyboard.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC
Gemini, made by Planet Computers, has a keyboard attached. A user can flip open the device to reveal the smartphone screen and QWERTY keyboard.

Janko Mrsic-Flogel, CEO of Planet Computers, told CNBC that this is a device for anyone "who does a lot of typing on the move and who misses typing on a physical keyboard," citing professionals such as doctors or teachers.

The founder of the company is hoping that this will appeal to a mass market of users.

"We expect there to be users that use it as their only device and others that use it as a replacement to carrying a laptop everywhere. You can plug in a keyboard, mouse and screen and you have a working replacement computer, but you can still fit it into your pocket," Mrsic-Flogel said.

Keyboards on phones have fallen out of fashion in recent years, replaced by ever-growing display sizes and devices where the screen takes up the majority of the front space.

But there are other potential competitors in the market to Gemini, notably BlackBerry. TCL Communications makes BlackBerry-branded phones and last year released the KeyOne, a $549 handset with a physical keyboard.