Once in a while you have you have a new phone manufacturer come out with an innovative , out of the box phone. The Robin is one of them by the startup Nextbit which has backing from the likes of Google and HTC.Cloud storage on phone is their USP; Let’s have a look how this will change the way we deal with storage on our phones.
Design , Display & Hardware:
The phone is one of the most beautiful devices I’ve seen in a while with the blue and white standing out in a sea of all metal and the usual back , silver , and gold phones.This colour is officially known as Mint while the other option is Midnight.
It looks and feels all plastic but still premium and not very far from a Lego phone! Definitely very eye catching ;) The box contains the phone, a USB Type C cable and a SIM ejector tool. No earphones and no power adaptor as well (strange since it supports Rapid charging / QC 2.0). On the front you have 2 speakers ,one at the top and one at the bottom where you’d expect to find a home button.Then there’s a 5MP front camera and an ambient light sensor. The 5.2” Full HD IPS display has Corning Gorilla Glass 4 but no mention of it’s ppi even on its official site.
The left edge has the circular volume up/down buttons while the right edge has the Nano SIM slot & power button which is also the fingerprint sensor that you need to press for a sec to start using the phone .One the back you find the 13MP camera & dual tone LED flash with their most unique cloud & 4 LED lights design that pulse when backup is in progress.At the top you’ll find the 3.5mm jack while type C charging port is at the bottom. In terms of power, under the fancy exterior is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (Hexa Core) , 32GB ROM & 100GB cloud storage , 3GB RAM , Bluetooth 4.0 & NFC. It supports VoLTE as well with an unlocked bootloader ( great custom ROMs expected ;)) . No FM radio or OTG support could be an issue for some though.
The Robin comes with Android Marshmallow layered by their own Nextbit OS which goes with the quirky design of the phone. There’s no app drawer and the interface is pretty smooth and lag free.
Icons are different from what you’ve seen earlier and most of them are custom to the Nextbit OS.
Pinching the homescreen will get you to the widgets section .
The USP is Cloud integration which needs more micro controlling than what is offered at the moment. You’ll have to connect via Google for authentication of the cloud storage service. Currently you can only backup photos or apps and not videos or music . Even photos are restricted to only the Camera folder ones , so your rubbish whatsapp forwards will stay on the phone. The Smart storage app tells you how much data is on the cloud and on the phone.
Every time the light pulsates at the back indicates back up either of Wi-Fi or Cellular Data based on the option you’ve chosen.It looks like an expensive affair esp when you want some pics or apps to be used while travelling or imagine when you’re not in a network zone. Your Gallery then only stores a low resolution image while the High res. image is uploaded to the cloud and downloaded only when you zoom into the image. Apps can be pinned so that they’re not archived to the cloud ,else you can use them again only once you download them back from the cloud, till then they are “greyed”. This is what I meant by missing micro controlling that should let the user decide what files need to be uploaded and what need to be on the device.
The camera app is pretty simple and does a decent job of offering Burst , HDR & manual modes. The 13MP rear camera captures good pictures in bright daylight and also is decent in low light / evenings.The only issue is with images where you can’t focus on object close to the device or macro shots which come out blurry. 4K videos are captured great and playback is amazing.
Front 5MP camera shoots good selfies but isn’t wide angle.
Gaming & Multimedia:
AnTuTu scores an impressive 70450 and playing games like FIFA16, Mortal Kombat & Asphalt 8 had no issues or lags. There’s a built in Music and video player which doesn’t have a lot of customisation options or equaliser. The speaker and audio via earphones is pretty impressive.With a battery life of only 2680 mAh I wasn’t expecting much and it didn’t last for more than 8 hours which is a bit disappointing since a lot of times your phone will be uploading data to the cloud when locked and will eat up battery. 3000 mAh should’ve been a minimum on this one.It’s only Quick charge 2.0 and thanks to the small capacity battery phone can be at full power in just over an hour.
With an avg battery life and camera , the pricing is on the higher side for the Nextbit Robin. It has decent hardware and the cloud integration is a great option for those who do need a lot of photos with them always. But is that the answer to limited built in storage instead of a Memory card? It’s a good thought to do something different but is it useful in the real world , I have my doubts. But if you need a phone that’s a looker and something that can be tweaked with custom ROMs with a good speaker and music output give this device a try.
It gets a 3/5.
Nextbit Robin at CeX
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