Nextbit is one of those Kickstarter success stories — managing to raise $1.3 million in 30 days for Robin, a cloud-based smartphone. The company is now celebrating the phone’s launch on Amazon with a $100 price cut.
Nextbit, founded by former head of Android business development Tom Moss and former head of Android power management Mike Chan, set up shop three years ago to free people from the current limits of today’s mobile technology. This ambition culminated in the Nextbit Robin, a new midrange Android smartphone with a difference.
Related: Nextbit Robin review
What sets the Robin apart from other smartphones is its ability to take apps, photos and all other forms of media and store them automatically in the cloud. Nextbit is capable of moving apps that haven’t been used, freeing up space that can be used to download more apps, store more music, and take more photos.
Using the latest version of Android, Nextbit has created a program that automatically makes space for more media and apps. On top of the 32GB of on-board storage, it has 100GB of cloud storage where all of the inactive apps, photos, and videos are stored. When you want to use the app again, you tap on it, let it download, and load it up.
That pitch won over enough people that were willing to pay $350 on Kickstarter, despite no previous smartphone launches under the company’s name. The phone began shipping to backers in February, and is available for $400 on the company’s site. The startup added another $100,000 to the amount raised through pre-order sales on its new site, which includes all first-party accessories.
The chief product and design officer Scott Croyle — responsible for overseeing the design of the HTC Evo, One M7, and One M8 — crafted the Nextbit Robin. The full-HD 5.2-inch polycarbonate phone, available in Mint or Midnight, stands out notably in the stale land of black, silver, and gold metallic smartphones. Two front-facing circular speakers sit on the top and bottom of the device, alongside a 5MP camera with LED flash. On the back is a 13MP camera with dual-tone flash and a cloud icon with four lights to tell users when they’re connected to the cloud.
On the order page, Croyle has also designed the Scratches Case, Bumps Case, and Bruises Case. A quick charger, screen protector, vinyl mascot, and the smartphone are also available.
The custom Nextbit ROM can be switched out for any open-source ROM, like Cyanogen or stock Android, without voiding the warranty. Nextbit promises it has not added any third-party apps to the smartphone. It wants to make this a truly open smartphone, with an unlocked Nextbit SIM card that can be switched at any time.
Power management is another core area on which Nextbit has focused, fitting a 2680mAh battery inside. Other specs include Qualcomm’s hexa-core Snapdragon 808, 3GB of RAM, NFC, USB Type-C, a fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and LTE. It is surprising that Nextbit announced specs in September, considering Qualcomm plans to launch the Snapdragon 820 by the end of the year; a more powerful and well-optimized processor.
Perhaps we will get an update to tell us the Snapdragon 820 is coming later in the year, but even without the boost in processing performance this looks like a serious competitor in the under $400 market — one of the most stacked areas of competition for Android manufacturers at the moment.
Available at: Amazon
Updated on 05-04-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added in news of a price cut of the Robin, and its launch on Amazon.
Updated on 01-06-2016 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news that shipments will begin February 16.