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2016’s funky Windows 10 Mobile phone has evolved into 2017’s funky $440 Android phone

Why it matters to you

The most unique-looking phone from 2016 retains its looks and embraces the more popular Android instead of Windows 10 Mobile.

NuAns’ Neo was not only notable for its failed Kickstarter campaign in 2016, but also because it looked different than any other smartphone. Fast forward to 2017 and the Japanese firm hopes that latter point is enough to draw folks to its Neo Reloaded.

In terms of looks, you will struggle to find much of a difference between the original Neo and the Neo Reloaded, which is a good thing. What set the Neo apart from its contemporaries was its design DNA — the Neo was sold as the “Core,” or the phone itself without a panel. You can cover up the rear with either the Flip, which is a wallet case that doubles as a kickstand, or a pair of two-tone panels that use materials like wood and leather.

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That intriguing decision to go with swappable rear panels set the Neo up for some funky designs, a welcome respite from the familiar-looking smartphones we have grown accustomed to over the years. This welcome respite has thankfully been carried over to the Neo Reloaded, which is positioned as more of a side-step than a true successor to the Neo.

The differences end there, however, as just about every other aspect of the Neo has been overhauled. For example, the 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 display on the Neo has been upgraded to a slightly larger 5.2-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution IPS panel. The battery also sees a modest improvement to 3,450mAh from the 3,350mAh power pack found in the original Neo. Thanks to the Neo Reloaded’s octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, you can charge up the larger battery for five minutes and get up to five hours of use through Quick Charge 3.0.

The biggest change between the Neo and Neo Reloaded is in software — the former runs Windows 10 Mobile while NuAns opted for Android 7.1 Nougat for the latter. In theory, the change allows the Neo Reloaded to appeal to a wider audience than the Neo was able to, and the phone will have the distinction of being one of the few to come with Android 7.1 pre-loaded.

However, to appeal to that audience requires having an enticing price tag, and given what the Neo Reloaded offers on paper, the phone’s $440 price tag might be seen as a bit high when compared to what the likes of the Axon 7 and OnePlus 3T offer. If that price does not scare you away, and you either live in Japan or want to import, the phone is now available for pre-order through March 31.