Most phones look very similar these days, but Sharp doesn’t want to follow the crowd with a phone it has announced is now available. It’s called the RoBoHon, and it takes the concept of a modern smartphone and the almost ubiquitous virtual assistant, and stuffs it all inside the body of a robot. If the video is anything to go by, RoBoHon is going to be the robotic pal you’ve always wanted.
RoBoHon is available for pre-order now but it won’t come cheap. When you say something won’t come cheap, many immediately start thinking well into the multiple hundreds of dollars — “could it cost as much as an iPhone?” Well folks, it does, and much more, coming in at a cool $1,800. That’s a pretty penny for what is basically a high-tech toy. The cost doesn’t stop there, though — you’ll also have to front $6 per month to use RoBoHon’s voice recognition features. The good news is, he’s awesome.
Like a cross between Pepper the robot and a Lego Minifigure, RoBoHon stands just under 20cm tall, and is controlled primarily by your voice; although he does have a small touchscreen on his back for those more complicated tasks. What does he do? Everything your phone does — from making calls to receiving emails — but with the added cuteness only an always-happy robot can provide.
RoBoHon will read messages, then send a dictated reply, he’ll help snap a selfie or take group photos, and thanks to his head-mounted projector, even display media and images onto walls or other surfaces. If any of those pictures bring a tear to your eye, RoBoHon will tell it’s all OK, and that he likes you. What more could you want?
You may want a higher spec phone, as RoBoHon’s 2-inch screen, 320 x 240 pixel resolution, and Snapdragon 400 chip aren’t exactly up to date. Plus you’ll have to put up with a few questioning glances when your phone looks and acts like a little robot. For example, using RoBoHon to make calls does make you look a bit odd, as will carrying him around like a baby in the specially made pouch. Being treated like a social outcast will be small price to pay, because owning RoBoHon will be like living in the future.
Unfortunately the device will only be available in Japan for now, and it will go on sale on May 26. Sharp rarely sells phones outside Japan, so we’d be surprised to see RoBoHon at AT&T alongside the Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6S, sadly.
Updated on 04-14-2016 by Christian de Looper: Included update about pricing and availability.