The Coolest Smartphones You’ve Never Heard of: Nextbit's Robin and Freetel's Musashi take a rebel-like approach to smartphone design and service at CES 2016
It’s a given that smaller, lesser-known smartphone makers have to try harder to distinguish themselves in a market dominated by multbillion-dollar conglomerates. These models from a Kickstarter company called Nextbit and a newly formed, U.S.-focused Japanese company called Freetel definitely caught our eye with their refreshingly rebel-like approach to phone design and service.
These Android smartphones may not be for everyone, but then again, that’s not their objective. In any case, they sure are interesting.
The thin, slab-like Robin ($399) smartphone drew our attention at CES 2016 because it looked sort of like a Sony Xperia Z painted an eye-catching mint blue (you can also get it in midnight blue). Its shape is clean and uncluttered, as is the desktop of this Android phone. There's no bloatware. In fact, you won't see many of the more useful apps that typically fill a smartphone screen.
And that’s the idea behind Robin, a no-nonsense smartphone that keeps things simple by keeping much of what you do on your own personal 100GB piece of it’s cloud-based server.
Nexbit says Robin “automatically optimizes” the space on your phone by monitoring your app usage and moving the apps and data you don’t use often to the cloud (the generous cloud storage is included with the price of the phone). The phone itself, which has a 5.2-inch 1080 display, comes with 32GB of storage. By default Robin only does this over Wi-Fi when your phone is charging to minimize impact on your data allowance and battery life. That’s a good thing, too, because the battery has only 2680 mAh of capacity. Smartphones with such large displays typically require batteries with at least 3000mAh of storage to function for a full day on a single charge.
Robin has four tiny blinking lights on the back to let you know when it is communicating with the cloud server. Another LED on the bottom serves as an alert for important notifications. Other notable Robin features include a 13MP camera with autofocus and dual-tone flash; NFC for wireless file transfers and mobile payments; and a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone's screen without a password. Read more....