Any sub-$200 smartphone worth its salt must come from a Chinese company, right? Former Apple CEO John Sculley is trying to change that perspective by co-founding Obi, a Silicon Valley-based company that has just announced a couple devices that will definitely turn heads and keep wallets healthy. These new handsets are the Obi Worldphone SF1 and SJ1.5.

The phones, which seem to be named after Bay Area cities San Francisco and San Jose, are outstanding. Not only because they are priced at $199 and $129, relatively, but also because they happen to look very unique. I happen to think they are gorgeous, but that is a very subjective matter. At the very least we can all agree that the design is definitely different.


And while Obi is definitely being generous on the price, the company is not skimping out on hardware. The Obi Worldphone SF1 comes with a 5-inch 1080p display, Android 5.0.2, a 1.5 GHz octa-coreQualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, an Adreno 405 GPU, 2-3 GB of RAM, 16-32 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 13 MP rear camera, a 5 MP front shooter, dual SIM capabilities and a generous 3000 mAh battery. For $200, that sounds like a steal!


Now, what can we expect from the even cheaper Obi Worldphone SJ1.5? The $129 device is not too shabby, either! It has a 5-inch 720p display, Android 5.1 Lollipop, a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6580 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, an 8 MP rear camera, a 5 MP front-facing shooter, dual SIM capabilities and also a 3000 mAh battery.


If you are not impressed by those prices and specs coming from a US-based company, I don’t what anyone can do to grab your attention. Thinking of buying it? Here is where things get a bit tricky, at least for us USA residents. Though the company is American, there is no mention of a USA release! It’s obvious these phones are meant for emerging markets, and those are the areas Obi seems to be focusing on.


Both smartphones have an initial launch set in countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and India. I mean, the phones are named after California cities; we have to get some love, right? We will have to wait and see. For now, just keep it tuned to this company. I can see it going big pretty soon!

Would you buy one of these?


Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive. Regardless of what he is working on, you can be sure he is always trying his best to bring you the best content. He will be dead honest and will bend to nothing.
  • David Onter

    Look great :)

  • Btort

    Best looking low budget phone around, besides the moto e or g…the rest loook ugly

    • Szymon Adamowski

      I have UMI Iron and it’s a beautiful piece of tech. But I have to agree that most of the phones under 200$ are ugly.

    • Ronoroa Zoro

      meizu m2 note.. huawei p8 lite (it’s around $250 tho), and by the way moto e and g are super ugly (tho 3rd generation g looks good, but still heavy and fat) this obi phone is pretty, but do your research.. they are lot more sexy budged devices there

      • Btort

        budget phones with LTE and available in North america I meant. Meizu’s are only HSPA and have to import right?

        • Ronoroa Zoro

          i live in Bosnia xd hahaah we don’t even have 4G here.. so yeah.. i don’t care about networks.. and i don’t have to import any of those i mentioned.. i can buy it in Bosnia..

          • Btort

            I know a lot of people in North America who upgrade their phone every year, I know from my home country phones are much more expensive for some reason. My relatives love it when we send our 2 year old phones to them

  • FlutterRage

    But why do they use KitKat on the more expensive model?

    • RG

      5.0.2 is still Lollipop. But it is an older version and I was thinking the same thing – you’d think the more advanced model would get a more recent iteration of Android.

  • Marius Oprisan

    Design of the top and placement of the screen remind me of Nokia N9.

    • Adithya Raman

      I scrolled down to say that and you already have.

    • Josh Gilman

      Yep…if unique means ‘Nokia’. :)

      • Joppe

        did you mean ‘unoquia’ ?

  • browngeek

    Looking good. But how come the more “premium” model will be rocking 5.0.2 as opposed to 5.1.1. I see quick charge 1.0. Wonder if NFC and wireless charging are coming?

  • Lewis

    the top model specs are virtually identical to Xiaomi Mi4i

  • Daikenkini

    Beautiful gadgets there, both spec and design wise. Would love to know how they’re doing in my hands.

  • fab

    They don’t look super unique to me to be honest, most of the phones looks like that these days, everyone is copying everyone. Aesthetically they’re ugly specially the black, plus taking into account what others companies are doing as far as cheap phones goes, some are much better than this. That said. just another bloody similar phone to join the bunch.

  • Nice post

  • Sirrr

    Worldphone SF1 with only 4G LTE: FDD B3 1800 MHz & TDD B40 2300 MHz…

  • Jayanand Supali

    Looks good. Looking forward to its review Here in India. Hope it can stand up to the onslaught of Chinese High Spec, Low cost phones. SJ1.5 would be a nice alternative from Xiaomi Redmi 2.

  • Michael McGreevy

    I would certainly consider adding a 32gb SF1 to my shortlist. But the details are quite sparse.

    Neither model has a fingerprint scanner, no mention of whether they have a metal body or if they are just plastic with metallic paint.Is the screen Gorilla Glass? How do the cpu and gpu hold up in a real world environment? Once these details are available, only then would I make my decision to buy one.

    They do look gorgeous though.

  • Lindle

    They should have named the better phone One………. Get it?
    Seriously, not bad though, will wait for review on build quiality

  • MY

    Loving ths phone. Where can I buy one to bring here in Canada? I believe they are unlocked right? Any link to order one?

    • Masoud

      They should be unlocked but keep in mind the cellular bands it uses. Since this is intended for the Asian countries/middle east, their cellular bands might be different and not compatible with the Canadian cellular network

  • Jay-Jay Neis

    how about a 5.5 inch 720p version of the phone?

  • mtray

    it looks like some phone I can’t seem to name..but only with flat top..still like how it looks though.

  • Is it me or are you all missing what this looks like. This is an older version of an iPod mixed with a rounded flat phone. Apple runs in his veins it seems.

    • Me

      and yet it runs android.

  • Marc Elliott Levy

    What does it run? iOS? Android? A third party platform?

    • Can you even read?

      • Marc Elliott Levy

        That was unnecessarily rude.

        • It was my reaction to a question that wasn’t.

  • Probably still too expensive for *emerging* markets, but would be perfect for North America. Go figure what the heck these guys are thinking…

    • Dan Sims

      Just like the iPhone from Apple the Obi is probably designed in the U.S. but made in China so neighboring continents will most likely get the Obi first. I know if the Obi doesn’t sell well in emerging markets at those prices listed above North America will get the device that much quicker.

  • I think everyone needs to thank the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus for high end devices with rock bottom pricing. They started a new trend and its becoming more and more standard by the day. I guess one could thank Motorola too, although they didn’t really make high end phones in this price range.
    Both these devices look rather sweet, I hope they stay away from skinning the shit out of Android though.

  • Faraz Masood Khan

    Not again! snapdragon 615 gurrr!

    • That chip with 2 to 3 GB RAM is plenty good for most users, esp in emerging markets.

      • Faraz Masood Khan

        There is a lot powerful chip MT6752 and a lot cheaper too scoring around 45K on Antutu benchmark. Plus Mediatek SoC is power efficient as well as compare to snapdragon

        • Dan Sims

          Yeah you’re but it’s because MediaTek’s Helio series chips are so energy efficient that we won’t see the current 2015 MT chips in the smartphones sold in America. Obi is definitely an American company.

  • Peerpressure

    This looks really nice. I would totally pick this one up for my wife. I might even get one. And the bands for GSM look like they match T-Mobile. Not sure about the 4G LTE.

    GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
    WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
    4G LTE: FDD B3 1800 MHz & TDD B40 2300 MHz

    • brye232

      No LTE. Tmo’s LTE bands are 1700/2100. You’ll have to stick with the HSPA+ (band 1900) for Tmo

  • Kokzinator_ZA

    South Africa?!? Bring it on!

  • Clinton

    Yeah, not that special. At least not in India. We have phones from Yu, which come with Cyanogenmod which are 10 to 15 bucks cheaper with suprisingly similar specs. An numerous other chinese phones which are prices similar. However, Obi does look better in my opinion and the material seems high quality.

  • AbdulB1

    I never heard their name in Pakistan.

  • Jordan S

    Are you kidding me?!? No US release?

  • The SF1 looks like an iPod was slapped onto another device.

  • Anoop Poojari

    reminds me little of Xiaomi Mi3

  • David Rutla

    Looks great! if it hits US markets for 300.00 I would buy or even 350.00 but 200.000 and i will ditch my Z3 faster than i threw out my ipod touch.

  • The specs are okay for this moment but by the time they release the product the specs may seem outdated. The micro SD and 3000ma battery make it attractive. I currently have the Galaxy S6 Edge and it has been fabulous however I have pride living in Silicon Valley and wouldn’t mind giving this gadget a try. Yes, Apple is in my neighborhood too and I believe their hardware is very good, but IOS has not been appealing to me for the past few years.

  • João Carvalho

    Hell yeah, bring it on!

  • Gary

    Specs are too good for its price… for 200 bucks you get a 5″ 1080p display with gorilla glass 4 & oleophobic coating, octa-core processor, 13MP + 5 MP camera and sleek-ass design. Wish it would be release here in the Philippines also so I could replace my crap $350 phone (Xperia Z1)…

  • neonix

    Am I the only one who thinks it looks pretty damn wonky? I’m not a fan of that pasted on raised screen look or the mismatched corners. I understand that they were trying to be unique and differentiate the product, but unique doesn’t always mean good.

    The result looks like an iPhone screen glued down onto a Nokia or an Xperia.

  • Ghazanfar Ali

    Design is combination of Lumia 800 merged with iPhone6 Curves :), But still nice looking device

  • Callum

    “I can see it going big pretty soon!” It’s a pile of crap…. -.-

  • poonani

    why aren’t these available to americans on day one? smh. i would buy one right now.

  • Subash Alwar

    SF1 sounds awesome on paper, EXCEPT the raised screen! I owned a phone with such a thing, the HTC Amaze, glass shattered into a million pieces from a knee height drop.. it’s the only deal breaker for me.. If only they came up with something with a similar exciting design, less bezels and low prices with great specs(too much?). Hoping for the best =P

  • I had the N9 and now i purchased the SF1. Quite different really. Much lighter and sleeker than the bulky N9.