While many crowd-funded projects fail to hit the mainstream, some do, occasionally, prove to be solid projects worth backing. Kickstarter has previously been the birthplace of the Pebble Time range of smartwatches, the 3Doodler 3D printing pen and, last year, the Nextbit Robin.
A problem facing many smartphone users is the lack of microSD expansion on the current range of flagships, and the Nextbit Robin aims to use cloud-storage in a unique way to solve this problem. Coupled with a unique boxy design that’s unique in an otherwise homogenous industry and a unique approach to stock Android, the Nextbit Robin is definitely worth the $1.3million the company raised on Kickstarter.
Both, me and Josh, have been looking forward to this smartphone, and ahead of our full review, we thought we’d treat you to a very brief look at the smartphone, coupled with our first impressions on the hardware. We won’t be touching on the performance or software yet – that’ll be in our full review, which will be out next week – but rather, whether it still has the magic that initially appealed. Let’s unbox… the Nextbit Robin.
In the box:
- Nextbit Robin
- USB Type-C cable (charger sold separately)
- SIM pin
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The Robin is certainly not at traditional smartphone and the experience begins with the box, which is as understated as the smartphone itself. Nextbit has sent out the Robin to reviewers in a special box so you won’t see the retail packaging here, but head over to our interview with Nextbit at CES and you’ll be able to see it in all its glory there. The special box we’ve been sent is fantastic but sadly, the cases and lovely little sheep won’t be included in the retail box.
The Robin is available in two colours – the uber-chic Mint colour seen here, and a midnight blue variant for the more conservative – and if you ordered from Kickstarter, you’ll also have the choice of an Electric Blue version. My favourite option is the Electric Blue model, while Josh prefers the midnight blue, but we both agree that the Robin design is unlike any other.
One of the leadership team at Nextbit is former HTC design chief Scott Croyle, who previously designed some of the most striking smartphones on the market, and the Robin is no different. The distinctive boxy design is complemented by equally-unique circular design elements – like the front-facing speakers which are symmetrically placed – and a flat back and sides means the Robin is comfortable to grip in the hand.
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The circular elements continue to the left of the phone, where you’ll find the volume buttons and onto the back, with the camera and flash. One of the only square elements on the devices is the recessed power button on the right, and while it does take getting used to, you’ll find it comfortable to use quickly enough.
To the bottom and you’ll find the USB Type-C port which, like certain past HTC devices, is offset to one side of the phone. Some of you may be surprised the Robin doesn’t come with an actual wall-charger (which is available to buy separately), but the USB Type B to Type C cable included in the box certainly performs well enough with the chargers we’ve tested so far.
There’s no doubt that the Robin’s hardware lives up to its early promise and both, Josh and I, are certainly impressed with the design of the smartphone, but what about the rest? Is the camera on par with other handsets? How does the 2680mAh battery hold up and is the cloud-first approach the future of mobile devices.
We can’t spoil the fun and tell you that yet, so stay tuned for our review next week and be sure to check out our unboxing gallery below. Have you ordered the Nextbit Robin and if so, what feature are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to let us know if there’s anything you want to see in the review.