The Nextbit ‘Robin’ Cloud Smartphone, First Android Phone that makes Running Out of Space History

The Nextbit ‘Robin’ Cloud Smartphone, First Android Phone that makes Running Out of Space History

Nextbit launches Robin, the first Android phone that makes running out of space history. The cloud is integrated into Android OS and your onboard storage is merged with the cloud, so that you always have the disk space you need.

Nextbit Robin is an attractive smartphone with sharp lines and bold colors that stand out in the current pack of phones that resemble aluminum soap bars. Launched with a $1.35 million Kickstarter, it’s not just the Robin’s looks that are unique; it’s the specialized fork of Android, 100 GB of cloud storage and advanced backup features that the phone comes packed with.

The Robin is a distinctively designed smartphone with the internal specs we’d expect in the current wave of high-specified, mid-priced Android phones. It is the advanced cloud features that Nextbit execs Scott Croyle and Mike Chan hope will make the Robin stand out. Chan worked on Android for years, developing power management and performance features for versions 1.0 through Honeycomb (3.0). He co-founded Nexbit with another Google alum, Tom Moss, who was head of business development for Android. Croyle was SVP of design and UX at HTC and helped create some of the most celebrated HTC phones; the Evo, and the One M7 and M8.

For $399, you get a 5.2” 1080p IPS display with a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3 GB of RAM and a 13MP Samsung ISOCELL camera with dual tone flash, all packaged in that bold, boxy design that comes in either mint green or slate gray. The strong lines and blocks of color are reminiscent of some modular phone prototypes, though this isn’t an upgradeable device. The body is high strength polycarbonate and proves that doesn’t have to feel cheap.

There are two device models, one for Sprint/Verizon (CDMA) and one for AT&T/T-Mobile (GSM). A 2680 mAh (similar in size to current ~5” phones like the Galaxy S6, Xperia Z5 and HTC One M9) should keep the Robin chugging all day.

The Robin sports a fingerprint reader cleverly built into the sidebar power button. The standard Android notification light oddly flanks the USB 3.0 Type-C charger on the bottom, and four specialized notification lights adorn the cloud-shaped Nextbit logo emblazoned on the back. The Robin comes with 32 GB of onboard storage, and then there’s the matter of that 100 GB cloud.

NextBit Robin Technical Specifications
Display5.2-inch IPS LCD @ 1920 x 1080 (423 PPI), Gorilla Glass 4
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992)
CPU CoreARM Cortex-A57 (2x @ 1.82 GHz) + ARM Cortex-A53 (4x @ 1.44 GHz) [big.LITTLE]
GPU CoreQualcomm Adreno 418 @ 600 MHz
Memory3 GB LPDDR3
Storage32 GB onboard / 100 Gb online
Battery2,680 mAh, non-removable
Front Camera5 MP, Samsung 5E2 sensor
Rear Camera13 MP Samsung 3M2XXM5 ISOCELL sensor, f/2.2 25.3mm (35mm equivalent) lens, PDAF, dual tone LED flash. 4K video support
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 4, USB 3.0 Gen1 SuperSpeed (5 Gbps) with Type-C connector
Special FeaturesDual front-facing stereo speakers, fingerprint scanner, Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0
OSAndroid Marshmallow with NextBit Smart Storage Solution
MaterialsAluminum, Plastic (glass-filled polycarbonate)
Size & Weight149 mm x 72 mm x 7 mm, approx. 150g

Nextbit runs a modified version of Android Marshmallow. It’s not a drastic redesign, but you’ll notice the changes right away. The Robin’s software retains the bottom shortcut bar, but the app drawer is done away with in favor of an all- layout similar to . Widgets are relegated to their own screen, which pops in from a pinch gesture, or a long-press on the overview button. There’s also a new, persistent blue shortcut in the lower right that accesses the Robin’s special cloud features.

The Robin’s software is built around making sure you always have enough storage. As you interact with the phone in daily use, the Robin builds a profile of your habits and preferences. As you get close to the 32 GB storage limit, it will start to unload apps you rarely use and back them up to your cloud storage. The same goes for old or seldom-viewed photos: Robin will produce a small, screen-res copy (1920×1080) and back the original up to the cloud. This process happens only while the phone is plugged in, on Wi-Fi (though you can alter that through your preferences). The notification lights on the back let you know if the Robin is currently syncing to the cloud.

As apps are unloaded and sent to the cloud, they turn gray, showing that they aren’t immediately accessible. If you want to use an offloaded app, the Robin saves all your login and account information, and you can quickly re-download it and jump right back into using it. This is partly for security; secure credentials aren’t transmitted off the device and partly to speed up the re-installation process.

The system seems like an efficient one, and would certainly alleviate some users’ storage woes, but a few questions remain. It would seem that one solution would be to simply make an affordable 128 GB phone.


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