Obi has been around for well over a year. Soon after realising that their initial range of strangely-named smartphones were not really a rage in India and other markets, the company has gone back to the drawing board and come out with a new, affordable, Android-based smartphone called the Obi Worldphone SF1. The idea here is to awe with design and surprise with the pricing, but we found the phone has quite a few surprises under its sleeve.
Obi Worldphone SF1
On paper the Obi Worldphone SF1 (yes, these guys are real good with their names) has a lot to offer. Given that it has a sub-$150 pricing, the phone tries to offer a lot to the customer, especially when it comes to the camera and display. But what really sets this phone apart is its design. No, there are no phones in this price range that look as good. In fact, this US company has managed to give the phone a look that cleverly hides its Chinese origins. While most Chinese phones look the same, this phone is different. After all, it is “Designed in San Francisco and Assembled in China”. Yes, that will take a couple of months to be recreated in Shenzhen.
Specs: 5-inch Full HD IPS panel with Corning Glass 3 | 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 | 3GB RAM | 32GB internal storage expandable by 64GB | 13MP rear camera + 5MP front camera | 3000 mph battery | 4G LTE Dual SIM (micro+nano) | Dolby Audio | Android 5.0
Price: Rs 11,999
Watch our first look video of Obi Worldphone SF1
What is Good?
Of course, we have to start with the design. That is the best thing about this phone by far. This phone is built to stand out in a crowd and has a build quality that will put non-stick pans to shame. The volume rocker and power button are on the left, tucked away in a groove that is recognisable even when you are in the dark. The screen is an extra layer on top of the chassis, and seems like it will still be able to withstand the rigors of everyday use.
The phone performs reasonably well. It does heat up, but then that is expected when you commit yourself to a Snapdragon processor. You will have no issues with regular stuff, but push this phone with gaming or multiple tab browsing and there will be some serious heat generated under the hood.
The camera is interesting. It offers a lot of preset features and has among the best macro capabilities in a phone in this price range. I noticed some noise in night photos, but the daylight images were quite okay. The camera app UI is, however, very Android 4.0.
The battery should last you about 12 hours with regular use.
What is not that good?
My biggest issue with the phone is its UI. If you want to do a custom UI, then it has to be better than stock Android. You can’t offer an experience that takes you back in time, in this case a whole generation of Android. Most of the icons inside native apps seem so Android 4.0 and that is weird for a phone that will sell mostly in 2016.
This is the first phone I have seen that comes without a dialer app on the home screen. The messages app is also tucked away inside. It is almost like saying : “drag me to the home screen if you are the type that still makes voice calls”. I just don’t get this bit of the phone. Of course, there is a Ubuntu-like ring on the lock screen that lets you access the dialer. But by that logic you need to lock the screen to make a call if you are already on the home screen.
The design, which is its biggest strong point, could also be the bane of the SF1. The protruding display, is a bit of a pain on the ear when you are making long calls. That is because your ear is not resting on a flat surface and has to negotiate the lip.
This is not a phone for gamers as I noticed serious lag when games and animation were being rendered. There is stutter too.
The phone went on the blink twice in the five odd days that I used it. Once was when I installed a small update and the other for no particular reason. It was back to normal after a restart.
Should you buy?
I would say hold on, till these guys figure out the software to run on this good looking phone. For now, a lot of things about this phone seem immature and half-baked. It is a great phone to buy cheap and root with stock Android. Till then, hold on to the temptation to be tempted by design.