- Poor battery life
- No control over cloud storage
- Slow camera
Cloud storage has become an integral part in people’s everyday lives and most people use at least one service from Dropbox to Google Drive. Now devices that heavily rely on cloud storage have become more common with Chromebooks as a prime example. Smartphones are now making that leap with the release of the Nextbit’s Robin.
In terms of design, the Robin hearkens back to older smartphones with its sharp and angular shape. To balance out the angles, it incorporates round buttons and speaker grills for a more approachable appearance.
What really gives the Robin personality, however, are the pastel color options of turquoise and light green, though it does have a more subtle dark grey palette. Reviewers call the design festive and fresh with Engadget stating, “I’m absolutely, over-the-moon in love with how it looks. It’s charming…” While the color and shape might make it look “toy-like” experts point out the build quality is superb and the soft texture of the back makes it easy to grip.
Very thin side bezels surround the 5.2 inch 1080p LCD display. While it doesn’t compare to higher end phones like the iPhone 6S, critics describe it as good enough as it offers vivid colors and solid viewing angles. The only issue they noticed were faint lines running horizontally across the screen. Still, they mention the average smartphone user probably won’t even notice.
A hexa-core Qualcomm processor and 3GB of RAM keep the Robin running at a fairly steady pace. It was able to handle pretty much any task reviewers threw at it, though they did notice it would get a bit warm. Thankfully, they didn’t experience any shutdowns due to the processor overheating. Gaming was likewise smooth and they were able to play fairly graphics heavy games on medium setting without any lag or stutters. The biggest disappointment in terms of hardware was the battery. Critics were barely able to get a full day out of it, with many having to charge midway through with even moderate usage.
What really sets the Robin apart from its competitors is its focus on cloud storage. While it does come with 32GB of onboard storage users also receive 100GB of free cloud storage. It will automatically back up apps, phone data, photos and games and will even archive apps that have not been used once your onboard storage reaches 2GB. Unfortunately, this is where the phone runs into issues. Users have zero control over the cloud storage feature. That means they cannot offload new apps or photos as Robin only moves over inactive/older ones. There is also no way to force a backup to the cloud. The inability to use the cloud as they wished was a huge disappointment for experts. Still, they don’t deny the usefulness of the smart storage features as it can help keep apps and photos organized.
On the rear of the device is a 13MP camera. It comes equipped with Phase Detection Auto Focus and an f/2.2 aperture. In practice, critics were able to take vibrant pictures in bright light settings despite missing optical image stabilization. They were also impressed with low light pictures, though when viewed closer, they did notice significant noise reduction in post-processing, leading to blurry images. The biggest problem they had was the long delay between pictures. Often it would be a full second before they could take another picture.
The Robin is a hardsell for reviewers. While the admired the cute design and good performance they were less than thrilled with the slow camera, lack of control over cloud storage and poor battery life. Most suggest waiting until the second version releases to see if any of Nextbit addresses these issues rather than buying into the first iteration.