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Obi SF1 review: If only looks could kill

Great design and display though other aspects are quite a let down. Nice try Sculley

tech Updated: Feb 04, 2016 11:00 IST
Abhinav Mishra
Obi’s first phone called the Worldphone SF1 just went on sale on Amazon India for Rs. 11,999 for the 16 GB version and Rs. 13,999 for the 32 GB version. Can it hold its own on a crowded market
Obi’s first phone called the Worldphone SF1 just went on sale on Amazon India for Rs. 11,999 for the 16 GB version and Rs. 13,999 for the 32 GB version. Can it hold its own on a crowded market(Obi Worldphone)

Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” These famous words spoken by the late Steve Jobs might still be reverberating in John Sculley’s ears. Sculley, who was the CEO of Pepsi before Jobs hired him to lead Apple in 1983, eventually ended up firing Jobs himself from Apple in 1985. Jobs’ rise from the ashes after that is legendary, but less is known about what happened to Sculley. He’s been a successful investor; he’s tried his hand at politics; and he’s latest venture is a company called Obi Mobiles, which wants to crack emerging smartphone markets like India with high-quality, low-cost handsets.

Obi’s first phone called the Worldphone SF1 just went on sale on Amazon India for Rs. 11,999 for the 16 GB version and Rs. 13,999 for the 32 GB version. Can it hold its own on a crowded market?

Looks to Kill

The Obi Worldphone S1 is impeccably designed. The back is smooth and matte-finished with an Obi logo emblazoned in the bottom-left corner, and the display sits ever so slightly above its sleek, metallic body. This is a phone I couldn’t help flaunting at every chance I got.

It’s not particularly heavy at 147 gm, which is surprising, because both the top and the bottom edges are enclosed in a solid, steel casing to protect against accidental drops.

The Obi Worldphone S1 is impeccably designed. The back is smooth and matte-finished with an Obi logo emblazoned in the bottom-left corner, and the display sits ever so slightly above its sleek, metallic body (Obi Worldphone)

Though what is really surprising is Obi’ decision to place the power and the volume rockers on the left, which took some getting used to as a right-handed user.

Performance

Powering the SF1is an octa-core Snapdragon 615 chipset clocked at 1.5Ghz bundled with Adreno 405 graphics and 3GB of RAM. That just means that the guts are solidly mid-range — and it shows. Everyday tasks such as web-browsing and email are silky smooth, and playing games like Fruit Ninja and Subway Surfer works well, but fire up a high-end game like Asphalt, or try to juggle multiple apps, and watch the SF1 stutter noticeably. The phone runs Android 5.0.2 with Lollipop and Obi’s Lightspeed UI, which is pretty, but lags like hell and really affects your overall experience.

I loved the audio quality of the phone, which packs a punch thanks to the Dolby Audio app, which boots audio levels while listening on headphones or external speakers. The 5-inch high-definition display is glorious and videos looks amazing. Colours are natural: whites are bright, and the blacks are deep and dark.

There’s a 3,000 mAh battery that powers the SF1 for about 9 hours on a single charge, which is at par with devices in this price range.

Can it Shoot?

On paper, the SF1’s camera is impressive. It features a 13 megapixel sensor at f/2.0. But that’s on paper. In real life, the SF1 took pictures that were...OK. They weren’t horrible, but other phones in this price range like Xiaomi’s Mi 41 and the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser are much better. Colours in the pictures taken from the SF1 were dull with a yellowish tinge. Images taken in low-light aren’t great either. There is a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with support for flash, which does a good job at clicking selfies.

Colours in the pictures taken from the SF1 were dull with a yellowish tinge. Images taken in low-light aren’t great either (Obi Worldphone)

Should you buy it?

Priced at Rs. 11,999 and Rs. 13,999 depending on the version you buy, the Obi Worldphone SF1 is...not really the best bang for your buck. Sure, it looks fabulous, the display is great, and the audio quality is really good. But the camera and the performance aren’t really up to the mark with other phones in the same price bracket.

If you want to spend between Rs. 10-15,000 on a smartphone, I’d recommend the recently launched LeEco Le1S or the Moto G Turbo. Good try, Obi. But not good enough.