Nextbit Robin review: Launched a year too late

The unique features of the phone can easily be replaced with apps and features available on Android.

tech Updated: Jun 07, 2016 07:52 IST
Sanshey Biswas
Sanshey Biswas
Hindustan Times
Nextbit,Robin,cloud smartphone
The unique features of the phone can easily be replaced with apps and features available on Android.(Nextbit)

A phone that keeps most of your data in the cloud is only as good as your access to internet. And that’s the Nextbit Robin’s Achilles heel. It’s compact and feels good in the hand despite being all plastic and glass. The fingerprint scanner is cleverly camouflaged as the power button and the 5-inch-ish screen isn’t too big or small. Even dual speakers pack a punch, making the Robin decent device overall for Rs 10,000. But, being priced at Rs 19,999, it banks on a funky look to make you swoon.

It’s a zippy phone for most parts courtesy of a quick processor, spacious 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB internal storage. The light UI enhancements keep the system processes light contributing to its performance. But the Nextbit Robin’s charm lies in its ability to backup your photos and apps to the cloud. So, when your storage is running low, the Robin starts uploading your photos and less frequently used apps to the cloud. To save up on power and data, the phone only backs up the apps and photos — to the complementary 100 GB cloud storage — when the connected to power and WiFi. So, unless you have a gracious broadband plan at home or office, rule out the Robin as your next smartphone.

The cloud storage, while backing up your apps, doesn’t store the data associated with those app to honour your privacy — making the feature seem just like the “Backup and Restore” feature almost all Android phone have tucked away in the settings. On switching on this feature, whenever you’re setting up a new device, you will be asked to restore from an older device whose apps and even passwords, will be copied to the new device.

But you care more about the photos backup than apps right? Those precious moments that it probably failed to capture in full glory because the camera takes forever to launch. And when it does, it still manages to mess up more than often to be forgiven. The pictures can get blurry because of the slightest jitter of the hand — something unacceptable for a phone of its price.

However, it does have a decent front camera and incase you’re on a selfie diet. So, the cloud backup just might be helpful for someone in 2015 when Google Photos didn’t offer unlimited storage for photos at no charge. This app, that’s just over a year old, offers free unlimited backup in exchange for lowering the quality just enough to keep you from noticing. And for those who want the best quality of photos to be backed up, including videos — something the Nextbit Robin doesn’t backup — you can buy the same amount of cloud storage (100 GB) from Google for less than Rs 1,600 per year. And that storage will also be available on your Gmail, Drive, Docs and every other Google service. Making it a much more practical investment.

One thing going for the Nextbit Robin though, is the close to stock-Android ROM. While it makes using the phone a delight, you will eventually get bored of the way it looks and the little it offers. Instead, get the extra storage from Google, us the backup feature in Android’s settings and get a Moto G4 Plus, OnePlus 2 or even the Nexus 5x. They will serve you better and and leave a smaller dent in the bank.

First Published: Jun 07, 2016 07:52 IST