It’s an exciting time for the Android mobile platform, something even this iPhone-toting user can appreciate. As Apple stays the course with their streamlined product line with only subtle differentiation, Android manufacturers are starting to make headway into an already crowded market with more experimental industrial design and UI customizations.
Founded by former members of the Android 1.0 development and HTC One design team, upstarts Nextbit have designed an Android phone – Robin – as a sort of physical embodiment of Google’s Material Design philosophy.
What’s first and foremost on our radar is the playful industrial design, a robin’s egg hue (officially “Mint”; also available in a darker, staid “Midnight” edition) that would make 1990’s era Martha Stewart nod in approval. Partner the colorway with thoughtfully balanced positioning of ports, buttons and sensors, and the Robin has the hallmarks of a device aimed at an aesthetically appreciative buyer. It’s also hard not to recognize some design DNA hinting back to Apple’s formative year collaborations with Frog Design in Nextbit’s precise execution with plastic and electronics.
About those specs: the Robin is confidently a mid-range device, with a Qualcomm hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor powering a customized version of Android 5.0 Lollipop and a 5.2-inch 1080p screen. Other features of note include a fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, dual front facing stereo speakers, with 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera that shoots in RAW, and most interesting, an optimized “cloud-first” storage system which extends the device’s local 32GB of storage into a theoretically unlimited amount of space thanks to its connection to the cloud. It’s this two-way directional cloud feature which makes the Robin an interesting proposition in an time when more phone manufacturers (e.g. Apple, OnePlus, and Samsung) are starting to seal off storage expansion.
All in all, Robin is the sort of Android device even stalwart iOS users will want to curiously inspect, pointing out phone manufacturers are increasingly considering design as much of a specification as any technological requirement. Robin is currently available for pre-order Kickstarter funding at $299.