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Technology

Break the rules with your next smartphone

By 10th March 2017 No Comments

How Nextbit smartphone and Three Ireland could save you over 300 yo-yos!

Introducing the Nextbit Robin

 

The Nextbit Robin is touted as the smartphone that never runs out of space.  OK, so I admit, we’re coming to the Nextbit party a little late here… but with good reason. Nextbit have recently been acquired by the high performance gaming and peripherals company, Razer, for quite a substantial sum. As a result, Nextbit have stopped selling the Robin and accessories on their web store. Well, why the hell would I be writing this piece if you can’t even buy the damn thing, I hear you ask. Well, I’ll get to that, dear reader. Enjoy the suspense.

They launched a Kickstarter campaign back in September 2015  to fund it and raised $1.36 million (they were looking for a mere $500k). For most folk who bought into the Nextbit dream though, there was one massive draw: it looks different! In an ocean of chromium uni-body, single-cast, sleek Patrick Bateman style subtle sophistication, the Nextbit is a brightly coloured buoy. So how can the magic combination of Three Ireland and a discontinued smartphone save you so much money?

 

Nextbit Robin

Three (Ireland)

Every so often, a service provider or utility company changes the terms of their contract by increasing their charges. This automatically gives you a window to side-step your contract without penalty. Three Ireland have just fallen into this category. To be fair to Three, this is their first increase in years and, as a customer, I can attest that they have been an absolute pleasure to deal with (I cancelled my bill recently and moved to SIM-only with them. If you are tied into a contract, call them before April 2nd and you can leave your contract and keep your phone! So what is Nextbit and how can these two save me money?

Price

The price tag was initially set at from $399, but since its acquisition by Razer,  Nextbit no longer stock this handset but customers are directed to premium resellers if they want a piece of the action. Last check on Amazon, the Robin was retailing at £159… that’s €183 at today’s rates. To put this in context: the HTC Desire 825, their base model, is currently retailing at €199.99 on prepay with Three.

If you stick with Three’s Bill Pay options, you could opt for the much more salubrious HTC 10 at €25.41 per month with a hefty €589 device cost upfront for a 12-month period. Or you could lock yourself into a 2 year contract and pay a €349 device cost and pony up 40.66 per month for the duration of your contract. Or you could buy the Nextbit and go with their SIM Only Unlimited Flax Max plan and get all you can eat data, unlimited calls and texts for a mere €29.59 per month!

If you’re one of the lucky few who qualifies for wriggle out of their Three Ireland contract then this could be the perfect way to treat yourself to a shiny new piece of tech and still ride the savings wave. This really is an incredible phone for your money. It comes factory unlocked so you’re free to move between mobile providers at your leisure. It has come down in price since its launch. Very affordable.

How Nextbit Robin and Three could save you over €300:

Let’s do the math(s):

Nextbit Robin

on Three’s

SIM-Only

Unlimited Flax Max plan

HTC 10

Mini Flex 300

(12 month contract)

HTC 10

Classic Flex 350

(24 month contract)

Cost Per month

€29.59 per month

€25.41 per month €40.66 per month)
Device Cost (upfront fee) €183 €589 €349
 Total Cost €893 €1080.88
  Saving if you bought the Nextbit* €354.92* €365.26*

*cost calculations made over a comparable timeframe period. Information gathered on 9th March 2017.

Design

Simple form

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity… just ask Frank Gehry.  And these guys know what they’re at vis-a-vis industrial design. Designed by the former Head of Design at HTC, what Nextbit have produced is a durable, well built handset.  In a world of bland, the Nextbit screams for attention for all the right reasons. The matte poly-carbonate body means it is comfortable to grip and  doesn’t slip out of the hand.  And lawd, does it have a gratifyingly soft finish!

Light

Weight-wise: it feels substantial enough not to be cheap, but light enough not to be a nuisance! It comes in beautiful, eye-catching colours. Right now, you can buy it in mint or midnight blue. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find one of the limited run of red models but they’re hard to come by. You’ll find some brand new stock being sold off on Amazon.

Usability

There is a notification light on the bottom that emits a soft, intermittent flash when there are notifications that need your attention. The left side is flanked by small, round buttons. Instead of a volume rocker on the right edge, and a haptic feedback fingerprint sensor that doubles as your power button on the right. Some reviewers have bemoaned the volume buttons as too small but I love them! Perhaps that’s down to my dainty hands 🙂

Overall

The dichotomy of clean lines and simple rectangular form and paired circles of camera and speakers and flash, combine to realise a design so visually satisfying that it is  reason to to buy it. Four little lights on the back that light up when the Robin is uploading things to the cloud. One touch start: power button/fingerprint sensor. Very responsive – one touch of your fingerprint sensor/power button and your Robinis  unlocked. No password required! It is a nice fusion of retro and futuristic. It looks almost like a toy but for grown ups (*tsk, not that kind… keep yer minds out of the gutter!)

Storage

How is this the phone that doesn’t run out of storage? That’s not 100% accurate for a kick-off. Each Nextbit Robin cRobin uploading to the cloudomes with 32GB of internal memory and 100GB of free cloud storage. Your Nextbit Robin will automatically offload your oldest or least accessed stuff from the internal storage memory straight to the cloud. So your old apps and photos that haven’t been opened in a while will be moved to the cloud to make room for shiny new apps when you start to approach your 32GB internal limit. This all happens seamlessly. When your stuff is being uploaded to the cloud the lights on the back of your handset blink in sequence. It is VERY COOL!

Specs

If you’re not sold on the cloud aspect, it’s still a very solid smartphone for its pricing and you don’t have to use the cloud features if you don’t want to. I use a different launcher… there are some great launcher apps available from the Play Store that you can try out for free. It enjoys the kind of solid specs what you would expect from an Android smartphone in this price range. The build quality and features are on a par with some of the mid- to upper-range Android phones today. It runs the latest stock Android 6.0, with a custom Nextbit launcher.

The Nextbit launcher is not as slick as it could be. It has no app drawer for starters. Apps can clutter your home screens as a result. Customers can opt for another launcher you won’t have access to the cloud storage but at this price point it’s still a great value 32 GB smartphone. Display elements have taken some flack for feeling too “stock” but I like their un-fussy nature. You can also get under the hood and make your own changes. I think the customisability is one of the Robin’s strengths.

Conclusion

Full disclosure: I’m a contrarian. I can’t help it. Point out the underdog in a situation and I’m on their side automatically. Nobody likes the prawn cocktail flavoured crisps? Give ‘em here te me. My belligerent core refuses to tow the party line, so why change my ways when it comes to smartphones? Short answer: I don’t have to. Nextbit even call their customers “Rebels”!

What these guys tried to do here, and succeeded, is to create something original. This is a beautiful design piece. It feels great. The specs are decent. Battery life is about average, with updates promised. With Razer’s acquisition of Nextbit Robin, it is not clear what is in the pipeline for future releases. One thing’s for certain: this little brand that could is gonna be huge. What are you waiting for: treat yourself to an iconic piece of design today!

 

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