5 unique phones from start-up companies

5 unique phones from start-up companies
Every company has been a startup company at some point in their existence, but with today's record-fast ways to raise money, ranging from angel investors to simply crowdsourcing it on places like Kickstarter, the time from-idea-to-market for a product has never been shorter. This trend is not passing the phone industry, either - it's one of the hottest places to be at the moment, and plenty of newcomers are trying their luck against the established juggernauts.

It's not an easy task designing and making a phone that will stick - you have giant corporations like Samsung or Apple, on one hand, with their huge R&D and marketing budgets, and their vast distribution chains, not to mention their brand recognition. On the other hand, you will be squeezed by the numerous Chinese value-for-money makers like Xiaomi or Meizu, so the task ahead will be pretty steep.

Of course, man is an entrepreneurial beast, and all the competition in the world didn't preclude new companies like OnePlus to rely on viral marketing and availability shenanigans to reach their first million phones sold last year. OnePlus is getting one-upped this year, though, as plenty of newcomers have popped up to take on the establishment once again. In case you would consider buying a phone from such a startup, with all the risks and rewards involved, we are rounding up five of the coolest kids on the startup block circulating at the moment. Check them out.

NextBit Robin ($399)

The Robin is touted as "the only cloud-first smartphone", coming with 32 GB of internal memory, with 100 GB of free online storage space tacked on top of that. The cloud services are not just an app or backup solution, but are integrated right into Android OS on the phone. It offloads unused apps and content to the cloud, and restores them only when you need them again. 

Data backups are automatically made, and the phone's specs are nothing to sniff at either - we get a 5.2" IPS display with 1080 x 1920 pixels, a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3 GB RAM, a 13 MP rear camera with phase detection autofocus, and a fingerprint scanner on the side, just like on the new Xperia Z5 trio, plus a set of front-facing stereo speakers. The phone costs $399, and the first deliveries are scheduled for January.

Obi Worldphone SF1 ($199)

While NextBit's Robin is concocted by ex-Googlers, this one has the backing of the ex-Apple CEO John Sculley. The Obi undertaking offers its "flagship" for less than $200 without a contract, yet still boasts an intriguing design, 5" 1080p panel, 13 MP camera, dual SIM slots, and a generous 3000 mAh battery that lets it last 10 hours of HD video playback on a charge. Unfortunately, the Obi SF1, as well as its cheaper cousin SJ1.5, won't be available in the US at launch, but rather places like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, and India.

UBIK UNO ($345)

It's not just price-for-value that might be attracting you to such startups, as the Ubik Uno offers similar tag to the OnePlus 2, but sports extremely thin bezels and great screen-to-body ratio, too. The phone costs $345 without a contract, but early backers will be getting it for $280. It features a 5.5" 1080p display, an octa-core MediaTek with LTE modem, 3 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal memory plus microSD slot, and a 20 MP camera with Sony's latest IMX230 sensor inside, as well as an 8 MP frontal shooter. All that is backed by a decent 3100 mAh battery, and runs on stock Android 5.1 Lollipop. The cool part is that the Ubik Uno is already in production.

Turing Phone

Made of tough "Liquidmorphium" metal alloy, the Turing Phone is touted as phone for the elite, coming with an end-to-end encryption and authentication systems that should be making it "entirely insulated from cyber-threats and privacy intrusions," if such a thing is possible at all these days. As far as design uniqueness goes, besides the liquidmetal chassis, the Turing Phone sports a finger scanner on the side, and a proprietary Magstream charging connector. 

As far as the specs go, they are decent - a 5.5-inch 1080p display, 13 MP rear camera, 3 GB of RAM, and a 3000 mAh non-removable battery. The odd one out is Qualcomm's aging Snapdragon 801 processor. Prices for the regular three design versions of the Turing Phone start from $610 (16 GB model), through $740 (64 GB), and up to $870 (128 GB). There is a Dark Wyvern special edition, which starts at $779 for the 64 GB version, and $999 for 128 GB of storage space, and it also can come with various colors and textures. Shipping is announced to start in December.

Fairphone 2

The Fairphone 2 comes with fair specs: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, dual-SIM capabilities, a 2420 mAh removable battery, and an 8 MP primary camera. Its selling point, however, is the concept of sustainability that its modular platform is built around. The company strives for at least five years of usage out of the phone, by allowing you to swap components when time passes, rather than just discarding the handset and buying a new one, promising better cameras, NFC-capable back covers, and so on. The phone's elements and design are also built around the least environmental and assembly labor footprint, though all that built-in sustainability doesn't come very cheap given the specs - €525 ($583) - and it can be preordered right now for shipping likely to start in December.



25. Mike.H

Posts: 32; Member since: Sep 16, 2015

Lots of cool ideas, but I'd like to see people play around with the form factor more.

24. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

same here, and with nice specs

20. Elfmonster unregistered

That nextbit Robin looks so pretty.

19. kudus

Posts: 52; Member since: Oct 23, 2014

if they want to start a phone company, they should invent their own OS, not using others OS (like Android especially) with different hardware & design.

10. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

The Turing phone is the single stupidest phone in the history of humanity, even worse than when Nokia tried to reinvent the wheel, I mean keypad (3600-class.) Seriously, NO WIRED TRANSFER (NO USB port), not even a HEADSET port?! That's more ridiculous than Apple's policy with iPhone and iTunes...

14. TezzaBP

Posts: 274; Member since: May 18, 2015

The phone comes with bluetooth earphones, and the proprietary charger will very probably be used for data transfer.

17. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

Turing said there'll be NO wireless transfers, the charger is just that. They believe that their own cloud only service is safer than wired transfer.

9. monoke

Posts: 1213; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Same dull android OS with similar variation hardware. The days when phones like palm pre and Nokia n900 were unveiled . Now those were refreshing and unique.

13. TezzaBP

Posts: 274; Member since: May 18, 2015

Well go back to them then and stop complaining

15. monoke

Posts: 1213; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Lol.. not complaining here. Just saying their just up start companies releasing yet again android with same hardware like the gazillion android phones already out. Nothing new or unique from the end user perspective. The priv imo is more unique than these.

18. ILikeBubbles

Posts: 525; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

I really can't understand why some people continuously complain about the lack of OS diversity in phones... Do you expect every oem to design their own complete OS? The only reason phones back in the "feature" phone days had separate interfaces was because it was firmware.. Not software and as such drastically less complicated. Are you equally concerned about the big 3 in the desktop market? Are you equally disappointed with the majority desktop running Windows vs the majority of phones running Android? Do you feel like Asus should have a separate operating system than dell? I don't think some people realize that smartphones have evolved past "accessory" and have gone into full blown computing. I can say with 100% confidence that there are people out there who have completely replaced their laptops and/or desktops with their smartphone because of their usage. Also, realize when you say these things that there have been many attempts at custom operating systems... None of which have caught on like android. It's obviously not for lack of trying that the oems need to stick to true android. Why do you think they cover each of their devices with such thick costs of skinning.. As much as I love htc's design language I can't stand sense.. Much less touch wiz or any other oem overlay. But I still understand the desperation for oems to stand out because the average user apparently doesn't know their on a Samsung device without all those widgets. Or an lg, or htc...

8. DirtyDan23

Posts: 280; Member since: Aug 12, 2014



Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Is that the only comment you ever make...?

6. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Those companies won't survive long.

2. aksa123

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

Obi = iphone + lumia

4. DavidPro

Posts: 8; Member since: Jun 24, 2015


5. srgonu

Posts: 574; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

+Fischer price

7. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

= Fail

1. ryan5609

Posts: 107; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

I backed the Nextbit. Love or hate their unique design, I think it definitely stands out from the crowd, I look forward to seeing it in person. Only time will tell if their cloud features are as seamless as they intend them to be, but for $299 (early backer price) I figured it was worth a shot.

3. dancheung77

Posts: 202; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

Wow 299 for the early backers, thats a great deal. I really like the design and their 100gb cloud service.

16. Arthurhkt

Posts: 728; Member since: Apr 19, 2012

Aren't you the Snakeboy?

21. dancheung77

Posts: 202; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

Nah hahah, I just like to troll him:D

11. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 2012

I backed them as well, but still don't know if I would get the mint or electric.

12. ryan5609

Posts: 107; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

Went with Midnight, the other colors are a bit too flashy for me personally.

23. Elie.S

Posts: 7; Member since: Jun 04, 2015

For a little ... I backed it a little. It was something that would save us a lot of trouble from storage space. But would you really like to have all your stuff accessed by people you don't know? Just my point of view.

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