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Revisiting Nextbit Robin: The rise and fall of a crowdfunded smartphone

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5 years ago, conversations regarding the storage systems of mobile phones were taking place in the market. Although microSD cards have created their space in the storage industry, still there was a problem. A problem of ‘limited storage’ in a variety of available devices in the market that does not allow expansion through microSD cards. Amidst all of this, an American company found a golden opportunity to launch their Android smartphone and it was called, ‘Nextbit Robin’, in the year 2016.

Its USP was ‘smart storage’. Yes, the device was hugely marketed on its cloud storage factor. It uses cloud storage to store temporary files, thus, saving space in the local storage. This element attracted a lot of customers, as not many mainstream devices were focusing on this area. Making an unconventional ‘storage’ factor as the USP of a brand, made the smartphone stand out from the crowd.

The device and its crowdfunding campaign took place on the well-known site Kickstarter. The creators were shocked to see the unexpected response, as the goal of funding reached its target much earlier than it was anticipated. According to some reports, the company completed its US$1 million funding goals within two weeks.

As a result, the smartphone was launched in the year 2016 and initially, 1000 devices were produced and sold, as per the orders.

Soon after some sales were made, in early 2017, Nextbit was acquired by Razer Inc. Razer is a Singaporean-American multinational technology company that deals in gaming hardware. Soon after the acquisition, sales of the smartphones were halted, and there were reasons for that. users’ complaints kept piling up, despite the effort the company was unable to live up to the market expectations.

Design

Some people find the design of Nextbit quite strange but interesting enough. It was not like every other device in the market. It was rectangular, slightly curved at edges, but still feels almost flat. Camera lenses, volume buttons, speakers, and flashlight area, all of it was circular.

Software

Apart from its funky design, Nextbit became the talk of the town at the time of its launch because of its system. Although it was Android but very different from traditional android systems. The smart storage feature of this device has been very subtly coupled with its main operating system. It intelligently and very carefully manages your storage. When you’re not regularly engaged with some files be it your photos or videos. The system takes note, and very carefully transfers those files into the ‘cloud storage’, clearing up space in the local storage. At the time, some issues were there, as the users were not in total control of the cloud feature. Solutions were also provided, but, eventually, it led to a slow and gradual dislike for the device among the users.

From the very beginning, Robin has faced performance issues, whether it is with the camera or general system stuff. Furthermore, the smartphone was easily bent with both hands. And this was because of its all-plastic housing. A famous Youtuber posted a video, performing a durability test on Nextbit Robin, which became viral at that time.

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