My Review of a Nextbit Robin

Around March 2016, I picked up a new phone. The Nextbit Robin.  I'd never owned an Android phone before but the Robin had some pretty compelling specs as compared to the iPhone 6s:

  • 2ghz hexa-core Snapdragon 808
  • 2680mAh fixed battery
  • 3gb RAM and 32gb storage
  • 13mp/5mp back/front camera
  • WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G

Plus, hey: the form factor and color options were pretty cool and retro. I got to admit that it's a pretty phone.

Robin started as a Kickstarter campaign and some of the overall concepts of the phone intrigued me, primarily the idea of a phone entirely focused on cloud-based storage model. Part of the phone's offerings in a 100gb cloud-based storage that the o/s sync's against to store things like photos, videos, and music that wouldn't be stored on the physical unit.

With local device encryption and Android Mobile Device Management Policies implemented through Google Apps, I felt I could make the phone reasonably secure.

Like I said: I'd never owned an Android phone before and I was interested in the phone from a technical-curiosity perspective, but I must admit: I recently purchased an Apple iPhone 7. It arrives tomorrow and I intend never to go back to Android. I had really thought Android was on-par now with iOS, but after my experience with it, I now feel that just isn't the case.

I didn't have the best experience.  In using it for six months:

  • The Robin's o/s performance and hardware seemed to degrade.
  • Battery life seemed to be eroded very quickly and it retains less than a five hour charge now - I have to charge it twice a day;
  • I literally can't make a telephone call from the unit and have people hear me unless I turn on the speaker phone - even after reboots - I can't even figure out what happened there;
  • Voice recognition is far inferior to Apple - it's like I have to fight with the narration to get my ideas down on the device;
  • Application integration in Android seems tedious - so many permissions and allowances just to get anything accomplished;
  • Vendor support for Android and Android Pay seemed unrealistically non-existent - my bank didn't support it as they supported iOS' ApplePay;
  • Android updates took over 45 minutes to be applied to the unit; its cloud-based sync offered no superior functionality to Apple's sync services; 
  • I'd lose text messages - stuff never arrived to me or my messages never left the device;
  • The chassis flexed and bent too easily, creating a warped line on the phone so that it didn't sit evenly with a table within a month.

Through my experience with it, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time troubleshooting the phone, restarting it, resetting its image, fiddling with settings. I spent a lot of time fighting with this phone. Likely, my problems were more related to Android than Nextbit's product itself. Inasmuch, I couldn't recommend this phone (perhaps any Android phone) to anyone who simply wants a working, secure appliance that takes minimal effort to work. If they want a hobby or to play around with a phone, this wasn't a bad unit - it was fairly fast - but it was so distracting that it compromised my ability to get work done; missing text messages was bad but the inability to complete a phone call was the last straw.

Perhaps you had a different experience with the Nextbit - I hope so. I really liked some of the ideas presented in the Kickstarter. However, I just can't say I'm an Android person, and my Nextbit experience was enough to solidify my ideas and satiate my curiosity: I'm going back to Apple.