We are surrounded by sub $400 Android phones from new companies trying to re-invent the Android phone, and while that's awesome for those of us simply unwilling to shell out $900 for something "top of the line" it means these companies really need something solid to offer customers in order to stand out. For Nextbit, the strategy is two-fold. You've got a unique cloud integration solution that acts as though your phone has an extra 100gb of non-local storage baked right in, and you've got the undeniably unique design of the Nextbit Robin.
We had a lot of questions about how the Nextbit Robin would actually work, so we sat down live last night to talk about how this phone would actually work. Here's what we learned.
Cloud security is a priority
The Nextbit folks are completely aware of the natural concerns whenever anyone mentions backing everything up to a data center somewhere, and there's no getting around that with clever features and a visually pleasing UI. Rather than trying to manage a data center on their own, Nextbit is using Amazon's AWS for the 100gb included with every Robin. Your data is encrypted when travelling from your phone to Nextbit's Amazon cloud, and it remains encrypted when sitting with Nextbit.
On top of an encrypted Amazon cloud, Nextbit will be working with a third-party security company to conduct regular audits of their systems to ensure your data remains secure.
Nextbit data management is designed to be automatic, but users have the final say
When your Nextbit Robin starts to run out of local storage, the phone will automatically start backing things up for you to save space. This includes offloading photos and video, locally stored documents, and even apps. It'll pulls the APK from infrequently used apps off your phone and leave a shadow icon for you to pull it back when you decide you want to use that app. When the app returns, your login is still there and your local data is still usable.
This sounds like a cool idea, right until your find yourself without access to data and the app you want is off in the cloud. To address this, Nextbit has a special interface tool that lets you pin apps you know you're going to need even if you don't use it particularly often. As the user, you control what is backed up and what gets sent away.
Nextbit Robin is totally unlocked, and there will be easy tools for flashing
Nectbit is baking some clever software into their version of Android, but if that's not your thing but you still really like the hardware you can do as you wish with the software. The Nextbit Robin will be sold unlocked, both SIM and bootloader, and if you want to flash a different image to your phone the Nextbit folks are totally cool with that. In fact, there's going to be tools and instructions available from Nextbit to make doing so easy.
We did ask if the Nextbit ROM would be something easily flashed to other devices as well, but currently the team isn't ready to make that commitment. Which makes sense, especially if the goal is to release a complete thought in the form of the Robin before getting crazy with third party phone support. We'll see how this develops in the future.
Ultimately it seems like the Nextbit team is well on their way to a great idea. The Nextbit Robin Kickstarter is still going strong for anyone who wants to get one of these phones at a discounted rate, and the company seems to think they are well on track to have this phone shipping by January. If you're still hoping to touch one of these phones for yourself before putting money down, Nextbit promises to have prototypes for people to touch at the Big Android BBQ in October.