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Former Apple CEO John Sculley-backed Obi Worldphone launches sleek sub-$250 smartphones

John Sculley-backed Obi Mobiles has morphed into Obi Worldphone, launching two smartphones aimed at developing markets. Dubbed SF1 and SJ1.5, both devices are set to launch in the month of October and feature interseting design elements that distinguish them from the sea of entry-level phones currently available.

The phones were designed by Ammunition, a San Francisco-based studio whose portfolio included the design of the original Beats headphones. The SF1 is the more premium of the two devices, sporting a fiberglass body with metal accents at the top and bottom, along with a unique extruded display that's designed to provide added protection from the occasional tumble.

The SF1 features a 5-inch full-HD display with Gorilla Glass 4, Snapdragon 615 SoC, 13MP camera (Sony IMX214 sensor) and f/2.0, 5MP front shooter with LED flash, dual-SIM, LTE connectivity (Bands 3 and 40, both tailored for Indian networks), Dolby Audio and a 3,000mAh battery. Obi states that the SF1 will be available with 2GB RAM/16GB storage as well as a higher-end variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal memory. Both models will come with microSD slot for expanding memory.

Obi Worldphone SJ1.5

Meanwhile, the SJ1.5 features a polycarbonate body with an asymmetrical design, with the top section being flat and the bottom ending in a curve. The phone's specs include a 5-inch 720p display, MediaTek MT6580 SoC with four Cortex A7 cores, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, microSD slot, 8MP camera with OmniVision OV8865 sensor and f/2.2, 5MP front camera, 3G connectivity and a 3,000mAh battery.

Both phones run a slightly modified version of Android with a custom lockscreen and backgrounds called Lifespeed, which was also developed by Ammunition. While there isn't a whole lot of customization available from the get-go, Obi mentioned that additional features will be added in the coming weeks and months. Interestingly, the higher-priced SF1 comes with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, while the SJ1.5 is built atop Android 5.1 Lollipop.

The phones will be aimed at developing markets, including India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE and Vietnam. Obi has mentioned that it will launch the SF1 and SJ1.5 in 50 to 70 countries by 2017.

The SF1 with 2GB of RAM and 16GB storage will debut at $199, with the higher-memory variant available for $249. The more affordable SJ1.5 will be priced at $129. We'll bring you more details as both phones start hitting store shelves around the world in October.

Source: Obi Worldphone

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • Hmm.. Must say I'm curious. I liked the design and the concept of the phone, but $250 might be a bit too much, I would say $190-200 would be a good start for them. Either way, looking forward to see their development and always good to see industry veterans starting a new company and betting on the 3rd world countries.
  • Agreed. A touch lower in price, then I would consider getting one as my backup/travel phone. For entry-level, the design and specs look good! Posted on my LG G3 via the cooler than cool Android Central App
  • It starts at 200, ya know.
  • Actually it starts at $129 for the lower specced model, Still i agree it is an interesting phone, maybe a purchase if it comes to Australia
  • Nice looking phone that SF. Posted via the AC App on SM-N910
  • Nice! Posted via the Android Central App
  • The title alone makes me not wanna read this. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Because John Sculley is a former CEO of Apple? He was involved in the firing of Steve Jobs several decades back, just so you know.
  • Maybe because is Apple? Posted via the Android Central App by OnePlus One
  • Yeah, but that's old Apple. 1980s Apple.
  • Man, that SF1 is incredibly tempting.
  • I would like to have these in the States. Especially since the days of subsidised phones are going away. I wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup
  • Its wonderful to see another product that would be a viable option for a lot of people. And it looks to be good quality. OEM's seem to be catching on, that the software merely needs to be optimized for their device, not customized as much. Just give us usable options instead of crappy gimmicks that have no long term lifespan. I wonder if Samsung were to move their gimicks to the app store and lighten up their OS, if it would seel more phones. Not that they are in dire straits or anything, but they seem to be loosing their mojo. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nice battery Posted via the Android Central App
  • Agreed especially on the lower specced model, 720 p, 5 inch screen with low powered processor looks like a dream
  • Looks good. Wish d software updates will be as fast as the nexus devices. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "extruded display that's designed to provide added protection from the occasional tumble." This seems counter-intuitive to me. The glass sticking further out will protect it? Hmm.
  • I guess new phones are good for the consumer but at what point is there just too many? Most of these are not aimed at the US so I think it says a lot about the maturity of the US and EU markets. I also wonder if we will see consolidation among the smaller companies as size is important, In a year or two I see the same amount of announcements for a lot of these startups dying. Look at Amazon they are wishing they never got into the phone market.
  • Obi-wan-kenobi Posted via the Android Central App
  • The top image makes it seem a little Nokia inspired.
  • Ding ding ding Posted via the Android Central App
  • Looks gorgeous Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's a movie phone :) Meaning it's the kind of nondescript phone someone uses in a movie when the scene requires the use of a smartphone. And all of us phone geeks shit there trying to figure what it is because all the branding has been removed. Posted via Android Central App with my LG G3
  • Sucks its not coming to the US. Price is perfect for me right now. Posted via the Android Central App