Nextbit Robin

CES 2016

The Nextbit Robin has come a long way in the past month. When we last caught up with the upstart manufacturer during its European tour in December, the final product was just starting to come into focus. The software was far from final. And the early hardware we played with was still being tuned up.

Now, as we approach launch date for the Robin, we've had the chance to go hands-on with a near-final version of the phone and the box in which it'll ship.

For the uninitiated, Robin pairs 32 gigabytes of internal flash with 100 gigabytes of cloud storage, and can intelligently juggle apps, photos and other content between the two as needed. The big idea is that you'll never run out of storage. Nextbit's other big differentiator comes through design, with former HTC design lead Scott Croyle bringing his talents to the project.

Marshmallow with a minty flavor.

In short, the Robin is shaping up nicely. Tolerances have been tightened up, and the joins between the three main segments of the phone are pretty seamless. Software performance has improved over the past month, though work on the Android 6.0-based firmware is still ongoing. Nextbit's vision of Android presents the OS through a mint-colored lens, with subtle, tasteful changes to the way the UI is presented.

The most customized part of the software is the launcher, which focuses on a grid of apps, with easy visual indicators to tell what's on the phone and what's in the cloud. Meanwhile, widgets have been moved off into their own panel, accessed by pinching on the home screen.

Design is a big part of what makes Nextbit unique, and this extends to Robin's packaging as well. The phone will ship in a unique mint-colored box that doubles as a story book, and presents the phone and its branded USB Type-C cable after a few introductory pages.

The Nextbit Robin is due to begin shipping out to Kickstarter backers from Feb. 16. In preparation for the launch, Nextbit tells us it'll close pre-orders on Jan. 15.