Way back in September 2015 when Nextbit launched their Kickstarter, people were taken by surprise. Cloud and Smartphone? How? What? Where?
Fast forward to January 2017, Nextbit got aqcuired by Razer.
What happened in between is pretty interesting.
In case you can’t recollect, here’s a quick recap of Robin’s specs:
- CPU: Snapdragon 808
- Memory: 3GB RAM / 32 GB onboard / 100 GB cloud
- Screen: 5.2” IPS LCD 1080p, Gorilla Glass 4
- Rear Camera: 13MP with PDAF, dual tone flash
- Front camera: 5MP
- Battery: 2680 mAh
- Dual front facing stereo speakers
- Side mounted Fingerprint sensor
- Dimensions: 149mm x 72mm x 7mm
- Weight: ~150g
Specs aside, what really stood out about the Robin is its industrial design. Even today, Robin looks nothing like any smartphone in the martket. Its unique colorways and simple, yet modern design sets it apart from the sea of similar looking phones (metal unibody then, metal-glass sandwich now).
If you have any remote interest in smartphone designs then you’re probably familiar with Scott Croyle and his creations. He has been leading the HTC design team (which was One & Co design studio taken over by HTC) from 2008 until 2014 where he decided to quit and join Nextbit.
Everytime I wonder how Scott can possibly iterate on a design and improve it further, he and his team never cease to amaze me. His timeless designs have really stood the test of time. His swansong for HTC, the HTC One M8 still looks unique and exudes premium feel in hand.
While at Nextbit, he designed Robin; a polycarbonate slab with circular motifs. Not only did it look fresh, but also very appealing. Attributing the design were the various unique colourways Robin was available in: Mint, Midnight, Electric and Ember. I personally own the Ember Robin and it really looks amazing.
Just when people were expecting for some spicy teasers for Robin’s sequel, Nextbit got acquired by Razer. Although there was no “Robin 2” but the world witnessed the launch of Razer’s first smartphone; aptly named Razer Phone.
After his departure from Razer, he founded Attic, a design firm, with Daniel Hundt whom he worked with at One & Co and HTC.
One fine day, Attic shared a few photos throwing back to the Robin era. One of those photos was a real gem; The Nextbit Robin sequel which never saw the light of the day.
Yes I agree, by 2018’s standards Robin 2’s bezels do stick out like a sore thumb but even then, they look symmetrically pleasing (OCD satisfied). Once you go past it, the whole aesthetic of Salmon + Grey colourway really pops out.
It’s easy to draw some parellels to the design of Razer Phone. Same boxy design with side mounted fingerprint scanner, volume button in the middle and much more (albeit with a metal unibody rather than polycarbonate shell).
What do you think about the design? Is this something which you’d use today? Let me know!