A smartphone with (kinda) limitless storage is now on sale to the public. Its main feature is a smart idea, but probably not worth paying a premium for.
The Robin handset from Nextbit was funded on Kickstarter with over a million dollars of pledges. It was originally sold to pledgers for $299. It’s now on general sale for $399.
The main feature of the phone is that it spells an end to worrying about storage space. It automatically backs up both apps and data under circumstances of your choosing (the default is whenever you have a Wi-Fi connection and the phone has a power connection.)
As and when you run short of space, the phone automatically removes photos and apps as needed, making sure to only remove those which are backed up and giving priority to those which you haven’t used or viewed for the longest time.
The operating system (modified Android) includes a one-tap option to immediately restore any app or photo removed in this way (assuming you have a data connection of course.) The phone keeps a record of what’s been backed up in the cloud, so it can safely remove apps and photos even when it doesn’t have a data connection.
For added reassurance, there’s also a set of LEDs on the back which light to show when the phone is connected to the cloud servers and backing up.
The makers do seem to be targeting the more hardcore Android user, making a point of shipping it with no third-party apps preinstalled, including an unlocked bootloader, and stressing that you can install any ROM or brick the device without affecting the warranty.
The big limitation, ironically enough, is the storage. The phone itself has 32GB on board, with the cloud backup limited to 100GB, which seems to undermine the main selling point. Given that top line phones often support microSD cards up to 128GB, and brand name cards of that capacity can be had for $50-60, it doesn’t seem worth paying $400 for the Robin solely for the storage feature. That said, if the reviews are good, it may be that the makers wind up licensing the feature (assuming it uses protected technology) to a major manufacturer.