Nextbit Robin XDA Review: The Cloud Phone That’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Have we found a new Nexus?
The shooter on this device is fairly decent, in my experience. Unfortunately, the default camera app is rather bare-bones in its implementation (though it does include a manual mode, which is nice) and the default gallery integration is rather clunky – you can only swipe to see the last photo taken and nothing else!
Now, I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but from the photos I’ve taken I can say that the Nextbit Robin takes pretty sharp, detailed photos in the day and low-light photos that aren’t too shabby. As for video, the only gripe I had was that the microphone picked up some distortions that resulted in the end audio being slightly warped. I didn’t really notice it until I turned up the volume, though. I’ll let you be the judge of the camera quality based on the sample photos I’ve taken.
Several early users of the device have noted that the device opens the camera app and takes pictures quite slowly. In my experience, the Robin does indeed take some time to launch and process/store photos (especially HDR) but it’s not all that bad. You can see and decide for yourself below, but I’ll note that Nextbit has promised an update sometime this month bringing speed improvements to the camera app. I will update my analysis of the camera experience once the update goes live.
Audio and Video
Nextbit’s Robin scores pretty highly in the audio department thanks to the two speakers on the front that deliver clean and loud sounds. The volume of the speakers are loud enough for me to comfortably hear the phone even when disconnected from my car’s bluetooth and driving down a the highway, something which my Nexus 6P struggles with. The DAC quality isn’t stellar like that on the LG V10 but it is far from bad and should satisfy most users looking to use their phone as a media player. As usual, only the hardcore audiophiles should find issue with the phone’s audio output, but those users will likely have their own external DAC anyways.
Don’t expect much in terms of audio enhancement, though. The Nextbit Robin, like the Nexus line-up, does not come with any equalizer or hi-fi audio tuning apps. You can certainly download and install your own audio enhancement suite, which I have accomplished using Viper4Android. Still, it is a bit inconvenient not having this option out of the box for the more casual users.
Above, you can listen to a sample of the Nextbit Robin microphone quality. I sat the Robin about 3 feet from the speaker I used hooked up to my computer and played the iconic Final Fantasy 7 opening theme and listened for any audio distortions. The Robin reproduced the audio quite well with little distortions, but the only issue I found was that there was some slight reverberation in the audio at the music’s highest volume peak. This does not affect the call quality in the slightest, however, as it’s unlikely you’ll be producing any audio within a real-world call that’s louder than my test above.
For video, the Nextbit Robin easily handles most formats and codecs you throw at it. For the few unsupported codecs, the processing power of the Snapdragon 808 is more than enough to handle software decoding (so long as you aren’t trying to run an uncompressed BD rip at 4k resolution or something crazy like that).
The 1080p panel on the Nextbit Robin won’t be blowing you away, but compared to the competition at its price point the Robin’s panel is pretty pleasing to the eyes. While not particularly pixel dense (~423 ppi), the display is overall fairly sharp, accurate, and vibrant when comparing it to other smartphone LCD panels. On the software end, the device is set at a default DPI of 480, which is typical of 1080p screens on an Android phone.
Side-by-side, the brightness of the Robin’s panel matches that of my Nexus 6P, which means it’s usable in daylight but I wouldn’t try reading any small text boxes while out and about. I did not experience any issues trying to operate the camera viewfinder or change music tracks in my media player, for instance, while I was using the Robin outdoors. Indoors, on the other hand, pose a problem when you try to dim the phone’s screen for use at night. The phone’s brightness doesn’t go low enough to not bother me when I wake up in the middle of the night and want to check the time. Auto-brightness is a non-starter for me, personally, as I find myself adjusting the brightness manually more often than not. I would chalk this one up to how Android’s Adaptive Brightness reads and interprets the surrounding light values more so than the Robin itself.
Perhaps this is due to having used an AMOLED screen on my smartphone for the past 2 years, but personally I found the default color temperature a bit washed out so I turned on the Dynamic screen mode to get a more vibrant/colder screen color. Under the standard screen mode, however, the color gradient is reproduced and each color easily distinguished unlike some of the more inaccurate AMOLED panels out there. The panel’s contrast, accuracy, and viewing angles are decent for an LCD panel at this price-point but are not as superb as the ones found on Sony’s device, in my view. Blacks on this panel are one of the weaker aspects of the device and coupled with the black bar between the mint-colored bezel and the display itself you’ll really notice the LCD panel lit up behind the black pixels.
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