Obi Worldphone SF1 review

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Obi SF1 is the latest mid-range smartphone in the Indian market from the San Francisco based Obi Worldphones, a venture by former Apple CEO- John Sculley. The highlight of the smartphone is its stylish design that features an elevated display and decent specifications at an easy to stomach price. It is powered by 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939 processor and packs in a 2GB of RAM. The handset runs on Android 5.1 with company’s personalised software layer called as Lightspeed UI. Matching up the competition, the dual-SIM smartphone has 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS as connectivity options, a microSD card slot to expand the storage by up to 64GB and a 3,000mAH battery unit to run the show.

Who is it for?

Obis Worldphone SF1 targets the consumers who are looking for a smartphone that is easy on pocket but does not compromise on its looks and features. The smartphone is priced aggressively- Rs 11,999 and will compete against a number of mid-range devices such as Xiaomi Mi4i, Samsung galaxy J5, Moto X 3rd gen., Micromax canvas 5, Gionee marathon M4 and other handsets priced around Rs 12,000.

Design

Take the smartphone in hand and you will find it real hard to believe that it is sub Rs 15,000 device. The credit goes to its premium and one of its kind design, which suggests that the company has worked real hard for it. SF1 is blend of metal, glass and polycarbonate that results in a device, which feels brilliant in hands. And this is not only about the look and feel; the compact size of the SF 1 also makes it a good fit for one hand operation. However, there is a catch; the volume rockers and the power button are placed on the left edge, which is a bit tricky if you are right handed. I found myself pressing the dual-SIM card slot most of the times.

Besides, two stereo speakers with dual mics for noise cancellation and the charging port sits at the bottom. The 3.5mm headphone jack can be found at the top.

Turn the smartphone back and you will be pleased to see the all black polycarbonate finish, which is good at not attracting the smudges and feels amazing to hold. There is a 13 megapixel camera sensor on the top-left along with the single LED flash light. And a silver coloured Obi branding is embossed at the bottom right corner.

Overall, we found the Obi SF1 the best designed smartphone in sub Rs 15,000 price bracket. The elevated display gives the smartphone a unique look and the all metal and polycarbonate finish looks quite premium.

Display

Obi said that the first thing you will notice about the SF1 is its elevated 5-inch display, and the company is quite right about it. The 5-inch IPS panel, unlike any other smartphone we have seen earlier, seems like it’s embossed on the polycarbonate base and manages to separate the handset from the lot. However, this floating display, as Obi calls it also gives the smartphone a flimsy look.

Now talking about its performance, the 1080p display comes with a pixel count of 443ppi, which results in crisp content and decent viewing angles. We watched a couple of upcoming Hollywood flicks in full HD resolution, and found the clarity and sharpness of the display up to the standards with the other 1080p panels around. The colour reproduction is good and contrast level also makes the smartphone a good device for multimedia consumption.

The screen is guarded by Gorilla Glass 4 that can protect it from those accidental damages, and an oleophobic coating is also provided to prevent those fingerprint smudges. But it’s not that effective and the fingerprints were clearly visible during our time with the SF1.

Performance

Though the hardware that powers the Obi SF1 is very capable of running every application in the Google Play store and to deliver a good level of multitasking; it is the sluggish software performance that causes the problem. The SF1 runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with the Obi Lightspeed UI, which gave us a hard time even with basic tasks such as homescreen navigation, shifting from one app to another during multitasking and to our surprise even while tapping and scrolling through the settings menu.

This is disappointing as other smartphones such as Moto G 3rd gen., Xiaomi Mi4i, etc. pose no such issues. You have the option to switch to standard Android 5.0 UI, but that’s also unable to save the game. The sluggish software responses affect the overall smartphone experience and you are left with a good looking, affordable device with a poor UI experience. An update or a software fix might improve the things in future but for now, the Lightspeed UI fails to make a cut.​​

Camera

Just like most of the smartphones priced in this category, Obi SF1 also packs in a 13MP main shooter, which integrates Sony’s Exmor sensor of f/2.0 aperture. The camera is not the top feature of the smartphone, but its performance is still decent. It captures sharp images with detailing levels that impresses even when you zoom in to maximum; however, there’s a warmer tone to the images that makes them look edited when compared with pictures shot from other smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy J5, Moto G 3rd gen., Xiaomi Mi4i, etc. We have to tweak the saturation levels in the camera settings to bring out the natural colours of the pictures. Other than this, camera is quick to focus and take the shots. Low light performance is also acceptable.

Battery

The elevated display and the thick design of the SF1 have made it possible for the manufacturer to squeeze in a 3,000mAh battery unit. We were managed to get a day’s backup with heavy usage that includes video playback, an hour long gaming session of graphical intensive NFS No limits, browsing, e-mails, social networking and a number of calls throughout the day. With moderate usage, Obi SF1 would be able to last for more than a day that is quite acceptable.

Like

The stylish and premium design of the Obi SF1 really makes a good impression. The camera is also a decent performer and the 3,000mAh battery unit delivers an acceptable backup. Moreover, music lovers will appreciate the integrated Dolby audio system in the smartphone.

No like

The one thing that disappoints about Obi SF1 is its sluggish software performance. We want Obi to come up with some software fix as the SF1 justifies all other aspects of being a great smartphone in its price category.

Should you buy it?

This is not the first time when a CEO or some senior person from a known tech giant has ventured into a new brand. We all know the fate of Jolla smartphones, which were termed as the new innovation in term of software experience by the manufacturer, but has now blurred from our memories and so does from the market. However, we don’t expect this from the Obi smartphone. The device is promising and will give tough competition to smartphones priced in sub Rs 12,000 price bracket such as Xiaomi Mi4i, Samsung Galaxy J5, Moto G 3rd gen., etc. Buy it for the unmatched looks, sharp display, good battery life and a decent camera performance.

Specifications:

Display: 5-inch full-HD IPS display
OS: Android Lollipop 5.1
CPU: 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939 SoC, 2/3GB RAM
Storage: 16/32GB inbuilt storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD
Cameras: 13MP (rear with LED flash), 5 MP (front)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G/4G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, microUSB charging port
Battery: 3,000mAh
Dimensions: 146x74x8 mm
Weight: 147 grams
Price: Rs 11,999

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