back to article Ex-Apple gurus' elusive Android phone coming to UK next month

The startup backed by former Apple CEO John Sculley is most famous today for being elusive - but all that’s about to change. Obi Worldphone told us today its first UK phone will launch here next month, promising style and mid-range specs for a paltry £119. Obi’s story is unusual – it leveraged the economies of scale of …

  1. Ralph B

    DIY Problems?

    I suppose they know they share a name with the largest DIY retailer in Europe (and the third largest in the world). I quite like the look of their phone, so I wouldn't like to see lawyers shutting them down.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: DIY Problems?

      Legally name sharing is fine as long as there is no reasonable belief that consumers can be confused. Trademarks are far more relaxed in that respect than patents.

      1. To Mars in Man Bras!
        Alert

        Re: DIY Problems?

        *"...Legally name sharing is fine as long as there is no reasonable belief that consumers can be confused..."*

        Ah! –Finally I understand the Instagram / LitterGram spat. Obviously Instagram want to hold onto their association in the public mind as the place to go for posting pictures of crap.

  2. Banksy
    Coat

    Obi One Phone

    May the force be with you!

  3. James 51 Silver badge

    Sounds a lot like the Archos Helium 50D. Wish I'd waiting a few weeks before buying one now.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      eewww Archos? Are they still a thing? Brave man! I always thought they were to France as Ducati were to Italy. (ie constructed by a man on a Friday desperate for the first pastis and gitane of the weekend whose brother is in charge of installing the electrics into Renaults)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I always thought they were to France as Ducati were to Italy. (ie constructed by a man on a Friday desperate for the first pastis and gitane of the weekend"

        The ghost of Ing. Taglioni farts in your general direction. I still regret having sold my real, bevel cam drive Ducati, even if it was for more than I paid for it. Even their single cylinder marine engines were things of beauty.

      2. James 51 Silver badge

        Well the back-light started to shine through the screen after a month so I've had to send it off to be repaired. The return address is in England but the repair centre is in France. Two weeks after receiving it, the phone still hasn't even reached the repair centre. On the plus side dual sim, micro SD and a removable battery. Doesn't have USB to go but for £120 it wasn't a bad bargain.

  4. Sir Sham Cad

    Screen size?

    Until I saw the curved bottom (oo-er) this reminded me very much of the old Nokia Lumia in design. I actually like it though not sure about CGM.

    Only thing I couldn't see in the article was how big this hector is. Anyone know the screensize?

    Yes I could google it but that would take me away from procrastinating on El Reg. Don't judge me.

    1. AIBailey

      Re: Screen size?

      A quick bit of maths based on the screen resolution divided by the ppi reading puts this screen at 2.45 x 4.35 inches. Chuck in a bit of Pythagoras' theorem to get the hypotenuse and you're looking at a 5 inch screen.

      1. Sir Sham Cad

        Re: quick bit of maths

        Christ, and I thought I was procrastinating!

        Thanks AlBailey, appreciate your work. So it's basically the same size as my S4 (although without the resolution). Personally I think that's a nice size.

      2. GeezaGaz

        Re: Screen size?

        No need for science, just type the phone name into Google, it gives you the obi site, go to said site and read specs!

        Yes it has a 5" screen :)

        I was about to bemoan the fact it has no sd card support (because el reg didn't mention it) but boom it does!!! right there in the specs.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    designed the "Beats by Dre"

    Hardly a recommendation.

    The price is OK. But I'd like PACKAGE choice. EVERYONE does flat slab phones with hardly any buttons.

    Anyone could have "designed" that package.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: designed the "Beats by Dre"

      Whilst I take you point if you mean different form factors (sliders, and keyboard phones please), I have to disagree that anyone could have designed that phone. Its very hansome imo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: designed the "Beats by Dre"

      > Anyone could have "designed" that package.

      Waiting for your entry, champ.

  6. Lamont Cranston
    Go

    Good for them.

    More competition in the "relatively low cost, not shit" sector, please.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wileyfox fan here

    Despite their ludicrously laughable customer "service (I wonder if they've fixed that website bug which stopped you registering yet ?)

    My desire is to see more - shit or not - phones sold network free, and will generic Android (Cyanogenmod being a good example).

    Last year, my son "needed" a phone after his broke (again). Despite having 12 fully working handsets in a box (going back to a Nokia 3320) not one of them could be pressed into service because of network locking issues.

    Never again am I buying a network handset.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Wileyfox fan here

      CyanogenMod/OS is not generic Android and using generic Android afterwards is a bit restricting. CM is also themable.

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Wileyfox fan here

      Some networks let you unlock, Tesco didn't mind when I took my phone abroad and gave me the unlock to use a local sim. Three did not lock my phone at all. I don't like network locked phone either, no use when in some countries.

      1. fuzzie

        Re: Wileyfox fan here

        It's a bit odd that they were even locked. The operators down here stopped network locking years ago. Even when they did the general rule was that they'd unlock it for free after six months. Of course, for older handsets there are often unlock codes around on the interwebs...though you never quite know what those do.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wileyfox fan here

      > My desire is to see more - shit or not - phones sold network free

      ??? I thought every phone could be bought stand alone?

      Because of mobility considerations (I visit dozens of countries in any given year) my phones have always been unlocked, and I've never come across something I needed to buy a SIM with if I didn't want one.

      Where are you based? Or am I missing something obvious (sorry, it's late here)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where are you based

        UK.

        You can buy unlocked phones. But they STILL COME WITH CRAPWARE.

        My Wileyfox was a clean as it could be. And if I didn't like any of the apps, I can remove them. Unlike the Crapware handsets that need rooting.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wileyfox fan here

      I changed from a Samsung Galaxy S4 to Wileyfox Swift and it out-performed it in every way!

      Still does almost 8 months later. Highly reccommended, in fact my work has started using them since, they save several hundred quid per handset. Do I get a raise? Do I #%^&

      1Gb ram in this Obi is a massive thumbs down by the way, Family Guy wont work on it :)

  8. JaitcH
    Happy

    I hate ...

    smartphones that position On/Off, and to a lesser extent Volume controls, precisely where many people grip the damn things. On/Off switches should be on the top, in a depression.

    Another feature that is very handy are IR 'blasters', especially if you travel so you can load an App that allows you to off the sound or power. Four hours in Bangkok waiting for the Ho Chi Minh City connector being tortured by TVs that no one watches is a major pain.

    Dual SIM is good but SD storage and battery swapping are essentials.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: I hate ...

      Disagree on battery swapping (a charge anything battery pack is actually more versatile and there are many sizes to choose from).

      Must be a SD card slot with only 16Gb of storage surely?

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: a charge anything battery pack is actually more versatile

        Not if you want to shut your phone down immediately. Then a removable battery is the tits!

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: a charge anything battery pack is actually more versatile

          Swap the batteries and shove it back in your pocket and go, beats a charge pack for me.

    2. Novex

      Re: I hate ...

      According to the UK site, there's a micro sd card capability up to 64GB. If it's actually an XD spec then it should take 128GB and larger cards as well, but that's not something I've read in their specs.

      Obi MV1 UK Page

      It also doesn't mention whether the SD card slot is shared with either of the sim slots, as happens in some other phones.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hate ...

      > Dual SIM is good but SD storage and battery swapping are essentials.

      Those are not mutually exclusive. I've got a no-name Chinese phone here with two SIM and one SD card slot, and the battery can be swapped in seconds. It even came with two batteries, which is great when going on week-long climbing / skitouring trips and an SD card (and rootable stock Android, thank fuck).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dual SIM is good but SD storage and battery swapping are essentials

        Available on Wileyfox Swift.

  9. Alan Denman

    Moto Clone?

    Sounds the same Moto marmet to me.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "it leveraged the economies of scale"

    Management twatspeak

    WTF is wrong with "used"

    1. Handle M'Baughbags

      Re: "it leveraged the economies of scale"

      "Used" would mean that the economies of scale were present for anyone to take advantage of.

      "Leveraged" means they jammed a big f*** off crowbar in there and ripped a hole in the manufacturers profit margin.

  11. Sandtitz Silver badge
    WTF?

    Lollipop?

    "Obi will also roll out regular monthly-ish updates – something Chinese rivals are notoriously bad at."

    "The specs for the beast: Cyanogen OS 12.1.1, Lollipop 5.1"

    Marshmallow was released 6 months ago. If this small shoppe can't offer the latest OS on their new phone what are the chances that updates are ever coming?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Lollipop?

      Marshmallow was released 6 months ago. If this small shoppe can't offer the latest OS on their new phone what are the chances that updates are ever coming?

      Because it's Cyanogenmod which isn't plain Google. I've had CM on Android 6 since January but I think general release was only fairly recently. OTOH devices which run CM can usually expect many years of updates.

      The smart thing here is that Obi is contracting with CM to provide the updates rather than trying to wing it with an undersized and unexperienced team inhouse.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: Lollipop?

        "Because it's Cyanogenmod which isn't plain Google."

        It isn't Android, but the Obi website states 'The MV1 comes in two OS versions: Android Lollipop 5.1 and Cyanogen OS 12.1.1.'

        So you can also have the real Google Android if I read that sentence correctly. CM 13 is available for many other devices already, so is there a valid (technical) reason why Obi doesn't offer the latest?

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Lollipop?

          CM 13 is available for many other devices already, so is there a valid (technical) reason why Obi doesn't offer the latest?

          They're presumably still working on it, since the website also says:

          "Each MV1 is shipped with Cyanogen 12.1.1 and comes with a guarantee that it will receive an over the air update to Cyanogen 13.1 for a far more immersive experience."

          ... though exactly what an "immersive experience" is, I wouldn't like to guess!

          Speaking of immersive experiences, though, it's a shame it's not waterproof.

    2. Chris Evans

      Re: Lollipop?

      "Marshmallow was released 6 months ago." Yes but it is only available on top of the range phones.

      I went phone shopping for my wife earlier this month and IIRC the cheapest phone to buy unlocked with Marshmallow was over £250.

      The shop assistant did say that Marshmallow would probably eventually appear for the Motorola Moto G she bought!

  12. Screwed

    Shame it isn't awful...

    Then we could have had Obidiah.

    (Having looked into partner's family history and found numerous Obi Dyer/Obadiah Dyer names over many generations, that jumped out at me.)

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: Shame it isn't awful...

      So... your partner comes from a long line of Rasta vampire hunters? [Youtube]

  13. Oengus Silver badge

    Down Under

    I wonder if It will ever get here (Vulture South). I think for the money it would be a very real option.

    I might just have to get my niece to get me one...

  14. To Mars in Man Bras!
    Facepalm

    Broken Screen in 3... 2... 1...

    *"All three phones share Brunner’s distinctive "floating glass" design..."*

    I'm presuming Mr. Brunner also has shares in a screen replacement business.

    I've rarely seen a phone design that looked so much like they were aiming for the screen to become scratched or smashed in the shortest possible time.

    Still. "Form Over Function". It's the hipster bearded modern designy way!

  15. Craigie

    Not enough on-board storage. Shame, make it 64Gb and it could sell well.

  16. EBassington

    Refreshing design

    Been bored of the mediocre-looks-good-specs handsets. I think it's about time there are some budget phones that offer good looks along with specs. And if this phone really promises an unlocked network, there are good chance that it sees success here.

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