Obi Mobiles, a company by former Apple CEO, John Sculley has rebranded itself as “Obi Worldphone” and is reentering the market with the launch of Obi Worldphone SF1, which is a mid-range smartphone with more emphasis on design and affordability with decent specifications. It is being called as a mid-range flagship, and even if the claim as a flagship doesn’t seem right, the device has packed enough on the spec sheet, and they didn’t limit it to that.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 is available in two variants having 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage available at Rs. 11,999, and the second variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage available for Rs. 13,999. We’ve been using the phone since weeks, and it has given some neutral views on some aspects, thanks to the raised expectations in the heavily competitive price segment.
Design and Display: The company has been highlighting the design aspect of the device from day one, and the device is designed by San Francisco-based product studio Ammunition. With the founder of Ammunition, Robert Brunner also a previous employee of Apple we can expect the device to inspire from iPhone. But instead, it looks a lot similar to the Lumia range of devices, except the elevated display that Obi is calling as “floating glass display” looks impressive. On the first view, it looks premium for a below 15k phone and feels the same in the hand.
The use of metal, glass and polycarbonate is precise and gives it a classy finish. Its size also makes it easy for single handed use. The front has the elevated display with rounded borders, and the body surrounding has a more rectangular finish to it distinguishing it from the display. The back side has a Black polycarbonate finish to it with Obi branding on the lower right border. The camera and flash are present on the top left corner.
The volume rockers and the power button placement on the left side made it a bit confusing at times as it is opposite to most devices out there, the right side has the SIM card tray. The Stereo speaker grills with dual mics for noise cancellation along with the charging point in the middle are placed on the bottom of the device.
The front of the device sports the 5-inch IPS display with full HD resolution and having a pixel density of 443ppi. It is a floating display that is elevated from the body of the device, and it comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection for safety along with oleophobic coating to prevent fingerprint smudges. The viewing angles are good, and color reproduction under sunlight is decent.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor with Adreno 405 GPU. The device comes in two variants based on RAM and internal storage – 2GB RAM with 16GB internal storage along with 3GB RAM with 32GB internal storage. The device although looks good on paper, using the 3GB RAM variant with Snapdragon 615 we were expecting a smooth and great experience but found that there was a lot of lag, or I must say the interface was sluggish.
I felt that this is because of the LifeSpeed UI skin over the Lollipop OS, which brought in some animations that slowed down the entire interface, and hopefully with an update, Obi might fix this. With multitasking, this was even clear, as surely this is not how other devices with Snapdragon 615 are performing. On gaming, we found that it is good without any frames or unresponsiveness, but there is a bit of a heating issue felt through the plastic back panel. On the performance front, it surely disappointed as the competition is much smoother in multitasking and UI navigation.
Camera: The Obi Worldphone SF1 sports a 13MP rear camera with LED flash along with Sony IMX214 sensor and f/2.0 aperture. It also sports a 5MP front camera with LED flash. Under good artificial lighting, the details and color reproduction are good which can be seen with the flash as well. The camera app comes with features like ReFocus, Chroma Flash, Opti Zoom etc.
The front 5MP camera is decent with help from the LED flash gives good selfies, under low light it was not so great, video-calling way pretty good with the front camera.
Connectivity and Battery: The device has a Dual-SIM connectivity, having 4G LTE support for FDD-LTE 1800MHz Band 3 and TDD-LTE 2300MHz Band 40 in India. The First SIM slot supports Micro SIM and the second SIM is hybrid and it can accommodate microSD card (up to 64GB) or a Nano-SIM card. The other connectivity features are Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/ A-GPS, and GLONASS.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 comes with a 3000 mAh battery and was sufficient enough to last for a full day without the need to charge the phone. There is fast charging feature, thanks to Qualcomm Quick Charge 1.0 technology, and that helps in quickly getting some charge. It lasted a full day after using as my primary smartphone with calls, browsing, WhatsApp, Facebook, watching videos on YouTube, and some occasional gaming which is great for a phone these days.
The screen-on time it delivered was close to four hours on average, for a fully charged device going down to almost zero. The number isn’t great against competition, but here, it is still sufficient for a user who does occasional usage throughout the day.
Is Obi Worldphone SF1 a winner in the crowded smartphone world?
Another new entrant trying to make its mark in this ever growing huge Indian smartphone market? Yes, but they aren’t just rebranding and bringing something that’s already out there. Obi Worldphone SF1 is different at looks, refreshingly good and has enough to gain some attention, but a little far from what you call a perfect smartphone for the price.