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Razer Fires Off Gaming-Focused Razer Phone

Nov 1, 2017, 4:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Razer today announced the Razer Phone, its first smartphone, with a focus on mobile gaming. The company bought NextBit, maker of the Robin phone, earlier this year and the Razer Phone was born from projects started at NextBit before the acquisition. The design is similar to the Robin in that it has a blocky shape and front-firing stereo speakers with independent amplifiers and a THX-certified DAC. The device boasts a number of firsts. To start, the 5.72-inch, wide-color gamut, IGZO LCD contains quad HD resolution and is the first display to refresh at a rate of 120 Hz (ideal for gaming). The Razer is also the first handset to ship with Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0, an enhanced version of the rapid-charging technology. Razer is pushing the phone’s pixels and polygons with a Snapdragon 835 processor with a whopping 8 GB of RAM. The phone has 64 GB of storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 2 TB. As for the camera, the phone has twin 12-megapixel cameras with PDAF and a two-tone, dual-LED flash. One camera has a wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/1.75 and the other has a telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.6. An 8-megapixel, fixed-focus camera is located on front. A 4,000mAh battery provides plenty of power to keep games running for as long as possible. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat. Preorders kick off immediately. The Razer Phone will go on sale in the U.S. on November 17.


Nextbit Ends Support for Its Robin Smartphone Today

Aug 1, 2017, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 1, 2017, 4:38 PM

Nextbit today announced via its official Twitter account that it is no longer offering customer support for its sole smartphone, the Robin. "Rebels, effective August 1st 2017, we will be shutting down support for Robin," said the company in its forums. "Although you won’t be able to reach us by phone or chat anymore, any outstanding RMA tickets will be handled via email. Remember, you can still refer to our self-help section here, or get help from other Robin users on Razer Insider. If you purchased your Robin through a third-party reseller, please contact them for any inquiries. Thanks for being a part of Nextbit." Nextbit was the brainchild of Scott Croyle, former designer at HTC. The Robin smartphone was unique in that it offloaded not only photos, videos, and songs, but entire apps in order to free up local storage space. Apps existed in a suspended state and could be fully restored quickly when necessary. The phone went on sale during the second quarter of 2016. Nexbit was purchased by Razer in January 2017. The company said it will continue to provide software and security updates through February 2018.


Razer Buys Nextbit

Jan 30, 2017, 6:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Razer, the gaming hardware company, today said it has purchased Nexbit, the cloud-focused smartphone company. Nextbit's primary product is the Robin smartphone, which relies on a constantly-syncing cloud connection to manage device storage. The phone was launched through a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and reached end users in early 2016. Nextbit has updated the core platform consistently over the last 12 months, but has not introduced new hardware. "Nextbit will operate as an independent division inside Razer, focused on unique mobile design and experiences," said the company in a statement. "To put it simply, we'll be doing exactly what we've been doing all along, only bigger and better." Nextbit says it has ceased selling Robin smartphones and accessories, but the company remains committed to its existing customer base. Warranties will be honored for the next 6 months, and Nextbit promises to push out security releases through February 2018. "Joining up with Razer will allow us to reach much further," said Nextbit cofounder Tom Moss. Moss will continue to serve as Nextbit CEO and report to Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Nextbit Pushes Nougat to Robin Beta Testers

Nov 22, 2016, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 22, 2016, 1:11 PM

Nextbit today said people signed up to beta test its software should soon receive a preview of Android 7.0 Nougat. According to Nexbit, the Nougat preview includes ideas from its own developer team along with those contributed by Paranoid Android. The result is a faster, less power-hungry operating system for the Robin. Beta testers should receive a notification within the next 24 hours or so, after which they'll be able to download and install the Nougat OS preview on their Robin handset. The Robin relies on continuous, smart cloud-syncing to ensure it always has storage for apps, media, and other content.


Nextbit Updates Robin's Camera

Oct 5, 2016, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today announced a small system update for its Robin smartphone. The update primarily improves the camera by adding some editing functions, including filters, crop and rotate tools, and exposure/color adjustments. The update also includes the latest security patch from Qualcomm to resolve vulnerabilities related to the QuadRooter bug. The update can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Nextbit Adds Ember to Robin Roster, Video Backups to OS

Jul 27, 2016, 11:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today shared two bits of news concerning its Robin smartphone. First, the company is now selling an ember color variant. The ember model is being sold directly from Nextbit.com. Nexbit says only a limited number are available. The ember models costs $299. Second, the company is updating the Robin's software to include video backups. The new video-saving feature works the same as with photos; the file is moved off the device and into the cloud, but a thumbnail of the video remains on the device so the file can be retrieved when wanted. The video backup function is available first to beta testers. Nexbit said the planned August software update for all users will include the latest security patches from Google. Nexbit didn't say when the video backup feature will go live for everyone.


NextBit Offering Web Client Beta

Jul 7, 2016, 1:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today said owners of the Robin smartphone can test a web-based client for accessing files that have been moved off the phone and stored in the cloud. The client lets people log into their Nextbit account from a computer and view photos and other content. With regard to photos, the client permits zooming in and out and displays meta data captured by the camera. The client also allows Robin owners to select and download photos to their PC or share them with friends via social networks. Nextbit says the web client is available to people who've joined the Nexbit Beta Program. More features are on the way, and Nextbit hopes to roll out the tool to all Robin owners shortly.


Nextbit Says OS Update to Tackle Battery Life In New Way

Jun 23, 2016, 10:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 23, 2016, 10:53 AM

Nextbit will bring the same thinking it used to create the Robin's dynamic storage functionality to the smartphone's battery in a future operating system update. "We can apply the same intelligence we've used for smart storage towards making your battery last significantly longer," said the company in a blog post. "We will launch a new version of Nextbit OS that gets to know your habits and optimizes functions at the system level to ensure you get the most screen time possible." Nextbit says its battery intelligence will work hand-in-hand with the existing power-saving tools in Android Marshmallow and the forthcoming features in Android N. The company didn't dive into specifics on how it will achieve battery gains, nor did to make any claims as to how much more battery life will be achieved through its technique. The operating system will be offered to members of the Nextibt Beta Program before it is released to all users in the fall. The Robin dynamically shifts photos, videos, and even apps from the phone to the cloud when needed to make room for new content.


Nextbit Drops Robin Price to $299 for Everyone

Jun 20, 2016, 1:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today said it has dropped the price of the Robin smartphone to $299 on its web site. The phone normally sells for $399, but has been available to U.S. buyers for $299 from Amazon.com. The price change on Nextbit.com means anyone — including those who live overseas — can buy the Robin at the reduced $299 price point. Shipping is included for free.


Nextbit Rolls Out Beta Program

Jun 15, 2016, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit has opened the Nexbit Beta Tester Program to allow Robin owners to check out experimental features before they released to everyone. Nextbit says users who sign up for the beta program will be expected to provide feedback on their experience with test software. "Nextbit Beta Testers are a group of Robin owners who raise their hands to provide our team with help and feedback," explained the company in a blog post. "As a member of the beta program, you have an opportunity to be included in various studies with direct access to the Nextbit team." Robin owners who are interested in joining the program need to fill out an application, but participation is free.


Nextbit Delivering Smaller System Update to Robin

Jun 9, 2016, 9:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today said it is sending a minor system update to its Robin smartphone. This upgrade makes changes to the speaker volume, giving the minimum setting a softer sound and also providing a more linear progression as users increase the volume from quiet to loud. Nextbit made a small tweak to the camera, improving stability when sharing pictures to the Line application. The update also throws in a couple of custom ringtones and installs the June 1 Android security patch from Google. Robin owners can download and install the update over the air for free. At the same time, Nexbit recently said that Amazon is running a sale on the Robin, which costs $299 for a limited time.


Amazon to Sell Nextbit Robin for $299

May 3, 2016, 1:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon is kicking off sales of the Nexbit Robin with a limited price. Anyone who buys the phone from Amazon between May 4 and May 10 will pay $299, rather than $399. The sale price is only available in the U.S. Nextbit will continue to sell the phone directly at the full price of $499 through its own web site. Nextbit recently updated the Robin handset, making improvements to speed, reliability, the camera, and sound quality. The Robin was designed by former HTC employees and is unique in that it dynamically offloads files and apps to make room for new content.


Nextbit Delivers Promised Update to Robin Smartphone, Drops the Mic on New Ringtones

Apr 27, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit said its planned system update for the Robin smartphone will begin going out over the air today. The update pushes the operating system to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and includes the April security update, and tweaks to the camera, processor, and sound drivers. Nextbit says the processor refinements should lead to better battery life, while the camera is now much faster, and the stereo speakers provide clearer sound. Nextbit says partnered with AIAIAI to create a custom set of TMA-2 headphones to go with the Robin. The new audio adjustments for the Robin apply to the phone's headset jack as well, and the TMA-2s are able to take advantage of those adjustments for better bass and treble response. The headphones are colored to match the Robin smartphone. They cost $225. Beyond the headphones, AIAIAI and Nextbit worked together to create several exclusive ringtones for the Robin. They reached out to select musical artists and asked them to "make tones that soothe the otherwise occasionally disturbing world of smartphone notifications." The initial musical artists and DJs tapped by Nextbit include Griffage and Lauren Lo Sung. Nextbit plans to add more curated ringtones to its community site over time. Last, the Robin smartphone is now available online from Amazon.com.


Nextbit Speeds Up Robin's Camera with System Update

Mar 30, 2016, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today revealed a forthcoming system update for its Robin phone that will make improvements across the board. To start, the update will notch the phone's operating system up to Android 6.0.1. This small jump brings with it support for more emoji thanks to Unicode 7 and 8. The refreshed code boosts the speed of the camera, which Nextbit claims is twice as fast as the previous camera app. The camera app UI has been tweaked a bit, and Nexbit claims the phone handles low-light environments better. Nextbit says it re-tuned how the speakers and amps work together, so audio should be clearer than before. Clarity of the speakerphone is improved, as well. Last, the system update tackles some small bugs and smoothes out performance. Nextbit says the Snapdragon processor should score higher on benchmarks, and the battery should deliver a bit more juice. Nextbit says the system update will be available near the end of April.


Nextbit Shelves CDMA Variant of Its Robin Phone

Mar 17, 2016, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit has canceled plans to bring a version of its Robin smartphone to Sprint and Verizon Wireless. The company cited the slow carrier approval process and ballooning expenses as reasons behind its decision. "What people at the carriers, in good faith given our need for quick answers, thought would take 'weeks' has turned into 'months'," explained Nextbit CEO Tom Moss. "What they thought would cost 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' has turned into 'millions'. And we're still not there." The company is refunding those who pre-ordered the CDMA version of the Robin, and is also offering those customers 25% off the GSM version of the Robin should they want it. The Robin runs Android and proactively offloads apps and files to the cloud in order to conserve storage. It is sold unlocked and works with AT&T and T-Mobile.


Nextbit Says Robin Back In Stock After Brief Sellout

Feb 24, 2016, 1:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nexbit sold through its initial stock of the Robin smartphone over the first weekend it was available. Today, however, Nextbit says it has replenished its supplies and the Robin is available to purchase once again.


Nextbit Delays Launch of CDMA Version of Robin

Jan 22, 2016, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today said the CDMA variant of its Robin smartphone won't be ready as early as hoped. The company initially thought it could get the phone out the door by February, but now believes it will need until April. "The CDMA Robin wasn't in development until we saw [the] response on Kickstarter, and we got a little carried away in the excitement of the campaign," said the company. "Now that we've gone through development and are working out the testing schedule, we think April is more realistic. We don't know exactly when in April as there are still a number of factors outside our control." The GSM version of the Robin will ship to early backers of Nexbit's Kickstarter campaign beginning February 16. The GSM and CDMA versions will both be sold unlocked and support the networks of AT&T/T-Mobile and Sprint/Verizon, respectively.


Nextbit Robin to Reach Early Backers February 16

Jan 6, 2016, 2:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit said the first 1,000 people who supported the Robin through Kickstarter will receive their handset starting February 16. The company will push more deliveries to other supporters over time.

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Hands-On with the Nextbit Robin

Jan 5, 2016, 10:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit announced the Robin last year, but the company is using CES 2016 to re-introduce the phone just ahead of its launch. This phone focuses on optimizing on-board storage using the cloud. The hardware was crafted by a former HTC designer, so some of its characteristics are rather familiar. Here are our first impressions.

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Nextbit Accepting Preorders for the Robin

Oct 22, 2015, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit has opened up preorders for those interested in its forthcoming Robin smartphone. The phone was initially offered via Kickstarter for $299/$349. Nextbit surpassed its Kickstarter goals during the initial campaign and has moved forward with manufacturing plans. The Robin is an Android phone that uses the cloud to manage on-board storage availability. It can seamlessly offload and reload content — including applications — when needed to free up space. The phone will be available in GSM and CDMA variants, supporting the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile, and Sprint and Verizon. It is priced at $399 and expected to ship in February.


Nextbit Surpasses Goal, Closes Kickstarter Campaign

Oct 2, 2015, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit's Robin smartphone won the financial support of more than 3,600 people who invested $1.36 million in the Kickstarter campaign. Nextbit said it received enough interest in the Robin to move forward with manufacturing. It has closed the Kickstarter campaign and is now working to bring the device to market, expected during the first quarter of 2016. According to Nextbit, most of the investment came from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, the U.K., and Singapore. The Robin is an Android phone that uses the cloud to manage on-board storage availability. It can seamlessly offload and reload content — including applications — when needed to free up space. It was designed by former HTC employees and costs $399. The phone will be available in GSM and CDMA variants, supporting the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile, and Sprint and Verizon.


Nextbit Robin CDMA Model to Support Sprint, Too

Sep 23, 2015, 7:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today released the final set of specs for the CDMA variant of its Robin smartphone. The details reveal that the device is compatible with Sprint's CDMA network in addition to Verizon's. The Robin supports CDMA in the 800MHz and 1900MHz bands, in addition to quad-band GSM, HSPA, and LTE. The CDMA version supports LTE in bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 13, 20, 25, 26, and 41. The device, which is based on Android and syncs apps and files seamlessly with the cloud, isn't expected to ship until the first quarter of 2016.


Nextbit to Offer CDMA Version of Robin Smartphone

Sep 17, 2015, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit today said it plans to make a CDMA version of its Robin smartphone available via Kickstarter beginning Sept. 18. The first 300 units will be available for $299, after which the price will jump to $349. Nextbit says the CDMA phone will run on Verizon's network in the U.S. Nextbit also said it will kick off a color contest today at 2p.m. eastern. The contest will allow Kickstarter backers to propose colors for the device. Nextbit will later put the five most popular choices to vote. The Robin is an Android smartphone that manages storage through close ties to the cloud. It is not expected to ship until the first quarter of 2016.

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Nextbit Introduces Robin, a Phone That Makes the Cloud Smart

Sep 1, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nexbit today revealed the Robin, an Android smartphone that intelligently uses the cloud to help manage storage space on the fly. The handset includes 32 GB of "offline" storage and 100 GB of "online" storage. The hardware itself has 32 GB, but the Robin has access to another 68 GB of storage on Nextbit's servers. When the Robin is connected to the internet (via LTE or WiFi) it has access to all 100 GB of this storage space. Most interestingly, Robin's software will learn which apps are used the least and will proactively remove them from the handset until they are needed. Removed apps still appear in the menus, but are greyed out and unusable until the user chooses to reload them. Users won't have to re-enter credentials for removed apps; Robin keeps account and login details intact. The handset has a unique industrial design created by Scott Croyle, a former designer for HTC. The main chassis is made from metal and it is book-ended by two polycarbonate caps. The caps house stereo speakers (each with its own amplifier), camera modules, sensors, and wireless radios. The Robin features a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with 3 GB of RAM. The Robin has a 13-megapixel main camera with two-tone LED flash, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Nextbit added a fingerprint sensor to the screen lock button, which is located on the side of the Robin. The phone has a 2,650mAh battery that is sealed in. Wireless radios include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi, HSPA+, and a wide selection of LTE bands for compatibility with networks such as those run by AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. Nextbit is launching the Robin in the U.S. via Kickstarter beginning today. Early bird supporters (first 1,000 backers) can score the Robin for $299. Follow-up Kickstarter supporters will have to spend $349. The Robin will ship for $399 in the first quarter of 2016.


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