Storage anxiety is something that most smartphone owners are painfully familiar with, and the only solution is to drop some extra cash on more internal storage, or buy a microSD, assuming your smartphone even supports one. Nextbit has another solution, however, and not only do you not have to pay extra money for it, it actually makes your smartphone a little bit cheaper. The solution is called the Robin, a new smartphone that intelligently utilizes the cloud to make sure you never run out of storage, and reviews for it are staring to come in.
But just making a (generally) nice phone wasn’t the aim of Robin’s creators, who previously worked on Android at Google and design and user experience at HTC. They think storage is becoming a big problem for smartphone users, so Robin, which goes on sale Thursday for $399, contains 32 gigabytes of built-in storage and 100 gigabytes of extra cloud-based storage. That’s all put to use with Nextbit-built software that sits atop the Marshmallow version of Android, paying attention to how often you do things like open certain apps and view photos; then it does its best to archive the things you use least on a faraway server in order to free up space on the handset itself. I didn’t realize this was an issue, seeing as data storage has gotten increasingly cheap and it’s already easy to store plenty of things—photos, music, and such—remotely and access them via smartphone apps. Still, I was game to try it out. Robin is speedy on and off the Web, and has a sharp, responsive touch screen. It’s got a handful of technological bells and whistles that you’d expect on a higher-end phone: a power button that’s also a fingerprint sensor, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a five-megapixel front-facing one, and the ability to work with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology for faster-than-usual battery charging. Nextbit’s on-screen design decisions make Robin easy to navigate, and the phone feels good in your hand. Its speakers—denoted by a circular depression on the top and bottom of the phone’s face—sound awful, even at half volume.