It is a mad idea. The concept of an iPhone grade smartphone selling for just $199 (N30, 000) is a mad one. To be sure, a few other brands have taken the approach. Xiaomi. Motorola. Innjoo. OnePlus. They haven’t quite nailed it yet, though the attempts have been good. I have experienced all but Xiaomi, and none of them have been exactly iPhone grade. The device’s didn’t feel cheap. They were premium, but not iPhone premium.
Now, this new smartphone brand called Obi (isn’t that an Igbo name? Igbo kwenu!) says it wants to do it. 64-bit processor. 3G RAM. Top quality display. Metal unibody. Dual SIM. Those sort of things. For $199. And a custom user interface for Android that looks and feels nothing like Android.
The SF1 has a sibling, the SJ1.5, which is a little lower specc’d and will cost $129. Instead of a metal body, it has a polycarbonate shell.
Obi was founded by an ex – Apple CEO, John Sculley, so maybe they are on to something. We do know that the iPhone is a rip-off at the price it sells for. Breakdowns have shown that it costs less to put together than many flagships that sell way less. So, if Obi knocks off that huge margin for starters…. maybe they are on to something.
Time will tell.
The phones are expected to launch in Nigeria, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates in October. I will be sure to get my hands on the SF1 when it hits the market. That baby looks sleek and drool-worthy. Actually, it reminds me of Nokia N9 and Maemo OS.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.