The anti-Apple: Obi wants to sell iPhone grade smartphones for $199

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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.

obi sf1

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.


7 comments

  1. Would it be running iOS? If not, they could be wasting their time and resources.

    Fools rush in where angels fear to tread Ask Jeff Besos.

    You can’t win the smartphone war by outpricing everybody. That market is simply too crowded, and the profits, if any, are ultra_thin.

    Truly, time would tell

  2. It does look a lot like the Nokia family of phones at a glance. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s like the lights have gone on somewhere and from every corner, a new Android phone is being launched and released. There has to be saturation level at some point.

    When I first saw the headline I was wondering who Obi was 😀

  3. @eyebeekay who thought of dual Sim phones, the Chinese, whoever believed that Nokia would go down to beg for crumbs by making only feature phones. I tow the OBI world phone line they definitely rock. Premium built at an affordable price.

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