Obi rebranded itself as “Obi Worldphone” and its second innings started with the launch of “SF1” smartphone. The device falls in the mid-range segment as per the Indian smartphone market. To enlighten our users, Obi Worldphone is a venture of the former Apple CEO, John Sculley. The Obi Worldphone SF1 is targeted at the buyers who want an affordable good-looking device clubbed with worthy features and specifications. The smartphone has been priced at Rs 11,999 for the 16GB storage variant, and is set to rival against mid-range smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy J5, Moto G 3rd Gen, Xiaomi Mi4i, Micromax canvas 5, and many more.
The Obi SF1 launched in India a week ago, and thanks to the makers, we got an opportunity to get the review unit well in advance. This review is based on my 15 days usage of the Obi SF1 smartphone.
Design and Display
Right from the first day when I started using the device, what made me happy was its elevated display and build quality. As you can see in the pictures, it looks pretty good and gives a different first impression altogether. It has a premium feel when you hold it, which comes from a fine blend of metal, glass and polycarbonate. Not just looks, even the size of the device is good for single-hand operations. What makes it a bit complex is that the power button and volume rocker are placed on the left side instead of the usual right side on most of the devices.
On the rear, you will be pretty impressed with the Black polycarbonate finish. On the top left of the back panel, there is a 13-megapixel camera sensor with a single LED-flash light. At the bottom, you will find two stereo speakers grills with dual mics for noise cancellation and a charging port between the speaker grills. Overall, I found the design cool enough for an under 15k segment smartphone.
Now coming on to the display, the device features an elevated 5-inch IPS display. Keeping the display safe is the Gorilla Glass 4 protection, which makes it less prone to accidental damages. There is also an oleophobic coating that is touted to prevent fingerprint smudges, although it is not as effective, as I could clearly see my fingerprints on the screen during my time with the SF1.
The full HD display at 1080p resolution with 443ppi pixel count is pleasing to the eyes. When watching any video content or playing games, the display does not disappoint. The viewing angles are decent, and the sharpness also goes hand in hand with the full HD tag. I watched a couple of movie teasers in HD online, and the display seemed pretty good to me. The contrast and colour temperature is also fine, but not as good as any flagship device like the Samsung Galaxy S6. Having said that, given its price, the Obi SF1 delivers a good display performance.
Hardware and Software
Given the specifications, the hardware that powers the Obi SF1 (Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 octa-core chipset) looks capable enough to smoothly run most of the apps available on the Google Play store. But sadly, the software onboard is pretty sluggish and causes unwanted lags in the performance. Even some of the regular animations such as the opening of the multi-tasking window are little delayed. Due to lag in the animations, multi-tasking on the Obi SF1 was not a good experience.
The device runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with Obi’s in-house Lightspeed UI on top, which caused many unwanted lags. Some of the regular tasks such as app switching, home screen navigation, and even scrolling down the settings menu, all these tasks were not being performed smoothly by the device. During my usage period of the device, it received a minor software update, which improved the multi-tasking to some extent, but even then I found lag in the opening and closing of tabs.
This comes as a bummer, as its rival smartphones such as the Moto G 3rd Gen or Xiaomi Mi4i, deliver a much better performance in terms of multi-tasking. Due to its sluggish software, the good-looking device fails to impress in the performance section. There are chances that Obi might fix these issues in the upcoming software updates, but for now the Lightspeed UI is nothing more than a late performer.
Camera and Multimedia
Treading the same path as many other smartphones under the 12k price segment, the Obi SF1 also comes with a 13-megapixel primary camera clubbed with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
The primary camera comes integrated with Sony’s Exmor sensor of f/2.0 aperture, and LED flash. It takes satisfactory shots, and as you can see in the image above, the detailing of the subject is also pretty good. Also, the focusing is also a bit slow, which means that capturing a moving object could be challenging. It also lacks Image Stabilisation, although there are few camera modes such as ReFocus, Chroma Flash, Opti Zoom, but you gotta work on these modes to fetch best results. The front-facing camera also delivers a satisfactory performance. I tried video-calling on it, and except for few glitches, the camera works fine in the well-lit surroundings. For all those selfie-obsessed users, Obi SF1’s front camera may not impress you as much.
The audio quality of the Obi SF1 is good and I didn’t face any problem while using it for calling purposes. It features Dolby Audio app, which delivers good sound quality when playing games, movies, and music.
The design of the Obi SF1 managed to fit in a 3,000mAh battery unit. I used the device to the optimum level, and it easily gave a backup of one day. With “optimum level”, I mean that I used it on 3G, watched many videos, played games, incessantly browsed web and apps. Given the usage, a day’s performance is pretty acceptable.
The first impression of the device, as based on its outlook was “woah”, but the software performance failed to keep the same tone of reaction. The sluggish software made Obi SF1 a challenging device to use, but after the update, there were minor improvements. Obi can make the SF1 a good smartphone by fixing the software issues. The display and design did win my heart as I found it easy to handle. Also, the battery life and camera performance are fine as per the pricing. I would give it a rating of 5.5 on 10.
Obi SF1 specifications at a glance:
- 5-inch IPS FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 octa-core chipset
- 2GB RAM/16GB internal storage, 3GB RAM/32GB internal storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD card
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with Obi’s in-house Lifespeed OS on top
- 13MP primary camera with LED flash, and 5MP front-facing camera
- dual-SIM, 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS
- 3,000mAh battery