Nextbit Robin camera quick review
The Nextbit Robin is a brand new smartphone that started its life as a Kickstarter project. The first units are now shipping to project backers, and the device is now available for order to other consumers as well. On the surface the Robin looks like any other Android phone, albeit one with a pretty pleasing design. However, both the Android operating system and the Nextbit hardware have been optimized to make the Robin the first real cloud phone.
When the device is connected to Wi-Fi and plugged into the charger it automatically backs up apps and photos to the cloud. When you start running out of local storage space on the device, files and apps you haven't used in a while are archived. This means they are deleted from the device but grayed out app icons and image thumbnails are still visible. When you tap on an archived app or photo it is downloaded from the cloud, so you can access it again from your device. Depending on file size and internet connection this can take a short while. On my home Wi-Fi an app typically took around 30 seconds to restore. If you prefer you can also 'pin' an app to ensure it is never archived.
In the few days I've spent testing device, the archiving and restoring process worked without any problems, making the Nextbit Robin and interesting option for those who like installing large numbers of imaging apps and/or like to keep all their images accessible through the device's gallery app. That said, at DPReview we are of course most of all interested in the Nextbit Robin's camera performance. Read on to find out how it performs in the imaging department.
- 13MP camera with phase detection AF
- F2.2 aperture
- Dual-tone LED flash
- 4K video
- 5MP front camera
- 5.2-inch IPS LCD 1080p display with Gorilla Glass 4
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chipset
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB onboard storage
- 100GB online storage
- Stereo speakers
- Fingerprint reader
- Quick charging
- 2680 mAh battery
The Nextbit Robin comes with a basic but intuitive camera app that offers a nicely designed user interface, in line with the Nextbit Android launcher. By default it's on full Auto which gives you very little control. A tap on the '+' symbol at the bottom opens up flash, controls, a timer, grid and HDR switch. A dot grid icon lets you switch between Auto camera, Manual camera and video mode. Having to press two controls before being able to record a video seems a little longwinded though, maybe a better solution can be implemented with a future update.
The Manual mode gives you control over AF, ISO and white balance and an exposure compensation slider but you cannot set shutter speed manually. There is currently no panorama mode but the team is planning to add one at a later stage. Overall the Nextbit camera app works reasonably well but is designed for point-and-shoot operation. Photographers who want more control over the image capture process should not have any trouble finding plenty of third-party camera apps on Google Play, though.
We took a range of sample shots to have a look at the Nexbit Robin's camera performance in different light conditions. The Robin delivers good exposure across the ISO range, with punchy colors. The auto white balance produces natural results in most situations. The two images below were taken in bright sun light. As you can see in those conditions the camera does a god job at resolving fine detail. Some smearing of low contrast detail is visible but overall textures are very good for a camera in the 13MP class. Sharpness is decent across the frame but softness is noticeable around the edges. Shadow noise is fairly well controlled as well.
Some luminance noise is visible in areas of plain color, such as the sky in the left sample below, even at base ISO. However, it is fairly finely grained, making it a little more pleasant to look at than the smeared noise blobs on some other mid-range smartphone cameras. The lens deals very well with strong light sources in or close to the edge of the frame. We could not provoke any significant lens flare, even when pointing the camera directly at the sun.
For the indoor shots below the camera raises the ISO to 129 and 249 respectively, but maintains shutter speeds that minimize the risk of blur through camera shake and will freeze at least slower motion. Luminance noise is clearly getting stronger in those conditions but the camera still manages to capture a decent amount of detail. In the image on the right chroma noise is making a noticeable appearance.
For the night shot below on the left, the camera set a relatively low ISO of 412 which resulted in a slightly underexposed image. It appears exposure is strongly linked to the AF point which on this occasion was pointed at the illuminated doorway. On the upside the Robin captures decent detail while keeping image noise at acceptable levels. The ISO 806 image on the right was captured in a dimly lit interior. The white balance system deals well with the low tungsten lighting. Noise is very noticeable, especially in the shadow areas, but detail is still good and overall the Robin's low light performance is good for this class of camera.
As mentioned above the Robin's current software exposure seems to be strongly linked to the AF-point which, in high-contrast situations like the one in the samples below, can lead to highlight clipping. Thankfully an HDR mode is on board but as you can see its efficiency in terms of highlight recovery is very limited. There is a touch better detail in the statue and the tree on the right edge of the frame but there is still a lot of clipped image area. Shadows have been lifted much more noticeably. On the upside, there is no noticeable loss in detail.
In our prototype version of the device the HDR mode is also quite laggy, with very slow shot-to-shot times. However, the team tells us this is a known issue that will be resolved for the production version of the Robin.
The Nextbit Robin's unique selling proposition is its innovative cloud storage concept that worked very well in the few days we have used the device. This makes it an interesting alternative to those who want to access large numbers of photos from their gallery app without shelling out big bucks for a phone with a lot of built-in storage.
The Robin also comes with with an attractive design that makes it stand out from the crowd. However, a 13MP sensor with PDAF, an F2.2 aperture and no OIS makes the camera specification pretty conventional and a step behind current high-end devices. That said, at $399 the Robin is very attractively priced and Nextbit is making the most of the imaging hardware. The Robin performs well in all light conditions, with very good detail for a 13MP device in bright light and a good balance between noise reduction and detail retention in lower light. Colors are usually on the punchy side but pleasant. Exposure is generally good but seems to be very strongly linked to the AF-point which, in some high-contrast situations, can lead to over or underexposure.
The camera app is designed for point-and-shoot operation and is easy to use, though we wish it offered quicker access to the video mode. Those who want more control over the capture process will no doubt be better suited with a third-party app from Google Play. The Robin is also very thin on imaging features. There are no filters or panorama modes, and the HDR mode is not terribly efficient and currently a little laggy. According to the Nextbit team the latter two issues will be resolved with future software updates.
Overall, if camera performance is your number one priority the Nextbit Robin is probably not for you. However, if you can live with solid mid-range camera performance, that hopefully will improve slightly with updated software, and think the cloud features will make your life easier, it is definitely worth a closer look. The Robin can now be ordered on the Nextbit website.
Apr 21, 2016
Sep 20, 2017
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 22, 2017
|Patrick Finds Inner Peace by ecastellon|
from Your best photo of the week!
|Forks by Kukla|
from Arranged everyday objects
From landscapes to motocross and white water kayaking to a wedding, exactly what can't the D850 do?
Calumet UK and Wex Photographic, two of the biggest photography retailers in the United Kingdom, are going to officially merge tomorrow.
macOS High Sierra came out today, but if you use a Wacom tablet you need to wait a few weeks before you upgrade. According to Wacom, they won't have a compatible driver ready for you until "late October."
Do you think a $3,000 Canon 80D video rig can compete with an $80,000+ Arri Alexa setup? Well it can't, but check out this video anyway to see how the rigs compare.
Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.
Vitec, the company that owns popular accessory maker Manfrotto, has just acquired JOBY and Lowepro for a cool $10.3 million in cash. The acquisition adds JOBY and Lowepro to Vitec's already sizable collection of camera gear brands.
A master drone pilot has captured one of the most incredible (and highly illegal) drone videos we've ever seen by flying around, inside, onto, and under a moving train.
Intel just debuted their 8th generation desktop CPUs, and the lineup packs a performance boost for 'content creators' that photo and video editors might be intrigued by.
Canon is developing a 'Free Viewpoint Video System' that will turn real life sports games and events into immersive 3D interactive experiences. It's video game-like camera control IRL.
A veteran photojournalist, Rick Wilking secured a spot in the path of totality for the August solar eclipse. While things didn't quite pan out as predicted, an unexpected subject in the sky and a quick reaction made for a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.