Obi Mobiles has relaunched itself as Obi Worldphone and has announced two design centric smartphones – the SF1 and SJ1.5 at an event in San Fransisco today. The phones are primarily aimed at young people in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Both the phones carry impressive design with decent specs at an affordable cost.


John Sculley’s Obi is trying to create a bridge between high design premium phones and affordable generic phones. Obi has released two new phones – both designed by Ammunition, the San Francisco based design firm of the Ferrari fame. Ammunition design is led by Robert Brunner who had collaborated with Sculley on designing Apple’s Powerbook and Newton PDA.

Obi Worldphone SF1 will be the company’s flagship phone which attempts to blend photography and audio capabilities. The SF1 comes with a raised 5-inch FHD screen along with Corning Gorilla-4 display on top of it. Obi has incorporated the raised screen element so as to provide better protection in case of drops. The SF1 is flat at the top and is sort of curvy at the bottom which will not only offer better grip but make it easy to hold in hand.

The SF1 imparts a premium feel thanks to its reinforced fiberglass body and metal accents at both top and bottom of the phone. The device is powered by the infamous Snapdragon 615  and comes in two variants, one with 2GB RAM/16GB Memory and another with 3GB RAM/32GB memory. Thankfully both the phones have not foregone expandable memory card slot citing design limitations and come with a secure microSD slot capable of taking up to 64GB of additional storage.

On the imaging front, the Obi SF1 features a 13-megapixel primary camera with Sony IMX214 Exmor sensor and it also boasts of a Hybrid autofocus system that helps to take split second shot in any conditions, thanks to the phase-detection technology. The camera blends two photos, one with flash and one without flash simultaneously by using Qualcomm ChromaFlash feature. Another noteworthy feature is the Qualcomm OptiZoom which will allow users to zoom in at an resolution which is way beyond the usual digital zoom levels and still end up with crispy and detailed photos. These are Qualcomm licensed features which we also saw on the Xolo Black phone sometime back.

The SF1 is backed up by a 3000 mAh battery pack equipped with Qualcomm Quick Charge 1.0 power management technology which, as per the company claims will charge the device 40% faster than the normal phones.

The Obi SF1 runs a minutely modified version of the stock Android called “Lifespeed” and it is expected to bring a host of new features down the line. Obi will be selling its produce through a mixture of offline and online stores. The SF1 will retail at a best price of $199 for the 2GB/16GB internal memory version and $249 for the 3GB/32GB internal memory version and will be available starting in September starting with Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and India. Stay tuned for hands on and first impressions.

Disclosure: The editor of this blog attended the launch in San Francisco at Obi’s expense.

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Mahit Huilgol is a Mechanical Engineering graduate and is a Technology and Automobile aficionado. He ditched the Corporate boardroom wars in the favor for technology battle ground. Also a foodie by heart and loves both the edible chips and the non-edible silicon chips.