Update: After a few months in the wilderness the Obi MV1 is available to buy from Amazon for just £99. We think it’s a bargain!
YOU PROBABLY haven’t heard of the Obi Worldphone MV1, and on first impressions, you may be forgiven for dismissing it as another also-ran in the increasingly crowded budget arena currently dominated by the likes of the Moto G4 and Honor 5C.
The Obi MV1 isn’ your average budget phone, though. It follows in the footsteps of the OnePlus 3 with its privacy aware Cyanogen OS, and the team behind the handset includes John Sculley of Apple fame and the design team behind the successful Beats service.
On first impressions, the Obi Worldphone MV1 could almost be the ghost of an early Nokia Lumia, and this won’t be the last time we mention the Lumia in this review.
With the assembled talent behind it, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Obi takes design very seriously. The Worldphone MV1’s design runs throughout its DNA – the shape of the packaging mimics the distinctive shape of the handset, and even the app icons share the same profile.
The smooth, black polycarbonate chassis measures 146×72.6×8.9mm, meaning it’s considerably smaller than something like the Moto G4. At 149g, it’s a touch lighter too.
The Obi Worldphone MV1 is a phone of two halves. The design swoops into a gentle curve at the bottom, but such playfulness comes to an abrupt halt at the top where curves are replaced with hard silver lines.
That curved bottom bezel and slight weightiness make it feel solid and comfortable in the hand, although we’d advise against planting it the wrong way up in your pocket.
The backplate is removable, allowing you to get at the battery and locate the dual SIM slots. There’s room for a microSD in there too.
Power and volume controls live on the handset’s rounded right edge, while a USB 2.0 socket sits on the bottom.
Audio is served via a reasonably powerful speaker on the back. Volume can be pumped up to an adequate level, but don’t expect distinct treble and bass. We enabled the AudioFX mode (DTS Sound) at the earliest opportunity.
The Obi Worldphone MV1 has a 5in IPS panel. The HD 1280×720 resolution is limiting on paper, but the MV1 sets itself apart thanks to the floating display toughened with Gorilla Glass 3.
The Obi’s MV1’s screen is superior to that of the Wileyfox Spark, which is similarly priced. Despite the same resolution we had a hard time picking out individual pixels, and lines remained sharp throughout.
It doesn’t suffer from poor viewing angles either, thanks in no small part to something Obi calls a Sunlight Display. If we were to level criticism, colours can lack vibrancy and appear muted at times, even at the highest brightness settings, but for £119 we feel the performance is more than adequate.
The extra oleophobic coating should help to keep smudgy fingerprints at bay, but we wouldn’t have known it was there if we hadn’t been told.
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