Ex-Apple CEO's Obi Worldphone launches $149 Android MV1 smartphone

The Obi MV1 is a $149 smartphone designed in San Francisco for consumers everywhere but the US.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The five-inch polycarbonate-constructed Obi Worldphone MV1 supports LTE.

Image: Obi Worldphone

Obi Worldphone, the smartphone company headed up by former Apple CEO John Sculley, has announced a new phone targeted at consumers in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe.

The $149 MV1, announced at Mobile World Congress, joins the two phones Obi Worldphone released last year, the $250 SF1 and the $149 SJ1.5.

The five-inch polycarbonate-constructed MV1 offers one major advantage over the SJ1.5: it supports LTE. Also, instead of the SJ1.5's MediaTek processor, the MV1 runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 212, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with an Adreno 304 GPU.

Another key difference is that the MV1 will be available with either Android or the Android 5.1-based Cyanogen OS 12.1.1. That's the version Cyanogen rolled out in January. It's unclear whether the MV1 will be updated with the Marshmallow-based Cyanogen 13.0 due next month.

As Cyanogen announced separately yesterday, Cyanogen 13.0 devices will get a so-called 'post-app era' Mod update, which includes integrated Microsoft services, such as Cortana, Skype, and One Note. Mod appears to be the result of the companies' agreement last year.

The MV1 will be available in two options. The 16GB model with 2GB RAM will cost $149 while the 16GB model with 1GB RAM will cost $139. Both have a microSD slot that can support up to an extra 64GB storage.

The MV1 continues Obi Worldphone's signature raised-glass display, a feature chosen by San Francisco-based Ammunition, a design firm founded by former Apple industrial design director Robert Brummer, who also designed Dr Dre's Beat headphones.

However, Obi appears to have made some sacrifices in the name of cost cutting. The MV1 retains the SJ1.5's eight-megapixel camera, but drops the five-megapixel selfie-shooter for a two-megapixel camera. The MV1 also has a 2500mAh battery, compared with the SJ1.5's 3,000mAh cell.

The Obi MV1 will be available immediately in Asia and Africa and will be coming to Latin America and Europe in March.

"The components for all these different phones are mass-produced, in the same countries, and often in the same exact factories," Sculley said.

"What we've done with the Obi Worldphone from the very beginning is show that it's possible to have a beautifully designed phone that fits into your lifestyle at an accessible price without sacrificing form and technology. You don't have to give up style in exchange for substance. With the MV1, you can have both."

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