This article has been just updated: December 13, 2019
When a former Apple CEO, John Sculley, founds a company whose purpose is to manufacture premium smartphones aimed at the emerging markets, the world pays attention. Obi Worldphone was founded in 2014, and its first low-cost smartphone, the Obi Worldphone SF1, launched on August 27, 2015.
Even though a few years have passed since the launch of the Obi Worldphone SF1, the smartphone has very much remained relevant to this day. In this review, we go over everything you need to know about it to decide whether still such a good buy today as it was in 2015. At the end of this article, we provide three alternatives to the Obi Worldphone SF1 so you’ll definitely leave knowing which smartphone you should buy.
Design and Build
Just one look at the Obi Worldphone SF1 should be enough to tell you that the founder of Obi Worldphone, John Sculley, thinks highly of Apple’s approach to product design. Pictures don’t really do this smartphone justice. It sports a striking iPhone and Nubia mashup design, with a rounded body that provides solid grip and an elevated screen that seemingly floats above the body.
The design of this smartphone is not only beautiful but also highly practical. Because the screen is elevated, it stays further away from your fingertips, effectively minimizing accidental button presses and making the smartphone very easy to handle with just one hand.
What’s also practical is the back side of the Obi Worldphone SF1, which is completely flat. When you put the smartphone on a desk, you can be sure that it will stay in place and not inch its way toward the edge of the desk with each and every tiny vibration as so many other smartphones have the tendency to do.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 measures 146.00 x 74.00 x 8.00 (height x width x thickness) and weighs 147.00 grams. You can get it only in matte black, but it’s hard to imagine it in any other color because black suits it so well.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 has a 5-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, or 43 pixels per inch. The display supports up to 5 touch inputs at the same time, and it’s protected by a slab of Corning Gorilla Glass 4.
Because the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, you can expect it to be fairly drop-resistant. According to Corning, Gorilla Glass 4 can withstand drops up to 2x better than competitive glass designs. Unfortunately, glass can’t be exceptionally drop-resistant or exceptionally scratch-resistant, but not both at the same time. Gorilla Glass 4 leans more on the side of drop-resistance, so it’s easier to scratch than you might expect.
We can say that both the viewing angles as well as the color reproduction of the display are up there with other smartphones in the same price range. The display is readable even under direct sunlight, and it allows you to turn the brightness way down, which comes in handy when reading an eBook late at night.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 has a 13 MP primary camera on the back and a 5 MP front-facing camera for selfies. Both cameras have an LED flash to help in low-light situations, but their low-light performance is still not what we would like it to be. The rear camera is especially noisy in poorly lit environments, and we can’t recommend the Obi Worldphone SF1 to anyone who is serious about night-time photography.
Fortunately, things are quite different during the day. We were particularly impressed with the performance of the front-facing selfie camera, which is very sharp considering how many megapixels it has. The rear camera excels in macros and landscapes, and it also records Full HD video.
Obi Worldphone has developed its own camera app, giving you countless creative photo and video modes to play with. The camera app is easy to use, fluid, and we never ran into any issues while using it.
Unless your performance requirements are more than modest, we recommend you get the more expensive version of the Obi Worldphone SF1 so you can enjoy multitasking without constantly dealing with lags, slowdowns, and bottlenecks.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 isn’t a flawless budget smartphone, but it remains an excellent buy years after its release. Just make sure to pay a bit extra for the version with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space because 2 GB of RAM just doesn’t cut it anymore.
3 Best Alternatives to OBI WORLDPHONE SF1
Largely thanks to Chinese smartphone manufacturers, there’s no shortage of capable budget smartphones with specifications that would put many flagship devices released just a few years ago to shame. Let’s take a look at three alternatives to the Obi Worldphone SF1.
- Xiaomi Mi A2
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is aimed at people who expect their smartphone to make calls, access the web, run apps, and take excellent pictures. Traditionally, great picture quality was the domain of flagship devices costing over $500. Xiaomi has changed that by realizing a budget smartphone with a well-specced trio of cameras that can satisfy the needs of the most demanding users. The Xiaomi Mi A2 runs Android One, so you can receive fresh updates straight from Google.
- Motorola Moto G6
Motorola’s Moto G series of budget smartphones has received a lot of praise over the years, and the company’s last entry may just be its best budget smartphone to date. The Moto G6 has a superb camera, is sensibly priced, sports an attractive glass and aluminum body, and is available everywhere. It runs a near-stock version of Android 8 Oreo with a few useful extras thrown in, including gesture controls, Dolby Audio processing, and support for Moto Voice.
- Huawei Honor 9 Lite
With its luxurious design and a dual-sensor rear camera, the Honor 9 Lite doesn’t look like a budget smartphone. Huawei is using its own chipset, the HiSilicon Kirin 659, which has eight cores and comes with Mali-T830 MP2. Thanks to this chipset, the Honor 9 Lite is able to handle just about anything you throw at it with ease without costing an arm and a leg.
- Xiaomi Mi A2