John Sculley, a man who served as CEO of Apple for a decade starting in 83, is working with the design firm that helped create Beats headphones to produce a new breed of smartphones for use outside of the US. The idea isn't to hit developing markets with more cheap, plastic devices that serve as hollow shells of the high-end counterparts sold elsewhere. Sculley's Obi Worldphone wants to offer young people a slightly more premium device with spiffy packaging.

Yes, the Obi Worldphone SF1 (named after San Francisco, where the Ammunition design firm is located) is a pretty generic looking black rectangle, but it comes with a unibody design supplemented by metallic accents and a raised glass display. More impressive, though, is what's on the spec sheet: a Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 processor with Adreno 405 GPU, a 5-inch 1080x1920 Gorilla Glass 4 display, a 13MP camera, a 3,000mAH battery, and up to 3GB of RAM. All of this comes at a price point ranging from $200 to $250, depending on whether you want 16GB or 32GB of storage and 2GB or 3GB of RAM.

ObiWorldphone

There's also a second, weaker device called the Obi Worldphone SJ1.5. It comes with a slower MediaTek MT6580 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a lower resolution 720x1280 5-inch display. The price, though, comes in at $130. Interestingly, this model apparently ships with Android 5.1, while the SF1 gets 5.0.2. But unlike the SF1, the SJ1.5 is limited to 3G.

Frankly, these sound like options we wouldn't mind seeing in the US, but Obi intends to sell both devices in the likes of India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam starting in October. Both are planned to hit 50 to 70 countries by 2017.

Press Release

Obi Worldphone Launches Silicon Valley Design on Powerful Smartphone for $199; Targeting Global Growth Markets

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Taking a fresh approach, Obi Worldphone™ today introduces two high-quality, premium-designed smartphones priced at an exceptional value to attract discerning young people in fast-growth markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Designed by renowned San Francisco-based product studio Ammunition, Obi Worldphone™ SF1 and SJ1.5 are set apart by iconic industrial design. Ammunition also developed Obi Lifespeed, a custom user interface for Android that unifies the software and hardware experience. Obi integrates elegant design with high-end technology from Qualcomm, Dolby, Sony, Corning Incorporated, Google, MediaTek, Japan Display, Inc. and Samsung to deliver a powerful performance. Obi Worldphone is the first to address the market need between high-design smartphones at high prices and generic smartphones at low prices.

“Over the next three years one billion users will upgrade from low-end, starter smartphones to models with more power and greater functionality," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, Inc. of San Jose, Calif., a 35-year market analyst and research firm evaluating the global adoption of consumer technology. “The Obi Worldphone no-compromise design and aggressive pricing makes it very appealing to this audience as the market for smartphones expands and the upgrade market for smartphones accelerates.”

Obi and Ammunition celebrate the new smartphones tonight at the Autodesk Gallery with Obi Worldphone co-founder John Sculley, former head of Apple and Pepsi-Cola and an international investor in consumer technology companies, and Robert Brunner, Ammunition’s founder and partner.

"Obi has taken the best of Silicon Valley – innovations in design, state-of-the-art technology and high standards for manufacturing – and fused them into beautiful, powerful tools at attractive prices,” Sculley said. “Our efficient cost structure and broad distribution combine to present empowering tools that help our customers achieve their aspirations.”

“With Obi we set out to create beautiful, original smartphones that go beyond consumers’ expectations. From concept through to manufacturing, we’ve paid incredible attention to quality, materials and engineering to achieve the highest level of design,” Brunner explained. “We’ve obsessed over every detail of the Obi experience — from industrial design, user interface and packaging — to deliver inspiring products that overturn the misconception that great design has to come at a high price.”

SF1 – Elegant Design and No-compromise Technology

Obi Worldphone SF1 is the company’s flagship 4G/LTE smartphone featuring state-of-the-art photography and audio capabilities. The SF1 has a raised 5-inch display made of durable Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 - an instantly recognizable signature element that emphasizes the interplay of the hardware with the user interface. The SF1’s premium feel comes from its reinforced fiberglass body and metal accents at the top and bottom of the phone. The SF1 also features a long-life, quick-charge battery and easy-access, dual-SIM slot with micro secure digital (SD) expansion. The SF1’s suggested retail price is USD $199 for the 2 GB RAM/16 GB internal memory version and USD $249 for the 3 GB RAM/32 GB internal memory version.

Obi embraced the full capabilities of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615 processor to power the SF1’s 13-megapixel camera and best-in-class Sony IMX214 Exmor™ sensor to enable people to capture more professional-looking images. Hybrid auto focus enables split-second, perfect focus in any light – even when shooting into the sun – through phase-detection technology. The camera makes use of the Qualcomm® ChromaFlash™ camera feature to quickly snap two photos — one with flash, one without. The final image takes the brightness from the one with flash and the color accuracy from the other, creating a single, well-balanced image. Users can select their focus after taking a picture through the Qualcomm® UbiFocus™ camera feature. After the photo is taken, users can also zoom in at a resolution beyond normal digital zoom levels, with crisply detailed images powered by the Qualcomm® OptiZoom™ camera feature.

The SF1 features Dolby Audio™, which delivers powerful and crystal-clear surround sound though the device speakers and with headphones, for all your entertainment, everywhere. Dolby Audio simulates the placement of surround sound speakers to deliver sound true to the creator’s original concept, and as a result, consumers experience premium audio quality, with outstanding fidelity, bass impact, and dynamic range.

“We are thrilled to work with Obi to bring the Dolby Audio experience to consumers around the world on the Obi Worldphone SF1,” said John Couling, Senior Vice President, E-Media Business Group, Dolby Laboratories. “With Dolby Audio, consumers will be able to enjoy a cinema-style entertainment experience when on the go.”

The SF1 also features Qualcomm® Quick Charge 1.0™ power management technology, which dramatically decreases the time required to charge the battery. The SF1 can charge to full power in fewer than three hours, which is about 40 percent faster than older phones. The SF1 runs on Google Android Lollipop. The SF1 is named for its city of origin, San Francisco.

SJ1.5 – 3G Smartphone with a Unique Silhouette

The Obi Worldphone SJ1.5 is a 3G smartphone powered by the MediaTek MT6580 Quad-Core processor. The SJ1.5 has an asymmetrical design, with a crisp, squared-off top and a curved bottom that gives it a distinctive silhouette. The screen is made from 2.5D curved glass built flush with the body of the phone to give it a seamless feel in the hand. The SJ1.5 offers unique color and accent options, taking a more expressive approach. In addition to featuring easy-access dual SIM slots, the SJ1.5 comes with 16 GB of internal storage and a card slot for memory expansion. The SJ1.5 sports front and rear cameras and is protected by scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3. The SJ1.5 uses the Android Lollipop operating system and its suggested retail price is USD $129. It’s named for Silicon Valley’s other major city, San Jose.

Security and App Partnerships

Obi’s two security and privacy features at launch are AVG AntiVirus PRO for Android™ to help protect Obi devices from malware, viruses and theft, and Google Android’s built-in security layers for protection against intrusions.

The SF1 and SJ1.5 can run Google Play Store supported Android applications. Besides the AVG Anti-Virus app, other apps loaded on the SF1 and SJ1.5 will be Swiftkey™, AccuWeather™, Clean Master®, and ColorNote®.

"It takes a community to create a unique technology product and customer experience, and Obi has developed a strong, global ecosystem of more than 20 companies — all contributing to inspire our Worldphone vision and make it a reality," said Neeraj Chauhan, Obi's co-founder and chief executive officer.

Distribution

The Obi Worldphone line will be available starting in October in retail stores in some countries and online in others. Initial Obi Worldphone markets will be those with rapidly growing youth populations including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and India. The Obi Worldphone line has easy-access dual SIM slots that enable use on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) frequencies used in most countries. The SF1 and SJ1.5 will be available in 50 to 70 high-growth countries by 2017.

Showcasing Silicon Valley Startups

To underscore the importance of smartphones to be used worldwide, three innovative applications designed in Silicon Valley today joined Obi’s launch event celebration.

Dots, an app by Dots Communications, Inc. of San Jose, Calif., provides the global citizen with unlimited, free text messages to any SMS-enabled mobile phone in the world. With Dots, the text message sender can message any SMS-enabled phone whether or not it has Dots installed. Dots provides ultimate privacy, security and peace of mind.

GigSky, global data provider of Palo Alto, Calif., demonstrated its SIM card and app for Android devices, which provides easily accessible, short-term data plans in more than 90 countries around the world. No contracts or commitments are required.

Hoot of Menlo Park, Calif., launched an exceptionally fast and efficient live video streaming service using minimal data. Hoot is democratizing live video broadcasting by using adaptive bandwidth to stream high quality video over 2g/3g connections, having virtually zero lag, and instantly archiving videos. The Obi Worldphone launch is being broadcast live via Hoot running on an Obi Worldphone.
New Equity Partner

In addition, Obi announced its strategy has gained the support of global insurance giant Generali Group, which co-invested in Obi with a venture capital fund consistent with the group’s approach to invest in innovative startups. Founded in 1831 in Trieste, Italy, Generali is one of the world’s largest insurers serving 72 million clients in more than 60 countries. Generali also invests in financial and communication technologies and real estate. It ranked among the world’s 50 smartest companies according to the MIT Technology Review.

To get a glimpse into the new elegantly designed and innovative Obi Worldphone, please visit https://vimeo.com/137190314.

About Obi Worldphone™

Obi Worldphone integrates elegant industrial design with high-end technology. It is aimed at young consumers in high-growth markets around the world. Co-founded by John Sculley, the Obi Worldphone line is created in partnership with Obi’s San Francisco-based design partner Ammunition. Our offices are in Singapore, Shenzhen, New Delhi, Dubai, London, Miami and San Francisco. More about Obi Worldphone: http://www.obiworldphone.com Follow Obi on Twitter: @obiworldphone and Facebook: obiworldphone.

© 2015 Obi Worldphone and Obi Mobiles Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved. Other company, product or service names are trademarks or service marks of those respective companies.

SF1 Specifications

  • Aesthetics – Unibody with metallic accents and floating (“raised “) glass display
  • Operating System – Android OS version 5.0.2 Lollipop
  • Communication – Easy-access, dual SIM (Micro and Nano), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual band, Wi-Fi direct. Bluetooth - v4.0, A2DP. GPS - A-GPS/ GLONASS. USB - microSB v2.0
  • Sound – Dolby Audio™ with 7.1 discrete channels of high-fidelity surround sound. Dual microphone for noise-cancellation
  • Primary Camera – 13 megapixels, automatic focus with LED flash powered by the Sony IMX214 Exmor™ sensor, f/2.0 aperture with Geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, panorama, and high dynamic range (HDR). Video [email protected] UbiFocus™, Chroma Flash™ and OptiZoom™ are special features of this camera.
  • Secondary Camera – 5 megapixels with LED flash
  • Processor – Qualcomm® MSM8939 Snapdragon™ 615 with 1.5 GHz Octa Core with Adreno 405 GPU
  • Display – 5-inch full, high-definition in-cell display by Japan Display Inc. (JDI). Full high definition (1080x1920 pixels), 443 ppi
  • Cover Glass – Scratch definition resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4
  • Coating – Anti-fingerprint oleophobic coating by Top Touch
  • Networks - GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA/HSPA+/4G/LTE
  • Memory – Samsung 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage, expandable up to an additional 64 GB with micro SD. Also available in 2GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage expandable up to an additional 64 GB with micro SD
  • Battery – Quick-charge, 3,000 milliamp hours (mAh) lithium polymer (Li-Po)
  • Sensors – accelerometer (gravity), proximity, magnetic, gyro, ALS (light)
  • Price - $199 USD for 16 GB/2GB version, and $249 USD for 32 GB/3GB version

SJ1.5 Specifications

  • Aesthetics – Polycarbonate body with curved touch panel and dynamic use of color
  • Operating System – Android OS version 5.1 Lollipop
  • Communication – Easy-access, dual SIM, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v4.0, A2DP, GPS and micro USB 2.0
  • Primary Camera - 8 megapixels, automatic focus OV8865 sensor and flash. f/2.2 aperture
  • Secondary Camera – 5 megapixels, f/2.2 aperture
  • Networks – GSM/HSPA/3G
  • Processor – MediaTek MT6580, 1.3GHz Quad Core processor
  • Display – 5” high-definition (720 x 1280 pixels), in-plane switching (IPS) full lamination screen for accurate color at any angle
  • Cover Glass – Scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
  • Coating – Anti-fingerprint oleophobic coating by Top Touch
  • Memory – Samsung 1 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage; expandable up to an additional 32 GB with micro SD
  • Battery – 3,000 milliamp hours (mAh) lithium polymer (Li-Po)
  • Sensors – accelerometer (gravity) proximity, ALS (light)
  • Price - $129 USD

Android Applications Loaded onto SF1 and SJ1.5

AccuWeather™ - Provides accurate hourly and minute-by-minute forecasts for any longitude/latitude on Earth and provides customized weather information.

Clean Master® - The world’s leading smartphone cleaner, optimizer and security app

ColorNote® - Quick and simple notepad editing when writing notes, memos, e-mails.

Swiftkey™ - Lets users type by swiping from one letter to another on a display keyboard to prevent typographical errors and sped typing messages.