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Ubik's quest to build your dream Android phone starts with the Uno

An unknown company aims to crowdsource the ultimate smartphone

This is the Ubik Uno, another addition to the growing list of 5.5-inch Android smartphones being sold for an attractive price. The device launched on Kickstarter today, and early backers can get in for $280 — not bad for an unlocked phone that the company claims rivals big-name flagships. The idea of "crowdfunded smartphone" is something no company has been able to nail down. Ubik is giving it a shot, and is dreaming up even bigger ambitions for what's next.

The Uno features a 1080p IPS display that's surrounded by a bezel so thin it's difficult to see on the sides. Seriously, the bezel is probably this thing's best "feature." It's got an octacore 2.2GHz MediaTek processor with 3GB of RAM and runs a version of Android that's 99 percent stock aside from Ubik's camera app (which wasn't ready during my demo time with the unit). Ubik claims the camera will be a strong performer thanks to its 20-megapixel Sony image sensor and f/2.2 aperture. Rounding out the spec sheet are an aluminum body, microSD card slot, Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, and a 3100mAh battery that supports quick charging — but you can't juice it up wirelessly.

Still, from a hardware standpoint, the Ubik Uno is a pretty decent start for this unknown company. Ubik's parent company has dealt solely in the Korean market, but Ubik says this phone is designed for the US from top to bottom, supporting all the necessary bands you'd need on either AT&T or T-Mobile. Ubik says it'll be ready to start production immediately following the successful Kickstarter campaign, which is aiming to raise $200,000. The Uno will be priced at $345 once it reaches general availability.

Yes, it's another 5.5-inch Android phone

Ubik says it's "the best Android Smartphone you'll be able to buy for the foreseeable future," though it's really hard to see how that's the case. New flagships like the Galaxy Note 5 and less expensive phones aimed at hardcore Android users like the OnePlus Two are on the way this summer. And if price isn't a pressing concern, better options like the LG G4 and Galaxy S6 can be bought today.

But during our meeting, Ubik almost seemed more interested in what's to come after Uno. The company has lofty goals of becoming the first "open source brand." No, that doesn't mean it'll be releasing schematics and selling parts for its phone so you can assemble it and make modifications. What Ubik means by "open source" is that it will let community input decide what goes into its second smartphone. Want a higher resolution display, or OLED instead of LCD? Perhaps you'd like to see Ubik produce a non-phablet device, or stick with Qualcomm's more popular chipsets. You'll be able to make your voice heard through polls and in forums. Ubik says it aims to "assign every function a price," and eventually let customers pick what they want (or don't) via a web tool. It'd be like MotoMaker, but for parts and internal components.

Does all of that sound overly optimistic for a company yet to prove itself in the US? Absolutely. If it actually ships, will this thing get regular Android software updates? What will customer support look like? There are plenty of uncertainties, but that's what we're used to from any product that starts life through crowdfunding. This is the ambitious, dream big path Ubik sees for itself — assuming its Kickstarter goes well, anyway. The Uno is the first step, and deliveries are slated to start going out in September.



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