Nextbit is today releasing the update it promised for the Robin smartphone last month that updates the system to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and includes camera improvements. The update, which is available to Robin devices over the air, adds an expanded emoji set and Google's April security patches. Nextbit says it also offers improved performance and battery life, but users will notice the biggest changes in the camera app — which is much faster to launch, focus, and take a picture than before.
In addition to those improvements, the update also enhances audio output from the Robin's dual front-facing speakers and headphone jack, providing greater volume with less distortion than before. Nextbit says it worked with Arkamys, a French audio firm, on the new sound processing. To celebrate the Robin's new audio capabilities, Nextbit is launching a curated ringtone series, with new ringtones designed by DJs Giraffage and Lauren Lo Sung. The two new ringtones can be downloaded from Nextbit's forums starting today and will be included with the next software update for the phone.
New software and ringtones aren't the only pieces of news from Nextbit today, as the company is also announcing a custom headphone from Aiaiai, which is available for purchase from Nextbit's online store starting today. The $225 over-ear headphone is a special version of Aiaiai's TMA-2 and comes with a mint-colored cable to match the Robin's unique color scheme. Nextbit's head of design Scott Croyle said that Aiaiai's minimalist design and style fit in well with the Robin's design, making the partnership an ideal fit for the two companies.
I've had a chance to test out the software update and headphones for a few days, and the improvements that Nextbit promises are noticeable and welcome. The camera is much, much faster than before, taking it from borderline unusable to perfectly acceptable performance. It still won't outshoot more expensive smartphones, but at least now it's possible to get a shot before your subject vacates the scene. The audio improvements are also noticeable, with the front speakers producing very loud output without distortion.
The Aiaiai headphones are lightweight and comfortable, but they are particularly bass-forward, which drowns out midtones a bit more than I prefer. That's not a huge surprise given Aiaiai's large DJ clientele, but the average person might want a bit more balanced headphones. The Nextbit version is fully compatible with the other customizable parts in the TMA-2 system, so it is possible to alter their sound after the fact if you want.
Still to come from Nextbit is support for backing up video captured by the Robin to its cloud service, which currently backs up apps and photos. But it looks like that won't be available for another few months.