We take an in depth look at the lowest budget phone: the MV1 by Obi Worldphones


Obi Worldphones are fairly new to the world. Established in 2014 by former Apple CEO John Sculley along with Nitin Pujani, the company aims to take over emerging markets by injecting decent mid range smartphones at competitive prices. At least that’s the plan for now. After releasing three handsets in total, it would be fair to say that Obi Worldphone is definitely targeting budget users looking for the greatest bang for the buck. Till now, it hasn’t done anything wrong either. Its introductory models the SF1 and SJ1.5 were priced around the 25k and 20k range respectively. Flaunting exceptionally unique and elegant bodyworks, the phone definitely stood out among other smartphones. In the fall of 2016, Obi released only their third model the MV1 which is the cheapest of them all. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the MV1 with this hands on review.

Unboxing: For a budget phone, the packaging is as good as  in premium handsets and in some cases even better. Within the paper box, is a well built plastic case that has a top hinge that opens up like the bonnet of a car giving a full frontal view of the MV1 which is tightly wedged on the sides to prohibit motion. In itself, the phone is secure. It is packed and dedicated to protect the handset from unwanted shakes or tumbles. Popping off the top rack, we find the user manual and other documents enveloped in a nice little folder. Remove that and you’ll find a slim trim 1 amp charger with a funky micro USB cable that resembles the early OnePlus’ design. One thing you will miss is the earphones which do not come straight out of the box.  

Early Impressions: As soon as I picked up the handset from its neatly tucked casing, I found the device strikingly beautiful. Sporting a unique build that has a rounded rectangle display panel popping out of the usual chassis with a rounded bottom edge where the phone is usually held and 90 degree corners on the top clearly distinguishing the top from the bottom. The white color variant we received sports a black display that makes up almost the whole front side except the little corners that it leaves behind. Beyond that the rest of the handset is premium white with a matte finish around the sides and back. Other color options for the set include red and black. The top has a silver metallic finish adding to the aesthetic appeal of the handset. The phone sports a Obi logo at the right bottom side of the rear panel complemented with speaker grills on the left. A nifty innovation comes into play with a little bump beside the speaker grill to prevent sound muffling when the handset is placed on a flat surface. In terms of button placement, it’s all right for the MV1. The power button is a little above the midpoint of the phone while a volume rocker lies just above the power button. As far as the ports are concerned, the earphone jack sits on the extreme left at the top, while the micro USB port is dead center on the bottom  edge.  

Hardware and Software: Let’s take a step away from its outer beauty and look closely at its core and analyze the essential elements that power this smartphone. Before we start analysing, the price point of the phone comes to play a huge role. This neat device is priced at an attractive Rs.16,500. For this amount, you’ll get a 5 inch 720p HD display panel which has decent contrast and color reproduction. A striking feature about the display is its sunlight display that produces enough brightness even out in the open. When buying a phone at this price , the next thing we look for is the juice it has to offer. With an average sized LiPo cell of 2500 mAh, for a phone that doesn’t have a very high end hardware, the backup is fine. We shall discuss performance and experience in detail later. In terms of processing and storage, the phone runs on a 1.3 GHz Quad core processor on a Snapdragon 212 SoC with 16 GB or ROM and 2 GB RAM which for light to moderate users is still sufficient. As far as the cameras go, the rear is an 8 MP primary shooter with LED flash while the front facing camera is a 2MP sensor. As far as the slots are concerned, this dual SIM phone has a 3rd slot for expanded storage that can interact with microSD cards of upto 64 GB. 

Coming to the software end of things, I personally love Cyanogen ROMs for its simplicity and lack of bloatware. Giving you a near stock android experience  but with minor tweaks and addition of features rather than bloatware, the Cyanogen 12 version that powers the MV1 adds to the pleasantries. A Cyanogen ROM user myself, navigating around was a piece of cake and except for the skin, everything was much the same. It has a simple, intuitive UI which is fairly light and most importantly very responsive. The camera software is also very simple and easy but in the mean time might put off some heavy camera users due its lack of customizability, image processing and filters. They should immediately go for a third party camera app on the Play Store. Animations in general are short and smooth.  

Performance and User Experience: This is the segment that interests most of the readers. As an everyday user, numbers and specs mean less to you. It is how the device carries itself that truly matters. To begin with everyday use, the fact that it has no physical buttons on the front panel might displease some users since it inherits a display layout quite like the Google Nexus 5 with on screen navigation buttons on a dedicated nav bar taking up a little bit of the screen space. On a 5 inch display, it is sharp and has wide angle viewing. In terms of processing, gaming performance is quite good, in fact better than expected considering the processors and the Adreno 309 GPU. Racing games too functioned well on medium graphics. Meanwhile device heating was under control and the battery decay wasn’t so significant. Speaking of battery, I tested the device on two different usage profiles the first of which was intense usage - heavy gaming, internet, calls and multimedia where  I could almost get a full charge to last the day but had to put it on charge an hour before going to bed. For a lighter user profile which is fairly quiet for most parts of the day though, the battery can last well over a day. In terms of audio, it sports dual microphones for noise cancellation while the earpiece has decent output with clear call quality. The speaker doesn’t give a very loud profile but the fact that it has Dts sound adds a bit of oomph to the speaker. Overall the audio quality is nice. Moving on to cameras, the rear camera does a decent job as its primary shooter with good color balances during the day and a potent flash to shoot photos in the dark. The self capture might dishearten some users since it is only 2 Megapixel and pictures aren’t the brightest in low light. In daylight, selfies reveal nice and sharp images. A plus for the phone inherent of the Cyanogen ROM is its localization. The phone can be set to Nepali language which is undergoing heavy localization which as of present can be observed on almost two thirds of the system. For the rest, a Nepali translation must be just around the corner. OTG support should add smiles to USB users.