You may have heard this before: a small startup claims it’ll produce a top-rate smartphone with impressive specs and a budget price.
No, we’re not talking about OnePlus, which has struggled mightily to deliver on its promise to “never settle.”
Instead there’s a new entrant: Nextbit. The company began life building Android software that improved synchronizing apps across devices.
Along with that history, Nextbit boasts some interesting industry experience. The company includes former HTC design chief Scott Croyle, who crafted the One’s distinctive look. Two former members of the Android team, Tom Moss and Mike Chan, are also aboard. Google Ventures is one of the backers.
But will that add up to success, with an incredibly crowded field of Android devices?
It’s hard to glean much information from what company reps have said so far. In a conversation with Cnet, the team didn’t hint about the phone’s looks or specifications. They only offered general promises about, “doing something different” and producing a device that would be, “friggin’ awesome.” Those are claims that virtually any company would make about their upcoming Android phone.
Nextbit also claims that with its software tweaks, over time the device will get better. Though of course that should be the goal of any piece of software, which also must contend with the eventual advances in hardware.
Given Nextbit’s ties to Cyanogen, we may see a similarly tweaked version of Android. To succeed in the U.S., it'll need to offer access to standard Google services and the Play Store, but you can bet Nextbit's cloud synchronization DNA will be a core part of the device.
The other reason you may want to pinch a few extra grains of salt is because it's very difficult to get hardware right. Motorola, for example, is just now hitting its stride at this very concept: a great smartphone that doesn’t cost $600. The third-generation Moto G, for example, finally has a decent camera on the company’s third try.
Like so many other unannounced products that try to get us all aboard the hype train, we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the real thing before we pass a formal judgement. Only then will we know if Nextbit can catch lightning in a bottle on the first try, or if it will instead be a long slog to get things right.