Former Apple CEO Unveils 2 Low-Cost Obi Smartphones

The Obi SF1 and SJ1.5 are two more low-cost smartphones geared toward emerging markets. The phones run Android and offer sophisticated cameras.
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Another day, another low-cost smartphone promising to change the market appears -- or two of them do. This time the devices are the brainchild of former Apple CEO John Sculley and his new company Obi Worldphone.

The Obi SF1 and SJ1.5, designed by San Francisco-based product studio Ammunition, are aimed at emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The two smartphones feature Obi Lifespeed, a custom user interface for Google Android.

In the past month, a number of companies have introduced low-cost smartphones that target emerging markets as handset sales have begun to slow in the US, Western Europe, and other mature markets.

This week London-based smartphone manufacturer WileyFox rolled out two Android phones. A few weeks before, China-based ShenZhen introduced its second-generation OnePlus device, and even Google is trying to offer more smartphones to African markets.

How these low-cost devices will make up for lost smartphone sales elsewhere is not clear, but the companies behind them are trying to pack in as many features as possible.

The Obi SF1, named after the city where it was developed, sports a unibody design with metallic accents and a raised glass display. It runs Android version 5.0.2 Lollipop. The smartphone features a 13-megapixel main camera with automatic focus and LED flash powered by the Sony IMX214 Exmor sensor, offering geotagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, panorama, and high dynamic range (HDR).

The sophisticated camera boasts an impressive array of extras, including the Qualcomm OptiZoom camera feature, which allows users to zoom in at a resolution beyond normal digital zoom levels, and hybrid autofocus with phase-detection technology.

The smartphone is powered by an Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor with an Adreno 405 graphics processing unit (GPU) and a 5-inch full high-definition (FHD) in-cell display by Japan Display protected with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and anti-fingerprint oleophobic coating by Top Touch.

Priced at $199 for the 2 GB RAM and 16 GB internal memory version and $249 for the 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal memory version, the smartphone also features Dolby Audio technology and Qualcomm Quick Charge 1.0 power management technology.

The SJ1.5 3G smartphone, which retails for $129 and is named for San Jose, is powered by a MediaTek MT6580 quad-core processor and has an asymmetrical design sporting a squared-off top and a curved bottom.

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In addition to featuring dual SIM slots, the SJ1.5 comes with 16GB of internal storage and a card slot for memory expansion. It features dual cameras and a 5-inch HD display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Running Android Lollipop -- version 5.1 -- the smartphone gives users the option to deploy Obi icons and backgrounds, and is available in four color combinations which come with a fingerprint-free coating.

In addition to the phones, Obi announced two security and privacy features. The first is AVG Antivirus Pro for Android to help protect the smartphones from malware, viruses, and theft. The second is Android's built-in security layers for protection against intrusions.

The SF1 and SJ1.5 will be available starting in October, and the company claims the two handsets will be available in 50 to 70 high-growth countries by 2017.