Nextbit's latest Robin update adds new emoji, improves audio, camera, and battery life

The software update for Android 6.0.1 features a few other tweaks, too, but the most notable is the Robin's improved photo-taking.

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If a subpar camera has been holding you back from buying Nextbit’s Robin, today’s software update could be the catalyst that puts one in your hand.

The company announced the latest software update for its cloud-based Android flagship. The software tweaks appear minor at first, but the jump to Android 6.0.1 includes overhauled camera software that addresses some of the concerns we noted in our review of the phone. Here’s a quick look at what’s new.

A redone Camera app

If you read any review of the Robin earlier this year, you know that its camera app was incredibly sub-par for its price ($400 on Amazon). The Robin’s 13-megapixel camera is quite enough for a phone of this caliber, but the software left many of us unimpressed.

With this latest update, Nextbit said it “literally ripped apart” the camera application before it was completely rebuilt so that it’s more efficient. “We also went back to camera tuning specialists and worked with them on additional corrections,” said Eric Lin, who is in charge of product marketing for Nextbit.

I took two Robins—one loaded with the old camera app and one loaded with the revised app—for a quick spin in our camera lab and around the block. I immediately noticed the difference in camera performance. The revised app launches more quickly and snaps faster than before. Its low-light photos look about the same, but the shutter is much more responsive. Before, the lag between hitting the shutter button and taking a picture was agonizing. It also led to blurry pictures.

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Photos taken with the Robin with the 6.0.1 update are sharper and more vibrant.

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Indoors, the white balance is more accurate with the updated Robin handset. You can see it most clearly on the wall in the background.

The interface for the camera app has also been polished up a bit with on-screen navigation controls, though the camera menu bar remains the same. Unfortunately, there is still no panoramic or slow-motion mode, and not much else has been added to the Robin’s manual mode. At the very least, the camera is now much faster in all types of lighting conditions.

Better sound

Smartphone makers are making a huge marketing push to highlight their audio abilities, and Nextbit is no different. This new software update features driver-level sound tuning for the Robin’s dual speakers and headphone jack. Nextbit has even partnered with the Danish audio company, AIAIAI, to offer a pair of special edition headphones that match the Robin’s playful coloring. 

Minor improvements towards a major play

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The old Robin and the new Robin.

Nextbit’s software development team made a few other improvements to the Robin’s software, including tweaking the Snapdragon 808 processor by optimizing its power consumption. It’s not an obvious tweak, though the updated phone doesn’t get as hot as the one running the older software. You’ll also have access to all the new expanded emoji set featured in Unicode 7 and 8.

Software updates are a big deal in the Android world because too often they’re few and far between. Not even the major manufacturers can keep a consistent timeline. It’s taken BlackBerry five months to deliver its Marshmallow update, while most of Samsung and Motorola’s devices are still hanging out on Lollipop six months after Marshmallow’s release.

That’s why Nextbit is heavily marketing its software updates, first by Periscoping that there’s one on the horizon, and then by actually launching the software update. Smaller companies can often update their phones more quickly, as they usually sell unlocked phones without the carrier bureaucracy in the way. If Nextbit continues to offer consistent software updates based on user feedback, the company could easily become a favorite among Android enthusiasts.

The software update will hit your Robin phones via an over-the-air update in the coming days.

This story, "Nextbit's latest Robin update adds new emoji, improves audio, camera, and battery life" was originally published by Greenbot.

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