The Obi MV1 is a respectable budget handset with a distinctive design, 8MP camera and all day battery life
Marmite design, decent 8MP camera, respectable battery life, Cyanogen OS, bargain price
OK performance, fingerprint magnet, muted colours, no extras
Display: 5in HD 1,280x720 pixels
Processor: Snapdragon 212 quad-core chipset
Operating system: Cyanogen OS 12.1.1
Cameras: Rear 8MP, LED flash
Update: After a few months in the wilderness the Obi MV1 is available to buy from Amazon for just £99. We think it's a bargain!
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Obi MV1 is just another also-ran in the increasingly crowded budget arena with the likes of the Moto G4, Wileyfox Swift and Honor 5C landing at our door. But the team behind Obi Worldphone is no rag-tag bunch, and includes John Sculley of Apple fame and the design people behind the successful Beats.
On first impressions the MV1 could almost be the ghost of an early Nokia Lumia (this won't be the last time we mention the Lumia in this review).
With the assembled talent, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that Obi takes design very seriously. The MV1's design runs throughout its DNA - the shape of the packaging mimics the distinctive shape of the handset, and even the app icons share the same profile.
The smooth, black polycarbonate chassis measures 145.6x72.6x8.95mm, meaning it's considerably smaller than something like the Moto G4. At 149g it's a touch lighter too.
The MV1 is a phone of two halves. The design swoops into a gentle curve at the bottom, but such playfulness comes to an abrupt halt at the top where curves are replaced with hard silver lines.
That curved bottom bezel and slight weightiness make it feel solid and comfortable in the hand, although we'd advise against planting it the wrong way up in your pocket.
The backplate is removable, allowing you to get at the battery (hooray!) and locate the dual SIM slots. There's room for a microSD in there too.
Power and volume controls live on the handset's rounded right edge, while a USB 2.0 socket sits on the bottom.
Audio is served via a reasonably powerful speaker on the back. Volume can be pumped up to an adequate level, but don't expect distinct treble and bass. We enabled the AudioFX mode (DTS Sound) at the earliest opportunity.
The MV1 has a 5in IPS panel. The HD (1,280x720) resolution is limiting on paper, but the MV1 sets itself apart thanks to the floating display toughened with Gorilla Glass 3.
The Obi's screen is superior to that of the Wileyfox Spark, which is similarly priced. Despite the same resolution we had a hard time picking out individual pixels, and lines remained sharp throughout.
It doesn't suffer from poor viewing angles either, thanks in no small part to something Obi calls a Sunlight Display. If we were to level criticism, colours can lack vibrancy and appear muted at times (even at the highest brightness settings), but for £119 we feel the performance is more than adequate.
The extra oleophobic coating should help to keep smudgy fingerprints at bay, but we wouldn't have known it was there if we hadn't been told.