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Nextbit updates Robin phone with faster camera, releases customized headphones

A new software update speeds up the Robin's camera, and Nextbit is partnering with Aiaiai for a customized pair of modular headphones.

Josh Miller
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Nextbit, the scrappy phone company that launched on Kickstarter with its cloud-based Robin device, announced that its marquee handset is getting its first notable software update since its February release.

The 5.2-inch phone will run Google Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which includes new emojis, security updates, and you can launch the camera by double pressing the power key. (Located on the right edge of the device, the power key also doubles as a fingerprint reader.)

The camera also received improvements. The handset's control keys (for back, home and recent apps) are now continuously displayed on the bottom of the screen when you're in the camera app, so you don't have to swipe up to access them anymore.

One of the drawbacks of the Robin when it first came out was the slow shutter speed, but with this update, you'll be able to capture photos much faster. When I tested an updated unit side-by-side with an older model, shutter speed appeared almost twice as fast.

In addition, Nextbit tweaked the dual front-facing audio speakers so music is louder and clearer. The difference was hard for me to discern, but there were times when music sounded a tad fuller compared to a model that didn't have the update.

Nextbit also partnered up with the Danish headphone maker Aiaiai, which produces a set of modular headphones called TMA-2. With the TMA-2, customers can customize components like the headphone's band, speaker units, ear pads and cord.

With the update, there are new emojis (left) and the phone's control buttons are always displayed within the camera app (right).

Lynn La/CNET

With this partnership, Nextbit made its own configuration of Aiaiai's TMA-2 headphones, specifically made for the Robin (it's color-coordinated with the phone too, and struts a pale blue cord.) The headphones are still modular, though, so you can still swap out parts if you want. There's also a remote for play, pause and skip as well as a microphone.

Robin users can manually check out Nextbit's site to receive the new software tweaks, or wait until you're prompted for an over-the-air update. You can also visit the site to purchase the headphones, which cost $225 (approx. £158 and AU$302).

As for the handset itself, the Robin features a 13-megapixel camera, 100GB of online cloud storage, and costs $399 unlocked (approx. £280 and AU$564). To learn more about the device, check out CNET's full review here.