The Ubik Uno feels like a pretty decent-looking big-screened Android phone. Would it be the one I'd want to buy? Maybe I'd like it to be thinner and have a better front-facing camera. I could vote for that via Ubik and see if it gets made next time.
There are, suddenly, a lot of Android smartphones to choose from. Not just the endless flow of phones from Samsung, HTC, and other known quantities, but now there are lots of strange, new brands. The. The . And now, Ubik.
Ubik is the name of a classic Philip K. Dick novel that revolves around a weird reality-restoring spray-can. But this Ubik just makes Android phones. Ubik Mobile's parent company is Vitsmo, a Korean phone manufacturer that hasn't introduced any products in the US.
The Ubik Uno is a US-unique design and phone configuration, and it's also launching on Kickstarter. The reason, according to Ubik, seems to be less about funding and more about gathering crowd input on what the next phone should be.
Through a "build your own" type of Web tool where users will try adding various dream features, Ubik will gather input on what phone to make next.
In Ubik's press release, USA Business Director for Ubik Mobile Edgardo Jovet says, "With the introduction of our first phone, we wanted to offer consumers a mobile phone with flagship features such as the fastest processor, high-res camera and bezel-less design at an affordable price. Moving forward however, our mission is to assign every function a price and let our community choose what they like and utilize their input to build our next model."
When I tried out the phone in person at CNET's offices, it didn't feel bad at all. The Ubik Uno has an aluminum body with Gorilla Glass-covered screen, an octacore Mediatek 2.2 GHz MK 6795 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of onboard storage (plus a microSD card slot for expansion). There's a Sony 20-megapixel rear camera, and 8-megapixel front camera. The rear camera sounds like it has the same sensor that recent phones like the HTC One M9 used: how it performs here, using, Ubik's own camera app remains to be seen. The Uno also runs stock Android Lollipop 5.1 OS, skipping any pre-installed software except for Ubik's camera app.
The Uno feels reasonably lightweight, but a bit chunky. The aluminum body houses a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display that looks crisp and vivid. The rest of its features are harder to spot-judge.
The Uno will cost $345 unlocked when officially arrives this fall if all goes according to plan, but early Kickstarter backers will get it for a little less: $280, then $299 and $320. The Kickstarter campaign is already underway here.
As phones slip into a sea of competing commodity products, it's getting harder to vet out which ones are better than others. Maybe gathering a community to vote on features isn't such a bad idea.