Kickstarter phenom's Verizon phone will work with Sprint too

Sprint offered support to ensure that startup Nextbit's cloud-based smartphone, Robin, would work on its network.

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Roger Cheng
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The Nextbit Robin now works on Sprint too. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Nextbit, the startup founded by former Google and HTC executives, can now claim that its upcoming smartphone will support all the major US carriers.

The startup said on Wednesday that the Verizon version of its Robin smartphone, notable because it taps into the cloud for more storage, will also work with Sprint. The carrier stepped in and offered the San Francisco-based company technical support to ensure compatibility.

Nextbit is just the latest company to embrace the direct-to-customer model of bypassing the traditional carrier stores in favor of a closer relationship with consumers. The startup went a step further, using crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter to get its initial orders. The company has raised $1.2 million with a week left in its campaign.

Nextbit Robin was initially shown off as a device that could work on only AT&T and T-Mobile, because of compatibility issues with the other carriers. But last week it said it would offer a separate version of Robin that works with the Verizon Wireless network. The Verizon version of the phone will work with Sprint as well.

At the time, CEO Tom Moss said it was unclear whether the company would be able to make the device compatible with Sprint. But the carrier, based in Overland Park, Kansas, stepped up to offer its assistance.

"Sprint is working with Nextbit to certify its Robin smartphone for use on the Sprint network," said a Sprint spokesman. He declined to comment on whether the carrier would sell the device.

Anyone placing an order via Kickstarter will have to exercise some patience -- the phone won't be in consumers' hands until January. The company has been able to draw attention to its product thanks to the résumé of its leadership team -- Moss and co-founder Mike Chan worked on Google's Android project in the early days, and design chief Scott Croyle led the development of the HTC One.