Launching a new smartphone brand is never easy. We’ve seen some established firms struggle to build momentum for a fresh product line while other startups make it look easy. Now one company is taking to Kickstarter to launch a pretty compelling new handset.
The Ubik Uno packs a 5.5-inch 1080p display with an edge-to-edge design and a metal frame. It also features a 64bit octa-core MediaTek processor, a 20-megapixel rear camera with a Sony Exmor lens, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a 3100mAh battery, 16GB of expandable storage and 3GB of RAM. It runs stock Android and it’s available on Kickstarter right now for $299 unlocked (retail price $345) with support for all the major U.S. carriers.
This is the first smartphone from Ubik, a new company that’s owned by Korean mobile manufacturer Vitsmo. If it’s a success the plan is to design future models by democracy, letting fans vote on which features to add and which to get rid of. We got a chance to talk to a few people at the firm about the decisions behind this device and their plans for the future. Check out the full interview below these images of the first-generation product.
Jacob Kleinman: So what is Ubik?
Edgardo Jovet, USA Business Director: We are based out of Florida. We’re a new player if you want to see it that way. Our name is new but we’ve been in this business for over 15 years and our manufacturer is in Korea. We worked for over eight months to evaluate what was out there and where the is market going. That’s how we came up with Uno.
Christian Areco, Business Director: You know there’s a lot of competition in the market, but we tried to have a decent price and good specs. It’s not easy to find that sweet spot.
JK: Why doesn’t the Ubik Uno have a fingerprint reader or any sort of biometric sensor?
EJ: There are features that of course are very important today—or they are just in fashion today—but we needed to start at a certain point. We needed to create the first phone just to open the market and open a door.
JK: Why did you pick a MediaTek processor instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip?
CA: In our trials we had a lot of problems with the heating of the Snapdragon 810. We also had better battery life with MediaTek. We know all flagship phones use Qualcomm but right now at this moment MediaTek is the best option for you, and we didn’t want to release a phone that might have problems.
JK: How fast do you think you can upgrade the Ubik Uno to Android M once it comes out?
CA: We plan to work with any new software, and we should have a new phone running the latest version of Android by December. As for the Uno, we’re working with MediaTek’s schedule. It won’t be as fast as a Nexus phone, but it shouldn’t be much longer either.
JK: Does the phone really run pure android without any modifications?
EJ: Yes, almost, except the software for the camera has been enhanced, but that’s it. In the future we may release specific apps depending on what people want, but we won’t modify the actual operating system.
JK: Can you talk about plans for any Ubik Uno accessories?
EJ: We’ll have a special charger and a really nice microUSB cable with an LED in the tip. That way you always know which side is correct when plugging in, and you can tell when it’s charging from across the room.
JK: Why did you join Ubik and what were you doing before?
CA: I’ve been working with our parent company for 5 years. My job was to get more clients to make phones for. We have experience doing that in Korea and China.
EJ: I’m actually the newest one in the group, but I’ve been in this business since 1996. I’ve worked with other brands, carriers, private labels and big names like Motorola and LG. I’ve been around in the whole spectrum of the mobile industry, so I have lot of knowledge of the whole arena.
I decided to join because this is a very different program. It’s not only that we’re offering a different mobile device, but also because other than building phones we also want to build a community. That’s what made me take the plunge. We want to build a community and we want to have this community as a central part of Ubik to build the next phones. This is not a company that will just build a flagship phone, squeeze it till the last drop and nothing else.