The MV1 features more or less what you'd expect from a sub-£100 smartphone: A 5-inch, 720p display, 8- and 2-megapixel cameras, a 2,500mAh battery, a 1.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 212 chip, 2GB of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage (microSD cards up to 64GB welcomed). Throw in 4G and dual-SIM support, and you're looking at a device on par with the £90 Wileyfox Spark, the soon-to-be-launched £99 Moto E (2016) and plenty of other smartphones available at a similar price point on pay-as-you-go deals.
The 2 gigs of RAM is a little out of the ordinary (in a good way), but Obi Worldphone wants its handsets to be defined by more than just the numbers. With design studio Ammunition in its corner, the company is out to craft beautiful devices that rise above the rest of the low-cost Android "jungle," as Obi exec Ankush Chatterjee puts it. And the MV1 is nothing if not a little quirky, sporting Obi's "signature floating glass display" that sits a millimeter or two above the main body of the handset.
According to Obi, this is intended to highlight the part of the phone you interact with most, though it does make the most breakable of components feel unusually exposed. Gorilla Glass 3 is on hand to provide a decent level of protection, however. The main bulk of the device is pretty atypical itself, with soft rounded curves on the bottom edge juxtaposed with a sharper, flat top. This cap has a silver, metallic finish too, further contrasting against the black or white polycarbonate body.
Whether it's to your tastes or not, the MV1 is comfortable enough in the hand, though the raised display isn't a particularly elegant feature. It's a thin, sharp edge after all, which your fingertips come into contact with regularly. Also, since the screen sticks out, it draws attention to how big and bulky the MV1 is for a 5-inch device, though that does help it feel robust.
The focus on design carries over to the MV1's software: Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 (based on Android 5.1 Lollipop). Growing in popularity of late, one of the draws of Cyanogen OS is easy personalisation. Obi's preloaded an angular, colourful theme onto the MV1, as well as what it calls Lifespeed UI, which is basically a lock screen widget that offers easy access to the dialer and camera.
The MV1 is available now for £99 directly from Obi or through Amazon, meaning it joins a plethora of other online-only brands competing in the affordable Android space. And on paper, it has everything you'd demand from a sub-£100 device. Obi hopes its design-led philosophy is the key to finding success where other players maybe haven't, however, both in the UK and throughout the rest of the world.