Are you looking for a cool iPhone alternative? How about an alternative to all the Android phone models you’re tired of hearing about like the Galaxy and Nexus lineups? Do you want a phone that’s really, truly different and not just incrementally “new”? Do you want a phone that can make your friends jelly? Something that makes you actually stand out from the crowd? A phone designed by a group of people that actually thought outside the box and didn’t just hire a marketing firm to say they did?
I mean, if we’re honest, it’s been awhile since a phone really amazed anyone with it’s new features. I mean, ya, people are excited when a new iPhone comes out because people just like new things. We all get tired of our technology so quickly these days that ANY little announcement makes us go bonkers. But deep down inside we’re all like, “That’s it?” We want more, I think, than “under the hood” changes. We want something that looks different or imagines a new way of doing things. And that is what this list is all about.
Look, I have nothing against iPhones or Android phones. I’m rockin my iPhone 6s daily and I’ve got a Nexus 6P that’s the nicest Android phone I’ve ever used. When the iPhone 7 comes out I’ll be interested (and I’ll buy it — I already got my Jump plan sorted out to make it happen). Same with the iPhone 8, 9 and 10. And whatever the next Nexus or Galaxy looks like, I’ll be interested in that too. But, you know, I’m a tech blogger. I review these gadgets for a living. It’s what I do. You — you’re probably not a tech reviewer. Maybe you have one shot at buying a great phone that you’ve got to be happy with for a year or two or more. And that’s cool. That’s normal.
So I want to hook you up with three under-the-radar phones that you can actually get excited about. Maybe these phones will become the next big thing as they catch on. Maybe they will remain kinda indie. I could see it going either way.
So in this list I’ve included a phone that was brought to life from the crowd on Kickstarter, a security-focused phone that also uses a new type of metal alloy that is tougher than titanium or steel and a cheap (or should I say “afforable” — I don’t want to hurt it’s feelings) Android phone that looks really nice and has some seriously cool features you won’t find elsewhere. Let’s start there (although I’ve got a surprise bonus phone at the end of this list which you may not believe exists…).
OnePlus X: wait, it only costs HOW much?
The OnePlus X isn’t billed as a “flagship killer” — no, that would be the OnePlus 2. The OnePlus X is meant not to be the very best phone (in terms of specs) but rather the best affordable option. Basically, I think this phone is shooting for “better than good enough” and that’s pretty great.
A lot of people these days aren’t interested in “cutting edge” phone technology. As phones become commodities people are just looking for a nice phone that gets the job done — and that’s exactly what the OnePlus X is. It’s a good, solid phone that you won’t be embarrassed to own but that also won’t shred your wallet at the same time. So what’s cool about it?
So the design… is nice (or a nice iPhone copy, some will say). The OnePlus X has a ceramic component (ya, like pottery — sort of) which is kind of new for phones. It’s got a 13MP camera that is fast and capable of taking great photos. It’s got a powerful graphics chip and — get this — the ability to use dual standby SIM cards so you can use it all over the world (you crazy traveler).
One thing a lot of people are going to about the OnePlus X is Oxygen OS (yes, this is an Android phone, but it’s got some non-annoying customization happening). There are useful gestures to help you control music and open the camera (among other things), a “shelf” that lets you glance at your phone’s most use apps and features and (this is cool) the ability to customize your device’s navigation buttons. I also like the fact that you can customize the look of the software by choosing an accent color that suits your personality (or mood).
The best part? The OnePlus X is just $249 (unlocked)!!! Boom! If you killed your phone and need a cheap replacement that doesn’t suck… you may have just found it.
Nextbit Robin: goodbye storage problems, hello style and security
So I’m really excited about the Nextbit Robin. It’s a really unique phone: not only in the way it looks, but in the way it handles storage and security.
So if you’ve ever had a phone that gave you storage troubles (like a 16GB iPhone, for instance, that never lets you take new pictures or videos because it’s out of storage) and are looking for a new phone where storage won’t be an issue (ever) but don’t want to spend a buttload of extra cash for a 128GB model, there’s only one phone for you… (you guessed it) it’s the Nextbit Robin. Why?
The Nextbit Robin stores apps you don’t use often (and photos you don’t view often) in “the cloud” for later use. Well, technically, it archives them in the cloud, rather than just storing them or backing them up. What does that mean? It means that if you download a cool app but only used it once in the last 3 months, it will get archived to save space (only when you’re on WiFi, btw) but when you’re ready to use it again it re-downloads. Storage issue SOLVED. What this effectively means is that you have access to everything you want without the annoying storage headaches (the running out of storage headache and the buying a really expensive phone with more storage headache).
But, as you can see from the photo, the Robin — it’s different looking (in a good way). I like the bright coloring. So do you.
Another awesome thing about this phone is it’s security features. It’s got a fingerprint sensor that does away with passwords and swipe-to-unlocks. Better yet, though: all your data is securely transmitted and stored encrypted. Plus, Nextbit provides two-factor authentication with Google (if you don’t know what that means then just rest assured knowing it’s helpful for protecting your stuff).
Turing Phone: really (really) solid security and metal casing
Okay, so the Turing Phone is sort of theoretical at this point… it’s not quite available to buy. But hopefully it will be soon (maybe by the time you’re reading this). It’s meant to be a tough phone in every way possible: both tough on the outside to keep the phone safe and tough on the inside in terms of securing your data.
The phone supposedly uses a crazy new metal alloy called (somewhat hilariously or like it came from an Ironman movie) Liquidmorphium. It’s supposed to be stronger than steel.
In terms of security, well, I’ll let the company describe that for you. They say the Turing Phone: “…provides world-class security by executing end-to-end mobile authentication which bypasses conventional 3rd party exposures and is insulated from malicious behavior.”
The looks of the Turing Phone are definitely unique. From the sharp, angular look to the interested patter on the back of the phone, it doesn’t look like any other phone on the market.
Interestingly, it comes with a gaming Bluetooth earphone in the box. Huh.
Bonus: Punkt MP01 phone says sayonara to distractions
I’m including the Punkt MP01 mostly just for fun, but it is a unique phone you’ve definitely never heard of before. It’s big thing? Getting rid of distractions like notifications, apps… you know, all the stuff you love (and hate) about your current iPhone or Android. How? We’ll it’s sort of a well-designed blast from the past in that is just takes phone calls and sends text messages — that’s it.
The thing is, this is kind of cool. I’d almost envy a person who could live this way (I really think we’d all be a lot happier if we were a bit less connected). There’s something freeing about living simpler.
If this interesting contraption does happen to appeal to you, you can pick it up for $295.