The Nextbit Robin began life on Kickstarter as a GSM-only Android smartphone, but eventually Nextbit added a CDMA version for Verizon and Sprint customers following consumer requests. Unfortunately, it’s now been revealed that that model won’t actually be coming.
Nextbit CEO Tom Moss announced today that it’s cancelling the CDMA version of the Robin. Moss says that when they began looking into the possibility of a CDMA Robin, they were told by carriers that the process of prepping and certifying the Robin for use on Sprint and Verizon would take weeks and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, it was eventually revealed that process of getting the Robin on Sprint and Verizon would take months and cost millions.
Moss also explains that, while it’s pretty much all caught up on Kickstarter and pre-order purchases for the GSM Robin, it recently learned that it wouldn’t be able to start shipping the CDMA Robin until after April. Considering both the cost of launching the CDMA Robin and that time it’d take to get the device into customers’ hands, Nextbit has decided to cancel the CDMA Robin.
To make up for the CDMA Robin’s cancellation, anyone that backed that model on Kickstarter will receive a full refund and a 25 percent discount code for Nextbit’s online store. Anyone that pre-ordered a CDMA Robin from Nextbit has not been charged.
Today’s news is definitely disappointing for Sprint and Verizon customers. While those carriers do offer many of the big-name flagship smartphones nowadays, the fact that they’ve got CDMA networks means that they often don’t sell devices from smaller companies. Those companies usually offer GSM phones because GSM is compatible with most of the world, while CDMA is only used by a handful of operators. It’s nice that Nextbit tried to get a CDMA Robin out, but even though the company is made up of mobile veterans, the cost and time to actually release the device has proved too much. At least they’re doing right by their backers and offering them full refunds and discounts to the Nextbit store.