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Update | Brandeis launches the "extraordinary" Prometheus smartphone on Indiegogo, attracting both backing and skepticism

The Brandeis Prometheus. (Source: Indiegogo)
The Brandeis Prometheus. (Source: Indiegogo)
A start-up called Brandeis has put its inaugural smartphone, the Prometheus, up for crowdfunding. It purports to offer a Snapdragon 865 SoC, 16GB of RAM, a uniquely-shaped QHD OLED screen and a 108MP main camera for as little as US$499. But is it just too good to be true?

Update: Indiegogo has now suspended this campaign, pending a review. This move may be attributed at least in part to the effecti of a Reddit thread that surveils such crowdfunding projects, as mentioned below.

This topic was started by the user ChX, who sought to validate the start-up's offer by publicly challenging Brandeis to post a video of a working Prometheus prototype in exchange for a charitable donation. This, however, was not forthcoming, providing yet another factor in the spurious nature of this prospect.

Original Report: Brandeis is a company that has been hyping its highly unusual phone, the Prometheus, for a while. Now, it has finally launched via Indiegogo (IGG). Its maker claims that it can disrupt the ultra-premium end of the mobile device market with its innovative design and form-factor.

On the face of it, the Prometheus does indeed seem to pulverize the traditional 'slab' mould most phones appear to have adopted by now. Its vaguely pentangular screen is a considerable departure from the norm on its own, right up to the sharp point created at one end that houses a single front-facing sensor. This, however, also implies the potential sin of its being a nostril-cam.

Brandeis also asserts that its phone will be made of high-end materials, sapphire crystal glass included, and will have durability-enhancing features such as IP68. And the launch price for all this?... US$499, as opposed to its eventual standard retail price of $1000.

This apparently excellent deal has propelled the IGG campaign to just over $230,000 worth of backing, or 730% of its original goal.

However, that is also where the integrity of the whole prospect starts to fall apart for some online observers. They point out that its arguably ambitious hotch-potch of top-tier specs would be beyond the reach of a first-time phone-maker in 2020.

Some Redditors, contributing to a thread that subjects crowdfunding pages to vociferously diligent critical evaluation, point out that, for example, its atypical display-panel shape is particularly unworkable: not even Samsung attempts such things, after all.

Brandeis also potentially knocks confidence in its new listing by promising further unfeasible aspects in its offer. For example, it lists 40 watt (W) Qi wireless charging, although such a rate is not covered by this standard.

Furthermore, it also purports to pack the fastest form of wired charging known to smartphones (65W) - however, unless OPPO has been willing to share the proprietary system it uses to deliver the same, that is not likely.

In any case, the company has disclosed it only has a prototype - which means the device in question is not in fabrication and, thus, has no real guarantee of coming to fruition.

Finally, and most worryingly, many backers have subsequently returned to IGG to complain that the brand has locked its refunds - a feature of this platform ideally only implemented when a product has reached the shipping-ready stage.

Brandeis has responded to these concerns with a statement that it is "experiencing some technical issues with both the purchasing and refunding of the perks" that will be "resolved shortly". However, this has not assuaged the anxiety expressed by some backers.

All in all, one way or the other, the Prometheus may prove an eminent object lesson in the importance of due diligence prior to placing an order, even if it is on a crowdfunding website.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 06 > Brandeis launches the "extraordinary" Prometheus smartphone on Indiegogo, attracting both backing and skepticism
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2020-06- 7 (Update: 2020-06-14)