The sub-Php5k segment is where you’ll typically find the best bang-for-buck smartphones and this is where our local phone brands put their best foot forward. One particular phone that stands out from the rest though is the Cubix Cube 3. It comes with some of the best specs you can find at this price segment, along with a large 5.5 inch screen to enjoy everything on. Is it a sure thing though? Find out in my full Cubix Cube 3 review.
Cubix Cube 3 Specs
- 5.5″ HD IPS OnCell display (720 x 1280 resolution, 267ppi)
- 64-bit 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
- Mali 720 GPU
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
- 16mp autofocus rear-facing camera with Samsung BSI sensor and LED flash
- 8mp front camera
- 4G/LTE, dual SIM (2x micro)
- WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with A-GPS
- 2,700mAh battery
- Price: Php4,999
Build Quality and Design
For a Php5k smartphone, the Cubix Cube 3 looks slightly better than its price point would indicate. My review uint came in Gold, but it’s also available in Rose Gold (aka Pink). The design reminds me of the direction Huawei has been taking their handsets lately, although it does feature a rather thick stealth bezel reminiscent of the Flare 4 series.
Aside from the front camera and sensors, there aren’t any distracting hardware features in front as the Cubix Cube 3 makes do with onscreen navigation keys.
Similarly, there aren’t any hardware buttons on the left side of the device, but on the right, you’ll find both the volume rocker and power/lock button.
On top, you’ll find a 3.5mm headset port.
On the bottom, there’s a slightly off-center micro USB port, as well as a microphone pinhole.
The back is where you’ll find the main camera and its LED flash, along with the Cubix brand in the center and the loudspeaker toward the bottom.
Taking the back cover off reveals a removable 2,800mAh battery, as well access to the two SIM slots and the microSD slot. Unfortunately, you’ll need to remove the battery in order to get to the SIM sand microSD slots, which is nothing new.
One of the things I appreciate the most about the Cube 3 is its large 5.5 inch screen. There are a few other locally branded smartphones that come with similar specs, but few come with as big a screen. The HD resolution isn’t the sharpest, but most people won’t notice, and viewing different media should still be enjoyable unless you’re really particular about those pixels.
My one issue with the screen though is that it can sometimes be unresponsive. It could be a result of the pre-installed screen protector, so if it’s something that bothers you, just peel the protector off. Of course, keep in mind that the screen will be much more prone to scratching should you go this route.
Software and UI
Now that Marshmallow 6.0 is beginning to roll out on the newest smartphones, Lollipop 5.1 is getting a little long in the tooth. Thankfully, the UI hasn’t been modified all that much and you get mostly a stock experience.
What annoys me though is that the preloaded bloatware has become a bit annoying with their ads. Cherry Mobile has long included Touchpad as an alternative keyboard on their devices, and its Battery Boost feature actually forces an ad to show up on your lockscreen. Another Cherry Mobile app, Cherry Play would send political ads through notifications and popups every now and then.
At this point, I’m pretty used to bloatware on the devices I review, but the Cubix Cube 3 was pretty offensive in this regard. Thankfully, some of these annoying ads can be disabled, but the options to do so aren’t obvious and would require the average user to do more than a bit of exploration of their phone.
Benchmarks and Performance
Driving the Cubix Cube 3 is an MT6752 octa-core chip, which seems to be the budget performance SoC of choice these days. I ran it through my favourite benchmarking apps and it performed respectably enough.
Surprisingly for its price, the Cube 3 comes equipped with a 13mp autofocus camera on the back and a 5mp camera in front. The resulting images from the rear camera aren’t anything to write home about and they do come across as being a little dark and flat, but that’s nothing a little bit of editing can’t fix. Check out a few samples here.
Shooting in Auto Mode Comes Out Flat
This shot was taken at about 12 noon just as I was boarding a flight to Legazpi. Even in bright out door lighting, the shot comes out flat and a lot of details are hard to make out such as the wording on the truck parked beside the plane.
In comparison, shooting in HDR mode results in a much more balanced exposure and resolved details. Here are a few more Auto vs HDR comparisons.
Now, for those of you who are interested in the front camera, I actually like it better than the one on the back. And yes, I’m benefiting from the built-in beautification feature of the stock camera app.
Entertainment and Gaming
As a multimedia device, you’ll get a lot out of the Cubix Cube 3 thanks to its large screen and about 16GB of storage, about 12GB of which is user-accessible. Sure, that’s only so much storage, but at least you’ll be able to install a significant number of apps and keep a decent media library without having to buy a microSD card.
The large 5.5 inch screen allows for comfortable viewing without having to bring the display closer to your face. In fact, you should be able to share a movie with a friend or two.
The loudspeakers are just average though. They don’t get too loud, but at least there’s minimal distortion even when you crank it up higher. Anyway, I’d never recommend listening to anything on your phone’s loudspeaker, so it’s best to use it with a nice pair of third party headsets.
As for gaming, the Cube 3 is a capable enough device. Don’t expect mind-blowing performance, but it should be able to play just about any game you can find on the Play Store provided you have enough storage. I played my favorite games on the Cube 3 and experienced no issues. Although certainly not as snappy as today’s flagships, the framerates were consistently good enough to enjoy the games they were meant to be played.
Despite its size, the Cubix Cube 3 is only equipped with a sub-3,000mAh battery, or 2,700mAh to be exact. Interestingly enough, it’s still able to last most of my work day. Admittedly, I don’t use my phone while working except for breaks, but on commutes I’ll either by browsing the web on 4G or trying to catch up on a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones. As long as a phone can last at least 13 hours to cover the typical work day including commutes, I’m satisfied. In the case of the Cubix Cube 3, it usually lasts me about 17 hours from full charge down to about 5%.
I ran it through CMark’s standardized battery benchmark, which simulates four different work scenarios: Web Browsing, Video Playback, Writing, and Photo Editing. The result is an assumption of how long your smartphone should last when using it straight. The Cubix Cube 3 was able to score 6 hours and 1 minute, which is significantly better than the last phone I tested that only scored about 2 hours or so.
So Should You Buy the Cubix Cube 3?
As popular as online shopping has become in the past few years here in the Philippines, there are still a few things that we’re hesitant to just buy online, such as smartphones. Being an online-only sub-brand of Cherry Mobile, Cubix is somewhat handicapped in this regard. However, the Cubix Cube 3 is one online-only smartphone deal you’re not going to want to miss. The combination of its large HD screen, octa-core CPU, and ample storage make it possibly one of the best value smartphones at just Php5k.