Featured Review: Cubot X15

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The previous yr or so has handled us with some critically upped expectations in relation to finances units.  It wasn’t too way back that a phone underneath $ 200 had little to no expectations from shoppers, delivering a baseline spec sheet and no extras in any respect.  Immediately’s recreation is a totally totally different one the place sub-$ 200 units typically ship extra worth than their larger priced competitors, just because we’ve hit some extent the place most of those telephones are simply ok for shoppers’ daily lives.  The earlier Cubot phone we reviewed was the X12 back in July, a $ 100 phone that did a reasonably good job general.  At this time we’re going over the $ 150 or so Cubot X15, so expectations are a bit larger than on the X12 if for no cause aside from the price.

Specs

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For round $ one hundred fifty you’re getting a reasonably properly specced phone, together with a processor that’s within the newest lineup of MediaTek’s 64-bit processor household, the MT6735.  This one is a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and is accompanied by 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a 5.5-inch 1080p display.  There’s help for dual SIM playing cards right here and certainly one of these slots doubles as a microSD card slot for expandable storage.  Android 5.1 Lollipop powers the expertise and a 16-megapixel camera sensor sits on the again whereas a 5-megapixel sensor resides on the front.  A 2,750mAh battery sits inside an extremely slim 6.9mm skinny body, whereas the phone is 153mm high, 76mm vast and weighs 177 grams.

Within the Field

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Contained in the little phone field you’re going to seek out the phone encased in a free exhausting plastic case, one thing that’ll doubtless assist shield towards the occasional scratch or small drop.  Along with this there’s a screen protector already on the phone and a further one included within the field in case one thing occurs to the unique.  A micro fiber material is there to maintain issues shiny and new wanting, and naturally the manuals and SIM ejector software all assist too.  Final however not least is in fact the USB to microUSB cable, in addition to a wall charger.

Show

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Cubot advertises this phone with a bezel-much less display, one thing that’s definitely not the case right here.    The bezels are fairly skinny in comparison with another telephones, particularly ones on this price vary, however there’s a transparent bezel across the complete display regardless of how you narrow it.  Along with that this is likely one of the worst shows I’ve seen on any phone with out hesitation.  It’s crisp and features some good PPI decision, and the brightness ranges are phenomenal surely, however these are in all probability the one constructive qualities I can pull right here.  Calibration of the display is atrocious to say the least, with washed out colours, crushed black ranges and an image high quality that simply seems to be like there’s a haze over all the things.  Utilizing the MiraVision calibration instruments supplied with MediaTek’s processors I nonetheless couldn’t pull an honest picture out of the display, though it at the very least helped it a bit.  The digitizer is nearly as dangerous because the display too, registering what felt like 70% of my presses more often than not, and even then I needed to press fairly onerous to get it to reply.  Typing and swiping have been irritating experiences until I took my time doing each of them, one thing I’m not used to having to do within the age of immediate know-how.

Hardware and Construct

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Constructed high quality of the Cubot X15 is usually a high level, with a metallic body and an extremely skinny construct.  6.9mm is thinner than the overwhelming majority of the telephones on the market, and it’s instantly apparent when choosing the device up.  The metallic body makes the phone really feel sturdy regardless of how skinny it's, and the chamfered edges give it a very satisfying aesthetic.  Our review mannequin is white and features a silver chrome coating on these chamfered edges and actually appears fairly elegant.  The again of the phone is the one low a part of the construct, because it’s not solely non-removable however feels a bit on a budget aspect.  It’s manufactured from plastic indisputably and has a little bit of give to it, one thing that’s type of odd given how skinny the phone is.

The correct aspect of the phone features the volume rocker which truly has separated volume up and down buttons for ease of urgent, whereas the power button resides under these.  The left aspect features two separate SIM card slots, certainly one of which doubles as a microSD card port.  The 3.5mm headset jack sits on the highest aspect whereas the underside homes dual audio system on both aspect of the microUSB port.  Beneath the screen you’ll discover some fairly hidden capacitive buttons representing menu, house and again keys, whereas the sensors and earpiece sit above the display.  Lastly on the again you’ll discover a sq. camera lens on the highest left with a single LED flash subsequent to it.

Performance and Reminiscence

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MediaTek’s latest lineup of 64-bit processors all carry out admirably in day by day conditions, even the bottom tier mannequin as is housed inside the Cubot X15.  This one is a quad-core 1.3GHz mannequin and principally does a superb job at giving acceptable efficiency, nevertheless I observed that whereas scrolling in locations like Chrome and the Overview/multi-tasking menu the framerate would chug fairly an enormous, making the phone really feel slower than it ought to.  Apps all launched almost immediately although, and the one time I needed to wait any vital period of time was through the loading screens in games like The Strolling Lifeless: No Mans Land.  Inner storage velocity was impressively quick, which transfers into these quick app launching speeds even when the app isn’t sitting in memory ready.

Precise gaming efficiency wasn’t dangerous, nevertheless it wasn’t nice both.  This processing package deal is constructed extra for 720p shows, and sadly with this high of a decision it struggles with any comparatively intensive 3D recreation.  You’ll see this mirrored within the benchmarks part under.  Multi-tasking was fairly good general and apps have been not often ever unloaded from memory when switched between.  The most important drawback right here is the continued use of the menu button on decrease-finish units, an issue that manifests itself in slower multi-tasking efficiency as a result of the devoted Overview multi-tasking button isn’t there, slightly you must press and maintain the house button to deliver up this screen.

Benchmarks

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The step up between this and the MT6752 processor that’s in different telephones round this price is fairly vital and exhibits 50-100% efficiency games in every little thing consists of games and benchmarks.  For example the equally priced Lenovo K3 Observe scored round 44,000 in AnTuTu whereas the Cubot X15 solely scores round 24,000.

Telephone Calls and Community

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There’s little to complain about right here, with good reception all through the buildings I frequent and good name high quality.  There’s no HD calling help right here within the US with T-Cellular so we’re not speaking the best name high quality potential proper now, however that is about nearly as good as I can anticipate common high quality calls to be.  Knowledge speeds have been equally as common with 3G/HSPA connectivity on T-Cellular US’s network nevertheless I wasn’t capable of get a sign in any respect on AT&T’s network regardless of the place I went.  This was a bit odd as AT&T often has spectrum that’s extra pleasant to worldwide telephones than T-Cellular.  What’s spectacular right here although is that T-Cellular’s LTE spectrum acquired picked up by the Cubot X15, a primary for any phone we’ve examined on this price vary.  This implies blazing quick network speeds and nice compatibility with T-Cellular’s US network.

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Examine the spectrum itemizing under to see in case your service of selection worldwide is roofed:

2G: 850/900/1800/1900MHz

3G/HSPA: 900/1900/2100MHz

4G LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600MHz

Battery Life

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Battery life on the entire was nice in day by day use, simply lasting a full day with over 4 hours of on screen time.  Standby time was good too, dropping just a few proportion factors in a single day even with sync on.  General there's little or no to complain about right here, particularly in the event you’re not utilizing the phone tremendous closely all through the day, however 5 hours of on screen time might be absolutely the most you’re going to get out of this one.  The dimensions of the battery retains this quantity from being bigger, however on common nearly all of customers on the market gained’t be utilizing a phone for longer than that, which means this phone has some fairly nice battery life.

Software program

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Android 5.1 Lollipop was the newest version of Android publicly out there when the phone launched, and whereas Android 6.0 Marshmallow has launched since then we’re unsure this phone will ever see that replace.  That’s definitely not the top of the world, particularly in the event you’re used to purchasing a inexpensive phone once in a while to get newer specs and software.  Whereas this replace definitely isn’t out of the query there are many Marshmallow features right here within the phone together with app permissions administration.  App permissions will let you permit or deny particular person permissions for each app put in on the phone, permitting customers to limit permissions utilization for delicate info like contacts, GPS location and extra.

There’s a whole lot of gestures right here that’ll all be acquainted in the event you’ve been an Android consumer for the previous few years.  That is nice as a result of it means you don’t lose these features even in case you’re not prepared or capable of spend extra on a phone.  Gestures embrace hand waving motions the place you progress your hand over the front of the device to regulate issues on the phone with out touching the screen.  This performance extends to a handful of apps (listed within the setting), for example scrolling via the gallery with a swipe, taking footage with the camera with the identical gesture, and even making a name to somebody by simply bringing the phone as much as your ear when within the messaging app.

There’s additionally screen-off gestures like double-faucet to wake the device, drawing totally different shapes and letters to launch apps and even drawing right down to pause music.  Most of those secondary gestures are hit and miss although and you might discover that they have a tendency to go off when positioned in a pocket, which means you may need to disable these until the phone is generally stored in a bag or purse.  Final however not least there’s help for scheduled power on and off, a feature that’s undoubtedly area of interest however shall be invaluable to those who want it.  Let’s not overlook about HotKnot which permits customers to share knowledge when the screens of two supported units are pushed collectively.  This implies there’s no NFC sadly, which suggests no mobile funds or pairing with supported units, however is probably not a deal breaker relying on the place you reside or what your mobile habits are.

The remainder of the expertise is fairly inventory Android and solely features an icon theme for the inventory launcher.  The whole lot else stays just about untouched, and that’s an ideal sigh of aid for people who despise the skins so many OEMs like to make use of.

Sound

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Sound output was fairly incredible from the Cubot X15, one thing that's all the time shocking at this price vary.  There’s lossless Bluetooth audio help for greater high quality Bluetooth audio when supported by units, in addition to a number of rudimentary sound enhancement features.  I’ve discovered that a majority of these generic enhancements don’t supply a lot in the best way of constructive outcomes, and your mileage will differ relying on what you’re listening to music via.  Sound output out of the 3.5mm headset jack was fairly wonderful and featured an incredible vary of sound that’s not typically discovered on telephones on this price vary.  Sound output from the audio system on the underside of the phone was good and loud, very clear and basically about as nice as such audio system may be.  I've little complaints aside from their placement.

There’s no equalizer outdoors of the one constructed into common music apps, so adjusting the standard of the audio goes to decrease the volume a bit, however you may be stunned at how good the default sound copy is from the Cubot X15.  Sadly throughout our testing interval the 3.5mm headset jack stopped working for no obvious cause, one thing that might usually be coated beneath the producer’s guarantee anyway.

Digital camera

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There’s all the time commerce-offs for each smartphone that sells round $ one hundred fifty, and meaning the priorities of the OEM are going to shine by way of.  It’s fairly clear that, though the software expertise is missing a bit, the general camera high quality discovered on the Cubot X15 was an enormous focus for the corporate.  Photographs are crystal clear with nice focus, virtually no noticeable noise in any state of affairs, and nice video recording high quality.  This can be a large distinction from many different smartphones at this price level, and if Cubot can make the shutter velocity only a bit quicker they’ll have a surefire winner on their arms right here.  On common it took 2-3 seconds for the camera to take the shot and be able to take one other one, a delay that’ll probably make you miss your meant shot in the event you didn’t get it proper the primary time.

Fortunately the standard of the particular photographs is superb and represents some significantly high-quality images high quality.  There’s no bizarre purple hue or different unusual issues that plenty of cameras on this price vary have, and general pictures have been extremely crisp and clear.  The denoise filter doesn’t need to do a lot if something because of the sensor offered right here in addition to the bias in the direction of an extended shutter velocity, holding the ISO low and the noise down with it.  No additional denoise filter means loads of additional particulars that you simply gained’t all the time discover from different telephones.  Sadly the slower shutter signifies that low mild images is a bit inconsistent, and when you might get some unimaginable photographs typically there shall be different occasions that the picture is blurry resulting from hand shake.

The software offered right here is equivalent to different camera software packages on telephones on this price vary and might be extremely acquainted to those that have used any mid-vary or entry-degree phone within the final 2 years.  There’s fairly a couple of choices right here in addition to totally different modes together with panorama, picture-in-picture mode, reside photo, multi-angle and movement monitoring.  All of those work fairly nicely and are literally fairly a little bit of enjoyable to play with, particularly the picture-in-picture mode the place you'll be able to take footage or report video utilizing each cameras on the similar time, in addition to multi-angle mode which helps you to take a picture from a number of angles and rotate across the object within the gallery.  This final one is extra for smaller objects clearly however can be utilized for some enjoyable creativity too.

Lastly we get to video mode which is phenomenal to say the least.  Clear and clear 1080p video comes from the device and is a breath of recent air within the land of cheaper telephones that always forgo any sort of respectable video efficiency for a greater price level.  There’s little to complain about right here apart from the audio, which left a bit to be desired, however in any other case was lots usable.  There’s additionally some digital image stabilization right here to assist with hand jitter throughout video recording.  Take a look at the gallery under with picture and video samples to see for your self.

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The Good

Metallic body construct, skinny too

Good battery life

Wonderful sound output

Nice picture and video high quality from the camera

Inventory Android 5.1 Lollipop with added features

Nice multi-tasking regardless of the shortage of devoted Overview button

4G LTE worldwide together with the US on T-Cellular

The Dangerous

Display is washed out and horrible wanting

Digitizer wants loads of work, misses loads of touches

Digital camera could be sluggish, particularly in decrease mild

Performance might be sluggish at occasions, notably in games

Conclusion

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For $ one hundred fifty there’s not all the time quite a bit you'll be able to ask for in a phone, however typically it’s the fundamentals that must be met first to maneuver onto extra superior sections.  The most important drawback with the Cubot X15 is the screen, which is washed out and horrible wanting even on a nasty day.  The digitizer that powers the touch expertise behind the glass can also be mediocre at best, and solely sluggish typing and deliberate gestures would register throughout use.  This can be a disgrace too as a result of the remainder of the phone is usually a strong expertise.  Whereas the efficiency of the device could possibly be just a little higher at occasions, its audio output is phenomenal and the standard of the photographs and movies taken by the camera are nothing in need of nice, particularly at this price level.  Battery life is sweet and this one even has a metallic body construct, to not point out being extremely skinny too.  Cubot has a bunch of various telephones too, so make sure you take a look at their Facebook page to see all of them.