Cubot X16 review AH_24

Featured Review: Cubot X16

November 12, 2015 - Written By Kristijan Lucic

Cubot is one of many Chinese smartphone manufacturers trying to make a name for themselves out in the market. This company has released quite a few devices thus far, and they’re mostly either entry-level or mid-range devices. We’ve already reviewed the Cubot X12 smartphone which turned out to be a rather good entry-level smartphone with amazing battery life, but there are a number of areas that needed to improve. Something similar can be said for Cubot X15 which we’ve reviewed quite recently as well, and now we have Cubot X16 in for a review. Is it any better than its siblings? Well, let’s find out.

Specifications

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First and foremost, it’s worth saying that Cubot X16 is a mid-range device, though some might call it low to mid-range because of its SoC which we’ll talk about in a minute. The phone sports a 5-inch 1080p (1920 x 1080) JDI IPS display along with 2GB of LPDDR 3 RAM and 16GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD card up to 32GB). You get two SIM card slots here (micro + nano SIM), and you can use the micro SIM card slot as your microSD card slot instead.

The Cubot X16 is fueled by MediaTek’s MT6735 64-bit quad-core SoC clocked at 1.3GHz along with a Mali-T720 GPU for graphics rendering. The 13-megapixel camera (5P lens, f/2.2 aperture) is located on the back of this phone, and it sports dual ISP image chips, while you’ll find a dual-LED flash next to the camera sensor. The 5-megapixel shooter is available on the front side of this phone, and a 2,500mAh battery is located on the inside.

Cubot X16 offers 4G LTE connectivity (FDD-LTE 800/1800/2100/2600MHz), and Bluetooth 4.0 is also a part of this package. Android 5.1 Lollipop comes pre-installed here with some of Cubot’s additions on top of it, but keep in mind that you’ll get an almost stock experience here. The device measures 143.4 x 69.4 x 6.2mm, while it weighs 162 grams.

Display

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I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with Cubot X16’s display. The device features a 5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) JDI IPS display which has really nice colors and good viewing angles. Keep in mind that the contract might be a bit stronger than what you’re used to similar displays, which makes some images not look all that realistic, but I have to say I really didn’t mind this. I’m a fan of AMOLED displays, and even though this is an IPS panel, it’s nice to see a pronounced contrast in such a display.

What about touch sensitivity? Well, a number of these small Chinese OEMs have digitizer issues, their displays are sometimes not sensitive enough. Well, I have to say I didn’t have any issues using Cubot X16’s display. It is not as sensitive as Samsung’s and LG’s displays, for example, but it’s close enough. You won’t have any issues using this phone’s display even if you’re coming from a high-profile manufacturer which offers amazing digitizers. Typing was quite a nice experience on the Cubot X16, even despite the fact its display is rather small for my taste.

Hardware And Build

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We’ll discuss phone’s internals more under performance section, but let’s talk more about its external look and overall build quality, shall we. Cubot X16 really managed to surprise me as soon as I opened the box. The phone looks far better in person, it sports glass panels on both its front and back side, and its frame is made out of metal. In addition to all that, the device is extremely thin at 6.2mm, which makes it sleeks looking that it really is.

There are three capacitive buttons below the display (menu, home and back, respectively), and even though I’m not a huge fan of capacitive buttons and do think menu buttons are obsolete in general, they fit in well with this phone. Keep in mind that these buttons are not backlit, so you won’t be able to see what you’re pressing in complete darkness, but they’re relatively easy to find though, so… I really didn’t have any issues as far as that is concerned.

Both the volume rocker and power / lock physical keys are placed on the right-hand side of Cubot X16, and are made out of metal. The power / lock switch doesn’t really protrude enough for my taste, it’s not tactile enough. That’s a matter of preference though, I guess, so it might not be an issue for you. All in all, the Cubot X16 is a very, very sleek-looking phone, and glass panels, metal and thinness really makes it look nice.

Performance And Memory

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So, the Cubot X16 isn’t exactly the most powerful phone around. This smartphone packs in a low-end MediaTek chip, the MT6735. This is a 64-bit quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz which comes with a Mali-T720 GPU for graphics. This SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM, which seem to help quite a bit in terms of multitasking and overall performance. It turns out that this hardware package actually performs quite well, better than I’ve expected.

As far as general performance and multitasking goes, I had no issues whatsoever. The phone ran fine even though it did stutter here and there, but nothing that would really bother me. As far as games go, don’t expect to play some 3D titles with top graphics on high settings with this phone, of course, but it can handle its fair share of games. Temple Run 2, Looney Toones: Dash, Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt: Airborne worked just fine, most of them on medium settings. YouTube playback works like a charm as well, same goes for web browsing and all the other regular processes. The phone never got too warm, but you could feel a bit of heat when gaming, nothing that should worry you though.

Benchmarks

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Cubot X16 doesn’t exactly sport powerful internals, as we’ve already mentioned. This smartphone ships with MediaTek’s MT6735 64-bit quad-core SoC which is clocked at 1.3GHz. This is MediaTek’s entry-level chip, and you won’t exactly see it perform admirably in benchmarks, even though it does offer really solid real life performance. Cubot X16 has scored 24,869 points on AnTuTu, while it managed to score 616 point in a single-core test on Geekbench. As far as the multi-core test is concerned, MT6735 managed to hit 1,789 points. If you’re interested in 3D Mark results, check out the gallery down below.

Phone Calls And Network

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During my testing of Cubot X16, I performed quite a few phone calls, and didn’t experience any issues whatsoever. The sound was alright, but could be better. The earpiece will definitely do the trick, but the sound wasn’t as crisp or loud as I expected it to be, which is something most of your probably won’t notice, depending on which device / network you used prior to this phone. The microphone is quite good, at least according to people I talked to, and those who talked to me while I was at the other end of the line.

The Cubot X16 offers support for 4G LTE connectivity, which I took advantage of. Keep in mind that on my network, ‘BonBon’, we don’t really get extremely high 4G LTE speeds, but Cubot X16 performed really well in this area as well. I did not experience any drops of connection of any sort, at least not unintentional ones (low coverage areas). The same can be said for Wi-Fi as well, everything worked as it should. As a reminder, the phone supports FDD-LTE 800/1800/2100/2600MHz 4G LTE, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

Battery Life

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Considering the fact Cubot X16 is only 6.2mm thick, you have to wonder what’s the battery life like, right? Well, the device sports a 2,500mAh battery on the inside, and I have to say I’m both pleasantly surprised and somewhat disappointed with its battery life. During my testing I was getting both really good results, and really poor results. One day, I managed to get over 4 and a half hours of screen-on time and still had around 20% battery left, while on other days I barely reached 3 hours screen-on-time before the phone died on me.

If you’d like to check out some examples, take a look at the gallery down below. In the first two images, I was at 3:38h screen-on-time and still had 21% of battery left. The other two images are even better, I was at 4:33h screen-on-time and still had 22% battery left, which really surprised me. A couple of days later, the 3 hours screen-on-time scenario happened. As you can see, the battery life isn’t exactly that constant, and that might be a problem. I was very happy to see the 4:30h+ of screen-on time, but considering how inconsistent the battery is… well, I was never able to fully rely on it.

Software

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The Cubot X16 actually has a very stock-like software, which is a good thing. The software on this device isn’t bloated by any stretch of the imagination. You’ll find some pre-installed apps on here, like Clean Master for example, and Cubot did add some gesture on here, but other than that, this is a very clean experience. Thanks to a rather light software offering, the phone actually manages to perform extremely well, as I’ve already mentioned in the performance section.

The additions that Cubot made in the ‘Gestures’ menu are actually very welcomed. Thanks to a couple of gestures included in there, you can turn on or off your display by double tapping the capacitive home button. You can also turn it on by tapping the screen, but you won’t be able to turn it off that way for some reason. Keep in mind that you’ll find a couple of grammatical errors in the ‘Gestures’ menu, which is a shame, but nothing that would mess with the overall experience, Cubot will hopefully fix that with an update.

It is also worth mentioning that Android 5.1 Lollipop comes pre-installed on this device, which means you’ll get all the 5.1 Lollipop features like heads-up notifications for example. Cubot X16’s software is quite good, it is nice looking, and it makes way for a really pleasant overall experience.

Sound

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So, what’s the sound like here? Well, not particularly great, but it’s… alright. The loudspeaker on the back of the phone is kind of small, and the sheer positioning of it doesn’t help, that’s for sure. The speaker is loud enough, but when you tune it up all the way, the sound isn’t that great (you’ll notice the lack of sharpness), so it’s best not to do that. Other than that, it’s quite alright, I’ve seen far worse rear-facing speakers on much more expensive phones.

The sound output through earphones / headphones is quite alright, but once again, nothing special. I doubt many people will complain in this department, but those of you who have used a far superior audio handset might be disappointed. I’ve tested the device with both earphones and headphones, and I’m left with the impression of ‘average’, which is not a bad thing in this case considering the price of this phone.

Camera

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Smartphone cameras are most people’s main shooter, so it’s rather important that they’re somewhat capable, that’s simply the world we live in today. You can never expect much from mid-range budget devices in this aspect, but if you manage your expectations, some of them have relatively decent shooters. I’ve seen far worse shooters than the one on Cubot X16, that’s for sure, but this rear-facing 13-megapixel camera isn’t that great either.

The camera is capable of taking really solid shots in good lighting conditions, the same can be said for indoor shots, but unfortunately, it tends to oversharpen a lot of those images, especially outside. I was actually surprised to see so much sharpening in some images, but on the other hand, I was also surprised to see that some images turned out far better than I’ve expected.

In low light you’ll notice images get a little more grainy, but compared to some other devices I’ve used this camera actually manages to pull off decent shots from time to time, even though the sensor doesn’t exactly let a lot of light into the image. This results in rather dark images, but at least the graininess isn’t all over the place like it is on many other devices. So, what’s the camera like? Well, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s quite average. Check out the gallery down below and see for yourself.

Conclusion

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So, is the Cubot X16 worth the money? Well, in general, I’d say it is, but it all depends on what you look for in a device. This phone has a great build quality, and it looks quite sleek as well, the trade off is its battery size, unfortunately. The battery life was kind of finicky during my testing, and that might be a problem for some of you. The camera and sound quality are decent, and the display is quite good actually. As far as performance goes, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this phone, it will stutter from time to time, but that’s it. So… it’s up to you.