Teracube 2e Review – A More Affordable Sustainable Smartphone

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Teracube the sustainable smartphone company is back again with a new smartphone - Teracube 2e. Can it live up to the hype generated by the first Teracube device last year?

Teracube 2e
$199
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Screen quality is excellent
  • Fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate
  • Excellent battery life
  • 7+ hour Screen-on time
  • Replaceable 4000mAh battery
  • 3-year OS and security updates
  • Size is perfect for one-handed use
Cons
  • SIM cards are difficult to remove
  • Haptic motor is weak
  • No charging accessories, difficult to find the right charger brick
  • Charging time is just under 3 hours which is long
  • Stock camera app is not that great
  • Long wait time for delivery from launch date

Teracube provided Android Headlines with a pre-production review unit of the Teracube 2e. This review was written after using the device for more than 7 days. The phone is running Android 10 and September 5, 2020 security patch.

 

Teracube's slogan is "Better for your pocket, better for the planet".  In this Teracube 2e review we do a deeper dive to see if it lives up to the affordable yet sustainable smartphone slogan.

AndroidHeadlines did an early read on this device on launch day. I have been using the Teracube 2e for a little over a week in preparation for this review.

Before we dig into the Teracube 2e review let's take a look at the company's philosophy and why they believe their approach is more beneficial to the environment.

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Earth and Environment Friendly

Smartphones’ biggest environmental impact comes from the manufacturing process and the e-waste when discarded. According to Teracube, in the U.S. alone, over 151 million cell phones are thrown into landfills every year. To help combat this, the Teracube 2e was designed to help reduce e-waste and smartphone turnover.

Teracube's devices are good for the environment not only because they use replaceable batteries and recycled materials. By offering a long warranty and a swappable battery with guaranteed 3-year software updates, they are counting on people to keep their phones longer. This in turn should help reduce e-waste generated by smartphones filling landfills.

According to a United Nations report on E-Waste, the world produces as much as 50 million tons of electronic and electrical waste. And if we continue on our current path, we are on track by 2050 to reach 120 million tons of e-waste per year. Experts are anticipating a fresh glut of gadgets as we all rush to join the 5G revolution.

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In order to live up to their slogan "Better for your pocket, better for the planet", the introductory limited-launch price of the Teracube 2e is an eye-popping $99. However, launch quantity stock is limited and is on a first-come-first-serve basis. MSRP of the Teracube 2e is $199 once the initial launch period ends. Let's find out if the device lives up to the hype in the Teracube 2e review.

Teracube 2e – a closer look

Design of the 2e is very basic but functional. It is a non-descript slab with just the right proportions and weight distribution for one-handed use. It is eerily reminiscent of the Nokia 2 series devices. However, compared to the plastic back Nokia devices, Teracube 2e has these unique detents in each bottom corner of the polycarbonate backplate. These detents allow for easy removal of the backplate to gain access to the two nano-SIM card slots and the micro-SD card slot.

Detents
Two detents, one at each corner make the backplate removal a breeze

There is a fairly large pad-printed Teracube logo in white color on the backplate. The backplate has a slight matte finish but it does not prevent a fingerprint smudge fest on it. The dual-camera module has a virtually negligible bump which is a marked departure from most other smartphones.

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Teracube 2e has a rear fingerprint sensor in the tried and tested location. The FPS has just the right amount of tactile feedback and is quick and accurate. I did not observe any errors in unlocking the phone with the FPS during my time with the device. Of course, as soon as you pop open the backplate you see the large replaceable 4000 mAh battery.

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A swappable 4000 mAh battery reminds me of phones from a different era

Design and build quality impressions

The Teracube 2e is quite nondescript save for its little green power button which is a nice design touch gently reminding us that the device is eco-friendly. Power and volume buttons are on the right-hand side of the device and placed in a good location for one-handed use. All three buttons provide good tactile feedback. Top frame of the phone has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The bottom of the frame houses the USB-C charging port and the speaker grille.

Display panel on the 2e is flat with a teardrop notch at the top in the middle to accommodate the selfie camera. The top and side bezels are not overtly egregious but the bottom bezel is noticeably chunky. There is a small notification LED to the right of the top speaker grille which is a definite bonus.

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There are a few overall hardware gripes. Getting the SIM card out of the slot was quite a process. It would have been nice if Teracube included the push-pull pins on the SIM slots. The SD card slot does not suffer from the same issue since the micro SD cards have a detent to grab on to when you want to eject it. The haptic motor is a glaring weak spot in an otherwise well-built device with no noticeable squeaks, creaks, or rattles.

In summary, the design is mostly functional which is a good thing.

Performance on Teracube 2e is quite decent

Teracube 2e comes equipped with a MediaTek Helio A25 processor. This is a TSMC 12nm FinFET processor for the entry-level 4G smartphone segment focused on boosting battery life. The A25 is an eight-core chip with four Cortex A53 cores clocked up to 1.80GHz and four Cortex A53 cores at 1.50GHz. Needless to say that this phone is not going to win any spec wars. But when coupled with 4GBof RAM, I did not encounter any issues running my usual slate of apps. In regular use, I wasn't able to discern a huge difference between the Teracube 2e and my older Pixel 3A.

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Having said that, this phone was quite capable of playing games and switching between apps without any hiccups. I played Subway Surfers, BB Racing, Hill Climb, and Angry Birds while switching back and forth between the games and apps without any hassles. The phone didn't get unusually warm when playing these games either. Knowing what processor is on the phone, I deliberately steered away from Call of Duty or PUBG type games.

Geekbench scores were as expected, 138 for Single-Core score and 840 for Multi-Core score. The A25 isn't the fastest processor in this segment, and stock Android runs well enough. However, you'll definitely feel that it's a budget phone when compared to a faster 90Hz or 120Hz device with a better processor and more RAM.

As soon as you set the phone up you will notice that about 10GB storage is set aside for the system software and basic Google apps. So almost 50+ GB of storage is still available for your regular apps and games. For additional storage one can always add a micro SD card.

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The display is the best part of this budget-friendly device

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Sharp, crisp 6.1" display that is visible outdoors in daylight

The 6.1-inch IPS display is better than what I expected in a device at this price-point. It has a 720 x 1560 HD+ resolution with 280 ppi and 450 nits of brightness. The screen definitely does not look washed out compared to most other devices in this price category. Screen resolution is good enough that on-screen content doesn't show any noticeable pixelation despite my efforts at pixel peeping. Visibility outdoors in broad daylight is surprisingly quite good. Night light mode along with eye protection modes are two additional nice features, especially at this price point.

Keep in mind, this is not a high-end panel but within the price segment, this panel punches way above its weight class. Color accuracy is quite decent and the screen is responsive to touch. I did not see any lag between my touch inputs and the screen's behavior.

The tempered glass on the display panel is from Mantix. Teracube will ship the device with a factory-installed screen protector.

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Software on Teracube 2e is Stock Android 10

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Stock Android 10 running the latest security patch out of the box

Our test unit came with the Teracube_2e_01 build based on Android 10 with the September 2020 security patch. Stock Android with zero bloatware means the phone feels fast and snappy in regular use. Teracube promises that its devices will receive Android OS software and security updates for three years from the time of purchase. Their software support policy is way better than most other manufacturers in this price range. Teracube is promising the Android 11 update by Summer 2021.

Battery life is quite acceptable

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Large battery equals great screen-on time but recharging time is equally long

The 4,000-mAh battery capacity frequently lasted a full day, with around 40 percent left by 10 pm. Screen-on time was usually between 7 and 8 hours depending on usage before the battery went down to 0%. With moderate use, you can get almost 2-day usage from this device. Additionally, this is a replaceable battery so down the line, you don't need a new device if you find yourself topping up the battery often.

Since Teracube does not include a charging brick or a USB-C cable in the box you need to be aware of a few things when it comes to charging the device. The charging brick that came with my Pixel wasn't recognized by the phone. I then used a 10W power brick and a generic USB-C cable and the phone started charging without any issues. I think you may have a couple of trials before you find a brick/cable combination that satisfactorily charges this phone I wasn't able to trigger the charging quickly prompt despite trying about 5 different charging output bricks with a high-quality USB-C cable.

Charging time was 2 hours and 45 minutes from zero to full battery capacity which is definitely on the high side. About 70% charge was reached in about 1 hour 25 minutes though.

Camera output surprised me but the app can be better

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App is a bit finicky but pictures in good lighting conditions are nice

Teracube 2e main camera on the rear is a 13MP f/2.8 with a focal length of 3.46mm. The pixel size is 1.12 µm and the view angle is 68.5°. A wide-angle 8MP f/2.2 with a focal length of 1.6mm is also included along with a LED flash. The pixel size for the wide-angle camera sensor is 1.12 µm and the view angle is 97.5°. The selfie camera is identical to the rear wide-angle camera.

Good outdoor light results in reasonably good pictures that you can view or share on social media. On a smartphone or a tablet, the pictures look decent. Try viewing them on a large screen monitor and any attempt at pixel peeping will be disappointing. Outdoor pictures show good color and detail in close up shots.

Blue skies are a hit or a miss depending on the framing of the shot. More often than not the sky tends to wash out. Indoor shots in low light are quite grainy. With daylight coming through the window or artificial light, they are passable. Selfie camera results are acceptable in outdoor light.

My main issue is that the camera app takes a bit of fidgeting to switch modes. To use the wide-angle lens you need to toggle over to the Wide mode.  Wide-angle lens pictures show distortion at the edges. The camera app also offers Panorama and Pro Mode options. HDR mode is there but you need to turn it on manually. Since HDR mode was quite slow in capturing pictures, I typically did not use it. There is no dedicated Night mode so keep that in mind as you look at some sample photos below.

Teracube 2e Camera Samples - Flickr Gallery

Video is FHD or 1080p for both front and rear cameras. Microphone performance in video mode for both front and rear cameras was surprisingly good. Video quality is good enough that it will not dissuade you from using it as long as there is decent lighting.

Image stabilization is missing but that is the case with pretty much most smartphones in this category. The camera takes perhaps half a second longer than higher-end devices to focus. But neither of those two issues are deal-breakers in my opinion.

In summary, the camera is definitely serviceable and performs admirably for its price. However, if the camera and video quality are top priorities for you then you should definitely look elsewhere.

Audio quality is way better than expected

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Teracube 2e provides good audio output with wired and wireless headphones

There is only one bottom-firing speaker on the right-hand corner but it gets reasonably loud when playing music or videos on YouTube. The top speaker produces good output for voice calls.

Audio coming via the headphone jack is actually a lot better than I anticipated. Bluetooth audio quality on my Enacfire E60 earbuds was satisfactory but definitely not as good as the headphone jack.

Connectivity is excellent

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Excellent LTE connectivity on T-Mobile with correct carrier APN settings

As promised, I got LTE and VoLTE on the device as soon as I put my T-Mobile SIM card in it. The data speeds were comparable to what I get on my Pixel 4 XL on the same network. T-Moblie, MetroPCS, and other T-Mobile MVNOs are fully supported out of the box.

Teracube is working to get the device certified so you can use it on AT&T as well. Since this is a GSM device, Verizon users are out of luck at this time.

Call quality was excellent using the main mic (handset) or via the speakerphone mode. Sending texts, downloading apps, streaming music via Spotify, and watching videos on YouTube was seamless. Bluetooth 5.0 made pairing with my E60 earbuds quick and easy. There was no difference in call connectivity when using a wired headset using the 3.5mm headphone jack or via Bluetooth.

FM Radio works fine on the phone as well along with Wi-Fi calling. NFC for Android Share / Google Pay is a welcome feature in the COVID-19 era and quite often omitted in phones in this price category.

Should you consider buying a Teracube 2e?

Having used Teracube 2e for over a week I can safely say that it meets its goal of being an affordable sub $200 smartphone. It has a functional ergonomic design, better than expected display, good audio, and connectivity. It boasts clean bloat-free software, great battery life, and a decent camera.

There are a few downsides as pointed out in various parts of this review but none of them is a resounding deal breaker.

A battery that is replaceable along with a 4-year warranty and, low flat-fee repairs provides a compelling case for keeping your smartphone longer than 2 years. Additionally, the free two-way shipping and 3-year guaranteed software updates are welcome add-ons and unheard of in this price segment.

To conclude the Teracube 2e review, if you are looking for an affordable smartphone that will get support for quite some time in the future then Teracube 2e should definitely be on your shortlist.