Just bought one of these to replace a slightly knackered Huawei Ascend Y300.
The Huawei isn’t a bad bargin-bucket handset, but it’s a bit underpowered – there’s not enough memory to run the BBC Radio app and web browse at the same time; the UI is often a bit laggy and there’s just not enough built-in storage. Probably the most annoying aspect is that it’s single SIM – this is seriously annoying as, until the EU knocks the right heads together, I have to maintain two seperate numbers.
Looking around for a new one, I found the Cubot s208 (warning: comedy Engrish). Never heard of them, but it’s as cheap as chips so I thought I’d take a punt. Here’s what I found.
- Comes with a cheap plastic, leather-patterned cover that has a window exposing the top 40% of the screen. Makes the phone look like an old iPod. Sticks on to the phone with an adhesive strip, so not removable once fitted. Folds back, so can act as a(n unstable) stand.
- Volume buttons are on the left, and obscured by the cover. Power button on the right; it’s bit small
- Micro USB on the bottom, headphone jack on the top.
- It’s thin and light! About 8mm thick, and about 120g. Thinner and lighter than the old Huawei (about the same width too, but longer).
- 5″, pretty bright, good viewing angle, just about readable in bright sunlight
- Enabling automatic brightness makes the screen flicker a bit during a brightness change – the fade isn’t terribly smooth.
- The automatic brightness function leaves the screen too bright in low-light conditions.
- No oleophobic coating – it gets gunky with grease very quickly
- Screen auto-rotation won’t rotate the screen 180 degrees, only +/-90. If rotation is turned off when the display is in landscape orientation, it will return to portrait.
- The resolution is modest by contemporary standards: 920×540. Half the pixel density of somethign like the HTC One. However, the contrast is high and the definition very sharp. I’ve no problem reading Kindle books from it.
- Operating System
- Android 4.2.2, with — thankfully — hardly any vendor customisation.
- Truly awful power-on jingle that plays at ear-splitting volume. No checking this phone during intervals. (This can be trned off by enabling “quick boot” in the settings).
- The three Android soft buttons have a reversed order relative to every other handset I’d owned. guess I’ll get used to that.
- There was an over-the-air update ready for it: Kernel 3.4.5, CUBOT_4041C_V12
- Dual SIM
- SIMs are fitted internally, behind the battery. No tools beyond a finger nail are required
- Takes one mini-SIM (normal-sized SIM to you-and-me) and a micro-SIM. I’d previously cut down my SIMs to micro-sized with one of these:
It came with some inserts to restore the cut-down SIM to full size.
- The UI always shows the status of the two SIMs, can keep putting up a warning if any slots are empty.
- There seems to be very good control over the SIMs – you can allocate the default SIM for voice calls, video calls (what?) and data; enable roaming per-SIM; and disable a SIM entirely.
- Contacts can be associated with a SIM, and calls out directed automatically.
- Mono speaker, bottom of handset. The stick-on cover has an aperture to leave it exposed.
- It’s loud, but a bit tinny. At maximum volume it’s fine for speach, but often gets raspy and distorted for music
What about the rest of the Cubot range? As with every other manufacturer, the model numbers give no clue about relative ages and specifications. I found this video that summarizes the relative merits (presumably) the most recent ones. The chap agrees that the s208 wins. Clever man.
Update Dec 2014 Having owned this thing for three months, I’m less enamoured of it. Here’s what’s gone wrong:
- Duff SIM holder. The lower SIM card holder broke. The handset now only sees the micro-SIM not the larger mini-SIM. This is damn annoying, as it’s one of the main features that attracted me to it. Might be that I was using an adapter slightly too wide, which stressed a contact, not that that makes it any less frustrating.
- Crap KeyboardThe default keyboard is really very annoying, persistently failing to interpret my fat thumbs. Despite installing the Google keyboard from the Store, it doesn’t seem possible to force its use – I always get the built-in one.
Update April 2015The battery has progressively lost its ability to hold charge, barely lasting a couple of hours now. Replacements don’t seem to be obtainable from Amazon. I’m now the owner of an HTC One m8.