Indian phone makers are facing a serious competition from Chinese smartphone companies such as Xiaomi, Huawei and LeEco who have some genuinely good smartphones that also pack in specs that one would normally expect from higher priced smartphones. While Indian phone brands such as Micromax have taken the fight head-on with powerful devices like Yu Yunicorn (Rs13,499 ), Videocon has taken a slightly different route altogether to make its presence felt. Their latest phone Cube 3 is all about getting the basics right.
Priced at Rs8,490, it is unlikely to ruffle feathers but can be a well-grounded option for users looking for a small screen phone. What gives it an edge over many of the Chinese players is that it will be available in offline retail stores, unlike phones likes Redmi 3s Prime (Rs8,999) which is available only on e-commerce stores.
Design: Compact and flashy
The Cube 3 has been designed to get attention. Gold plated frame along the spine and shiny check box pattern on the back panel gives it a flashy look. However, the glossy back is not good news for users with sweaty hands. It tends to smudge a lot and also feels a little slippery at times. The curved design around the edges on the back panel minimises the edgy feeling that a lot of phones with sharp corners give. The phone’s overall light form factor and compact feel plays it part very well. Overall, it would fit into small hands comfortably while one can access all the keys with the same hand that is holding the device. The back panel is removable, the micro USB is placed at the base and the speaker at the back.
Display: Small but good-looking
The 5-inch IPS display has a screen resolution of 1280x720p. It is good-looking display which scores well in terms of colour rendering. Watching movies or playing video games was as enjoyable as on any of the small screen Chinese phones in this range, like the Redmi 3s Prime. The display holds well when viewed from wide angles. Also, using it in sunlight doesn’t render the text illegible. The phone also has a layer of Asahi Dragon Trail Glass X for minimising scratches on the screen. The screen smudges a lot, though.
Software: Clean Android with panic button feature
The phone runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with a near stock version of Android, similar to that seen on Nexus and Motorola smartphones. Though the phone comes pre-loaded with a few third party apps and games such as Eros Now, Opera Mini Asphalt Nitro, Swift key, State Bank Buddy, one can uninstall them at any time. Some of them have some free bundling on them. For example, the Eros Now app offers six months of premium content for free.
One of the key apps on the phone is the SoS-Be Safe app which sends out SMS or call alerts to family and friends when a user is in some distress and needs help. You have to press the power button three times quickly to send out these alerts. It has a feature called ‘Walk with Me’, which sends out similar emergency alerts if a user has gone for a walk and has gone beyond a preset distance set by the user.
Performance: Smooth with most tasks
In spite of the fact that the Cube 3 runs a modest MediaTek’ 64-bit MT6735 quad-core processor, used mostly in budget smartphone, it works without any major stutter. We have seen phones with the same processor struggle when stressed too much. Combined with the minimalistic plain Android and 3GB RAM, the processor was able to handle most games and apps even when we had six to eight apps running in the background, without getting hot on the side and back panel. It has 32GB of internal storage which is impressive and at par with the likes of Redmi 3s Prime. It can accommodate another 64GB via microSD cards. It is a 4G device and supports VoLTE calling. The 3,000mAh battery can last a whole day on a single charge when used as primary phone.
Camera: A mixed bag
The 13-megapixel camera works best in daylight. Colours look rich and accurate, however, the lack of sharpness is visible when you zoom in on an image or look at it on big screen. Close-up shots taken in daytime look well. Its phase detection auto-focus feature locks focus on objects instantly. Like most budget smartphones, its low light picture quality is blurry. The camera app is basic and doesn’t have any fun filters or handy modes on it. The 5-megapixel camera on the front is wide enough to accommodate five people in a shot while the picture quality is clear enough for social media posts.
Videocon Cube 3 is a very reliable budget smartphone which works very well. If you are looking for a simple budget smartphone which can handle stress well and is also readily available, you can go for it. However, if you are looking for something more powerful and can wait up, the Redmi 3s Prime is a much better alternative. It runs Android 6.0 with a funky UI, has a more premium metal design, a bigger 4,000mAh battery, carries a finger print sensor and is powered by a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor.