The Cubot X17 budget smartphone

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If you were asked to think of smartphone producers, which brands would spring to mind? Apple? Samsung? Maybe Sony and HTC? Cubot?

Who is that last one, you might well ask. Here at MannedUp we undertook market research (in March 2016) and found Cubot, a Chinese manufacturer based in Shenzhen, is still largely unknown within the United Kingdom.

That may well change. When people see the Cubot X17 smartphone they’re likely to be impressed by the price-quality relationship. The phone’s design is sleek and its functionality efficient. They belie the recommended retail price of £175.

Search online, on Amazon and other reputable retail sites, and you’ll find the phone selling for significantly less. The phones are shipped with a 12-month warranty.

A Cubot X17 box plus its contents.
A Cubot X17 smartphone box plus its contents.

The world’s first victory selfie smartphone

The phone has been dubbed “the world’s first victory selfie smartphone.” A gesture control feature triggers the camera’s shutter to count down from two to zero when the sensor detects a V-for-victory sign. You don’t, though, need to keep your fingers in position for the shot itself.

The good-natured V-sign gesture is widely used by people posing for photos in eastern Asia. A series of tests, conducted at the MannedUp office, proved the good old British two fingered salute – reputedly first defiantly used by archers during the Hundred Years War to antagonise French enemies – also trips the gesture control feature.

We also discovered the functionality makes it possible to set the phone down and create arty selfies that take in scenic backdrops. Flick whichever V-sign you feel comfortable with and you will trigger the shot. Bearing in mind the handset’s price, the image quality is good.

A Cubot X17 smartphone in a plastic, protective case.
A Cubot X17 smartphone in a plastic, protective case.

The Cubot X17’s specification

The phone’s rear camera captures photos with 16 megapixels and the front-facing camera has 8 megapixels. The lens has an f2.2 aperture and a dual LED flash. There’s a five-inch, high definition display to review images on.

What about the technology behind this piece of kit? The X17 has 3GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM and runs an Android operating system. The CPU runs on a MTK6735A 1.3GHz, 64-bit quad-core processor. It has an ARM Cortex A53 graphics processor.

The phone has dual SIM slots, for compatibility with both micro- and nano-SIM cards. It is just 6.1mm wide, so even with a protective case slips nicely into a pocket.

The handset is compatible with the following bandwidths:

  • GSM 850/ 900/ 1800/ 1900
  • WCDMA 900/ 2100 MHz
  • FDD-LTE Band 1/ Band 3/ Band 7/ Band 20

Our MannedUp tests were conducted over the course of two weeks using the phone to make and receive voice calls, as well as accessing data using Wi-Fi plus 3G and 4G mobile networks. They indicate the X17 has a good battery life.

A menu of a Cubot X17 smartphone.
The menu of a Cubot X17 smartphone.

Making movies with the X17

The X17 also has the capability of filming moving images at 1080 by 1920 pixels. That, of course, is full HD quality.

Films can be shot in normal movie mode or as time-lapse videos. Switching between the two modes takes just seconds.

The lapse can be set to a number of options between one and 10 seconds. Experimenting was fun and yielded impressive results.

A Cubot X17 smartphone in the hands of a man.
A Cubot X17 smartphone in the hands of a man.

Other features of the phone

The X17’s camera has a number of modes to play with and use to take photos. They include a beauty mode for portraits, a panorama setting, a multi-angle view, motion tracking, an option which creates an inset image, plus a live photo mode.

There are also a couple of gesture control options that can be switched on or off, in addition to the V-sign mode for photos.

All told the X17 smartphone is reliable, easy to navigate around and represents good value for money. Keep your eyes open for other products bearing Cubot’s name.

About the Cubot company

Cubot is a rapidly growing Chinese technology company with around 500 staff. The head office is at HuaQiangBei, a sub-district of Shenzhen, a city with a population of around 10 million people on Chinese mainland, close to Hong Kong.

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