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Teracube 2e

by cthos


The Teracube 2e is a budget phone that promises to be more eco-friendly than your typical phone by committing to 3 years of updates as well as affordable repairs for 4 years (which is also the duration of the standard warranty), while also promising features and hardware that will remain relevant for that time. All of this for the low price of $199.

I've found that it generally lives up to its promises, but had to make several (and sometimes bizarre) compromises to get there.

I picked this up primarily to be a device I'm okay accidentally chucking in a river when I'm out traveling internationally, and can slot in a second sim for local data rates via a local SIM (though now that there are several eSIM options, I might do this with another phone in the future, particularly one with a better camera).

Things I wish I had known before buying the 2e

There are a couple of things I really wish I had known before buying the 2e, which might have affected my decision to get it.

  • It does not support Power Delivery, which in effect means you have to use a USB-A to USB-C cable to charge it.
    • This is maddening! All of my chargers are basically PD ports, so I have to carry a whole separate cable just to charge the phone.
  • Verizon is not supported, and this includes all of their VMNOs. This is due to Verizon's certification process evidently.
    • I wanted to toss my V1 Ting card in there, and I had to use the X3 card instead - not a huge deal but did impact my plans.
    • There are a few reports on the forums of people getting Visible to work, but I've not been able to.

In a similar category, that I did realize before buying was that there's no IP rating, and so I wouldn't recommend trying to use this in a downpour or maybe any moist condition at all.

The Good

For a $200 USD phone, you really shouldn't be expecting much in the way of "great" but the 2e actually does an admirable job in several areas. The first thing that I like to call out is the display. It has a 720X1560 IPS HD+ display, which actually looks pretty great for the price point. The refresh rate is only 60hz, but asking anything more at this pricepoint is unreasonable.

The battery life on the 4,000 mAh battery is also quite good, I'm easily able to get a full day out of moderate usage - which is not something I can say for moderate usage of my primary phone. One of the other major selling points is the fact that the battery is replaceable, so you can pop off the back and swap it out if you need to, which should prolong the life of the device. Plus, there are settings which can prevent overcharging so you can tell the phone to only charge up to say, 80%, and then stop charging. Given the good battery life already, this isn't a big deal at all and should prolong the battery life even further.

The placement and the speed of the fingerprint sensor are a nice change of pace from the in-display sensors I've gotten accustomed to. It's been able to read my prints every time and unlock the phone quickly.

NFC Support! Which means it does work with Google Pay. I've not actually added any cards to it, but I have tested it as a general NFC reader and it works perfectly fine for that.

Dual Sim card support is another big draw, not too many phones have that. On the Samsung Note 20 Ultra you can use two sims, but then you give up the extra SD card storage - with the Teracube 2e, you don't have to choose, you get 2 sim slots and a microSD slot. It's wonderful.

Generally working custom ROM support is also on the Teracube forums, and the folks at Teracube are super cool with flashing custom ROMs to the phone.

The Not as good

The big stand-out problem here is the Camera. It's serviceable, but with the stock camera app it takes forever to focus on an item - HDR mode is so slow it's basically unusable for moving targets. I didn't expect much from the camera...but I expected more than whatever this is. Being able to snap photos on the go while traveling and get a semi-decent picture out (if I wanted it to be great I'd just carry my primary phone). Not being able to do this definitely makes me question using this as a travel phone.

Likewise, the processor is a little sluggish at odd times. In general, performance is reasonably good and on par with the Moto Play line of phones, but sometimes it'll chug just a little - enough to miss a letter while typing or just stuttery enough to be annoying but not super disruptive. I expect this will get better after some updates or via a custom ROM - but it does make me wonder how the phone will handle Android 11 or 12. This phone's supposed to get updates for 3 years, remember?

Can it Play Games?

So, if you're getting this phone you shouldn't expect that you'll be able to play modern phone games - but it can be nice to sit down and play something if it's the only device you've got.

The short answer is that any modern 3d game is going to have a really hard time, with some interesting exceptions. I've tried the following games and can report on how well they work:

Unplayable

  • Genshin Impact
    • Totally unplayable - the framerate is bad enough that gameplay is impossible. You can manage your inventory and collect daily things, but it won't be a fun experience.
  • Battlechasers: Night War
    • Mostly Unplayable - it stutters a lot when you try to move around the map.
  • Black Desert Mobile
    • Borderline - So this game is a weird one in that the performance is adequate, and you could play it if you really really wanted to... but the quality level is potato. It's going to be blurry. This is probably fine if you just want to hop on, sell some stuff, do dailies, etc - but I wouldn't want to be playing it for any length of time.

Playable

  • League of Legends: Wild Rift
    • Reasonably Playable - this surprised me, I managed to play a full match at a solid 30 fps without any noticeable slow down when I was in the game. Load times are noticably slower though, so you might be the last person to fully load the game, but otherwise it works just fine.
  • Love Letter; One Deck Dungeon; Reigns
    • Plays great - these are basically digital card games, and they play really well on the device.
  • Out There Omega
    • Plays well - a little slow at points, but all in all it runs great
  • Game Dev Tycoon
    • Plays great - I'm pretty sure this game could run on a literal potato, but it does do just fine.
  • Doors: Awakening
    • Mostly Playable - This is a nice little puzzle game, and it generally works fine but the load times are noticably slow and sometimes interactions are slow.
  • Polytopia
    • Extremely Playable - It's a nice little civ-like mini game. No issues, runs very well.

Benchmarks

I ran a few benchmarks against it and unsurprisingly it didn't do so well:

  • 3DMark Sling Shot - 708
  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme - 378
  • Geekbench CPU - Single-Core 141, Multi-Core 825
  • Geekbench Compute - 0 (it crashed)

Some Tips

Can't install apps to the SD card

At the time of this writing, out of the box you cannot install apps to the SD card. You have to first enable developer settings () and then turn on the option to enable it. Afterwards, it works just fine. It'd be nice if it were in the stock image and maybe it will be after their first upgrade.

Camera Performance

Use a different camera app. It doesn't make the camera much better, but it does speed up how quickly the auto-focus takes effect. The forums recommend Open Camera, which seems to be working fine for me (even though I kinda hate the UI).

Overall / Should I Get This Phone?

So bottom line, I got this as a secondary phone - not to be my daily driver and I do not think it would be a good daily driver for me. I'd probably survive but I wouldn't enjoy it, especially since I like playing some fairly intensive games on the go or from the couch.

That said, if you're the kind of person who is already considering something like a Moto G line phone, or one of the budget Samsung Phones (like an A52) - and you don't need a serviceable camera, this is a solid contender at a price point that's difficult to beat. Once you consider the warranty, the accidental damage repairs, and the promise of a more eco-friendly phone that might just push you over the top.