Cube i6 Hands-On Review

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Reviews' started by fashionluo, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    Introduction

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    Cube’s line of 3G tablets have always been a delightful bunch, not only for the affordable cost attached to them, but also for the fact that they’re normally very well-made. It all started with the original Talk 79 back in the summer of 2013, followed subsequently by the release of the Talk 5H, the Talk 9X. Each tablet, of course, proved that it didn’t require consumers to fork over huge sums of money to pick up and own a high-performing unit.

    Cube isn’t one of the pioneering Chinese manufactures that produce Intel-powered Android tablets, although it enjoyed enormous success in marketing their Windows 8 tablets such as the Cube iWork 10 and the Cube iWork 8, which are, of course powered by Intel processors.

    The Cube i6 is actually Cube’s first Android tablet ever to feature an Intel processor. Is it better than other ANTEL tablets currently on the market, let’s find out?

    Cube i6 main specs:

    OS: Android 4.4
    Display: 9.7-inch IPS, 10-point multi-touch, IGZO
    Screen Resolution: 2048 x 1536 (4:3)
    CPU: Intel Atom Baytrail-T Z3735F Quad-core Processor
    CPU Frequency: 1.8GHz
    GPU:Intel HD Graphic
    RAM / Storage: 2GB / 32GB
    Function: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS, OTG, Miracast, FM Radio
    WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
    3G: WCDMA 900MHz, WCDMA 2100MHz
    2G: Network Frequency: 900MHz, 1800MHz
    Camera: 5MP back camera , 2MP front camera
    Battery: 8000mAh
    Extend Port: TF Card Slot, SIM Card Slot, Micro USB Port, 3.5mm Earphones Port
    Weight & Size: 500 g / 237 x 170 x 8.8 mm

    The package contains:

    • Quick Reference Guide
    • Product Warranty Brochure
    • Micro USB cable
    • SIM Tray Removal Tool – which is unnecessary


    Design


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    First and foremost, the i6 is a 9.7-inch tablet. For those who are still not sure about the differences among tablet sizes, above is a photo to show you that.

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    The overall design of the i6 is simplistic, with strong resemblance to the more popular Cube Talk 9X. The i6 is obviously not made to stand out in the design department, with most attention being paid to the optimization of the Intel Z3735 processor inside. With that said, it does feel right at home in your hands.

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    The front of the i6 is simple and uncluttered, dominated by a 9.7-inch IPS retina display.

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    The slate also features a metallic rear which feels very smooth to the touch.

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    Along the sides you will find all the buttons and ports – a 3.5mm audio jack and a Micro USB port on the top side, and a power/standby key, a volume rocker, a SIM slot as well as a Micro SD card slot on the right side.

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    The tablet has an overall footprint of 237*170*8.8mm, pretty compact for a 10-incher, but still not as thin as the 7mm thick Talk 9X. As for the weight, the i6 weighs only 500g, even lighter than the 580g 9X.

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    Although it looks like a thicker version of the Talk 9X, there are still some other minor differences in the i6’s design. The SIM slot is a very meaningful upgrade from previous models. You can pull out the SIM tray by your own finger, without the need of an awkward removal tool.

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    You have all the sensors you would expect in a modern Android tablet, along with a 2MP front-facing camera on the business side, and a 5MP camera with auto-focus around back. They are both ordinary tablet cameras — so don't expect miracles. We'll talk more about the cameras in a separate section.

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    Overall there is nothing too exciting about the Cube i6’s design, it is neither very thin nor very light. The missing of an HDMI port or the support for MHL is quite a shame, so as the absence of an IR blaster, which we see more often now on some of the leading flagship Android tablets and smartphones. However, with Cube being the manufacturer, you can always rely on the great build quality and trustworthy after-sale support.



    Display

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    I'll cut straight to the point: The Cube i6's display is gorgeous. Like the rest of the 9.7-inch tablets recently produced, the i6 boasts an impressive 2,048 x 1,536 resolution, topping out at an impressive 264 pixels per inch. Icons and images are so crisp and lifelike that they look painted on. Further, the i6 utilizes an IPS LCD, which results in natural colors and wonderful viewing angle.

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    This was especially apparent when we used the i6 to browse graphic-intense web pages or read PDF magazines. The tablet's 9.7-inch screen’s sharpness and clarity made it a downright pleasurable experience. However, watching movies or YouTube videos is not equally as pleasant, since most of the videos come in widescreen, there is a great percentage of unused area on the display. Also, most of Android applications are designed for a widescreen, using them on a 4:3 display may result in some awkward distortions. But as the all new Google Nexus 9 and the highly anticipated Nokia N1 both choose to feature a display at 4:3 aspect ratio, it is totally sensible to expect more tablet applications optimized for this aspect ratio.

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    But when we compare the i6’s display to the one on the more celebrated Talk 9X, we notice some differences. Color temperature of the i6’s display seems too warm compared to the more natural colors on the iPad Air panel used on the Talk 9X. Also the black on the i6 feels a little grey next to the real deep black shown on the Talk 9X.

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    Overall, the i6 has a very nice display, but certainly not the best we have seen on a Chinese tablet.


    Sound


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    The i6 has dual rear-facing speakers, which are normal for a tablet, but we have to say we do prefer front-facing or side-facing speakers as the sound won’t be blocked it you lay the slate on a table. The i6’s speakers are quite average among Cube’s higher-end tablets, the sound is loud enough for videos and movies. To my non-audiophile ears, I also found them perfectly acceptable for listening to tracks from Spotify. I wouldn't replace your best Bluetooth speakers with them of course, but they'll do in a pinch.


    System & UI


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    The Cube i6 runs stock Android 4.4.4 out of the box, bringing head to toe Android Kitkat experience to the users, whether it will receive the Android Lollipop upgrade remains unknown.
     
  2. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    Performance

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    With a beastly Intel quad-core Z3735 processor and 2GB of RAM, the i6 theoretically offers plenty of power.

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    As you can see from the table above, the i6 stands up well to other flagship tablets in synthetic benchmark tests such as Geekbench, Quadrant, AnTuTu and CF-Bench, its 3D Mark score even trumped most of the high-end ARM-powered flagship tablets. Its Vellamo HTML5 score, meanwhile, though not the highest, was very respectable as well.

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    And after spending some serious quality time with the tablet, I have to agree. Swiping and flipping around the tablet's various apps and screens felt gloriously smooth for the most part, and launching most software took mere seconds. For example, in just under two seconds, I was able to launch the camera app and start taking photographs. Snapping pictures is practically instantaneous as well, which is great if you need to capture that perfect moment. The occasional lags and stutters we once found on the Talk 9X were almost absent from the i6.

    Common applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Tweetdeck, and YouTube all ran without issue. But there are a very small percentage of applications not compatible with the X86 structure, and that didn’t go unnoticeable on the i6. “Minecraft: Pocket Edition” could not be opened, Mobo Player crushed every now and then. Fortunately, most of the previously incompatible apps now have optimized X86 versions. The 4:3 aspect ratio itself also presented some of the compatibility issues, even more noticeable than the problems with the X86 processor.

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    Despite some compatibility issues, gaming on the i6 was still a pleasant experience, as the extremely powerful Intel HD Graphics Gen7 GPU worked like a beast most of the time. “Call of Duty: Strike Team” ran smoothly. Frame rates of the “Crazy Cars” were higher than ever, and the i6 remained extremely responsive to my touch all the way through.[/FONT][/SIZE]


    Battery

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    The Cube i6 has an 8,000mAh battery, which is a slightly smaller than the Talk 9X's 10,000mAh power pack. In our standard battery test where we play a 1080P video on loop with 50 percent brightness while having notifications for email, Facebook and Twitter turned on, the i6 lasted for seven hours and 13 minutes. That's substantially less than the Talk 9X and though it's about on par with the older Cube U30GT2, it fares much worse than the iPad Air or Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, both of which lasted well over 10 hours.

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    Based on what I'm seeing, things are working as designed. You have a big screen (both in size and pixels) and a power-hungry processor. When you let them eat as much delicious battery as they want, the plate empties fairly quickly. When you dish out the juice with a bit of sense, things last longer. This is also one of those things that will get better as the software matures and updates come along.

    I'll call it a day-long battery, If you use your tablet like a tablet, by which I mean surfing the web, playing casual games, reading a book or comic, social media, etc. — and the battery life is not bad. With on-again, off-again use like this, the 8,000mAh battery will last you through a day, and likely well into another day. That's going to depend on how many hours you have the screen on.


    Cameras

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    I don't like using a tablet as a camera, not even a little bit. But I realize that tablets aren't just made for me, and plenty of people want or need to do just that. I won't hate on them.

    The good news is you have the very same Google Camera application that everyone seems to love installed on the Cube i6, complete with all the bells and whistles that come along with it. The bad news is that it's still an average tablet camera.

    You'll get pictures you can use, and if the lighting is just right you'll get some great pictures. Just don't expect too much from a camera on a tablet. Here are a few examples:

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    Verdict

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    Long-time readers here at cngadget know I love the Cube brand. I like the bare feel of the stock Android OS, I like the significantly better build quality than products from other Chinese brands such as Onda, Vido or Teclast, and I like the fact that they do care about oversea markets.

    I also like the i6, but I don’t love it as much as I love the Talk 9X, which remains as my favorite tablet from a Chinese brand to date.

    The performance of the i6 is great, the display is good, and the battery life is okay. I like the future-proof internals such as the Intel processor and 32GB of built-in storage, and it is arguably the best Intel-powered Android tablet from a Chinese brand. I am just not a fan of the overall design, and I know there’re other products out there that suit me better.

    With that said, I cannot really pinpoint one thing that I particularly dislike, though. Maybe I am just too caught up in comparing it to the Talk 9X, everything seems like a step back except for the performance.

    I guess it is all going to come down to the dollar. If you don’t have a tablet yet or your tablet is more than 2 years old, $162 should be a worthy investment on the powerful and all-around Cube i6. On the other hand, if you have a Talk 9X or something like the LG G Pad 8.3, and have no glaring issues that make you want to get rid of it, your money could probably be better spent elsewhere.

    Overall, the i6 is a very well-made tablet, definitely a much better product than high-profile but mediocre devices like the Teclast P98 Air. As I already own my Cube Talk 9X and love it, I would not buy the i6, although I do admit that I was constantly seduced by its stronger performance while testing it. Still, the unnecessary outweighs the necessary.
     

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