The Cube T9 Hands-On Review

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Reviews' started by fashionluo, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    Cube offers what can seem like a bewildering array of tablets, including the standard Wi-Fi only Android tablets, the business-oriented iWork series and the cellular and phone-equipped Talk ranges. The T9 and the T7 are the latest offerings from the Talk series, although Cube did simplify their communication names. The 9.7-inch T9 reviewed here delivers a strong set of features and is a serious competitor for the Xiaomi M1 Pad and the Samsung Tab Pro 10.5. With 32GB of internal storage and full phone functionalities, the T9 costs only RMB1,499 ($244).


    Cube T9 main specs:

     OS: Android 4.4
     Display: 9.7-inch IPS, 10-point multi-touch, IGZO
     Screen Resolution: 2048 x 1536 (4:3)
     CPU: MediaTek MT8752 octa-core processor (8 cores of 64-bit Cortex-A53)
     CPU Frequency: 2.0GHz
     GPU: ARM Mali-760MP2
     RAM / Storage: 2GB / 32GB
     Function: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS, OTG, Miracast, FM Radio
     WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
     GSM: band2, band3, band5, band8
     TDS: band34, band39
     WCDMA: band1, band5
     TDD: band38, band39, band40, band41
     FDD: band1, band3, band7
     Camera: 5MP back camera, 2MP front camera
     Battery: 10,000mAh
     Ports: TF Card Slot, SIM Card Slot, Micro USB Port, 3.5mm Headphone Jack
     Weight & Size: 610 g / 237 x 170 x 8.9 mm


    Design

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    The Cube T9 isn’t exceptionally thin and light, measuring 8.9mm thick and weighing 610g, it is much thicker and heavier than its predecessor – the Cube Talk 9X, which measures at 7mm and weighs only 560g. This certainly doesn’t give the T9 an immediate appeal, if you're making comparisons on these grounds. The reason why the T9 is so thick and heavy is that Cube uses both die casting roll cage and metal anti-roll frame, which are designed to protect the internals of the tablets from collision and impact.

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    The screen sits in a relatively thin bezel, which can result in unintended selections when holding the tablet in portrait mode. But while you hold it in landscape mode, there is enough bezel to rest your fingers on. The 2MP front-facing camera is located above the display, along with a tiny light sensor to help auto-adjust the brightness of the display.

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    The edges of T9 are silver-colored, which looks unappealing on our black review sample. In portrait mode, the top edge is home to the 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro SD card slot. The power button, the volume rocker slot are located on the top of the right edge of the slate, while the SIM tray is located on the bottom of the right edge.

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    The side-facing speakers are located on the right end of the bottom edge, which is pretty smart design as the speaker gates won’t be easily blocked by your hands however you hold the tablet.

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    The stippled plastic rear, which looks exactly like the back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, does the T9 no great favors, either. Although Cube insists that this design is inspired by the surface of a golf ball, and improves the grip of the tablet, still, we are not impressed.

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    The 13MP camera and an LED flash is located on the upper left corner of the rear side.

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    Overall, the T9 lacks the premium appeal the Cube Talk 9X was once famous for.


    Display

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    The 9.7-inch IPS LCD screen is the same 2,048-by-1,536 resolution with 264ppi as the iPad Air, we can’t say we are astonished with this amount of pixel offering anymore as we have already seen lots of tablets from China with 9.7-inch Retina displays by now, and there are also lots of tablets with much higher pixel density on the market at the moment.

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    Unfortunately, the quality of the T9’s display isn’t as amazing as Cube advertised. The contrast ratio doesn’t match it is on the super clear PLS display on my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and, with an explosion-proof film on top of the touchscreen, the display looks annoyingly grainy at times, especially when you are viewing a web page with white background color.

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    With that said, it is far from being a terrible display. Colors are a lot more relaxed than those seen on some of Samsung’s AMOLED devices, and viewing angles are also quite amazing.

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    The T9’s screen is fairly bright that we only need the brightness slider set at 30% or lower most of the time, the auto-brightness option works well too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  2. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    Sound

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    The side-facing stereo speakers are one area where the T9 under-delivers. They are quite loud, but the sound quality is disappointing, especially when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro or the iPad Air. This is a pity as it means the tablet isn't really up to delivering music and movies without the help from an external audio system.


    System and apps

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    The Cube T9 runs stock Android 4.4.4 Kitkat OS, with limited customizations made to the icons. Preinstalled applications are kept to the minimum as well.

    App selection is the biggest reason to hesitate about the T9. It isn't bad by any means, and is no better or worse than any other Android tablets, with the Google Play Store's solid selection on board. It's just that when you compare it to the iPad's App Store, you'll see that the Play Store's tablet selection still has some catching up to do. Unlike those 7-inch tablets, which still works and looks perfectly fine running smartphone apps, The T9’s spacious 4:3 display can make some applications look distorted and unappealing.


    Performance

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    Inside the Cube T9, there're a 1.7GHz, 64-bit MediaTek MT8752 octa-core processor and 2 full GB of RAM. Although it by no means the most cutting-edge design, it is still a very beefy set-up.

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    Benchmarks tell the story. The T9 scored 40,272 on the Antutu system benchmark and 3,401 on the Geekbench3 processor benchmark, as compared with around 30,000 and 2,117 for the Cube i6, and 34,810 and 2,296 for the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.

    On the Vellamo HTML5 benchmark test, the tablet scored an impressive 2231, which is in the same class as the even the highest end of Android devices.

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    In the 3DMark Ice Storm graphics benchmark, the T9 scored 8,768 points, clearly no match for the MAXED OUT performance the Intel powered Cube i6 presented. This did tell the true story that the Mali-760MP2 GPU didn’t compare to the cutting-edge offerings such as the Qualcomm Adreno 330 or the Imagination PowerVR 6xxx series, but it was still a great improvement over the Mali-450MP4 GPU used in the last generation of MediaTek octa-core chipsets.

    Tablets and phones that run stock Android often provide day-to-day performance that’s better than the devices with heavily customized interfaces. The slate performs like a champ most of the time -- as long as there are lot too many apps running in the background. There are some minor, intermittent pauses before the contents of menus pop up, but little-to-none of the very basic interface scroll lag we’ve seen in those entry-level tablets and smartphones. It does take a while to come out of standby at times, though, which can get annoying.

    During mass auto-updates, updates would freeze mid-download like frozen apps mid-download. Even though it has a zippy octa-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, it is still easily overwhelmed when pushing its performance to maximum. But it is more of a problem of the multi-tasking enhanced Android operating system rather than a defect of the Cube T9.

    Reading and browsing

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    The squarer 9.7-inch display is perfect size for browsing content-heavy webpages and reading E-magazines, and the capable MT8752 processor doesn’t disappoint. Loading graphic-intense web-pages happens fairly quickly, dragging and zooming the page itself feels as smooth as silk, There are little to none lags in turning pages of even the most gigantic PDF file.

    Gaming

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    As long as we kept background apps to a minimum, gaming performance was fast and smooth. Large games like NFS 17 opened quickly and levels loaded within a few seconds. While playing Riptide, the tablet reacted quickly, making tight turns and sharp movements in real time.

    Video Playback

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    A screen with 4:3 aspect ratio isn’t really ideal for video playback, as most video files come in widescreen, which result in a lot of wasted screen real estate when we play 1080P videos on the T9. Fortunately, with Cube’s rich experience in making MP4 players, the T9 has incredible video codec support.

    Almost all media files with basic video codecs (i.e. DivX). MKV, AVI (XviD) and MP4 videos play smoothly through T9’s video player. You can change the zoom mode (100% or fit to screen with and without affecting the video's aspect ratio) and there's a pinch zoom too, in case you want to get close up on a specific part of the action.

    If subtitles are available, the video player will automatically find and load them. You can also manually load subtitles, if the video and subtitle file names don't match.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  3. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    Connectivity

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    The T9 features dual 4G support (FD-LTE & TD-LTE), which means you get up to 150Mbps of downlink and up to 50Mbps of uplink speeds. It also covers dual 3G (WCDMA & TD-SCDMA) and 4 bands of GSM.

    It also features Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac support, with 2.4GHz and 5GHz band compatibility. Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA support are also available as well as GPS and FM Radio. Bluetooth 4.0 is available for local data transfer, too.

    There is a micro SD card slot as well, on top of the 32GB of internal storage.

    The T9 naturally supports USB-on-the-go, but you will need to buy an additional adapter for that. The tablet can work with USB storage, USB mice and keyboards. Of course, you can always hook up a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard to the slate without relying on the cable connection.

    You can also mirror your tablet screen on the bigger HDTV via Wi-Fi Direct and the widely supported Miracast protocol - that would even allow you to play mobile games on the biggest screen in your living room.

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    Just like the T7, the T9 supports OTA firmware upgrade, you will receive the notification whenever an update is available.


    Battery life

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    First and foremost, the T9 is a brilliant tablet for battery life with a very large 10,000mAh capacity inside, full stop.

    Untouched, the device will last a really long time as it holds its charge extremely well. When you do use it, it doesn't jump off a cliff like a brainless lemming either. You'll get about 9 hours of screen time. This is an average, as it depends on how bright you set that super high-res screen. You'll get less if you ramp it up but even more at lower levels.

    Either way, it's a great performer in this area and means the T9 is a good choice for those wanting to travel without their tablet dying on them half way through a flight or a car journey where the tablet is entertaining kids in the back.

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    In our standard cngadget battery test, where we play a 1080P video on loop with 30 percent brightness while having notifications for email turned on, the T9 lasted 9 hours and 5 minutes, which is almost on par with the longevity the Talk 9X could deliver. Neither tablet can come anywhere near the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, though, which gives you two more hours of screen use between charges.


    Cameras

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    The T9 has two cameras, the norm for any high-quality tablet. It uses a 13-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera.

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    We think a tablet like this is much too big to be used as an everyday camera, but otherwise it offers pretty good shooting. There’s very little shutter lag, focusing is snappy and you get a few additional modes. There’s HDR, panorama, beauty face and object tracking.

    While not up with the best smartphones in terms of image quality, they're much better than the tablet average. Here are a few samples:

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    The T9 also has an LED flash, which some tablets lack. The T9’s front camera isn’t too bad either – you don’t need more for standard video chat, although some phones are starting to use higher-resolution 5-megapixel front cameras for better selfies.


    Conclusions

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    There is no doubt that T9 is one of Cube's best tablets yet, and, though it is not so stylish and record-breaking as its predecessor – the Cube Talk 9X, it's still a great slate with solid specs and excellent build quality.

    Back in 2012 when Rockchip’s RK3066 dual-core A9 processor dominated the tablet industry in China, a few tablet makers already began to sell tablets with 9.7-inch retina display. The struggling performance and recurrent lags from those offerings lead to a generally negative impression of Chinese tablets with a high-resolution display. But powered by enhanced processors coming out in 2013 and 2014, high-res tablets are finally good.

    With dozens of tablets released this year, Cube certainly hasn't made choosing a tablet easy. Is the T9 enough to make Talk 9X or i6 users to switch? Certainly not. However, unless you've already bought a tablet in 2014, the T9 will give you plenty of reasons to go for it and the beefy processor is just one of them.

    If you like the T9’s specs but not the size and weight, you can also go smaller with the Cube T7, which has almost identical internal set-ups, aside from a smaller 7-inch screen and significantly smaller battery to fit into the tinier body.


    The good

    Solid build quality.
    Amazing battery life.
    Smooth performance delivered by the beefy processor and 2GB RAM.
    32GB internal storage with Micro SD card support.
    A nice rear-facing 13MP camera.
    OTA upgrade.


    The Bad

    Not slim or light by today’s standards.
    No HDMI on board.
    The explosion-proof film on top of the touchscreen makes the display look annoyingly grainy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015

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