There are a lot of ethical problems within the smartphone industry. Labor exploitation, questionable methods of extracting precious metals, e-waste, carbon footprints — the list goes on and on. Obviously, no one smartphone is going to change all that, but the Teracube 2e is here to do what it can.
In a nutshell, the newest Teracube phone is a budget Android device with a focus on sustainability. It offers the most basic of smartphone experiences for a low price while simultaneously making the buyer feel less bad about how their purchase could negatively affect the environment.
Today, the Teracube 2e hits general sales after an incredibly successful Indiegogo campaign. The company sent us a unit to check out prior to the launch. If you’re on the fence about grabbing one or are just curious about it, we’re here to answer some of your burning questions.
Teracube 2e: What you need to know
There are three aspects of the Teracube 2e that set it apart from pretty much every other smartphone on the market. These are the core selling points of the device. In brief, if you don’t care about all or most of these features, then you likely aren’t the audience for this phone.
- Replaceable battery: Just like in days of yore, you can take the phone’s plastic back off at any time and swap out its 4,000mAh battery. This allows you to carry multiple batteries with you as well as easily replace a faulty battery.
- Four-year warranty: If anything goes wrong with your phone in the first four years you own it, you can get it replaced. What’s more, you can replace it as much as you want. There’s a flat $39 fee for each replacement, but you’ll never again need to worry about cracked displays, faulty charging ports, or other issues. There are also three years of guaranteed Android updates.
- Eco-conscious values: Everything about the Teracube 2e centers on sustainability. The packaging is minimal and the included protective case is biodegradable. To help with fixability, everything inside the phone is connected with screws, not glue. There are no chargers, cables, or headphones included. Even the plastic that makes up most of the phone is made with 25% recycled polycarbonate.
Outside of those three features, the phone is basically a run-of-the-mill budget device. It has a pretty weak processor, a ho-hum design, and lackluster cameras. It also doesn’t have a lot of features people care about, such as wireless charging, an IP rating, or a display with a high refresh rate. However, it makes up for all that with its price, which currently sits at a very affordable $200.c
The Teracube 2e works with GSM networks only, so it will work on most major carriers. In the US, it will work on any carrier other than Verizon and its subsidiaries and MVNOs.
What I like about the Teracube 2e
As stated earlier, the three integral features of the Teracube 2e are its replaceable parts, four-year warranty, and eco-friendly focus. Those are the main reasons you should be buying this phone.
Replacing the battery is very straightforward. The bottom corners of the polycarbonate back have small grooves in them which allows you to easily get a grip on it to peel it off. Once you do, the internals of the device are laid out in such a way that even folks who aren’t technically minded will understand. The battery pops out easily and the places you put the microSD and two SIM cards are obvious.
The best features here are the ones we all miss: removable battery, notification light, stock Android, headphone jack...
As far as software goes, you’re dealing with stock Android. That means all the basic functionality of the operating system is here, but there are very few extra features added. While the Teracube 2e’s hardware doesn’t make Android 10 fly, it keeps up well enough. This ain’t going to compete with top-tier Android phones, but it gets the job done.
One of the more notable features here is another callback to phones of yesteryear: a notification light. It’s very small, just to the right of the top speaker. It’s been a long time since I’ve used a phone with this perk and it was very nice to have it back.
Finally, probably the best thing about this phone isn’t the device itself, but the community around it. Teracube’s forums are filled with people who are excited about the company and its products. There are also tons of posts from the creators themselves. There are clear instructions on how to unlock the bootloader, root the phone, and other technical things.
What I don’t like about it
It would be very easy to fill up this section with all the features I’m used to with flagship Android phones. However, with a device at this price point, you can’t very well knock it down a peg because it doesn’t have a 120Hz refresh rate, right?
With that in mind, the biggest problem with this phone is its camera. The stock camera app is anemic and the image quality was dreadful. Granted, a third-party camera app might give you better results. Likewise, future Android updates (such as to Android 11, which is landing this summer) could make things better. As it stands out-of-the-box, though, this is not a phone I would use for any kind of photography. This is a real shame because competitor phones can offer much more even at this low of a price.
Another issue is power delivery. Remember that there’s no charger or even charging cable in the box with the Teracube 2e. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it would charge with anything you throw at it. Unfortunately, the included MediaTek hardware only works with USB-A to USB-C chargers/cables and won’t charge using USB-C PD chargers. Therefore, you’ll need to choose which chargers you use carefully.
Finally, my Bluetooth connection to the phone wasn’t great. Usually, I can leave my phone on my desk and freely move around the house with my headphones on and not experience any drops. With the Teracube 2e, though, I couldn’t stray too far before songs would start skipping. Judging from similar complaints in the Teracube forums, it’s safe to assume this isn’t an isolated problem.
Teracube 2e specs
|Display||6.1-inch IPS LCD|
HD+ (1,560 x 720)
|Processor||MediaTek Helio A25|
MicroSD card slot
|Power||4,000mAh removable battery|
USB-C wired charging
No charger or cable in box
LTE - 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/17/20
GSM - 850/900/1800/1900
3G - B1/B2/B4/B5/B8
NFC support (Works with Google Pay)
|Ports||3.5mm headphone jack|
MicroSD card slot
|Software||Stock Android 10|
Insecure face unlock
|Dimensions/weight||155.2 x 73.3 x 10.1mm|
Teracube 2e: Should you buy it?
With a price of just $200, the Teracube 2e isn’t going up against a Samsung Galaxy S21 or even a Google Pixel 4a. Here in the US, it’s going up against phones such as the Moto G Power, the Nokia 3.4, and the Samsung Galaxy A11. With that in mind, the new Teracube phone offers pretty much everything those phones offer. Additionally, the Teracube 2e offers a sustainability ethos those phones don’t, which is terrific.
The biggest drawback is that those competitor phones will likely offer much better photography than the Teracube 2e. In brief, if decent-quality photos and videos are a big part of your smartphone buying decision, this isn’t the phone for you.
Outside of one feature, the Teracube 2e is pretty competitive. Of course, that one feature is the camera, which is important to a lot of buyers.
Of course, that deficiency might very well be outweighed by the novel features this phone offers. The removable battery, notification light, microSD card slot, and headphone jack aren’t found in many phones these days.
Overall, this phone should appeal to a very specific buyer, and that specific buyer would likely be happy with it. However, have no illusions: if you find yourself being on the fence about a phone like this, then it’s probably not for you. For everyone who is gung-ho about cutting e-waste and helping the environment, the Teracube 2e will make you feel great.