Cubot King Kong, big name for a seemingly mediocre smartphone. It packs a Mediatek’s quad core MTK6580, 2GB of RAM and a five inch screen with the resolution of 1280*720. It’s specs say “regular smartphone” but the Cubot’s King Kong stands out because of something else – durability and looks.
Buttons and build quality
What’s the first thing you notice when you pick up this smartphone? It’s build and weight. In an ocean of thin and fragile combinations of aluminum and glass, phones like the King Kong stand out because of their build. Everything except the screen is hard matte plastic, the phone weighs in at almost a quarter of a kilogram and it’s thickness goes over a centimetr. Only on the outside, this phone has twenty one screws, two of which you need to unscrew in order to reach the microSD and SIM slots. On the back of the phone, Cubot did the extra work and put textured pads to prevent the phone slipping out of hand. On the top of the phone is a little rubber cover under which are both the headphone jack and a micro USB port. Those ports are covered as a part of the phone’s waterproofing, but I only see a weak point that’ll break with use.
Phone doesn’t have any software buttons because Cubot decided to put three capacitive buttons right below the screen. Those are the classic assortment of back, home and task switch. Those buttons have proven to be responsive, but they are positioned way too close to the screen. Because of that, I often accidentally touched the screen even though I wanted to touch one of the three buttons. Even more peculiar, the sensitive center of those buttons is located a bit below the printed icons, so when you press them, always aim a bit below the icon.
The phone also has physical buttons for volume control and power. Those physical buttons have a pretty gummy feel and don’t have any defined click to them. It’s probably because of the IP68 waterproofing this phone was classified for, so I won’t rag on it too hard. Despite the gummy click, those buttons too are responsive and they are positioned in a way you can’t misclick them.
King Kong comes with Android 7.0, and it’s security patch is from November 5th, 2017 which is fairly good since it isn’t vulnerable to any of the common exploits. Still, the software on this phone has a lot of minor bugs and inconveniences. For example, a lot of the elements in the system take the design (and other things too, probably) from older Android versions going back to Gingerbread! Music player, file manager, stock web browser and the camera all use elements from their older Android counterparts. That leads to a very inconsistent UI and makes the phone look very cheap. Also, when you start the camera by double pressing the power button and going into the gallery, it sometimes crashes. In that case, you need to unlock the screen in order to use the camera again.
You want over the air updates for your phone? That’ll happen if Cubot releases an update, and if the OTA application manages to connect to the internet. That’s not the end of it’s problems, in the status bar there’s a 3G icon that never goes away regardless of your mobile data settings. Also, there are two mobile data toggle icons in the quick toggles. Redundancy maybe? These are all minor mistakes which don’t affect the usage but show the lack of care from Cubot. Still, everything mission critical is still there and if you ignore these minor mishaps, this phone shouldn’t cause you problems. Also, it’s nice to know that the phone’s bootloader is easy to unlock. Allow bootloader unlocking in developer options and unlock it over fastboot. Easy peasy!
When it comes to connectivity, this smartphone turns no heads. It supports WiFi b/g/n which means no upper band for those using 5GHz at home or work. Bluetooth version is also stuck on 4, which is kinda old. Version 4 of that protocol dates back to 2010. 2G GSM is there, of course. 3G WCDMA is also there. 4G? Oh, where did that 4G go now? Truth is, my readers, 4G support is simply not there.
For a phone announced in 2017, that’s a very weird decision by Cubot. 4G has better single base station coverage when compared to 3G, it also has faster speeds and better security. On 3G, this phone doesn’t even reach a megabyte per second which is absurdly bad for today’s standards. Of course, since I don’t have a personal base station I can’t test the maximum speed of this phone’s network hardware so take these results with a grain of salt. Still, the lack of 4G connectivity is really bad given the low price of 4G equipment today.
Battery life on a single charge should be the strong point of this device. King Kong packs a 4.4Ah battery, but how does that reflect battery life with regular usage? I downloaded a few popular games and played them for a considerable amount of time. Some of those games include Crossy Road, Candy Crush Saga, Smash Hit, Subway Surf and more. After two hours of constant gameplay, the battery level fell only 10%.
The phone lasted for the whole next day. Considering I disconnected it from the charger around 10AM and it lasted up to 4AM next day, I’d say the battery is radical. Keep in mind the price of this phone, though. For about a hundred bucks, you get a rugged phone that lasts for over two days of normal usage. Of course, the size of it’s battery poses a little charging problem. With a 2.1A charger (which is 1.1A stronger than the charger which comes with King Kong), the phone charged up around 80% in 6 hours. This is unfortunately normal since the phone can only pull maximum of half an amp, which is way too little for such a big battery. Looks like that’s where the price cuts occured.
Benchmarks and real life performance
The phone’s performance is just like the phone itself – average. All the games I’ve played on it ran at about 30 frames per second average. There were a lot of microstuttering so the framerate jumped around a lot. Of course, all those games were playable and this phone was never marketed towards gamers so it can be forgiven.
General UX was fine, task switching was fast and I had no problems with background applications getting killed. Only thing that caused performance problems was the Chrome web browser which loved to freeze for a second and then spring back to life while also being very slow to load and render websites too. I believe it’s the Chrome itself that’s at fault here since the device generally feels pretty zippy. I’ve also done synthetic benchmarks – on Antutu it scored 20764 points, on Geekbench it got 419 points for CPU single core, 1187 points for CPU multi core and 780 for compute.
Photography and video recording
Cameras on this phone are a long story. I first have to note that the phone doesn’t actually shoot at 13 and 8 megapixels, which are the advertised resolutions of it’s cameras. The software actually extrapolates the raw images to those resolutions, but that doesn’t make the photos look better. Actual sensor resolutions are 8 and 5 megapixels, which really isn’t that bad. Today’s phones sport cameras which go over 20 megapixels but nobody stops to think if we actually need such resolutions for Instagram and Facebook.
Of course, Cubot wanted to make this camera as impressive as possible, so they cranked up the sharpening to eleven. Because of this, photos may look a bit sharper, but it actually kills the details and makes the photos a lot worse when zoomed in.
Still, the King Kong reproduces colours and contrast pretty good. For such a phone, the colors are great and the white balance is often on point. Night time sensitivity is also pretty fair, but there is visible noise. This phone also shoots HDR which, when turned on, shoots two photos with different exposures and combines them. I tried it out, but I wasn’t really satisfied with the results. The difference with and without HDR is minor and sometimes not even noticable.
Both cameras have the FOV at around 60 degrees which is right about the average today. Video is a whole different story. Phone shoots in Full HD, but there’s one problem which is instantly noticable – the jelly effect. It’s most noticable with fast phone movement and shaky hands. This problem is caused by the phone’s rolling shutter being too slow to record the whole frame before the phone moves. Of course, the video is also massacred with sharpening, which doesn’t help the already below average quality.
Weirdly enough, this phone has electronic image stabilization! In the search for a better video quality, I turned it on but it only got worse. Not only did the FOV get reduced, the image is getting even more bent out of shape as the phone’s software tries to stabilize it. In the end, it’s better to turn off the EIS because then, at least you have a bigger field of view.
Fun fact, the camera API of this phone supports the dumping of RAW bayer files directly from the image sensor so RAW support is technically possible. Still, I don’t believe Cubot will ever add this feature officially.
Speakers and the headphone jack
Audiophiles, please close the tab. Now we’ll go through the sound characteristics of this phone. I’d first like to note that there’s no problems with the speaker. The earphone is pretty loud and has a nice sound, the voices are deep and very intelligible. The back speaker used for multimedia is also pretty loud without any distortion on the highest volume.
It’s sound is very nicely colored with middle frequencies, there’s not much of the deep end because it is a phone speaker, but there aren’t too many highs either so it’s not grating to listen to. I was pleasantly surprised with the speaker… Headphone jack, on the other hand… My oh my… At the highest volume there’s some distortion in the low end which is also a bit less loud compared to my DAC which I usually use for music. It’s nothing unlistenable, but there are a lot better options out there.
I’d love to test the frequency response and other things, but the headphone jack caused me a lot of headache. From the two pairs of headphones and four different cables, it only worked on one and after connecting them to the phone, I heard weird digital buzzing that went away after a few seconds. Even on those headphones, the contact was still imperfect and they managed to disconnect themselves multiple times. Maybe this is just one of the thousand King Kongs that has this issue, but I’m just putting this out there.
There’s not much to be said about this phone’s screen. IPS panel with the rezolution of 1280*720, colors are vivid but you can see that they’re inaccurate. You really notice that when you look at the reds, they just look off sometimes. Of course, this is a budget smartphone and not a professional device for developing digital photos so it can be forgiven. I believe that the most users will like the vivid colors, and the screen’s also fairly bright during the day so that’s another plus.
Only problem is that the screen has a very slight burn in. If we leave the same image to stay on the screen for 20 minutes, it’ll stay slightly burned in for the next minute or so. Weird, seeing as this isn’t an OLED panel… Someone may comment on the screen’s low resolution, but I have to say that there are no problems with reading small text at 5 inches, everything looks sharp and the GPU doesn’t have to work overtime to push some absurd resolution. For such a screen size, this is just the right resolution.
All in all, I’d say this is a good phone, especially for it’s price. I won’t count the headphone jack issues against this phone because I honestly hope it’s just my unit which came with that problem. Except for that problem, though, I’m pleasantly surprised with the phone. Camera could be better, software could be too, but for the money you get a phone with a massive battery and a fair screen. There are probably phones with a better price/performance ratio in this sea of technology today, but Cubot made a really fair phone which I’d use without hesitation.
Samsung A01 core appears on Google Play Console with specifications
A new phone has been spotted on the Google Play Console. The phone produced by Samsung Electronics, the South Korea giant tech company, has appeared with the name Galaxy A01 Core. Samsung Galaxy A01 core is set to be launched anytime from now. The Galaxy A01 core is reported to be the lower version of the Galaxy A01 released in December 2019. Unlike Samsung’s regular phones, the Galaxy A01 core is going to be ultra-affordable, a budget model of Samsung. The new phone has surfaced on Google Play Console with its key specifications. It is certified with Bluetooth 5.0 at Bluetooth SIG with the model number SM-A013F_DS. This model number is similar to SM-A013F, which appeared on Geekbench listing. This new phone may be the same phone that appeared as Galaxy A01e. It is rumored that if it is the same phone, then Galaxy A01 Core will be the official and final product name of the phone.
Expected Specifications of Samsung Galaxy A01 Core
The phone appears to have 720 x 1480 pixels display with 320ppi pixel density. The chipset is a 3-year old MT6739WW, which is surprising as it is a rare platform. Although it is a modern smartphone SoC that provides a great Android experience, it is cost-effective, which seems to buttress the fact that the phone’s price is going to be a budget-friendly model, which might be the cheapest smartphone produced by the giant tech company. The new phone seems to have run on 1GB of RAM and the latest Android 10.0 version. What is unsure is whether it will run on the full version of Android 10 or the Go edition. But it will most likely run on the lightweight Go edition as it is precisely for low-cost devices. More so, the specs of the new Samsung phone appear to be similar to that of Nokia 1 plus, which also has a chipset of MT6739. Nokia 1 Plus runs on the Android 10 Go edition too.
The model number of the new phone that appeared on the SIG listing has also appeared on the Wi-Fi alliance site. It seems to have a Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n dual-band.
These are the specifications that have been released for now. Specifications such as physical appearance, camera quality, processor frequency, battery capacity, screen type, and other features are yet to be known. But this will be known soon enough, once the phone is unveiled.
Although there will be limitations to the ability of the Galaxy A01 Core, however, it will not be classed as obsolete. As said earlier, some of the specs are similar to that of Nokia 1 plus, and we know what the Nokia Phone is capable of. With the specs, it’s going to be able to run android apps and games. Users will also be able to play casino online and other games or software that require Flash or Java Technology. The display also appears with good graphics quality that will be good for media and games like slots, RPG and other games. With the Wi-Fi version of the phone, the connection to diverse wireless networks is guaranteed. The connection can range from mobile hotspots to mobile Wi-Fi, even to the modern Wi-Fi routers.
Many people, especially the producing company fans, have their fingers crossed for the launching of the phone. With the approval from Bluetooth SIG and certification received from the Wi-Fi Alliance, it is an indication that Samsung will unveil the phone in a few weeks. Samsung products are always a big fish in the mobile phone market. Of a certainty, when this new product hits the mobile market, it will cause significant competition among devices of its cadre.
ColorOS makes Android 11 Beta preview available on OPPO Find X2 Series
ColorOS announced the availability of Android 11 Beta update for the recently launched flagship, OPPO Find X2 Series. The Find X2 Series is amongst the first smartphones in the world, which will have Android 11 Beta available for early adopters. Available starting today, the Android 11 Beta update on Find X2 Series is a testament to the close partnership of ColorOS and Google to deliver a highly customized, efficient, intelligent, and a richly designed Android-based mobile OS.
Announcing the Android 11 Beta update, Manoj Kumar, Senior Principal Engineer, ColorOS, OPPO, said, “With over 350 million users, OPPO is one of the key partners for Google globally that interacts with a huge and diverse user base. Working closely with the Android team, ColorOS will accumulate first-hand feedback on Android 11 Beta to identify, fix and enhance features for Android developers and end-users.”
Several features announced by Google on the Android 11 Beta are already present in ColorOS, such as a time scheduled system-wide Dark-mode and built-in screen recorder. The first preview of Android 11 Beta on the Find X2 Series will include these along with the following new features from stock Android:
- A dedicated Conversations section in the notification shade where you can easily view, engage and prioritise chats from various apps.
- A new floating Bubbles UI for messaging apps that enables users to create floating windows for individual chats to improve multitasking
- Improved privacy protection with additional one-time permission, permission auto reset, and background location preferences for more control over sensitive permissions
ColorOS will incorporate additional features from Android 11 Beta in its future beta releases.
Apart from the stock Android 11 features, the customizations ColorOS made for the Find X2 Series will continue to be available, including All Pixel Omni-Directional PDAF camera focus, HDR video Enhancement, AI Nature Tone Display, and OPPO Share, among the rest.
Developers and early adopters can download the update here starting today across all Find X2 Series phones. Please note that the beta release may contain bugs and uncertainties; it is only for developer use and not for use as an everyday driver.
ColorOS is a highly customized, efficient, intelligent, and richly designed Android-based mobile OS from OPPO. With over 350 million global users, ColorOS supports more than 80 languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, and Indonesian.
YOUR VISION, YOUR STORY. XIAOMI KICKS OFF SHOTBYMI 2020 PHOTOGRAPHY CHALLENGE
Xiaomi is holding its 2nd ShotByMi Photography Challenge, providing an opportunity for Mi Fans to capture the amazing moments in life with their Xiaomi phones.
ShotByMi Photography Challenge is a long-term, innovative, and professional mobile photography contest. It was first held in 2019 and drew over 136,000 entries from 131 countries.
This year, Xiaomi encourages more Mi Fans to tell their stories by shooting photos and videos, with the core idea of ‘Your vision, your story’.
There are three independently themed episodes, each one running for one month. The first theme is ‘Summer Vibes’, where participants can upload works that match the theme with no genre restrictions. In addition to photos, short videos are warmly encouraged for ShotByMi, so that participants can have more freedom to create inspiring visual works.
To ensure the professionalism and fairness of judging, ShotByMi 2020 invited a number of accomplished photographers as judges. Michael Yamashita, who has won numerous awards from industry such as the National Press Photographers Association and the Asian American Journalists Association, works as the lead judge. Three other influential photographers in different categories, Jordi Koalitic, Jord Hammond and Clay Enos, are also invited as judges. They will select the outstanding entries from each episode, including a grand prize of $5000 creative fund and a Xiaomi phone!
As a company driven by our community, we encourage Mi Fans to choose their favourite work. Qualified entries will be displayed on the ShotByMi website and users can vote once for each work. For each category, ‘the most liked photo’ and ‘the most liked video’ will be awarded gorgeous prizes! All winners for the first episode will be announced before 10th August 2020.
ShotByMi 2020 also receives support from other parties, including short-video sharing app Likee and an online photographers community 500px.
Xiaomi looks forward to sharing the beauty of life with Mi Fans by using our latest photography smartphones.
ShotByMi 2020 link: https://event.mi.com/global/shotbymi/
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