Readers may remember that back in 2015, I wrote a review about a $150 smartphone I picked up from Amazon called the Cubot H1. This unit was a cheap Chinese phone, running a low-end quad core SoC and paired with a low resolution screen, which was designed to excel in a single area: battery life. Having a smartphone that could last almost a week was great. Since then, I had never come across the brand at a show, until this year at IFA, where they had a small booth to try and expand into Europe with their new devices.

There were two main devices on display: the Power, which is somewhat of a successor to the H1, and the King Kong 3.

King Kong 3

Unfortunately Cubot did not have this device on display, but this is going to be their new flagship: a high-end Mediatek MT6763T processor (8xA53), IP68-rated device with a 6000 mAh battery and simultaneous dual 4G LTE. This builds on their first generation King Kong (for some reason there isn’t a King Kong 2), with a ruggedized design focusing on the ability for construction workers to drop the phone and for it still to work, hence the King Kong name.

Here are some images of the King Kong (1), as they did have that on display. The King Kong 3 is expected to have a similar design.

If we head on over to the Cubot website, you’ll notice that the webpage for the King Kong line is full of standard King Kong imagery – in actual fact, what looks like direct imagery from the King Kong movie from 2005, just flipped left to right. Now the name is a bit odd (I guess it kind of fits with a durable phone) but it was my understanding that someone holds the license for the King Kong brand? I’d be highly surprised if Cubot was licensing the brand with those rights owners.

Cubot Power: POWWWERRRRR

So here’s a device that’s more up my street. It looks like a high-end smartphone, with a 6-inch full-screen display running at 2160x1080. It uses the same MT6763T SoC as the King Kong 3, but it offers a 6 GB DRAM and 128 GB storage. It also mirrors the KK3 in that it has a 6000 mAh battery, but it's without the rugged design, so it is actually easier to hold and use on a day-to-day basis.

There is a bit of a sneaky design on the rear, as it looks like it has two cameras, but one of those spots is just the LED flash. The rear camera is a 20MP unit, while the front camera is 13MP. The device does support two SIM cards, although only one can be in 4G mode. Meanwhile there is also a microSD card slot that can support another 256 GB of storage.

The Power is set to hit the street at around $260, which is considerably more than the H1 I purchased back in the day. At the minute I carry around my LG V30, which handily has wireless charging, and an Honor phone for its AI camera, but both of them struggle to get through a full day of my ‘active’ use without charging. I wonder if I can make do with a high-capacity mid-range phone again without all those bells and whistles?

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  • abufrejoval - Monday, September 17, 2018 - link

    Bigger batteries also mean a bigger risk.

    One of my sons is a volunteer firefighter and works as a coast guard during summers. So instead of going for the high-end--like the rest of the family--he wanted a phone built like a tank, that could take a beating and serve as a torch or a hammer if need be, so he got himself a Blackview BV6000S using a similar recipe: Big battery, middle-class SoC, IP68 rating and a tough metal jacket for an outdoor exterior.

    Perhaps he enjoyed a little too much dropping it on concrete floors in front of the shrieking girls, who guard their Samsungs and iThingies better than their virtue, but eventualy after a week of duty on the coast of the Baltic sea, the phone, or rather the battery inside wanted to go expansive... but couldn't within the confines of the phone's metal straight-jacket.

    I told him to switch and leave it off and we were about to do as full a backup as anyone can do on a phone not rootable, but he made the mistake to leave it on the charger over night.

    Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, it exploded.

    No, no, nothing interesting (he likes his fires!), more like diphteria.

    Lithium batteries come with platic sealing. That sealing ist designed for flexibility, so that the gases that can develop as a batteries aims for a supernova afterlife, are safely contained within.

    That's why good smartphones developed by engineers have a plastic back-cover that is even removable. Unspeakable iThingies and their fiendish imitators use metal, ceramics or even glass to give you "the edge".

    In this case the frame was so sturdy, the only way of escape was through the hole left in the chassis to connect SIM and SDcard to the PCB. And through that hole went all the pent-up gas/fluid combination as it punched through the plastic foil, which was designed to sustain an overall 2:1 or perhaps as much as a 4:1 expansion across the entire battery's surface, but not within that tiny SD+microSIM cutout... something like the Amdahl's corollary of explosion.

    The SIM did not make it. Nor did any of the on-board electronics. The SD-card did, however, and he was ever so happy all those photographic memories of a teenager's summer had come to rest there, not in the part that died as part of the "better user experience".

    On the upside, the phone got replaced. It took about 6 months because exploed phones were a tad unpopular after that "Samsung Summer" and even with surface transport Customs needed a lot of assurance the "new" phone was actually a repair unit.

    On the downside, even the replacement phone's battery soon started started to act up, perhaps because of what he does or how he goes about it.

    I have been hunting for a replacement using the 10nm process size to double the run-time, instead of a bigger battery. But as it turns out, the 10nm middle-class isn't really there yet, while 2017th high-end is eight where the 10nm would be in terms of pricing, only so much better in terms of value.

    So I've just managed to rooted a Nokia 8, which he'll get as a birthday present, that offers perhaps even better up-time using a 10nm Snapdragon 835 with just a 3000mAh battery than a 22nm Mediatek could offer at 6000mAh (and much worse performance).

    Just like in real-life, the middle class is getting ... over so I'd recommend you not go there.
    Reply
  • serendip - Monday, September 17, 2018 - link

    How about a Mi Max 2 or 3 from Xiaomi? The 2 has a 6.4" 16:9 screen with 5200 mAh, the 3 has a 6.9" 18:9 in the same chassis size but with a 5500 mAh battery. These are less likely to blow up as a cheap Chinese no-name device. They also run midrange Snapdragons so power efficiency is much better than Mediatek junk. They're not ruggedized but a good armor casing should offer enough protection. Reply
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Those wouldn't be bad as such, but they fail with the competition.

    Essentially the 636 is an 820 with 0.5 GHz and probably some GPU power removed.
    I have several 820 based LeEco Le Max2 running in the family, they are totally fine in terms of CPU/GPU power, but with 3000mAh batteries I feel the battery itch. As a former high-end phone, they have great ROM support but unfortunately even the last leftovers, which were down to €200, are gone now.

    But the 820 based Le Max2 at €200 vs. the 636 based Mi Max3 €300 proves to me that it's not a good deal, even with double battery capacity, because now I can get 835 based 'lefovers' like a Xiaomi Mi Mix2 also for €300 and those maintain 820 performance levels, but essentially double the battery life.

    But more importantly, it has LineageOS support and can be rooted, both of which I consider very important, but very hard to get for middle-class phones.

    The Max series are designed for Chinese women, maximum screen size, total attention lock-in for a 14-hour day, media consumption, not a lot of game power. ROM programmers might buy them for their girl-friends but not to build ROMs for them: They reserve that for the smaller but more powerful phones they run themselves.

    I wouldn't mind running such a big women's phone, because my eyes are getting older and I prefer gaming on PCs, but not when the price does't fit and I cannot control the phone like all my other computers.

    Basically the one year delay of the middle class SoCs against their flagship cousins currently just means they have to compete with last year's high-end, a battle that's hard to win.
    Reply
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Yeah, and I got long fat fingers, which is why I want EDIT! Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - link

    I dont see an issue with a 4000mAh and an extra 1mm of depth to be honest.

    I reckon 4000mAh is the sweetspot for most folks needs.
    Reply
  • benedict - Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - link

    I got a Motorola moto e4 plus specifically for the big 5000 MAh battery. With light use it easily lasts a week. Reply
  • yhselp - Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - link

    King Kong ain't got shit on me! Reply
  • djayjp - Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - link

    "...a high-end Mediatek MT6763T processor (8xA53)..."

    You definitely mean low end....
    Reply
  • Santoval - Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - link

    A 8xA53 SoC is considered "high-end" in late 2018? Seriously? Reply

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