Despite the fact that there is a picture of a smartphone immediately by this text, you might be wondering what indeed 'Cubot' and 'X17' actually mean? Although now only starting to make inroads into the west, Cubot is one of the fastest growing mobile phone manufacturers in China, and are known for pulling off impressive handsets at very affordable prices. To test that theory we got our hands on one of the company's latest models, the super thin X17.
And thin it is. The Cubit X17's most striking initial feature is it's depth (or lack thereof), coming in at just 6.1 mm thick. The rest of the handset feels very familiar, with styles that place it somewhere between Samsung and Apple, especially as it is only available in white. The screen size is also typical for a smartphone at 5 inches diagonal, with a respectable display of 1080 x 1920p. It is bright, crisp, and was genuinely a surprise to see on a phone like this.
In the inside you get Android 4.0 running very smoothly thanks to the 3GB of RAM, 1.3GHz quad-core processor, and 16GB of storage (expandable via the Micro SD card port). You get all the standard apps pre-installed on the X17, and obviously you can download more immediately from Google Play. The home-screen is the usual Android affair, although Cubot's button and transition style is clean and minimalist – just the way we like it. The phone uses three touch-buttons at the bottom of the screen; back, home, and option, as well as the physical sleep/wake and volume buttons on the side. Interestingly you can double tap the home button to lock the screen, which is something we've never seen before.
One thing you might want to immediately start playing with on the X17 is the camera... or rather, both of them. The main camera boasts 16MP, a very quick auto-focus, and a sensor that captures bright, clear images. There is also a double-flash, which helps to reduce both under and overexposure. For those of you who absolutely love yourselves, you'll be pleased to hear that the front-facing 'selfie' camera weighs in with a 8Mp sensor – again, something were not normally used to. The selfie-cam on the X17 is great, and doesn't really feel like an 'after-thought' screen camera as they can do on most smartphones of this price. Clearly Cubot have been listening to those of us who take pictures of ourselves more than we do everything else, as it is a massive bonus to the overall use of the phone.
While we're on the subject of selfies, the Cubot X17 also has gesture-capture, whereby it will snap a picture when you make a certain gesture with your hands. And yes, the default gesture is the 'V for victory' sign, something the rest of the world really enjoys doing in photos (but that we're not all that bothered about in the UK – still Winston Churchill would've loved this phone).
So... we're impressed. This is a good smartphone with high-price features such as the general construction, cameras, and processing power, that has a low-price ticket hanging from it. Anything around or sub the £100 mark we tend to consider a 'budget phone', and you can expect to get what you pay for i.e. not much. But with the Cubot X17 you seem to genuinely get a lot more than you pay for, and if you were to remove the Cubot logo and stick a Samsung on there you'd be looking at a smartphone costing closer to £200, maybe more.
For a good, solid, feature-packed phone with an emphasis on photography (and one that doesn't require you to remortgage your house) we can't recommend the Cubot X17 more. We're excited to see more from these guys soon.