At CES 2020 we saw many exciting phones, including hiding the camera on the back OnePlus Concept One and the affordable TCL foldable telephone. But the one who stayed with me was the Teracube, an Android phone with only the essentials that costs only $ 350 (around £ 269 / AU $ 507), but is guaranteed to work for four years.
“Teracube is the only phone you will need for the next four years and beyond,” is the first sentence of Teracube’s Kick starter, which was successfully funded in October 2019. But there is a difference between getting crowdfunded and seeing the real phone ready to go on the CES show floor and, by backer Updating, expects it to be sent mid January 2020.
What is exciting is not the functions of the phone, which are adequate, but the mission and the promised support: four years after purchase, the founders of Teracube promise to replace a defective phone for free and to replace the batteries free of charge. Any accidental damage, such as a shattered screen, is replaced for a fixed amount of $ 40.
In this way, the founders of Teracube, CEO Sharad Mital and VP Anthony Tsim, present the phone as a more sustainable option – an option that you can reasonably keep for four years instead of cycling to a new one every year or every six months.
Sustainability in mission, no materials
The Teracube is not made of more durable materials – it is made of the same stuff as any other phone – but if you keep it longer as your headphones, at least you can’t put it in landfills.
That is a way to make the Teracube a more sustainable option today instead of spending money and time on exploratory research to identify earth-friendly building materials and processes, Mital and Tsim told TechRadar at CES 2020.
Their sustainability strategy, as outlined above, is based on services rather than technology – addressing battery and repair issues rather than groundbreaking new components or methods. At least now: the founders want to introduce modular design in the next version of Teracube, they told TechRadar.
In the meantime, they plan to fully repair and repair any damaged device, and replace it with predetermined phones for a loop that extends the life of each handset they produce.
Compromise in compatibility
As expected, the Teracube makes a few compromises to lower its price to $ 350 MSRP, although Mital and Tsim found that they also reduced costs by selling directly to consumers.
Firstly, the Teracube runs on a mid-range MediaTek 12nm octa-core P60 chipset, competing with, but probably cheaper than, the Snapdragon 660. The phone also comes with a respectable 6 GB RAM and a favorable 128 GB storage (expandable by yet 256 GB via a microSD card slot).
The cameras are about what you would expect from a mid-range telephone: a 12MP + 5MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing lens. The 3,400 mAh battery should last all day and comes with Android 9 out of the box (with an expected upgrade to Android 10 in Spring / Q2 2020). The founders of Teracube promise three years of OS and security updates.
The other big compromise is in network compatibility, because the Teracube is a GSM-only phone – meaning you can’t use it on Verizon or Sprint networks in the US. But it comes unlocked, so American users can access it on AT&T, T-Mobile and a variety of MVNOs. Elsewhere it works on LTE bands 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,12,13,17 – check the phone FAQ for details.
Ultimately, the Teracube will not really surprise anyone, nor will its routine design surprise people. But the sustainable mission and comprehensive support should intrigue anyone who only needs a reliable phone and appreciates comprehensive, no-nonsense support.
And certainly, the founders of Teracube acknowledged to TechRadar that there is no guarantee that their business will last the entire promised four years – but there is no better way to vote for sustainable ideas than with your wallet.
- View all CES 2020 coverage from TechRadar. We live in Las Vegas to bring you the latest technical news and launches, plus practical reviews of everything from 8K TVs and folding screens to new phones, laptops, and smart home gadgets.