Historically, chinese-made phones have suffered from lack-luster design, awful build quality, and antiquated software. However in recent months we’ve seen a surge in higher-quality devices coming from the land of big exports. To show how far manufactures have come in emulating the designs of larger companies like Samsung and Apple, this reddit post tells the story of how a man almost got duped into keeping a Samsung Galaxy S4 knockoff bought offline. And I doubt you need a reminder of all the plentiful fake iPhones available from chinese manufacturers and online retailers.
We’ve seen our fair share of Samsung, Apple, and HTC clones, however we’ve never seen any that have been this convincing. Through the possession of decent specs, and a design that would fool just about anyone, I think it’s safe to say that this is the year small Chinese manufacturers have caught up to the big boys.
The device below is NOT the HTC One. It is in fact the Cubot One, which unlike other clones doesn’t just bare a striking resemblance to the device it attempts to copy: It is in fact a near 1.1 replica of the HTC One. It’s both amazing and repulsive. The device shares the same 4.7 inch screen size, same micro-SIM tray, gently contoured back, key layout, and even the same chamfering on the front. In short, you can only tell that this is not an HTC device only by examining the phone very carefully.
The most convincing HTC One clone (Click to enlarge image)
The Cubot One measures 137 x 68 x 9.4 mm, on par with the HTC One. The phone actually fits into some of the cases available for the HTC One. If you were to lay the Cubot and HTC One together, you could not tell the difference until holding them.
The screen resolution is 1,280 x 720 as opposed to 1,920 x 1,080 on the HTC One. There’s no refuting that the quality of the display is pretty good though, with the Cubot One having a higher resolution than the iPhone 5 and many other mid-range phones.
Despite the presence of a bottom grille like that on the HTC One, the only front facing speaker on the phone lies on the top of the device, with the bottom one serving as a microphone. The phone’s body is also made out of plastic. And yes, those white stripes are not mold-injected strips, they’re simply painted onto the device. The company behind the Cubot has done a huge job in ensuring the phone looks just like the HTC One, the chamfered edges look metallic as does the volume rocker. That said, the Cubot’s front-facing HTC logo is painted on top of the glass instead of underneath. (We later scratched off the logo to give the phone a cleaner look after making this review.) Making it a little more functional than the HTC One itself, the logo doubles as a menu key!
Users will be pleased to know that the Cubot One runs a near vanilla Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1. The only parts that have been changed are the wallpapers included (which are the same as the one’s on the HTC One) and the icons, all which have been ported from Sense UI. By the way, if you’d like to download the official HTC Sense 5 wallpapers, we’ve got them on our site.
The camera on the Cubot One is an 8 megapixel sensor which give the user larger images than the HTC One (which has a 4.1 megapixel UltraPixel sensor.) However, it’s worth nothing that the larger pixels on the HTC One will give you dramatically better image quality at night. The front-facing 2 megapixel camera isn’t anything worth praising (like on most smartphones), however it’ll get the job done for a quick skype session. Make note that the 13 megapixel claims on most sites selling the Cubot One are wrong. Similarly, the phone doesn’t have an infrared emitter tucked under the power button nor does the phone feature NFC.
Many chinese devices rely on MediaTek’s processors and this fake is no different. The Cubot One is powered by a quad core MT6589 SoC running at 1.2GHz. In our reviewing of the device, the phone ran smoothly with no hiccups whatsoever, albeit falling short when compared to the the Snapdragon 600 on the HTC One. Our benchmark scores can be found below.
At $200, the Cubot One cost $100 less than an 8GB Nexus 4 and $150 less than the comparable 16GB model. It comes in plastic packaging very similar to the packaging the HTC One comes in. Like many of the latest Android devices, the Cubot One comes with 16GB of built-in storage with an option for microSD expansion. The battery lasted us all day with screen brightness turned half way.
|Specs/Test||Cubot One||HTC One|
|Screen resolution||1,280 x 720 (313ppi)||1,920 x 1,080 (468ppi)|
|Screen type||IPS LCD||S-LCD3|
|Battery||1,800mAh (non-removable)||2,300mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable)|
|Rear camera||8MP (OmniVision OV8825), BSI, 1/3.2″ sensor size, 1.4µm pixel size||4.1MP UltraPixel, BSI, f/2.0,1/3” sensor size, 2µm pixel size, OIS|
|Video capture||1080p||1080p, 30 fps (front and back)|
|Radios||2G:850,900,1800,1900|3G: WCDMA 850,2100||Depends on market|
|Bluetooth||Yes, v.unknown||v4.0 with aptX|
|SoC||MediaTek MT6589||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T)|
|CPU||1.2GHz quad-core||1.7GHz quad-core|
|GPU||PowerVR SGX 544MP||Adreno 320|
|Entertainment||N/A||MHL, DLNA, IR sensor|
|WiFi||802.11 b/g/n?||Dual-band, 802.11a/ac/b/g/n, WiFi Direct|
|Operating system||Android 4.2.1||Android 4.1.2, Sense 5 UI|
|3DMark: Ice Storm||3,172||11,430|
|3DMark: Ice Storm Extreme||1,579||6,654|
It impresses us that a phone like this would come to the market shy of the price of a Nexus device. To add a layer of surprise, the Cubot One runs a newer version of Android than the HTC One itself, and actually makes for a very decent phone. And while we can’t help but question why a phone manufacturer would choose to copy another company’s design, we can’t help but be amazed at the increasing quality in cheap phones coming out of China.