You may have noticed we spend a lot of time talking about planned obsolescence. Put simply, it’s the shady manufacturing practice of making short-lived products.
And perhaps nothing encapsulates the issue more infamously than the smartphone. Many of us are familiar with the experience of your device slowing as soon as the warranty is up - if it makes it that far. Smartphones can be infuriatingly fragile, and repairs hair-raisingly expensive. Combined with shiny new devices being presented to us every year, it feels like we’re being strong-armed into upgrading at uncannily regular intervals.
Stacks upon stacks of discarded phones
At best, phones aren’t designed for durability - and there’s a strong case to say they’re purposefully made to fail. With cell phone owners changing up their devices about every two years on average, it’s no wonder that e-waste is fast becoming an environmental issue of staggering proportions. Globally, 350,000 cell phones are thrown away every day.
A new approach
Back in March, we stumbled upon a snappy little Kickstarter video offering an alternative to this madness. Enter the Teracube.
Teracube's award-winning Kickstarter video
Pitched as "the world's most reliable smartphone", the Teracube is covered by an unheard-of four year warranty. Not only is this way longer than most manufacturers will offer (usually just one or two years), Teracube’s smartphone warranty really goes overboard when it comes to great service. Free shipping and express replacement means you’ll never be left without a device, and the deal even includes a free battery change.
Within the warranty, any other repairs for accidental damage come at a flat rate of just $39 - regardless of whether you’ve dropped it onto concrete or down the toilet. That’s a far cry from $200 screen replacements on flagship phones. By keeping repairs cheap and convenient, Teracube encourages users to actually get their phones fixed instead of retiring them for new models.
Having smashed its Kickstarter goal fivefold, this elegant Android device is now a fully funded product and available to buy. And how much is it going to set you back? Incredibly, it costs just 300 dollars.
If that low price is making you a little cautious, we don’t blame you. With new mid-range phones setting you back around twice that amount (and flagship devices costing upwards of 1000 dollars), you’ll be wondering exactly where the Teracube phone cuts corners. It stands to reason that if you’re going to keep using a phone for four years and beyond, you’ll want it to be good. Never fear.
Teracube has the sleek look and feel of a contemporary smartphone, with all the features you’d expect from a great mid-range model - plus a little more. Thanks to its Octa-core processor and 6GB of RAM, it has no trouble keeping up with heavy use, breezing through demanding multitasking and games. Its ultra-durable gorilla glass display looks beautifully crisp even in bright sunlight, and the battery can easily handle a full day of use without charging.
It keeps all the little extras we’ve become accustomed to, such as a fingerprint sensor and facial unlocking. Oh, and Teracube love to gleefully point out that their phone has an actual headphone jack (looking at you, Apple). If you’re someone who uses their phone heavily for photography, the dual rear cameras (12 and 5 megapixels) and front camera (8) may not cut it. But if you’re just taking occasional photos and selfies to view on a phone screen, it’s very decent.
A couple of real, unedited photos taken with the Teracube.
If you want a closer look, here’s the full lowdown on Teracube’s specs:
- Operating system - Android 9.0 (Android 10 coming later this year)
- Processor - MediaTek Helio P60 2.0GHz Octa-core processor
- RAM - 6GB
- Memory - 128GB internal with microSD/dual SIM tray
- Screen - 6.2" Full HD+ IPS Gorilla Glass display (1080 x 2280)
- Rear camera - 12 and 5 megapixel dual rear cameras
- Front camera - 8 megapixels
- Battery - 3,400 mAh
- Charger - 5V/2A quick charger
- Security - PIN, pattern, fingerprint, face unlock
- Connectivity - WiFi A/B/G/N/AC, Bluetooth 5.0
- Ports - Headphone jack, USB-C port, Hybrid Dual SIM and Micro SD slots
- Size - 157 x 75.5 x 7.7mm
- Weight - 176g
- Carriers - AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Cricket, Lyca, and more LTE Bands - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 17 GSM Bands - 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900. Teracube doesn’t currently support the Sprint or Verizon networks.
Overall, the Teracube punches far above its price point. Having used it for several weeks, we can confidently say that most will find it an outstanding mid-range device. If you’re accustomed to having the latest iPhone, Google or Samsung models, you’re likely to miss things like wireless charging or a cutting-edge camera. But if you’re a casual phone user looking for incredible value for money and a more environmentally responsible choice, the Teracube is a real standout option.
The Teracube community
One of the great unexpected benefits we found from using the Teracube was the community of other users, in the form of an online forum. Here you can get swift technical support, as well as give feedback and suggestions straight to Teracube’s founders (who are actually active posters). What other smartphone can give you a direct line to the person who developed it?
By working together with long-term users and listening to their suggestions, Teracube are demonstrating their commitment to a user experience people will want to stick with. Catching a project like this at an early stage is not only exciting, it affords the opportunity to see it grow, and even influence the direction it takes. Supporting the little guy offers a totally unique smartphone experience, very different to having a device made by some faraway tech giant.
The future of sustainable phones
When people talk about a ‘sustainable smartphone’, or any eco friendly product, usually what comes to mind is green materials and production. What Teracube acknowledges is that the best step forward towards a sustainable smartphone industry is actually to extend the life of devices.
Nathan Proctor, director of the U.S. PIRG's Campaign for the Right to Repair, has pointed out the benefits of simply keeping our phones in use for longer. "The rate at which we're replacing those phones [...] is a really urgent environmental concern, so the most important thing that we can do is use our phones for a lot longer," Proctor says. "That has not been a real, principal objective of some of the major cell phone manufacturers."
Having started out with the world’s most reliable smartphone, Teracube eventually wants to do it all. That means making a phone that’s made of cutting-edge sustainable materials, rigorously sourced from ethical suppliers, that users can easily repair themselves. But for a small company, this has to be worked towards in steps - and the first step is Teracube, a great phone with a super-long warranty.
If just a small proportion of consumers start looking for reliability, this plucky tech startup is on a strong path towards rocking the boat of the entire cell phone industry. This is why Teracube’s incredibly attractive price - for both the device and future repairs - is no accident. They want to provide an accessible offering that’s open to as many people as possible, and grow a community who are in it for the long term.
A long-lasting cell phone is better for your pocket, and better for the planet. It’s a practical choice for practical people. This little startup is daring to do things differently to the big tech companies, by putting customers and the planet first - and we reckon that’s worth buying into.