Bottom line: The Teracube 2e may not be the most impressive phone in terms of specs, but it is one of the leaders in a growing tech sustainability movement. Not only are the phone and accessories themselves greener than most, but the entire business model is one that encourages more sustainable usage and consumption. Green theme notwithstanding, it's also a solid budget phone that is well worth the asking price.
- Industry-leading four-year warranty
- User-repairable with replaceable parts
- Dual-SIM and microSD card slots
- Solid performance for a budget device
- Comes with a biodegradable case and screen protector
- Components made of 25% recycled plastic
- Available in de-Googled /e/OS variant for even longer software support and privacy
- Standard version ships with Android 10
- No IP rating or wireless charging
- Not 5G compatible
- Fingerprint magnet
If you know me or read my work here at AC, you know that I feel strongly about a few things when it comes to smartphones and consumer tech, and those things are not necessarily what some of my colleagues or others in the tech-sphere care about. You can have your 10x optical zoom cameras, folding phones, and 50W wireless charging devices all day, but I'm more interested in affordable to mid-range devices that last longer than you'd expect and which are at least trying to do environmental and social good. Sounds great, but it seems that it's harder to find this combination of features in a phone than the ultra-premium specced-out devices we typically talk about here on this website.
That's why I was excited when I had the chance to write this Teracube 2e review. Teracube is a relatively new smartphone OEM based out of Redmond, WA, and founder Sharad Mittal's stated goal is to change the "disposable nature of the consumer electronics industry by designing products that last longer." Mr. Mittal, you're speaking my language. The Teracube 2e is actually the young company's second sustainable smartphone, coming a year or so after its initial Teracube One device.
At just under $200, I didn't expect the Teracube 2e to seriously challenge the fit, finish, or performance of the best Android phones, but I will say that I came away more impressed with the user experience than I had anticipated. After spending some time with the device, I can definitely see it earning a spot on our list of the best sustainable and repairable phones very soon. As much as I liked the device and the company's ethos behind it, though, not everything was perfect. So let's dive into the review and see if the Teracube 2e is something you should consider spending your money on.
Teracube 2e Price and availability
The Teracube 2e was unveiled and made available for preorder in October 2020 for $99. The phone then became available for purchase in the United States and Canada for $199 from Teracube and Amazon in mid-February 2021. This price puts it in line with some of the best phones under $200 and well below other sustainable phone competitors like Fairphone. Teracube has promised that the 2e will also be available in at least five countries in Europe and Singapore.
Since this review was originally published in February 2021, availability on third-party sites like Amazon has become increasingly limited. However, there is at least one additional place you can pick up a 2e — from the makers of /e/OS. In addition to similar devices from the likes of Fairphone, the de-Googled operating system developed by the eFoundation is offering the Teracube 2e for $230, directly from its web store. However, the availability of this version is limited to the U.S. and Canada.
Great value; great values
Teracube 2e What I like
The Teracube 2e isn't going to blow anyone away with its performance or specs, but it does measure up quite well against phones in its price range. The device sports a 6.1-inch HD + IPS display at 720p, which I found to be bright and vibrant, though I did have a few issues with it in certain use cases (more on that later), along with a 4,000 mAh battery that can last up to two days. It comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, which is expandable thanks to a built-in microSD card slot, and it's powered by a MediaTek Helio A25 Octacore processor clocked at 1.8Ghz.
|Operating System||Android 10|
|Display||6.1 inches, 720x1560 resolution, HD+ IPS|
|Processor||MediaTek Helio A25|
|Expandable Storage||via microSD|
|Rear Camera 1||13MP|
|Rear Camera 2||8MP wide-angle|
|Security||rear fingerprint sensor|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi A/B/G/N/AC, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC|
|Ports||USB-C and 3.5mm audio|
|Water Resistance||No official IP rating|
|Dimensions||155.2mm x 73.3mm x 10.1mm|
|Colors||Black with green accents|
All in all, I felt that the Teracube 2e performed about how I expected it to: not better, not worse. Scrolling on web pages was smooth, though I occasionally noticed a slight stutter on the Google Discover feed and Twitter. Apps took a second or so to open, but switching in the multitasking view was nearly instantaneous.
The cameras are not the best, but you probably guessed that would be the case with a $200 phone. I found shots to be a bit muddled and lacking in detail, though you can get useable shots in good lighting conditions, at least for social media and online sharing; in low lighting conditions, they leave much to be desired. The camera app itself is user-friendly and pretty basic and has standard HDR, Beauty, Wide, and Panorama modes. A surprise was that the 2e's camera also has a Pro Mode, which lets you control things like ISO, White Balance, and EV. That's not something you see every day in a budget Android phone!
Here are a few unedited sample shots from the main rear and front-facing cameras:
Like Google, OnePlus, and Samsung, Teracube pledges three years of Android OS software and security updates. Unfortunately, the 2e ships with Android 10, but at least you can count on getting to Android 12 before official support ceases. In addition, the company says that the 2e will receive Android 11 by Summer 2021, though as of right now, we're still waiting on the update.
As of early August, 2021, the 2e is available in a de-Googled version courtesy of our friends at /e/OS. Not just for fans of enhanced privacy, the /e/OS option means that 2e owners can prolong the life of their device beyond even the three years of promised Android update support, helping the phone stay in use and out of the landfill longer.
The specs are adequate for the price, but that's not the main reason you'd buy this phone. No, the value proposition here is all about sustainability, and on that point, there are several things to like about the Teracube 2e. For starters, the device ships in a minimalistic cardboard box that itself uses 50% less packaging materials than most standard phones. The phone also ships without a charging cable, brick, or headphones in the box. Premium manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have moved to this model, but their motivations seem to be driven more by margins and the bottom line than sustainability.
There are at least 25% recycled materials in the 2e's components, and it comes with a pre-installed screen protector and biodegradable phone case. Imagine the types of cases available from a manufacturer like Pela, but you don't have to spend the extra $30-$40 after purchasing your new phone.
The design is pretty standard for any Android phone, with an all-black coloring and Teracube logo on the back. Actually, there are a few nice touches that are a nod to the Teracube 2e's environmental focus — the power button is a gorgeous bright green, and the replaceable battery is bright neon green. There's also a handy LED notification light at the top of the display, which is nice to see again.
Speaking of that battery, yes, it is indeed replaceable by the user or by Teracube. The company has said that it plans to make how-to repair guides and materials available on its website and through iFixit for the more industrious DIY-ers among us, rare in this day and age. To make repairs more manageable, there is no glue inside, and everything can be accessed with screws. The removable back panel harkens back to the early days of Android handsets, as do the dual SIM slots and microSD slot.
If you, like me, are decidedly not the industrious type, then you can take advantage of Teracube's industry-leading "white glove" concierge repair services. Teracube pledges to support customers with a four-year Premium Care warranty, including hassle-free (and free) two-way shipping and low flat fees for accidental repairs. How low? $59 to fix a broken screen and $29 to replace a battery. Try to beat that at your local mall kiosk. Plus, Teracube has a deal with 4,900 UPS stores in North America where you can exchange your devices with a pre-paid label and even have your device shipped to the UPS store. The goal behind this extended warranty is to keep the phones in customers' hands for longer and thus keep them out of landfills for longer. And if that weren't enough, Teracube pledges to plant a tree for every 2e sold.
All of this has added up to a sustainable device that earned the title of Most Sustainable Phone in the US by Leafscore, a blog that reviews and ranks the sustainability of various consumer products.
Budget handset limitations
Teracube 2e What I don't like
When you're paying this little for a smartphone, you have to temper your expectations a bit because you're just not going to get the best high-end specs or features that you might find on a $1,000 phone, much less a $400 phone. For example, this device ships with Android 10, just like the 2021 Motorola phones, which is not ideal. However, at least Teracube promises three years of software and security updates, so you've got that going for you. Also, the addition of the /e/OS edition offers users another alternative.
While the screen is bright and vibrant, I noticed some weird behavior in Teracube's low-light reading mode called Night Light. Basically, while scrolling, the screen kind of "jumped" briefly between Night Light mode and daytime mode. This could be because I tested this on a pre-production device, but it was so annoying that I immediately turned the Night Light feature off. The bezels on the display may be a bit large for some, but I think they're on par with other phones at this price point. What I did recoil at a bit was the way the top left and right corners got really close to the text in the status bar. I'm not a UI designer by any means, but that could use a touch-up.
As for the build of materials, there are a few things you're going to be missing from a $200 phone. The Teracube 2e doesn't support wireless charging or 5G. It doesn't have any official IP rating for water or dust resistance, making it more challenging to hold onto the phone for three or four years, as intended. The rear panel is a bit of a smudge magnet, but as long as you put the included recyclable case on it, that shouldn't be an issue.
Teracube 2e The competition
The most obvious direct competitor to the Teracube 2e would have to be the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+ series of phones. Fairphone is arguably the most well-known player in the sustainable smartphone space right now, thanks to its modular, repairable phones, which users can keep running long after the standard two-year upgrade cycle. The company has also earned praise for its long-term service and support, sourcing sustainable materials, product design and production, shipping, and ethical human resource practices. Unfortunately for many of our readers, Fairphone devices are not widely available outside of Europe at this time.
Speaking of Europe-only phones, the SHIFT6m is a similar, modular device that supports custom ROMs. Unfortunately, like the Fairphone 3, it's also more than twice the price of the Teracube 2e.
Purchasers at this price point would also do well to consider the Moto G Power, but we recommend looking at the 2020 model over the 2021 version because it comes with the same software, battery, and camera experience but has a better processor and better screen.
Teracube 2e Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
You are committed to sustainability
Teracube is doing everything in its power to help you hold onto the 2e for longer, to lower the effects of production, and to reduce environmental impact.
You are on a budget
This phone is not only green, but it's cheap. Plus, the support you'll receive means that your $200 will go even farther, with three years of updates and a fantastic four-year warranty.
You long for the good old days of Android
Removable back — check. Replaceable battery — check. Dual SIM slots and microSD slot — check.
You should not buy this if ...
You are looking for high-end specs
This is a budget device with budget internals. Its cameras can't come close to those on a Pixel 5 or Galaxy S21 Ultra, and its performance won't match those devices either.
You need wireless charging, 5G, or an IP rating
These features collectively come at a premium, and Teracube decided to leave them out to accomplish its affordability and repairability goals.
You need the latest from Android right now
This phone ships with Android 10, which is not ideal. However, if you're patient, you're guaranteed to get three years of platform and security updates.
3.5 out of 5
After reviewing the Fairphone 3 last year, I came away enamored with the idea of sustainable smartphones. However, that device is still not available where I live, and to be honest, it felt a little expensive for the components. But overall, it was a good experience that made me feel good about using the device. That's basically what you're getting with the Teracube 2e: a similar user experience with similarly ambitious and worthy goals. Sure, Teracube goes about pursuing and fulfilling those goals in a different way, but they're nonetheless laudable (and probably more realistic for most folks).
Particularly since this device will be widely available on Amazon, I can definitely recommend it to folks who are either A) looking for a solid budget phone, B) concerned about electronic waste — or both!
Review Changelog, August 2021
This article was originally published in February 2021. It was updated in August 2021 with the following changes:
- Updated pricing and availability section.
- Added information about /e/OS model availability.
Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
I would buy one of these for a backup phone.
Seems like the perfect spare device to have if you break your main phone.
Oh no, ships with android 10! That's bad bad bad.. Android 10 does not work, it's broken, can't use it for anything. Man what a con.
"This phone ships with Android 10, which is not ideal."
This is a silly argument against this phone. Android 11 has a plethora of bugs that still need to be resolved and instead of that Google is already working on Android 12....please.
Android 10 works perfectly fine and is probably a good start for this phone and when it is time for 11 to be applied it should have most of the bugs squashed.
The other arguments against this phone are not even worth mentioning. However, I will pick on one more..."What I did recoil at a bit was the way the top left, and right corners got really close to the text in the status bar."
First world problem...OMG the text is too close to the edges...weeps and moans uncontrollably.
Granted this phone might not be for everyone, and even though 5G may not be a big deal today...four years from now it might. So I am mildly interested, and certainly hope they are successful in their endeavor to sell a phone with a removable battery AND a headphone jackl!!!
So I'd suggest three posters above me all go and buy one. I'm a satisfied mid-tier phone guy that dual carries iPhone XR and Pixel 3a for myself. The main Teracube 2e advantages that "everyone" laments the disappearance of, replaceable batteries and headphone jack, get supported on this device, along with physical dual-SIM capabilities. I bought one as much for a backup device as to just support a small company when the big OEMs can't be troubled due to infrastructure costs. Everyone here that complains about progress should put up or shut up, essentially.....
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