Cubot is a name you may not have heard of, but the Chinese company is seeking to make an impact on the smartphone market with the X17, offering premium features at a more down market price price of around $170 (£130).
First impressions are positive, the phone comes in a box with a textured bronze colored finish. In the package you get a USB cable, mains adaptor, SIM tray opening tool, a clip-on protective cover for the back, a spare screen protector -- there's one pre-installed -- and a printed quick start guide. You also get a couple of cleaning wipes which is a nice touch.
The technical spec is impressive too. The phone uses a 1.3 GHz quad-core, 64bit processor (Mediatek 6735A) and has 3GB of RAM. There's 16GB of onboard storage though you can expand this with a microSD card. The 5-inch screen has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and 441 ppi, there's 4G support along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, though no NFC, and it runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Cameras are 16MP rear -- with an LED flash -- and 8MP front.
The X17 is dual SIM and, usefully, the two slots are different sizes so you can use a standard Micro SIM and/or the smaller Nano SIM. Note though that the Micro SIM and SD card use the same slot so you can't have both at once. The phone is powered by a non-removable 2500mAh battery.
The phone itself feels and looks like a quality item. It's nicely weighty and has a shiny metal edge, the glass front curves into this which gives it a premium look. The 5-inch screen has white sections above and below it housing the front camera, speaker grille and fixed menu buttons. The back echoes this with a silver coloured metal centre panel between two white plastic sections. Power and volume buttons are on the right edge with the SIM and SD card slot on the left.
The rear camera lens is slightly raised above the phone body, though if you have the clear clip-on cover in place it sits flush. A slight oddity is that the permanent menu and back buttons are the other way around from most Android phones which takes a bit of getting used to.
With the phone switched off the screen appears to go right up to the sides of the device, but switch on and you realise that there's narrow black border so the actual usable area is slightly smaller. The part that you can use though is bright with strong colors and good viewing angles.
The X17's performance is perfectly acceptable in everyday tasks, accessing the net and playing videos, though the processor isn't quite up to the most intensive games. It does seem to get through the battery quite quickly, but you should manage around a day of normal use on a full charge. There is a battery saver mode that you can set to activate at 15 percent or five percent of remaining power to eke out the remaining life. The phone gets a little warm when you've been using it for a while, but not uncomfortably so.
You can swipe to the left from the lock screen to activate the camera without unlocking the phone first. Using the rear camera there's a bit of a lag when focusing, and when you have got it focused the photos aren't great with colors that look a little over saturated. Sharpness and detail is good though. Video can be shot in full HD at 30fps, but there's no image stabilization so you can end up with rather shaky results.
The front camera has a wide angle lens making it good for taking group selfies (groupies?), and you can enable a gesture mode for timer shots which detects a V sign to start a countdown. Again pictures are adequate rather than outstanding.
As we noted above there's no NFC on the X17, you do get something called HotKnot, which is similar but only works with other Mediatek-based kit so its usefulness is rather limited.
Software is pretty much standard Android. The phone does come with Opera Mini installed, but otherwise is commendably free of bloatware. There are air gesture options for scrolling through the gallery, changing radio stations and switching the screen on and off, but these are a bit hit and miss in use.
If you're looking for a phone that offers 4G on a budget, there's quite a bit to like about the X17. It's well made with the feel of a pricier device, the screen in particular being the equal of some much more expensive phones.
There are some compromises, the camera in particular isn't great and the lack of NFC may be a deal breaker for some. Also the battery life is no more than adequate. Those things aside the X17 is a decent all-rounder and will suit people who are looking to take their first leap into 4G without breaking the bank.