Last year, Sharad Mittal and Anthony Tsim launched a Kickstarter campaign for Teracube, an Android smartphone with a four-year premium care warranty. The phone itself is $300, but any repairs would just cost a $39 flat fee. The idea is that you’d send it back, get a refurbished version in return and then your repaired phone could then be sent to someone else. Despite the business plans environmentally-conscious bent, the phone itself was not particularly eco-friendly. That changes, however, with the second version of the smartphone, dubbed the Teracube 2e. The 2e will retail for $200 but there’s a “limited early-bird special pricing” of $99 for the first 250 or so orders.
Unlike the original, the Teracube 2e is created with sustainability in mind. It uses 25 percent recycled plastics and has a fully biodegradable case made out of wheat starch and polymers. I had the chance to try out the phone for a couple of days, and I genuinely thought the case was made out of just regular ol’ plastic at first. It feels solid enough in my hands and is smooth to the touch as well. I actually prefer it to the original, as it’s not quite as slippery and doesn’t need an additional protective case.
The Teracube 2e has a 4,000 mAh replaceable battery (the original had a non-replaceable 3,400 mAh cell) that users can swap out on their own. Doing so is fairly easy; I simply pried open the backing and immediately had access to it. That means that if all I needed was a new battery, I could just change it on my own without having to send the phone back. Or, alternatively, you could just carry additional batteries around with you if you plan to go off-grid for a few days.
The specs on the Teracube 2e are fairly similar to the original Teracube, which are pretty decent for a mid-range smartphone. The 6.1-inch HD+ IPS display is bright and colorful enough for viewing photos and watching videos, and the Mediatek Helio A25 1.8GHz octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM aren’t too shabby either. I didn’t encounter much lag when scrolling through the menu, launching apps, or browsing the web.
The Teracube 2e has 13 and 8-megapixel (wide-angle) dual rear cameras and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. That’s only marginally better than the original Teracube, which had a 12 and 5-megapixel dual rear camera. Photo quality was alright, with sharp detail and natural colors especially in daylight, but it was nothing too special. Photos captured in lowlight did seem rather washed out and pixelated, but that was in line with expectations so I didn’t mind it all that much.
Other features include a headphone jack, USB-C port, dual SIM slot, 64GB of storage plus a microSD card slot. There’s also a fingerprint scanner on the back, which is similar to a lot of other Android smartphones.
Of course, just like with the original Teracube, the Teracube 2e also comes with the four-year premium care warranty along with three years worth of guaranteed software upgrades (It ships with Android 10.0 but is upgradeable to 11).
“We had great success with [the original] Teracube in our initial campaign,” said Sharad Mittal. “From a business model perspective, the number of reported cracked screens due to accidental drops was higher than our initial forecast. This actually gives us more motivation to continue our efforts, and we feel empowered to do even more for our customers. In fact, the Teracube 2e will come with an even sturdier case for added protection.”
Additionally, Mittal said that the company has started a partnership with UPS where they’re able to ship a factory-certified replacement to a customers’ nearest UPS store. That way, the customer can simply go in and replace their faulty unit without having to ship it back themselves (This is true for all Teracube products).
“We were blown away by the response from customers when we launched the Teracube One last year,” said Mittal. “Soon after, our customers started sharing what they wanted to see next from us, which was a smartphone that was even more sustainable while also being DIY-repairable. For those reasons, we decided to design and develop a new series that is really focused on delivering reliability and sustainability at an affordable price and will appeal to environmentally and budget-conscious customers.”
Still, the Teracube 2e is not the only green phone on the market. The latest Fairphone 3+ is comprised of 40 percent recycled plastic and also has a user-replaceable battery. But Mittal has said in the past that he thinks the Fairphone is geared more towards DIY types, while the Teracube’s four-year warranty makes it a lot more acceptable to more people.
The Teracube 2e is available for pre-order starting today in the US, Canada and Europe, and will ship starting in December this year.