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Cubot C3 review: Affordable smartwatch that needs work

Cubot-C3-FI

if you’re looking to get this as your first smartwatch with limited customization, the Cubot C3 will likely work for you.

Techaeris Rating 7.9/10

As smartwatches have become the norm in this day and age, more companies are trying to capture a portion of the market. Cubot is likely a name you would not recognize, but they make some decent, affordable smartphones. The company also has a few smartwatch models, hoping to provide more affordable fitness watch solutions for consumers.

The Cubot C3 smartwatch has a 1.3″ TFT display, 5ATM water resistance for swimmers, a heart rate sensor, up to 15 days for battery life, and more. Continue to see how it fared in our review by reading below.

Specifications

Display1.3″ 240×240 TFT-LCD
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.1 BLE
SensorsHeart rate, acceleration, gyroscope
BatteryUp to 15 days, 260mAh, Lithium polymer
Operating voltage3.8V
Charging methodMagneto-suction
Charging time2.5 hours
Water resistance5 ATM
System requirementsiOS 8.0 and above
Android 4.4 and above
DimensionsDiameter: 46mm
Thickness: 14.8mm
Strap Width: 23mm

What’s in the box

  • Cubot C3 smartwatch
  • 2x silicone watch bands (solid black, black with red threads)
  • Charging cable

Design

Smartwatch designs are either square with rounded corners or circular. Some sporty, some with a more classy design. Cubot took the sportier option route and used that to their advantage for this design.

The Cubot C3 has a circular design watch face with a sporty outer look. Outside the glass watch face, etched into the crown, are numbers showing you where the seconds are on a clock, with the 6 and 12 being arrows. Four screws fasten the watch case together. There are two function buttons on the right-hand side of the watch. The top button has a red ring, while the lower button is solid black.

Cubot-C3-Buttons
Side buttons that both act as a back button.

The silicone straps are 23mm wide. There is a pull spring on the back of the band, allowing you to swap them out. Cubot includes two straps in the box. There is a standard black strap that’s already fastened to the watch and a black strap with red threads, giving you a more sophisticated look.

As for the underside of the watch, you’ll see the heart rate sensor along with three gold connector plates that are used for charging purposes.

The Cubot C3 did not feel heavy on my wrist, even though it does have a slightly larger design than the Galaxy Watch Active2 I’m always wearing.

Display

Smartwatch displays aren’t like our smartphone displays, so you shouldn’t expect a high resolution with the Cubot C3. With that being said, the C3 has a 1.3″ display with a resolution of 240×240. It is a bit low as other similar-sized watches hit 360×360 or higher resolution.

It’s not a bad display by any means, even with it being a TFT-LCD display. Colors are appealing to the eye no matter where the brightness settings are but feel a little on the dull end. Speaking of brightness. The display does a good job at keeping the screen bright even with it at the lowest settings. Unfortunately, there isn’t an auto-brightness setting, so you’re stuck to changing it manually if it does seem too bright.

Touches are responsive when navigating through the menu or dropping down the settings bar.

Ease of Use

When you power on the Cubot C3, it displays a QR code which, once you scan, directs you to a website that instructs you to download the H Band app from the respective app store. Once downloaded and loaded up, search for the watch. Once detected, the watch will connect to the app allowing you to proceed with using the watch.

Cubot-C3-App-Screen
First onboard applications in Cubot C3.

Trying to figure out how a smartwatch works is not the most difficult thing. While the Cubot C3 is easy to understand, a few functions made me question why. Take the function buttons, for example. As convenient as they are, unfortunately, they both act as a home button if you’re anywhere in the menus. One press of either or button will end up causing you to start over from the beginning. It was a pain to be knee-deep in some app looking at settings only to end up starting over again and again. On that note, you can’t even swipe back on the screen to go back to a previous screen once in an app.

The top button also acts as a standby button, so if the display is on and you press the uppermost button the display will shut off.

Software

The Cubot C3 runs on the company’s custom software. It is super limited, only allowing you to choose between five different watch faces, seeing you’ve received a text message but not being able to see the actual message, and being limited to the pre-installed applications.

As for the H Band application, this is the app you use to monitor your steps, sleep, and heart rate trends. You’ll have to use it as you can’t sync it with other applications such as MapMyRun, Strava, or RunKeeper. The app isn’t all that bad but does have its limitations. You can only control what applications can be toggled for getting notifications, heart rate alarm, clear data on the watch, and a few other functions.

Cubot-C3-SS-1
Screenshots of H Band application

Overall, the software being limited could be a deal-breaker for some since you don’t get much out of it, but at the same time, it may be enough for most people who prefer limited functionality.

Performance

On the performance side of things, the C3 handled the included applications just fine. There wasn’t any noticeable lag when opening the apps or closing them. Any messages or phone calls you received would show up immediately.

Raising your wrist to have the display turn on was a bit of a hit and miss. It would often work, but there were a few times where the display wouldn’t come up, causing me to have to use the buttons to turn the display on, just to see what time it was.

With the C3 being able to track your steps, sleep, and heart rate, I can confirm that it could keep up with my daily routine. Steps were accounted for as far as I could tell, especially during my work hours, where I tend to walk a lot. Sleep tracking was off by an hour or so. It would end up thinking I woke up an hour later than I actually did because I stayed in bed. It’s not a big deal for me but could be for others trying to get an accurate representation of their sleep patterns. Now, as far as heart rate tracking goes, I’d say it was calculating my heart rate pretty well. At times of a higher heart rate, while working or walking, it would show that there was an increase in the built-in app or the H Band app. There were never times where it felt like my heart rate was off whenever the C3 was checking it.

Cubot-C3-Heart-Rate
Heart rate sensor and gold contact plates for charging.

The issue I did have with the performance was the vibration motor whenever I did receive a text message. It was too strong for my liking, and others around me asked what the noise was. It gives off two long vibrations while getting stronger. Unfortunately, there’s no way to turn down the vibration in the application or the watch’s settings.

Battery Life

Cubot has included a 260mAh battery inside the C3. With most smartwatches, this is normal to have a small battery, but Cubot states that you can get up to 15 days off a single charge or up to 30 days in “basic watch mode.”

While testing the battery life, I was able to get to 13 of those 15 days claimed. I guess that the vibration motor inside and the number of notifications were going off caused a slightly reduced battery life. You can most definitely get the full 15 days of use if you’re one who doesn’t get as many notifications as I do.

I’m not entirely sure what “basic watch mode” is since there isn’t an option to start it in the application or the watch’s menus. As a result, I couldn’t test that feature.

As far as recharging the battery back up on the C3, the magnetic charger can take up to two and a half hours from a fully depleted state. It may take less time depending on how much battery life is left on the watch.

Price/Value

If you’re interested in purchasing the Cubot C3, you’ll be paying a nice affordable price of US$49.99 or €33,10. For what you’re getting with the Cubot C3, including the watch’s software, the extra watchband, and the sporty design, the price fits.

Wrap Up

Personally, I can’t recommend purchasing this to my friends or family, but if you’re looking to get this as your first smartwatch with limited customization, by all means, the Cubot C3 will likely work for you. If Cubot can fix the vibration motor or at least the ability to change it, improve the software and functionality, it’d be a lot easier to recommend.

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Cubot C3 Smartwatch

US$49.99

Design

9.0/10

Display

8.0/10

Ease of use

8.0/10

Software

6.0/10

Performance

8.0/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Price/Value

7.5/10

Nailed it

  • Sporty looking design
  • Battery life
  • Extra watchband
  • Affordable price point

Needs work

  • Vibration motor
  • Super limited customization
  • Software needs work
  • Function buttons both act as a home button
  • No notification tone
  • Application doesn't offer much
  • Limited sport modes (only 10)
  • No auto-brightness setting
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