Google’s Nexus program is probably the best known partnership in the world of smartphones, where software and hardware makers come together to produce a device together; but it’s certainly not the only one, and now there is another to add to the list. The names may be unfamiliar though. Cubot — barely known outside its China home — is making a phone with Cheetah Mobile, the company responsible for Clean Master, Battery Doctor, and other popular apps.
Details of the phone haven’t been officially revealed, but GizChina has published what it claims are the final specs, and states Cubot itself provided them. Referred to as the Cubot Cheetah, the specs fall in-line with the majority of mid-range Android smartphones. The 1080p screen measures 5.5-inches, it has an octa-core MediaTek chip inside, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a fingerprint sensor. A 3050mAh battery is inside the just under 8mm thick body, which is apparently made from metal.
It all sounds fine, and we’ve recently been impressed by the similar sounding Elephone Vowney, but what makes the Cubot Cheetah different is the potential inclusion of Cheetah’s apps and software. Clean Master is a familiar sight to anyone who has used a Huawei or ZTE phone in the past few years, and the app has racked up millions of downloads through Google Play. Battery Doctor and CM Security are also well known, and have been pre-installed on some devices in the past.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow is expected to drive the Cubot Cheetah, but Cheetah Mobile also has its own Android launcher called CM Launcher, and there’s a strong chance this will replace Google’s launcher on the phone. That’s not so good, because despite all CM Launcher’s customisation and fancy alterations, we remain fans of stock Android. All these are logical inclusions on the Cubot phone, but Cheetah does a lot more than just make apps.
Cheetah Mobile has its own advertising platform, focused on mobile, which already reaches more than 400 million users around the world. Putting those ads — through its apps, games, launcher, and browser — on a custom-made phone makes for a formidable combination. It’s a tried-and-tested strategy that has worked out pretty well for Google and Amazon, after all.
When will we get to see the phone, and where will it go on sale? Cubot has announced it’ll be at Mobile World Congress with a phone that sounds very similar to the Cheetah, indicating we’ll get a close look at the end of this month.