Cubot KingKong AX Review

15 March 2024, 13:58:40

Cubot KingKong AX Review
The Cubot KingKong AX will go on sale on April 15th. You will be able to purchase it at a promotional price from the Cubot's Official AliExpress Store. More information can be obtained from the Cubot Official website. Moreover, the Cubot Anniversary sale on AliExpress starts today - coupon codes and discounts inside.

OS, UI and software

Cubot KingKong AX runs on almost stock Android 14 but except for some changes in the Security settings in all else, it feels and behaves like Android 13. Well, that's the visible, user-end part of things. The Lock Screen retains its minimalistic layout with a huge Clock widget, a small Date widget, and status bar indicators. The Home Screen has a classic layout with the Google search bar with embedded voice search and Lens on top, followed by the Time and Date widget. The bottom is occupied by the two rows of apps - favorites and docked ones. The device received a software update during its time with us and after it, the Home Screen lost the search bar and the Clock widget - these you can always add from the selection of Widgets.

By default, the device has an app drawer activated, listing the apps in alphabetic order with a search bar and the four latest used apps on top. From the Home Settings, you can change the launcher style and list the apps on successive desktops after the Home Screen. The Task Manager tiles the app previews horizontally with the option to access the app info and/or enter split-screen mode. You can also lock/unlock the app, meaning it won't be cleared from the background when locked and vice versa. The "Manage" option opens a White List of applications, from where you can lock/unlock apps. Desktop Shortcuts are supported and the Volume adjustment interface is the familiar one.
The Home Settings are accessed after you tap and hold on an empty space on the Home Screen. This brings out the Customization Picker, which offers you a choice of themes, wallpapers, widgets, and of course - the settings for the Home Screen. The latter allows you to switch on/off the notification dots, enable the At A Glance features, show/hide Google Discover, change the launcher style, etc. The Notifications shade is accessed after a swipe down from the top of the display. The Quick Settings are accessed after a second swipe down. The toggles are six per screen on four screens with options to add more or remove existing ones.
Cubot KingKong AX arrives with a very basic set of pre-installed apps. They include Assistant, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Child Mode, Chrome, Clock, Contacts, Drive, Files, Find Device, Game Mode, Gmail, Google Discover, Keep Notes, Maps, Meet, Messages, Pedometer, Phone, Photos, Play Store, Safety, Settings, Sound Recorder, System Manager, ToolBag, Torch, YouTube, and YT Music. The Child mode allows you to create a password-protected space that's child-safe and you have control over which apps and what content the child has access to.
The Game mode app creates a space that ensures uninterrupted gameplay. The Pedometer app is usually a part of the ToolBag app, but in this case, it has been taken out as a separate one. The Torch is also separated from the ToolBag. The latter contains a compass, sound meter, leveler, magnifier, height measuring tool, gradienter, protractor, plumb bob, alarm bell, and a mirror (using the front camera). Finally, the System Manager contains a shortcut to the Battery settings (Power Manager), a shortcut to managing your storage, a Freezing room, where you can put apps that annoy you but don't want to uninstall, and an App Lock for apps to which you want to have a password-protected access.
Even though the KingKong AX runs on Android 14, the Settings app employs a layout that's typical for slightly older Android versions. We've seen this layout on the Oukitel WP30 Pro, for example, which runs on Android 13, on various Ulefone models running on Android 12 and Android 11, and others. The various settings menus are grouped and each group is separated from the other by a thick gray line. For each menu, there's a color icon in front of it. The settings search bar is on top of the list. The first group is about connectivity and it contains the Airplane mode toggle, SIM card & mobile data, Wi-Fi (with all adjoining settings for Wi-Fi preferences and Wi-Fi Direct), and Connected devices. The latter includes Bluetooth, NFC, Quick Share, Android Auto, Cast display, Printing, Chromebook, Hotspot & tethering, VPN, and Private DNS settings.

The second group begins with the Notifications settings, including the usual app-specific options, notification history, conversations, bubbles, device and app notifications privacy, lock screen settings, DND, wireless emergency alerts, and the usual toggles for hiding the silent ones from the status bar, snoozing, enhancing, and notifications dots. The second part of the group is about the Display Settings which are quite expansive. From there you can choose between a Bright and Dark theme, adjust the brightness level bar, switch on/off the adaptive brightness toggle, set the screen timeout, display size and text, choose a wallpaper & style, enable auto-rotate screen, select a refresh rate, screen saver, and turn on/off the lift-to-wake toggle. There's also a dedicated section for choosing a color mode and a separate section for managing the LED notification light. Moreover, you can also choose a different notch style.
The Sound & vibration is third in the second group and offers no surprises. It begins with the four standard slide bars for media, calls, rings & notifications, and alarm volume. You can also choose a ringtone, alarm, and notification sound, manage the Live Caption options, the vibration and haptics one, as well as the DND mode. The usual toggles for screen lock, touch, etc. are also present along with the sound enhancement features. The main difference with the previous Android versions is the Security & privacy menu. For starters, Google Play Protect is now called App Security, Find My Device is Device Finders and includes the Find My Device option plus Unknown Tracker Alerts, and Google Play System Update is System & Updates including Google Play update, Security update, and Backup.

Moreover, the system issues a security warning, if you don't have a screen lock setup. This is done from the Device Unlock option. When you set up a screen lock and manage the Lock Screen settings to your preference, you can also set a fingerprint ID. There's no option to set up a face unlock. Account Security is the option that contains the Google Account security checkup and the Password Checkup. These options are in a way doubled in the Passwords & Accounts menu which follows the Security & Privacy one. The Privacy Menu is now listed under the Security one. It contains the usual permission manager, privacy dashboard, ads management, health connect, and activity controls. The More Security & Privacy options include Lock Screen Notifications, App Content, Android System Intelligence, Autofill Service from Google, Extend Unlock, and others. Extend Unlock is the Smart Unlock feature renamed.
The third group of settings contains the Apps menu, which is quite straightforward, the Battery menu, which is discussed in the dedicated section of this review, the Storage menu with a link to the Files management feature, and the Accessibility menu. The latter is about managing your screen reader, display (size and text; color and motion; extra dim; magnification), interaction controls, system controls - the same options exist in the System menu, vibration and haptics, Live Caption options, audio aid, and accessibility shortcuts. The fourth group of menus is the largest one. Location is the first menu here and lets you control which app and service can have access to your location. The Safety & emergency menu follows with options for entering your medical information, emergency contacts, setting an emergency SOS, alert notices, etc.

Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls is a standard Android option for managing your and your children's screen time. "Fingerprint" is the fifth menu in this group and it lets you add more features and enhance the way you interact with the device once you set up one or more fingerprint IDs. You can set it to return to the Home Screen or a screen back, open the Task Manager, snap a photo or video, and/or answer a call. The Google menu comprises the standard settings for managing your Google account and all related services. DuraSpeed follows and can be used to restrict background running apps in favor of the foreground ones. When an app is included in the DuraSpeed list, it won't be restricted when running in the background.
Memory expansion is a separate menu for enabling virtual RAM expansion with 12GB. For the changes to take effect, you have to restart the device. The next menu is dubbed Side Key Function and allows you to assign an action or app to the physical button placed on the left frame. MiniScreen is the name of the menu that manages the rear display of the device. From here, you can select from several clock plate designs, set the screen timeout and the backlight level, check the pedometer data, select the music app, and activate the option to snap photos with the front and/or rear camera by using your voice. Smart Assist is the last menu in the fifth group and it includes several smart features that will enrich your mobile experience.

One of those is the Smart Touch - a floating dot on the screen that is fully customizable and can be used as an alternative means for navigation and quick access to apps and features. Another smart area is the Gesture WakeUp one with a list of smart gestures. When you enable the, you can wake the screen with a double tap, open the QR code scanner by turning the device to the left, etc. There's also a Gesture Motion part with five toggles which contains the especially useful three-point-screenshot feature. Night Light is part of the Smart Assist menu. You can set the intensity of this feature and schedule it to meet your personal preferences.
The last group of menus contains the standard System and About Phone menus. The "System" one lets you set your language and keyboard preferences and in Android 14 these are now two separate sub-menus. You can also set the date and time, backup and reset, check for system updates and enable various useful gestures. This "Gestures" menu contains options for quick camera access, settings for what happens when you press and hold the power button, and system navigation settings. From the latter, you can select either virtual buttons or onscreen gestures, each with its customization options. The "System" menu also contains the Scheduled Power On & Off option. The About phone menu provides the standard device information such as model name, basic specifications, the software build version, etc.

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