To my shame, I have never solved a Rubik’s Cube.
It’s not that I’m bad at puzzles, or dislike them (I quite enjoy a good puzzle, actually). But the Rubik’s Cube just never made sense to my brain. I’d look at the cube, see a piece needed to move from one spot to another, and just couldn’t figure out how to do it.
That changed when I tested out the Rubik’s Connected Cube. On the surface, it looks like any other Rubik’s Cube, save for five metal contacts placed on the central yellow face. But, as with so many things, it’s what’s inside that counts. In the case of this particular cube, that’s a series of “advanced sensors,” a Bluetooth 4.1 connection and a rechargeable battery.
To get the most out of this cube, you’ll need the companion app (it’s available for free on the App Store and Play Store respectively). With the app, you can pair your Rubik’s Connected Cube with a smartphone and use it to learn cube-solving techniques, view your stats, time yourself, compete with other cube fanatics online and more.
There’s a lot on offer here, and for cube fanatics, there’s likely much to get excited about. At the same time, the asking price for the Connected Cube is steep at $74.95 in Canada. Sure, a dedicated cuber could expect to pay a premium for a high-end cube, but for most people, that’s a lot of money.
The biggest question with the Rubik’s Connected Cube is where the connected features are worthwhile. Anyone looking to get a plain old Rubik’s Cube to play with can likely skip out on this. However, the Connected Cube shines in two use cases: learning and competing online.
I fall squarely into the former camp. Most of my time with the Connected Cube was spent learning how to solve the puzzle. To be honest, I still don’t entirely get it (but with some practice, I think I’ll get there). One of the benefits of learning to cube with the app is it syncs the state of your cube and you can see each twist live in real-time. It makes it easier to work on solution algorithms since the app can guide you through them.
Granted, you don’t need an app to learn any of this stuff. The Rubik’s Cube website offers free access to documentation on how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. For me, I found the live, step-by-step guide in the app much clearer and more helpful.
However, learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube is just a fraction of the software’s capabilities. The other big feature it offers is online competition. Using the smartphone app, cubers can log their solve times and compete for the top spot on a leaderboard of other cubers. Moreover, the app’s ‘Challenge’ mode lets cubers compete one-on-one with other players, whether with friends who have the app or people online. There are even scrambling competitions.
If competition doesn’t interest you, the app also offers a built-in solver tool if you get stuck and various other game modes. For example, the ‘Paint It’ mode tasks you with creating specific colour patterns with your cube, while the ‘Cube Hero’ mode challenges you to twist the cube at the right time in a Guitar Hero-like trial.
Not a looker, but decent quality
Although the above features are fun and unique additions, some people may still find the price steep for what’s on offer. Considering the app looks quite dated and the cube itself uses coloured stickers, the price definitely seems high.
At the same time, I was impressed by how smooth the cube operated, and although the app looks a little old school, almost everything worked well. The only issue I encountered with the app was if you closed it for a while, the next time you opened the app it would struggle to find your Connected Cube. Fully closing and re-launching the app almost always did the trick and got things working again, however.
The app also has some smarts. For example, during initial set-up, the app asks users to ‘sync’ their cube, which essentially means making sure that all the colours are in the right spot. If the cube’s solved, it’s a simple process. If the cube isn’t solved — which was my case, since both my wife and I took a few cracks at solving it before I downloaded the app — you’ll need to go through and label all the spaces with their respective colour. The app can even alert you if the cube isn’t assembled correctly and walks you through taking the cube apart and putting it back together correctly.
As an aside, that whole process is fairly simple and straightforward. The pieces are held in place using magnets and interlocking plastics pieces around a central sphere and the cube comes well-lubricated out of the box.
A great option for a Rubik’s Cube fan
Ultimately, I quite enjoyed playing around with the Rubik’s Connected Cube. It was a blast learning to solve the cube and putting my skills to the test with other cubers.
That said, I wish the Connected Cube was a little higher quality for the price. It’s disappointing to see coloured stickers on a cube this expensive, especially when you can pick up a stickerless cube for a fraction of the price.
For any cube-fans out there interested in testing out their skills against other cubers online, the Rubik’s Connected Cube will likely be a great option. It’s also decent for people looking to learn how to Rubik’s Cube, although if you’re not sure whether you’ll enjoy cubing, it’s a high price to pay just to learn. Also, it won’t necessarily make you a better cuber — I’m proof of that.
You can get a Rubik’s Connected Cube from Amazon Canada for $74.95.