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The Unihertz Jelly Star is a tiny smartphone with a 3 inch, 854 x 480 pixel display, a MediaTek Helio G99 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of UFS 2.2 storage, and a 2,000 mAh battery. It sells for $210 and ships with Android 13 software.

While the phone’s claim to fame is that it’s what Unihertz calls the “world’s smallest Android 13” smartphone, it’s also more powerful than a lot of handheld game consoles. So the folks at Sugar Cubes decided to build a set of controller/cases that basically turn this tiny phone into a tiny console.

Sugar Cubes Jelly rendering

Here’s the basic idea: slide the tiny phone inside of the upcoming Sugar Cubes Jelly case and you get a whole new way to interact with the phone’s hardware thanks to a set of built-in controllers and buttons including a D-Pad, analog stick, action buttons, and shoulder triggers.

Sugar Cubes is working on two versions:

  • A horizontal version that puts the controllers below the display
  • A vertical model that puts the display in the center and the controllers on the left and right sides

According to Retrododo, installing the Jelly Star smartphone inside the horizontal version should be as simple as sliding the phone into place and then snapping the case shut. But it seems like you might need to disassemble the smartphone and remove the internals from the original case in order to use the vertical case/controller.

There’s no word on pricing or availability yet, but Sugar Cube has shared a few other details, including the fact that the cases are made from metal, and could come in a variety of colors and designs.

If the Sugar Cubes name sounds familiar, they appear to be a relatively new player in the Chinese handheld gaming space, but Retrododo says they’re expecting to launch several products this year including the Sugar Cubes Jelly controllers for the Unihertz Jelly smartphone, and the Small Universe handheld that we learned about earlier this month, which has a display that flips 90 degrees to let you switch aspect ratios.

via Retrododo and NITTRX (YouTube)

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  1. This is actually really interesting! I hope it comes to market and is affordable! It’s great to see something that is actually unique and offers useful features!

    Unfortunately, Unihertz phones don’t work on many big name American carriers, not because they can’t, but because they are not allowed to by the carriers. Luckily they can work on many MVNO carriers.

    1. I have had zero problem using them on major carriers. I use mine currently on t-mobile. Just pop the sim card in not problem.

      1. This is just nit picking, but…
        Given that there are only three (3) major carriers each with their own levels of restriction and lists of what phones they’ll even consider trying to activate, I don’t think generalizing them makes much sense, and it’s a bit inaccurate to even say there are “many big name American carriers”.
        I mean, I doubt you’ve tried with more than T-Mobile (I wouldn’t have tried another carrier if one worked for me).

        1. with a SIM from the carrier, and the correct antennae/chips in the phone, any phone will work with any carrier in the US. The carriers themselves don’t approve or restrict certain devices in that way, in the US. It’s just the way it is.

          1. I don’t consider a phone to be working if it doesn’t make phone calls. After the 3g shutdown, phones are now entirely dependent on VoLTE to make phone calls. If a carrier isn’t willing to share certain VoLTE information with the manufacturer, which seems to actually have to go into the kernel itself (conjecture form how a teracube from Murena still works on AT&T), the phone won’t be able to make calls.
            Also, carriers do operate at different frequencies. The same modem might be programmed to work for a particular carrier or both AT&T and T-mobile (I don’t think I’ve seen a phone that works on all three), but the extent to which you can do that is heavily restricted (I never see anyone talking about that).
            I mean you can use VOIP and a data only SIM which generally isn’t so restrictive, but then that’s two bills you’ve got to pay and I’d expect it to be less reliable about waking your phone up when you’ve got a call (then again Signal seems to handle that just fine).

  2. I didn’t know this but apparently two absurds can cancel each other out.

    1. Award? Already? It’s only the first of 12 months. And I’m still anticipating a national or global crisis this year that’ll bring it’s own host of absurd products and opinions you’re not allowed not to have.

    2. Is there any hardware product that you don’t hate? I’m not really sure what you’re trying to do with these comments, but you just seem to enjoy posting that everything that gets covered here is crap. What you may not be realizing is that this blog often covers unusual form factors because there are small groups of people who are looking for those unusual things, which virtually guarantees that, even if you’re in one of those sets, you’re probably not in the rest of them and will see stuff about products you have no interest in. Just skip over that stuff and read about the items you might care about.

      1. You’ve committed one of the oldest faux pas of the Internet: You’re trying to reason with a troll. Just ignore her and move on. The more you feed the troll, the stronger it gets.

    3. Welp, I gotta have that.
      Any of you ever buy anything from sugar cubes?
      My googling is not coming up with anything when I look for how to get one of these.
      I have a jellystar and it works great on Google Fi, if I can also play games on it I’d be a pretty happy human.

  3. Anything made by Unihertz is a piece of shit. I bought a Unihertz Titan and it’s only carrier is T-Mobile due to the low frequency of its programmed wavelength. It is difficult to use and is nothing more than a $400 paperweight! Its graphics is juvenile and it continually claims that it doesn’t have permission to perform one function after another. It was misrepresented in its promotional material and is worthless for use in America. I have repeatedly contacted Unihertz about the problems with the Titan and asked for a refund, they have not acknowledged me or the Unworthiness of the Titan in the American Market. But then, what do you expect from Godless Communists!

    1. Frankly that’s more of an US telco problem rather than a device problem. In the US the telcos are ruthlessly overreach their boundaries selecting what devices are allowed on their networks to force you to buy from them and only from them, and they would only sell products they can get a deal on, a smaller company has no chance to enter the market. That is why in the US there are only a few choices really: you can get an Apple (which is stronger than the telcos and can strongarm them into a deal), Samsung, Google and maybe Motorola. There is no free market in the US telecommunication segment, because a free market only works with a government market regulation. China might be a commie dictatorship, but the US is run by megacorporations, your elections are just as effective in getting results for the public interest as theirs.

      1. Well it’s a bit of that, and a bit of the modem being physically able to operate at the frequencies that North America carriers use which seems to be different from everywhere else in the world. North America modems seem to be harder to get. Which may also be the carrier’s fault somehow.

    2. I’m not sure whether this is different between the devices, but I have a Titan Pocket which does work on Verizon. The problem, and the reason they don’t say it works with Verizon, is that Verizon won’t agree to activate a device they don’t recognize. You can use it if you activate a line with a different phone and just swap the cards, but not if you try to do it all from the phone. AT&T, meanwhile, won’t even let that work. I don’t have the original Titan, so I don’t know if you have an additional hardware limitation, but the activation requirements are on the carriers (I’m not sure what Unihertz would have to do to end up on their allow list, but I’m guessing it involves handing over money).

        1. Been using jelly star for the past couple of weeks on cricket (at&t) by changing the IMEI number to that of a phone on the at&t whitelist. I just bought a Calypso that I’ll never put a sim into for $40 and so far so good.

    3. Unihertz makes niche products. They are not for everyone. I have been happy with the Jelly2 and Jelly Star, they run beautifully on t-mobile. Thought the Jelly 2 had an issue with the hardware when I upgraded to wifi 6 mesh network, it had trouble. I didn’t love my atom xl but it just really wasn’t the phone for me. They are inexpensive and I love having a small phone, when I don’t feel like carrying my surface duo.

  4. I did this over a year ago with my Jelly 2, an 8bitdo mini BT controller and a 3D printed clip to hold the two together.