This smart Rubik’s Cube helped me get my solve time under a minute

Over a decade ago, when I was still decorating my pharmacy, I bought two Disney-themed Rubik’s Cubes (Mickey Mouse and Winnie The Pooh) to add a fun touch to the children’s section. I was hoping no kid would ever ruin the cube so much that I’d never be able to retrace their steps back, but that was not taking into account how fast kids can be. They messed up the first cube, then the second, and that’s when I decided to learn how to fix them — the cubes, not the kids. I couldn’t leave them all disordered like that. Between watching YouTube tutorials and trying to make sense of an image cube (more annoying than a regular colored one), my first solve took over two hours. Today, I just went under the one-minute mark thanks to the smart cube from Rubik’s Connected.

Hardcore speed cubers will laugh with derision and mockery at my one-minute score, I’m sure. Anything over 10 seconds is so mundane. I know that, I don’t care. I only know the traditional algorithms and I don’t have hours to practice every day, just half an hour every couple of weeks or less frequently even. So I’m proud that I was able to get under the minute mark and there’s nothing you can say to change my mind about that. Closes ears and sings la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laaaaa.

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The reason I got faster and kept breaking my personal records until I fell under the minute mark is that I’m now competing against other cubers worldwide. That’s one of the many features that the Rubik’s Connected provides. You might be wondering what a connected or smart cube means or does, so let me explain to you all the benefits.

56 seconds and 398 milliseconds! Sebastian was left scrambling 😉

First of all (and most importantly), it’s the smoothest cube I’ve ever used. Even my Dayan Zhanchi cube, which I thought was one of the smoothest ones, pales in comparison. This glides like butter, like it’s being oiled a split second before each move. Every rotation is effortless, frictionless, and you don’t even have to align everything to perfection before rotating a new block. That’s essential when you’re trying to go as fast as possible. You want to be able to link multiple moves without stopping. You want a simple flick to rotate an entire block, and you want it to snap in place once you start the following move. There’s something incredibly satisfying about that, and this cube ticks the box perfectly.

Above: That satisfying spin and click. Below: You can start a new move before the cube has clicked in place.

But it’s not like any regular smooth cube, it has a Bluetooth connection and a charging port in the middle of the yellow side. You pair it with an app on your Android or iOS phone and from them on, everything you do with the cube can be monitored in the app in real time. Every rotation, every solve, every pause, every competition.

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Learning all the steps to solve your first cube.

The app teaches you all the steps and the logic behind solving your first cube, so if you’ve never done it before, you can learn what you need to know in a much clearer way than following any online tutorial or video, because you’re seeing the exact colors and exact state of your cube, not someone else’s. I went through the whole tutorial, even though I don’t need to learn it from the beginning, just to see. In some instances, the steps I already knew made more sense. In others, I found that the new method was faster, so I ended up mixing and matching the different algorithms for a more efficient solve.

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Games (music and paint) and competitions (scrambling and pro cuber).

Once you’re done with the tutorial, you can start playing different games and competing against other players worldwide. Sometimes the goal is to scramble the cube according to a very specific series of steps shown on the screen, other times you have to figure out an exact scrambled face by yourself. And, of course, there’s the regular solving competition. The app starts from a fully solved cube and gives you and your opponent specific steps to follow so that you’re both starting from the same state. After a countdown, you’re free to solve it however you want. When I started I was fighting in the beginner’s league, for those who take more than two minutes. Soon enough, I broke that limit and started solving it in around 90-100 seconds.

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Extremely detailed stats show me how I’ve evolved. Look at that lower idle time and higher TPS!

Then life got in the way, and after many months of zero cubing, I found some time to go for it again. In a couple of sessions, I was down to the 70-80 second mark or so, then the 60-70 one, and finally made it under 60 seconds. Competing against players that are at the same level certainly pushed me to go faster and faster and learn to coordinate my vision and hands better. I’m incredibly proud of that personal record. I know I could improve my time by another additional 10 or 15 seconds with a lot more practice, but I don’t think I’d break the 45-second mark unless I learned more advanced algorithms and methods.

For now, I’m happy with where I’m at and I got the Rubik’s Connected ($50 on Amazon now) to thank for that. If it weren’t for the new algorithms, I would be less efficient than I am now, and if it weren’t for the competitions, I would never know how much I was improving and I would’ve rarely thought of timing myself. It essentially took the routine of solving a cube, which I’d grown tired of doing by myself, to a whole new level because everything about it is a game now, and games are fun.

Rubik’s Connected
Developer: Particula

Price: Free