The Cube series comes in two width options: 83cm and 90cm. We tested the 83cm model, which Haier thinks is the model most likely to fit into a UK kitchen.
There are two height options: 180cm (which we tested) and 190cm. The 180cm model’s dimensions and design really work if you’re a household of varying heights, minimising the need to stoop and peer into the fridge.
The Haier HTF-456DM6 Cube fridge freezer is aesthetically faultless. We tested the stainless steel model, which has a dark, gleaming finish that’s closer to gunmetal in tone than other stainless steel appliances. The doors are unusually reflective: imagine a well-waxed car and you’ve got the idea.
It’s also available in an “Iconic Black” finish.
But the true glory of this fridge freezer is the four-door design. If you’ve never experienced French doors on a fridge, they’re a revelation.
The double doors give you a wonderful sense that the appliance is more of an inviting Parisian pantry than a dull, domestic workhorse. The expansive gesture you use to open the fridge and your position in the middle of the shelves elevate you to the role of maestro of all the chilled goods you survey.
This model is quiet. When I first switched the fridge freezer on, I thought I’d forgotten to throw a switch somewhere and had to check the internal light to convince myself there was power going to the appliance. It’s no wonder that Haier suggests the Cube series is perfect for open-plan living.
The doors close with a reassuringly expensive thud. The freezer doors passed the bounce test five times, but the fridge doors are slightly more complicated. The French door design means that the door seal is built into the left hand door, which needs to lay flat with the edge of the door in order to close, so you can’t really slam them shut.
It has a door alarm, however, that goes off when one of the doors has been open for more than sixty seconds. This alarm is handy but unbelievably inoffensive: think a smart-watch alarm that gently prompts you to take a moment to breathe. Or gaze at a flower.
Price and availability
This appliance falls into Energy Class A+, and Haier says that total annual energy consumption is 385 kWh. By my reckoning, at June 2020 rates, you are looking at a running cost of about £54 a year, although this really depends on your payment scheme, supplier and where you live in the UK.
It’s widely available online, although prices are set by retailers, so it’s worth your while to shop around. At the time of writing Amazon’s price is £759.99, Appliance City has it for £729, Currys PC World £729.99 and Appliances Direct is selling it for £728.98. However, as Black Friday approaches, prices may change and you could get an even better deal.
The appliance is controlled through a lockable digital panel on the front of the fridge. When you open the doors, it tells you the current temperature of both the fridge and the freezer.
You have the option to choose either the SMART or manual mode. SMART automatically adjusts the temperatures according to the ambient temperature of the room and the temperature change in the appliance, while manual allows you to customise settings according to the food you have stored.
There’s also a fast cool and fast freeze function, which accelerates the cooling of fresh food and protects goods already in the fridge or freezer from warming when you introduce new items. So your frozen peas aren’t going to lose their chill if you sling in five room-temperature pizzas. The power cool knocks off after three hours, and the power freeze after fifty hours.
You also have a holiday function. As far as I can tell, it’s used if you’ve emptied your fridge because you’re going away but you still want to keep your freezer running or you don’t want to deal with odour and mould by turning the whole thing off. The holiday function sets the fridge temperature to 17C, and allows you to set your own level for the freezer.
Start up and power cut
From plugging in, the fridge and freezer were ready to go in three hours (the fridge from 21°C to 5°C, the freezer from 21°C to -18°C).
We also did a power cut test and it took six hours for the freezer to reach 0°C. This means you’ve got about five to six hours before your freezer food needs chucking in the event of a loss of power.
The fridge reached 14°C in the same time, although the warm-up was uneven, with products in the fridge door remaining cooler for longer.
The fridge is lit by a top LED strip of white light. With the light half the shelf length, illumination is good across all zones.
Haier has also incorporated Anti-Bacterial Treatment (ABT) in a circular light feature at the back of the fridge. This ultraviolet light is designed to prevent bacteria formation and proliferation in the fridge’s air flow, preserving taste and preventing bad odours.
However, I couldn’t test this feature because, well, I’d need to use the fridge for six months, never clean it and possibly use it to store old socks, so we’ll have to take Haier’s word for it.
So what can you actually get in the fridge? Well, you have three glass shelves — each with a stainless steel trim, which is a nice touch. The middle shelf is adjustable and the bottom shelf forms the top of the Fresher Tech bins.
Haier suggests you can fit 316 litres of shopping in the fridge, which works out at about 15 to 16 bags.
The door racks are spacious. You have three shelves per French door, so six in total, and all are the same depth, with an adjustable middle shelf.
You can fit six traditional glass milk bottles on each side (so twelve pints in total), or two conventional supermarket four-pint milk containers per side (sixteen pints).
If you like a glass or two of chilled Semillon, you can fit three bottles of wine on each of the lower shelves, or six bottles of wine in total. If you’re looking to store more than than this in your fridge door, then perhaps it’s time to think about a separate wine cooler.
Again, you can fit three to four mayonnaise or pickle jars per shelf, and five to six 250g packs of butter if you stand them vertically.
On to the Fresher Tech bins. Instead of a standard salad bin at the bottom of the fridge, this model has two clear bins: one dry with a humidity of 45% for meat, dairy, fish or dry fruits and chocolate, and one with 85% humidity for fruit, veg and salad.
I have to admit, I was cynical about this feature. But, after seven days of experimentation, I take my hat off: the humidity bin works.
I used a range of fruits and vegetables, all bought at the same time. Within three days, there was a noticeable difference between the state of the carrots, mushrooms and lettuce in the humidity drawer compared those parked on the shelves of the fridge.
By day seven, you would think that the shelf batch was at least two to three weeks older than those in the humidity bin. By contrast, the humidity bin carrots, lettuce and mushrooms were perfect, as the picture above shows.
The size of the bins is pretty decent as well. Each one could comfortably fit a bag of shopping.
The freezer is No Frost, which means no defrosting. There are three drawers per side, including a convertible space for taller storage.
Haier claims the freezer capacity is 140 litres, or seven bags of shopping. My real world experiment suggested that this estimate could actually be a little on the low side.
Each of the top drawers fits 3kg of frozen chips or vegetables. I also found I could get two 750g conventional supermarket meat trays or two 400g boxes of fish portions in the drawer, or three 500g loaves of bread.
The middle drawers, which are the most capacious, are a real eye opener. Each one will hold seven 350g pizzas or five 400g loaves.
The bottom drawers each took 4.5kg of vegetables, or three 750g meat trays with room for a shorter 500g tray.
Now, as this Haier model does not have an integral ice-maker, you’re supplied with a separate unit that you fill using a measuring cup and place into the freezer. It took me a while to get the hang of this gizmo as it was stiff and the instructions were unclear, so bear in mind that you might want an alternative option.
If you can’t cope without a water and ice dispenser, the Haier HT-456WM6 Cube has this feature. And if you’ve read about Haier Cube fridge freezers with a convertible “switch zone” that allows you to turn half of the freezer into a temporary fridge if you have overspill, the HTF-508DGS7 is what you’re after.
This is a gorgeous appliance, with a huge amount of value for its price point. The space is good, the lighting is excellent and the humidity drawer is a triumph for those who like their lettuce crisp and fresh. And who doesn’t?
But the real beauty of this Haier Cube is the French doors, and how they improve the experience of food preparation.
It’s an appliance that’ll be enjoyable to use on a daily basis, and could quietly revolutionise the dynamics of cooking and preparing food in any home – from a world of endless leant-over drudgery to one of delightful, stress-free culinary art.