SKK Mobile Griffin Review: The Little Overachiever

SKK Mobile Griffin

If there’s anything I like, it’s an overachiever. The SKK Mobile Griffin certainly seems to be just that. It’s powered by a chipset that you would typically only see on phones more than twice its ridiculously low selling price of Php3,699. However something’s got to give, and quite a few corners were cut in order to keep the price as low as it is. Are the compromises worth overlooking on this surprisingly powerful entry level budget phone? Find out in my full SKK Mobile Griffin review 🙂

What’s in the Box?

The SKK Mobile Griffin’s retail box comes with all the basics:

SKK Mobile Griffin Box Contents and Accessories

  • phone
  • 1,400mAh battery
  • micro USB transfer cable
  • 650mA USB wall charger
  • headset with in-line mic
  • quick start guide
  • warranty card

As I almost always recommend, it’s best to get an aftermarket headset if you really want to enjoy your music. Otherwise, everything else in the Griffin’s retail package will become a mainstay accessory with the phone.

Build Quality and Design

SKK Mobile Griffin Front

The phone itself doesn’t look anything special, but it does have some nice design cues. On the front, you’ll find the 4 inch touchscreen bordered on either side by a reasonably thick bezel. Above the screen, there’s the front camera and earpiece.

SKK Mobile Griffin Closeup

At the bottom are the capacitive navigation keys.

SKK Mobile Griffin Navigation Keys

On top of the phone are the micro USB port and 3.5mm headset jack.

SKK Mobile Griffin Top

On the left is the power/lock button.

SKK Mobile Griffin Left Side

To the right is the volume rocker.

SKK Mobile Griffin Right Side

At the bottom is the microphone pinhole and a notch for prying the flexible back cover open.

SKK Mobile Griffin Bottom

On the back, you’ll find the rear camera, loudspeaker, Griffin and SKK Mobile branding.

SKK Mobile Griffin Back

A silver strip reminiscent of the iPhone 4 runs along the edges of the phone save for the bottom. The hardware volume rocker and power/lock button are also reminiscent of the iPhone, but the back cover reminds me of a Sony Xperia.

SKK Mobile Griffin Viewing Angle

I like how subtle the branding is. I know that budget brands want to stand out for instant recognizability, but I prefer it just like this were the branding doesn’t distract from the phone.

The Screen:

Before we can get into the good parts, let’s get the bad out of the way. They couldn’t have put a cheaper screen on the SKK Mobile Griffin. The Griffin is equipped with a 4 inch WVGA TN LCD touchscreen. It’s the most basic LCD screen you can get, and while brightness certainly isn’t a problem, tilting the screen just slightly off-center instantly screws the contrast.

SKK Mobile Griffin Screen

It’s also very reflective and has poor sunlight legibility. Not that anyone likes texting directly under the sun, but if you happen to want to check a text message while walking down the sidewalk, you’ll be searching for the shade pretty quickly.

To make things worse, the 2-pt touchscreen can’t recognize individual thumb presses when they’re too close together. You actually have to slow down when texting so the screen can recognize what you’re typing. The problem doesn’t disappear when in landscape mode either.

The Chipset:

Now that the bad part is out of the way, let’s move onto the good. The SKK Mobile Griffin is equipped with a ridiculously powerful (for the price-point) 1.3GHz quad core MT6582 SoC. Coupled with a Mali 400 GPU, the MT6582 is capable of delivering smooth performance across a range of apps. I ran the Griffin through Antutu and Quadrant. Here are the results.

The MT6582 chip is caable of delivering performance on par with a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S3. Unfortunately, the SKK Mobile Griffin only comes with 512MB RAM, which limits the capabilities of the MT6582. Forget multitasking, as the Griffin is bound to crash if you’re running a heavier application, even if there aren’t many processes going on in the background.

Still, it’s a Php3,699 phone and the MT6582 already over-delivers at this price point. Just learn to live with the random “out of memory” crash here and there if you like to run heavier apps.

Software and UI

Another plus for the SKK Mobile Griffin is its software. It’s still Android 4.2.2 running under the hood, but it’s not the typical close-to-vanilla experience I’ve come to expect from budget brand phones. It manages to come with a few features that kept me from installing a 3rd party launcher while keeping the bloat down.

The most notable changes to the UI is the ability to add widgets and manage screens from the homescreen (vanilla Android only lets you change the wallpaper from the homescreen). That’s on top of the custom icons and wallpapers that come with the phone.

You’ll also find that the Dialer and People app look different from stock, although the Messaging app retains the stock look.

Telephony and Wireless Connectivity

As a phone, the SKK Mobile Griffin is a mixed bag. The inability to register consecutive keypresses accurately means it sucks as a texting phone. However, it works just fine with calls. The earpiece is a little weak, but I can’t remember the last time I reviewed a phone that was sufficiently loud enough to make or receive calls outdoors without having to use a headset.

In terms of connectivity though, the Griffin shines. You can get data speeds all the way up to 3.75G/HSPA+ and you also get WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS connectivity. Heck, if I wanted an HSPA+ MiFi router, I’d just get something like the Griffin. Yeah, it would be about Php1k more expensive than just getting a dedicated MiFi router, but I’d be willing to spend the extra money and have a backup phone as well.


SKK Mobile Griffin Camera

If you’re looking for a good camera phone, you might as well pass on the SKK Mobile Griffin. It’s equipped with a 5mp rear-facing autofocus camera, but its barely serviceable and doesn’t come with an LED flash. The 1.3mp front camera was even worse, although surprisingly, it also had an autofocus lens. Here are some sample shots from the rear camera.


What’s nice about the SKK Mobile Griffin is that because of its MT6582 SoC, it’s capable of playing up to 720p videos smoothly. Just load up an SD card full of HD movies and you’ve got yourself a portable entertainment machine. Admittedly, the bad contrast and color reproduction make it less than perfect, but it’s hard to complain at this price point.

SKK Mobile Griffin Music

The Griffin also supports CTIA compliant headsets, which is another huge plus. Fans of local brands know that many of the first smartphones that came out supported the OMTP standard, which tended to be incompatible with a lot of mainstream headsets and headphones. That’s not a problem with the Griffin as I could use my Urbanears just fine.

It’s not without annoyances though. The screen’s reflectiveness and bad viewing angles means you always have to hold it very still to make sure you’re looking at it face-on. The loudspeaker is also “tunog-lata” even at lower volumes. The startup sound and notification ringtones always sound “basag”.


Another area where the Griffin shines is gaming. Before trying any games, I ran it through Nenamark, which is a benchmarking app that runs a single scene and measures the frames per second. Here is the result:

SKK Mobile Griffin Nenamark

48.6fps is quite good considering how much the Griffin retails for. Most of it has to do with the fact that the WVGA screen doesn’t place as much of a load on the GPU as an HD or Full HD screen does.

SKK Mobile Griffin Need for Speed Most Wanted Screenshot

Of course, 48.6fps is just a number. I played Need for Speed Most Wanted to get a better feel for how the Griffin would perform. The game is known for being playable on lower end dual core devices, but it can quickly slow down when you start turning into corners and drifting. However, there was hardly any perceptible slow-down in frame rates at all even when I would drift into corners, which is really heavy on the GPU. Frame rates were buttery smooth all throughout.

The MT6582 processor and Mali 400 GPU combine to deliver smooth performance on most games. However, you might encounter those “out of memory” crashes on larger games because of the limited RAM.

Battery Life

The SKK Mobile Griffin is equipped with a 1,400mAh battery. It’s a little below par for a 4″ phone, and I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who would have preferred something closer to at least 1,700mAh.

SKK Mobile Griffin Battery

Anyway, I’ve been using the Griffin as my primary phone for a while, although admittedly I don’t text and call that much since getting married, I still use my phones for reading RSS feeds, browsing the internet and occasional gaming.

With the Griffin, I didn’t do too much gaming, but I had WiFi constantly on and notifications were set to ring AND vibrate since the phone doesn’t have a notification light. I tracked my usage using a passive battery drain analyzer app from the Play Store.

Over the course of 4 days where I had the drain analyzer app installed, the average discharge rate was 3.4% per hour. That should last you about 29 hours on a single charge. On one day though that I went out with the phone and connected to mobile data for about an hour and a half and used it for navigation on the way to an event, the Griffin lasted 13 hours.

These aren’t the heaviest usage scenarios, but the Griffin lasted long enough until I got back home, which is okay in my book. Still, I would have preferred a larger battery since I’m sure there are a lot of heavier users who might consider this phone.

So Should You Buy the SKK Mobile Griffin?

SKK Mobile Griffin Branding

The SKK initially caught me as just another entry level phone. It certainly looked decent enough, but the screen was abysmal and the startup tone grated through the “tunog-lata” loudspeakers.

However, there just isn’t any other phone right now that comes with the MediaTek MT6582 at this price point. Sure, there are a few quad core phones that retail for about the same price, but all of them use the Snapdragon Play SoC that’s slower and less power-efficient. And none of them will be able to play heavy 3D games as flawlessly as the Griffin can.

While I can’t recommend the SKK Mobile Griffin to everyone because of the screen issues, it’s still a surprisingly good pickup. If you can get over its shortcomings, it’s a great gaming phone on the cheap.

SKK Mobile Griffin Specs

  • 4″ WVGA TN LCD touchscreen display (480 x 800 resolution, 233ppi)
  • 1.3GHz quad core MediaTek MT6582 SoC
  • Mali 400 GPU
  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB ROM (.98GB data partition, 1.8GB onboard storage)
  • 5mp rear-facing autofocus camera, no flash
  • 1.3mp autofocus front camera
  • 3.75G/HSPA+
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • FM Radio
  • Micro USB 2.0
  • 3.5mm CTIA compliant headset jack
  • 1,400mAh battery
  • Price: Php3,599


3 thoughts on “SKK Mobile Griffin Review: The Little Overachiever

  1. Sana lagyan nyo ng dual led flash at lakihan ang battery specs.Gawing full hd ang srceen at 4.4 kitkat.Ok lang na gawing mahal kaysa sa una basta sulit naman ang specs.Sure pipilahan yan parang Iphone.

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