There was a time when dual core phones were all the rage. These days though, not so much. At least, not if you’re looking for a top of the line smartphone. However, if all you need is a decent backup phone or something you can give your kid as their first smartphone, today’s inexpensive dual core phones like the SKK Mobile Orion that might tickle your fancy.
So just how inexpensive is the Orion? It will only leave a Php2,699-sized dent in your wallet. Pretty good price for a smartphone, but just what are you getting? Find out in my full review of the SKK Mobile Orion.
What’s in the Box?
The SKK Mobile Orion comes with a standard set of accessories:
- headset with in-line mic
- micro USB transfer cable
- 1,650mAh battery
- 650mA wall charger
- warranty card
- user guide
These are the kind of accessories you would expect from any standard smartphone retail package. The headset is the earbud type and it’s pretty weak. The charger also has a disappointingly low output, but then again, it only has to charge a 1,650mAh battery.
Build Quality and Design
While the SKK Mobile Orion is your typical entry-level smartphone, it does have a few unique design features. But first, let check out all the angles.
Aside from the usual earpiece, front camera, and capacitive navigation keys, the Orion appears to have front-facing loudspeakers, a la HTC Boomsound. More on that later in the Entertainment section.
Also, if you look a little closer, the microphone pinhole for making calls is situated right below the capacitive Menu button.
On the left is the micro USB port.
On the right are the power/lock button and volume rocker.
Up top is the 3.5mm headset jack.
At the bottom is a small notch on the corner to aid in removing the battery cover.
The back features unusual use of texture and design to create a quilted look that’s even weirder than Samsung’s pleather. Of course, it’s still plastic.
Near the top, you’ll find the camera and LED flash, while toward the middle is the SKK Mobile branding.
Toward the bottom is the loudspeaker. Notice the quilted look and texture of the plastic back cover.
Here’s a look at the Orion with the back cover removed. You get access to the two SIM slots and the micro SD card slot. Toward the bottom is the loudspeaker in all its naked glory.
For a sub-Php3k phone, it’s a little surprising to see the Orion sporting a 4 inch IPS display, yet here it is. SKK Mobile’s wallpaper isn’t the best way to get a good feel for just how good the display is, but you can change that anyway.
Here, you can see the typically good color representation and viewing angles of the IPS panel.
The gap between the actual display and the outer surface of the glass is a little deep though. This sort of thing is an eyesore on midrange to high end smartphones.
The SKK Mobile Orion is driven by a 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6572 dual core processor coupled with a Mali 400 GPU. The processor is about as basic as it gets, although the GPU is fairly decent. I ran the Orion through the Antutu Benchmark app, as well as the Vellamo Multicore and Metal (Single Core) tests. Here are the results.
Software and UI
The Orion runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Considering that many of today’s Android smartphones are launching with KitKat 4.4 out of the box, it’s disappointing that the Orion comes with a version of Android that’s 2 generations back. Let’s not forget that Android L has already been announced and is due to be released to the public anytime soon. Still, it’s a fairly stock UI. There won’t be any surprises to Android users.
Telephony and Wireless Connectivity
Like most locally-branded smartphones, the SKK Mobile Orion is a dual SIM phone that lets you use two SIM cards at a time, allowing you to receive texts and messages from two different lines to the same phone. As a communications device, the Orion is pretty capable. However, it’s hampered because of its size when it comes to reading and composing text messages. It’s really hard to text in portrait mode, and typing in landscape mode is less than desirable.
Calling on the Orion is pretty comfortable though. You’re not holding a slab against the side of your head the way it is with most phablets with 5 inch screens and up. Audio was reasonably loud coming from the earpiece, and if that’s not loud enough for you, you can always switch to the loudspeaker. Those front-facing loudspeakers I showed you weren’t actually loudspeakers, just speaker holes cut into the front as a design feature. But they certainly did help with distributing the sound better to the front.
The only problem with smaller phones in general is that the microphone is situated further from your mouth. That means your voice won’t be picked up as clearly during calls. It’s a small issue, but there’ll be a few people who’ll notice.
The diminutive size of the Orion’s screen limits the multimedia experience somewhat. Who wants to watch 2 hour movies on a smallish screen after all? Of course, it helps that the Orion features an IPS panel, so images and video may be small, but the quality is good.
As for audio, you’ll probably want to stick to using a headset, preferably an aftermarket one since the stock headset that comes with the Orion is pretty bad. Those front-facing loudspeakers? They’re not actually speakers — just a design feature. While they help bring the sound from the rear loudspeaker to the front somewhat, it still sounds like the sound is coming from a tin can.
The MT6572 SoC may not be all that powerful, but the Mali 400 GPU it comes with is at least halfway decent. I tested it on a couple of 3D games and was satisfied for the most part.
The first game I tested the Orion on was the new Spider-man Unlimited game from Gameloft. The developers are the same folks who brought you the Modern Combat and Asphalt series. The graphics were cartoony and well-rendered. The low resolution did result in some jagged looking scenes, but the game was smooth and responsive for the most part.
The other game I tested was Dead Trigger 2. Although I like to dial up the graphics all the way to “High”, I didn’t bother on the Orion. On a small screen, “Low” graphics settings were enough, and you can appreciate the lighting and particle effects just fine. Besides, gameplay was mostly smooth, but you could feel that it would start becoming unplayable if the graphics were dialed up.
The SKK Mobile Orion packs a 1,650mAh battery. The standard for 4 inch phones is usually around 1,500mAh, so I’m fairly happy. Besides, the chipset is much more power-efficient than my original Flare used to be and should last a work day on light usage. You’ll want to turn off “vibrate” on notifications, not to mention haptic feedback since that can quickly drain the battery on smaller capacity phones like the Orion.
So Should You Buy the SKK Mobile Orion?
The SKK Mobile Orion may be diminutive in size, but it’s handy, serviceable, and can run most apps that you would want to run. It’s not the best gaming phone, but it can handle its own. Believe it or not, the benchmark results are pretty close to what the Samsung Galaxy S2 achieved back when it was the best Android flagship available in the market.
At Php2,699, you’re getting a decent backup phone or something you can give to your children who has yet to own a smartphone. The low price point makes it almost disposable, which is a good thing on commutes or any other situation where you might find yourself in a less-than-desirable neighborhood. In case something happens, I’d rather lose an SKK Mobile Orion than a Php20-30k+ flagship phone.
SKK Mobile Orion Specs
- 4″ WVGA IPS display (480 x 800 resolution, 233ppi)
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6572 dual core processor
- Mali 400 GPU
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- 512MB RAM (481MB accessible)
- 4GB internal storage (1.48GB user accessible)
- WiFi b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS with A-GPS
- 1,650mAh battery
- Price: Php2,699