It wasn’t too long ago that the first few dual core Android smartphones started hitting the Philippine market from our local phone brands. These days, it’s quad core phones that are all the rage, but that doesn’t mean dual core phones are out of the picture. Quite the contrary. If you’re looking for an affordable smartphone, you’ll be surprised to find dual core Android phones to be well within reach. One such phone is the SKK Mobile Radiance, which sports a large 4.7 inch screen and dual core processor for just Php5,999. Certainly not a bad deal based on those specs alone, but is it worth that much or are you better off with something else? Find out in my full review of the SKK Mobile Radiance.
What’s in the Box?
The retail box of the SKK Radiance comes with all the basics. I like that the USB transfer cable feels more durable than some of the others I’ve used from other local brands. However, the charger is only rated at 650mA, so it will be a bit slower to charge some of your other devices. The headset with built-in mic serves its purpose, but you’ll still want to replace it with something that will actually allow you to appreciate your music.
- stick-on flip cover
- headset with built-in mic
- USB transfer cable
- user manual
- warranty card
Build Quality and Design
The SKK Mobile Radiance’s features a slightly curvy design reminiscent of the Galaxy S3 sans a physical home button. It’s also a little thicker and has a simple glossy. It feels solidly built, except for some creakiness when you press against the back cover because of a small gap between the cover and the battery underneath.
On the front, there’s the 4.7 inch touchscreen with the earpiece, front-facing camera, LED notification light, and proximity and light sensors above it. Below the screen are the three capacitive navigation keys: menu, home and back.
On the left and slightly to the center is the volume rocker.
The right side is totally bare of hardware buttons.
At the top, you’ll find the 3.5mm headset jack and the power/lock button.
At the bottom, there’s the micro USB port, microphone pinhole and a small notch for prying open the battery cover.
The back is where you’ll find the 8mp camera with LED flash, SKK Mobile branding and the loudspeaker toward the bottom. The finish is glossy, but not too much, so fingerprints don’t look so bad on it.
The Chipset: Tried and Tested
The processing power of the SKK Mobile Radiance is taken care of by a 1GHz dual core MediaTek MT6577 and PowerVR SGX531 GPU. It is a tried and tested SoC that we’ve seen on a number of locally branded phones in the past. The performance is still quite snappy even if the qHD resolution is pushing the limits of what the MT6577 SoC can handle.
I ran the Radiance through three of the most popular benchmarking tools: Antutu, Quadrant and Nenamark 2. Check out the results below to compare how well it performs against some popular phones from established international brands.
The Screen: Surprisingly Good for an Entry Level Phone
Okay, so the SKK Radiance isn’t exactly entry-level. It’s just last year’s mid-range and happens to be dropping in price as the newer quad core phones keep coming out. However at Php5,999, you’re getting a pretty decent 4.7 inch qHD screen with a resolution of 540 x 960. That gives it a respectable pixel density of 234ppi. The DPI is set a little high though at 240DPI. A higher DPI results in onscreen elements appearing larger, and on a large 4.7 inch screen like that of the Radiance, that isn’t necessary. As a result, everything within the UI appears too large.
Also, take note that it’s not an IPS screen, as there is a lack of color depth that is typical of IPS. The viewing angle is still pretty good though, as the color shift isn’t that evident immediately after tilting the display. More likely than not, the SKK Radiance sports a VA display (vertical alignment), which is somewhere between TN (twisted nematic) and IPS in terms of overall image quality.
The Software: Almost Vanilla ICS
The SKK Mobile Radiance runs Android 4.0 ICS out of the box. Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t necessarily bad as Jelly Bean is really just a refinement of ICS and many features remain available on either version of Android. However, you’ll still be missing out on a few features. Anyway, the Radiance only has 512Mb of RAM so it’s not exactly optimized for Jelly Bean anyway. Thankfully, SKK Mobile didn’t mess with the UI too much. The stock icon set has an SKK Mobile flavor, but the rest of the UI is mostly vanilla ICS.
Telephony and Wireless Connectivity: Everything You Need
Large screens have their benefits and can actually enhance the way you use your phone. One such way is through messaging. A larger screen means a larger onscreen keyboard, which makes it easier when composing messages on the SKK Mobile Radiance.
The calling experience is about what you’d expect. The output of the earpiece could have been louder, but for the most part, you and the person on the other end of the line should hear each other. To remedy this, you can use a headset, but take note that locally-branded phones like the SKK Mobile Radiance usually follow the OMTP standard, not CTIA like what Apple and Samsung follow.
The SKK Radiance also comes with complete wireless connectivity options short of 4G. There’s 3G/HSPA, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS with A-GPS. 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth work just fine, but I had trouble getting a lock on my location when using GPS, even when I had A-GPS and EPO enabled to help it along. I initiated the GPS test on a bus, but continued it on foot in the open when it still couldn’t get a lock. Unfortunately, it never did get a lock on my location. I repeated an outdoor GPS test with Google Maps and for some weird reason it still wouldn’t get a lock on my position.
Imaging: Non-BSI, But Still Surprisingly Good
The SKK Mobile Radiance features an 8mp autofocus shooter that performs well enough for the price point. It’s not a 13-18mp BSI sensor, but the details are good enough as long as you don’t zoom too far into the shots. Check out some of the sample shots below.
This first shot was taken on Auto at 5pm in the afternoon.
This is a sample macro shot. The sensor did well to focus on the subject even being little more than a foot away.
The next four shots are indoor samples without any lighting save for what little ambient light was coming in from the window at 5pm.
On auto without using the flash, the shot was quite dark, but the sensor was sensitive enough that it was able to lock onto the subject despite the limited lighting.
On the night setting without the flash, the ISO is automatically boosted, resulting in a shot that appears brighter but produces more noise. The additional noise is actually barely discernible and the shot appears better lighted this time around.
The next shot was taken on auto with flash. This time, it’s much better lighted and the shot is comparable to the one taken on night setting without flash.
This is the best shot so far. It was taken on night setting with flash and the shot looks to be the best illuminated of all the shots.
This last shot is a bit of a bonus as it’s from the PLDT Fibr event that I recently attended. It’s the kind of scene that is a point-and-shoot camera’s nightmare because of the dynamic lighting. I think it did pretty well to capture DJ Tenashar.
Gaming and Entertainment
The SKK Mobile Radiance features a tried and tested PowerVR SGX531 GPU that we’ve already seen on phones like the Cherry Mobile Blaze and MyPhone A888 Duo. That being said, it would be reasonable to expect the SKK Radiance to perform similarly well when it comes to games.
The first game I ran it on was Dead Trigger because of its adjustable graphics settings. I could easily just switch between low, medium and high graphics settings to determine how well the Radiance would perform on each setting. It didn’t hurt that the Radiance has a qHD resolution and 233ppi. The graphics was detailed and you could really appreciate the effects on high settings. However, frame rates were only acceptable at medium settings as navigating through the game became laborious once switched on high settings.
The Radiance fared better when I started playing on Temple Run. As before, the rich visuals could better be appreciated on the qHD screen. It also responded faster on best graphics settings than it did on Dead Trigger.
The SKK Radiance also fares quite well as a multimedia device. The loud sound output via the headset jack and the 4.7 inch qHD screen combine to make it great for watching videos or listening to music. The battery life is a bit limited though, so you can’t use it for extended periods as a multimedia or gaming device. More about the battery in a bit.
Battery Life: This Thing Needs a Power Bank
The SKK Mobile Radiance is equipped with a 1,800mAh battery. That doesn’t seem all that big, especially when you consider that it’s supposed to power a large 4.7 inch qHD screen. To test how long the battery would last, I installed a passive battery drain analyzer to monitor the rate of power consumption as it is drained.
The first day that I used it was on the same day that I attended PLDT’s Fibr Experience event at the Buddha Bar in Makati. I tend to be a heavy user when I’m on the road, texting and using mobile data a lot. As such, the phone only lasted 10hrs. The next day, I used the phone as I normally would at home. It lasted 17hrs constantly connected to WiFi and making the usual calls and texts.
To be honest, the battery life is a bit of a disappointment. It’s not too bad, but on heavy usage, you’re going to want to charge it at work or school to make sure the phone has enough juice to last until you get back home. That or get a power bank.
So Should You Buy the SKK Mobile Radiance?
The Radiance might not have the most updated specs, but it gives you the benefit of a large high resolution screen at a price that few can beat. The battery life is subpar, but not too bad so only heavier users will end up having to charge in the middle of the day. At Php5,999, the SKK Mobile Radiance is a solid purchase, especially if you want a screen that is larger than 4 inches without having to go over budget. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it comes with a free 4Gb card and flip cover with the box.
SKK Mobile Radiance Specs
- 4.7 inch qHD capacitive touchscreen display
- 1GHz dual core MediaTek MT6577 processor
- PowerVR SGX531 GPU
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- 512Mb RAM
- 4Gb internal storage
- 8mp autofocus rear-facing camera
- 1.9mp front-facing camera
- GPS with A-GPS
- 3.5mm headset jack
- Micro USB port
- Dual SIM, dual standby
- Price: Php5,999
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