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The name SKK Mobile doesn’t usually come into conversations about powerful, specced-out smartphones with affordable price tags. The company tried hard with the SKK Mobile V2, which we reviewed last February, but it was perhaps more than a few months too late. With that said, SKK Mobile has an even newer handset out now. Is it time to finally give the local outfit the recognition it deserves?

The new handset I’m talking about is none other than the SKK Mobile Lynx. The Lynx is that phone we ended up identifying as the most affordable HD octa-core phone in town, if only for just a while. If you haven’t seen it yet, then I suggest that you to check out our detailed unboxing and first impressions of it. Too lazy? Here’s what you need to know:

Lynx key features:

  • 5-inch HD IPS touchscreen display
  • 1.4GHz MediaTek MT6592M SoC with Mali-450 GPU
  • 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, 64GB microSD expansion
  • 13MP AF rear cam with flash + 5MP front cam
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS with A-GPS, HSPA+ data
  • Android 4.4 KitKat OS
  • 2500mAh removable battery

As you can see from this quick list of main features, the SKK Mobile Lynx has what it takes to become most anyone’s main Android smartphone. It’s basically a phone molded from last year’s best mid-range model, and how.

But of course, you came here to read about what it’s like to use in real life. How does the SKK Mobile Lynx perform as a camera? As a mobile gaming device? As a personal digital assistant? All of that and more (except for the last one, forgive me), will be covered in this full review.

Build quality and design

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The first thing you need to know about the SKK Mobile Lynx when it comes to design is this: it’s no copycat. Whereas old SKK Mobile phone models are based on popular mainstream phone designs (like the V2 being an LG G2 lookalike), the Lynx has a frankly distinctive “regular” phone appearance.

The Lynx doesn’t actually offer anything new in terms of looks, but at least it’s not an out-and-out knockoff this time around. I’ve always wondered why SKK Mobile doesn’t just veer away from the whole “we’re-gonna-sell-a-phone-that-kinda-looks-like-a-way-more-popular-phone” business, especially if they can get their hands on truly unbranded OEM units, but I guess that now I won’t have to wonder anymore. They finally did it; they finally sold something new, and they’re trying to be original.

The Lynx is the first mainstream SKK Mobile release in a long time that doesn’t remind one of an already successful older model from a different mobile phone company. So how much of its good looks directly transfers over to its actual performance?

Well, if we’re being honest, the Lynx is quite impressive overall. From the moment you pick it up and hold it in your hand, you’re going to feel like you have a very capable phone in your possession. The Lynx feels solid, thanks to faux metal and actual metal hardware buttons all around. Plus it’s a bit weighty compared with other phones in its size-range. It’s probably a combination of the durable materials and beefy removable battery (which we’ll talk about later).

Display and audio performance

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It’s no surprise at this point, but the display on the SKK Mobile Lynx far surpassed our meager expectations. I found that it offers great viewing angles, acceptable brightness levels, and it isn’t such a battery hog, to boot. The HD screen resolution is just icing on the cake.

Audio performance, meanwhile, is divided into two parts. First, there’s a built-in stereo speaker that can be used for media playback as well as phone calls. Performance here is easily acceptable for a mobile phone. And the other half of the audio performance involves the built-in 3.5mm headphone jack. Through this, the Lynx can be used to listen to audio through any pair of 3.5mm headphones. I encountered no issues whatsoever in using the built-in headphone port.

Camera performance

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Surprisingly, the cameras are by far the best features. The rear camera in particular managed to pass our tests with flying colors. It worked really well whether in well-lit or poorly-lit environments. The built-in flash is powerful, and so is the rear camera sensor. We’ll let the sample photos speak for themselves.

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Here’s a cropped portion from a photo taken with the rear camera using the default camera app settings. It’s a 100% crop, and yet it looks somewhat sharp. We will be adding more camera sample photos later, but have a look at these for now.

Benchmarks

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Speaking of passing with flying colors, the Lynx took all the usual Android benchmarking applications like a champ.

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Software and apps

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As mentioned earlier in this review, the Lynx runs Android 4.4 KitKat by default. SKK Mobile simply added its own custom skin on top, but the default set of stock Android apps are what come pre-installed on the handset.

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The interesting thing is that there are a handful of other pre-installed apps on the Lynx. One example is the EasyShop app, and another is the Torch light app. With the use of these apps, as well as all those that you can download and install from the Google Play store, it becomes easy to make the most out of the Lynx’s main hardware features.

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The Lynx supports USB OTG via micro USB, and also lasts more than a week in standby with every charge.

Gaming and battery life

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As if the above-posted benchmark results aren’t enough evidence of the Lynx’s high-level performance, I’m going to tell you straight up: gaming on this phone is a cakewalk. Any game you can think of, it can run. At up to HD resolution, no less.

And the battery life is another thing that we found impressive on the Lynx. We guess we shouldn’t really make a fuss about it, since you can plainly see that it’s rated at a capacity of 2500mAh. In real world use, that translates to roughly 4-5 hours of non-stop gaming with a steady Wi-Fi connection, mid-level volume, and auto screen brightness. The Lynx can easily go about 1-2 days per full charge with moderate to heavy use as an all-around smartphone.

Verdict

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If you’ve read this review from start to finish, then you probably already know what’s coming. Still, I want to make it absolutely clear: the Lynx should be one of your top choices if you’re looking for the best value-for-money smartphone at this time of the year.

The Lynx runs on a speedy octa-core SoC, has excellent construction and overall performance, and offers superb battery life. It’s also below Php 5k. In short, “Lynx” should undoubtedly be shortlisted if that’s the upper ceiling of your budget.

David Gonzales is a geek, writer, and athlete all rolled into one. He specializes in articulating about novel and often shiny things that tend to make whirring noises. He also writes at SemiCurrent.com.