It was a thing even before we unboxed it and we gave you our first impressions of it here a few days ago: the Ding Ding SK1. What should you make of it? Is there something worthwhile hiding behind the silly-sounding name [Ed: “Dingding” is the tagalog word for “wall”; and if you check Urban Dictionary it will tell you something that’s even more horrific (or hilarious, if you’re that kind of person)]? Well, we’ve been busy trying to answer that question. Read on for our opinion on this new entry-level handset from the latest mobile brand in the country.
The Ding Ding SK1 is a low-end phone with low-end specs. But low-end, it does not look at all. Thamls to some nifty “borrowed” design elements from a few famous smartphones, it has an interesting look that does not scream, “cheap,” which is a good thing. It’s unsurprisingly made out of glass and mostly plastic, but it appears well-made as there are no signs of shoddy manufacturing. We’re happy to report that there are no hardware issues at all with the SK1 right out of the box.
And it’s not just the looks of the SK1 that managed to please us. With a “small” 4.5-inch display, it comes in a very handy body. It can be picked up and pocketed with great ease, and one-handed operation is definitely a cinch. The volume rocker on the right-hand side takes a bit of getting used to, but otherwise, the phone is intuitive and easy to operate.
But while we have nothing to complain about in the overall looks department, the individual features aren’t all that impressive. The aforementioned 4.5-inch screen is stuck at FWVGA resolution, and if you’re specifically looking for an HD screen on your next phone, then this might be a deal breaker. And the rear camera, which is said to have an 8-megapixel sensor, seems to engage in extrapolation in all taken pictures.
The overall display performance on the SK1 is not an issue. The panel lights up OK, and the viewing angles look good for an entry-level smartphone. But the overall quality is hard to determine. After all, it’s a low-end touchscreen display with a low native resolution. Our review unit’s screen looked fine during testing, with no brightness or touch-response issues whatsoever, but your own experience may possibly differ.
As for the cameras, they aren’t going to replace standalone point-and-shoots. But the photos you can take with them will be good enough for viewing on the SK1 screen or perhaps sharing on certain social networking web sites.
The audio performance of the SK1 is kind of like its camera performance. It doesn’t suck, but we know that it could be so much better. The speaker is not very loud, but good enough to play music inside an average-sized room or a small studio. Though the 3.5mm headphone jack, which takes in any standard headphones, can provide a more enjoyable audio experience.
As we mentioned in our earlier Ding Ding SK1 post, the default OS here is Android 4.4 KitKat. Is it the latest version of Android? No. Can it be updated to later versions like Lollipop? Probably not. But thanks to some clever programming, the Ding Ding SK1 doesn’t look like any old KitKat-powered Android phone that you might have already seen. Instead of the stock theme and launcher with Android KitKat, the SK1 uses a custom skin that mimics the one used by LG in its G series handsets.
At this point, it’s probably fruitless to call out such mimicry, but it’s there. And it greatly helps keep the SK1 from looking outdated, while also differentiating it from the dozens of other phones still stuck on KitKat that are still out on the market today.
The software features — and there are more than a few of them — are nice and give the SK1 some neat perks. What you need to know about it, as far as sofware performance is concerned, is that it can do pretty much what any other Android phone can do.
All of the standard Android apps are built-in, and there are even some extra pre-installed apps made available for good measure. For anything else not present by default, you can just download them at the Google Play store.
It performs exactly like you would expect a phone with a dual-core processor to perform under Android. Simply browsing the menu screens and accessing the apps and screen options presented no issues whatsoever. It’s when you try to do too many things too quickly that you start running into unavoidable performance problems.
To give you an example, typing long text messages on the screen often turned into bouts of patience, where the keyboard would start to freeze for a few seconds, preventing you from entering anything else until things went back to normal. In fact, the SK1 touchscreen itself just started to perform badly whenever texts or gestures were entered to quickly. We couldn’t even unlock the phone with an unlock pattern unless we did it slower than we preferred. It’s a minor inconvenience, for sure, but it’s there and it’s one that’s well worth noting.
We weren’t too impressed with the SK1’s battery life either. We expected the phone to have superb battery life based on the fact that it’s not supposed to eat up a lot of power. Well, it turned out that the SK1 only manages to last about a day with proper use as a phone, media player, and mobile Internet device. A day’s worth of battery is good, of course, but we thought it would last up to two or more.
When we unboxed the Ding Ding SK1 a few days ago, we told you that it’s the kind of phone that you can bring home to your mama. We meant that in a sense that it’s likely to be a good phone for parents, grandparents, or really, anyone who might not be that tech-savvy. A true end user. An average joe.
It’s a good phone, but it’s just not the right phone for anyone looking to do a lot of things — mainly those that eat up processing power, memory, and battery life — simultaneously. And if you’ve already seen the phone’s spec sheet, this should hardly be a surprise.
With all of that said, the Ding Ding SK1 could definitely be a good burner phone. But beyond basic smartphone-related tasks — which include running lightweight apps and games as well as browsing non resource-heavy web sites — it will yield to better, more expensive alternatives.