Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!

When I first saw Ding Ding Mobile Iron 1 several months ago, I was generally impressed on how good it looks and how durably built it is. Now after several months, I was able to fully explore this small smartphone great for one handed use on how it performed in real life.
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Ding Ding Iron 1 review

Ding Ding Iron 1 Specs

Display: 4.5 Inch FWVGA OGS Capacitive with 854 x 480 resolution w/ Gorilla Glass 3 protection and 5 Point Multitouch
CPU: 1.3 GHz MT6582 quad core processor
GPU: Mali 400
RAM: 1 GB
ROM: 8 GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 32 GB
Back Camera: 8 MP Sony Sensor w/ AF and dual LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5 MP Sony Camera w/ LED flash
Battery: 1650 mAh
OS:  Android 4.4 KitKat
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS w/ A GPS, dual SIM
Sensors: Compass, gravity, light, proximity
Others: Colors: black, white, pink and gold, AAC 0916 speakers
Price: 4,399 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The new box of Iron 1

Ding Ding Mobile generally changed the design of the packaging of this phone for the better. It's bolder and gives you a more "Iron Phone" feel.
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The generous package of the Iron 1

What's impressive here is when you open the box. This is one of the few products that really got me excited upon opening. Just like the Iron 2, it comes with a lot of accessories like an earphones with mic, 1 A USB wall charger, micro USB data / charging cables, crystal clear case, screen protector and a flip leather case that actually works.

Note: I forgot to take a photo of the earphones included

Build Quality / Design

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The sandstone like textured back cover case

My impressions never changed on this one, the Ding Ding Iron 1 is definitely the toughest and most beautiful budget phone I've seen in the Philippine market. It looks better than SKK Lynx and feels more durable too. 
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The 3.5 mm jack on top together with the visible antennas

Everything is well machined, it doesn't have annoying sharp edges and actually nice to hold.
This is truly the main highlight of this phone as it's metal frame is made out of a special type of metal alloy that's said to be tougher than aluminum and other type of materials used with other phones.
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Here's a closer look to the microphone, speaker grills and micro USB port

Another thing, the screen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. That's tough enough to crack walnuts, prevent hairline scratches and prevent breaking from accidental drops / bumps.
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Full view of the phone

Warning: Of course you won't abuse your screen as it will break even if they're using some type of tough glass here.


Display Quality

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The display of Ding Ding Iron 1

This phone is using a 4.5 Inch FWVGA capacitive OGS panel. While the resolution count is not so high at 854 x 480 pixels only. It's quite good in the eyes because of the one glass solution. The Iron 1 has acceptable viewing angles and actually nice details with hard to distinguish pixels. It also has a 5 point multi touch capability for a better touch response. However, the color reproduction is looks a bit yellowish for me and strains my eyes after long hours of usage. It also doesn't perform that well under direct sunlight.

Audio Quality

Just like the Iron 2, the Iron 1 performed identical when it comes to the audio quality. It has a quite loud speaker at the back that can play good music up to 80% volume. It's quite clear, listenable and packs some nice musical separation. Just make sure not to crank the volume more as you;ll experience muddiness, harshness and distortion.

The headphone out, on the other hand has a flat sound signature that responds well to tuning. It doesn't overwhelm the other frequencies and has nice transparency. However, it may be dull sounding for those who prefer some bass heavy tunes. It also falls short in terms of driving power as it won't be able to power-up some big headphones to maximize their potential. In general, that's quite understandable for a budget device.

When it comes to the microphone quality, it was able to do some clear calls and to my surprise the audio recording I got from the video I took was quite pleasant to my ears.

Battery

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Battery under actual daily usage

On actual daily usage, the Iron 1 is good enough to last you a day of work in a single charge. Even at just 1650 mAh, it was able to withstand my casual texting, calls and social media. That also includes some occasional camera usage and testing it's special features like the pedometer and heart rate sensor. The great thing about this phone is it has a battery saving mode that helps the phone last longer.

Note: Under heavy straight usage, it lasted a little over 4 hours, 4:04 to be exact.

Camera

The Iron 1 is one of the rare smartphones in this price range to offer both the rear and back camera with a Sony sensor and selfie flash. It sports the "fastest shooting mode" feature that I find quite interesting. It was able to perform fast focus and take speedy photos, but there are times that you take blurry photos even if you thought that you got the shot correctly.

Rated at 8 MP at the back, I was actually expecting that I can get more from this one. Instead, I was disappointed. While it can take acceptable photos, I was actually craving for more. I also find its shots quite dull and lacks in details. It's also quite grainy and a bit dark looking even in conditions that has good lighting.

We go to the selfie shooter, personally I find this one better even at just 5 MP. It was sharper at times and produce more accurate colors compared to the rear camera. However, just like the front camera of the Iron 2, the selfie flash takes blurry photos. To lighten things up, at least you'll be visible in the dark

In general, I was not that happy with the performance of its camera. This is something that Ding Ding should improve very soon.

Note: The Iron 1 supports wide angle shots, I just prefer to use 4:3 ratio

Sample Shots

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Outdoors daylight
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Indoors close-up with great lighting (dull result)
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Outdoors cloudy day
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Night shot
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Selfie indoors
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Selfie with morning day light


Performance

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The LG and Samsung like UI of Iron 1 (I prefer a stock Android look)

As expected from a budget device, the Iron 1 isn't a powerhouse. It's using an older type of quad core processor and GPU. Fortunately, it has 1 GB of RAM to make the overall multitasking experience a bit better. When using few apps you can hardly feel any hiccups from switching from one to another. You'll just feel the lag when you open too many apps, which is not advisable to do in any phone.

Gaming wise, the Mali 400 GPU supports even some heavy games that's why I didn't have a problem when I ran Dead Trigger 2 and Real Boxing here. There are just some few frame drops when the phone heats up a little.

By the way, when it comes to special features the Iron 1 has a lot of it. From touch gestures, air gestures, pedometer, hear rate sensor and my favorite full double tap to wake function. This device has it.

Note: The stock UI has some bugs where there are times that it automatically creates multiple icons of the same app

Benchmarks

Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Antutu and multi touch result
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
Here's Geek Bench and Quadrant
Ding Ding Iron 1 Review, A Tough Smartphone With Style On A Tight Budget!
The GPU Bench test result

Pro's - Top notch build quality, great looking device, generous accessory package, tons of useful gestures and features
Con's - Camera needs improvement, dull audio out, SoC is a bit outdated, some bugs in its UI

Verdict

While it's undeniable that the Ding Ding Iron 1 has sweet combination of great style, fantastic build and a lot of good features, there's also the fact that's it's a bit pricey for the price tag of 4,399 Pesos today. If Ding Ding Mobile can give this device a price cut of at least 1,000 Pesos before Christmas, this would be a great gift-able smartphone that's built to last and won't disappoint in terms of style.

GIZ Rating 3.5 / 5 Stars
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