SKK Chronos Byte Review - Usable Sub 3K Phone?

In the cut throat entry level segment where the prices are falling and the specs are rising, you begin to wonder how they are able to achieve a high value product for that price? The Chronos Byte priced at Php 2,599 is aiming to prove that price doesn't always mean low quality.
SKK Chronos Byte review
SKK Chronos Byte review

Disclaimer: This review unit was provided by SKK Mobile for an honest review

SKK Chronos Byte Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch HD IPS 1280 x 720 resolution at 267 ppi
CPU:  1.3 GHz MT6580 quad core processor
GPU: Mali 400
RAM: 1 GB
ROM: 8 GB expandable via micro SD card slot
Back Camera: 5 MP w/ LED flash
Selfie Camera: 2 MP
Battery: 2,300 mAh
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, OTG, dual SIM
Price: 2,599 Pesos

Note: We received quite a barebones package here. It's just the handset with a faux leather flip case. While we like the Byte Physically, we would have wanted to see if SKK will be packaged as classy as its build quality. Let's see if it improves on its brother the Choronos Cross!


Build Quality / Design

Top view of the phone
The top has micro-USB-B port and 3.5mm audio jack. The bottom of the phone only has microphone holes

The Chronos Byte surprised us with its great build quality out of the box for a phone priced so low.
View of the phone below
View of the phone below showing a single mic

It feels solid with no creaking when applying force on the phone. The materials feels near-premium with the weight balanced throughout the phone. The phone is nearly as thick as an iPhone 5.

At the back there is a 5 MP camera with a camera hump and a single tone flash under it. The lone speakers are in the lower right of the phone. The back has an circle under its flash that looks similar to fingerprint sensors but doesn't do anything. 

The front is all glass while the back is covered by a replaceable gold matte finish plastic cover that contrasts the face of the phone.

The phone has a removable back. Opening it reveals the removable 2300 mAh battery, one full sized SIM card, one mini SIM and micro SD card slot.
Volume rocker and power button
Volume rocker and power button on the right side of the phone. It is in perfect placement when using it with your right thumb

Design-wise, phone looks like it was dipped in a tub of gold glitter from afar that should looks better than most phones of this price. Ergonomically, it did a fair job in providing that nice decent hold. Just don't expect it to be as refined as expensive phones and you'll be satisfied.

The usual square, circle and triangle capacitive button are found at the bottom of the screen. These silver buttons are and not illuminated and actually disappear into the gold background especially in dark rooms. The button layout is similar to Android 2.1 phones: the square button is for ‘Options’, and holding the Circle button opens the recent apps.

Display Quality

Display Quality is poor
Display Quality is poor

This has a 5.5 inch screen at a resolution of 1280 by 720. It has an IPS panel which has greater viewing angles, better color and has less glare than cheaper TN backlight panels. The screen appears to resistant to scratches but attracts fingerprints and dirt.

One of the surprising qualities of this phone is the 720p IPS display of this phone. With 267 ppi, you can read most text comfortably and barely notice the pixels..
5 points multitouch present
5 points multitouch present

The Byte comes with MiraVision which allows the user to tune the color and other settings of the display. You can adjust contrast, saturation, sharpness and temperature. Then at least it has 5 points of multitouch for better typing experience.

Note 1: The Display does have bezels but you forget about them after a while.
Note 2: The Byte doesn't come with a light sensor so the adaptive brightness doesn't work

Audio Quality

Speakers at the back

Speaker experience is good for its price. It's loud and fair enough to use with music listening. Just don't expect it to be as good as most more expensive speakers found with other phones and you'll be okay with it.

For headphone or earphone usage, the experience is awful. Yes it can go loud, but grains is all over and its muffled across the spectrum. Won't recommend using it for that purpose.

In calls, the mic is usable, but in recordings there's a lot of noise. This is something expected from an extra affordable device.

Battery Life

3 hours 28 mins with PC Mark battery test
3 hours 28 mins with PC Mark battery test

I tested my phone in Dual-SIM mode and the Chronos Byte lasts me until the end of the day. Geekbench results say that the phone lasted 6 hours and 20 minutes, but it only lasted for 3 hours 3 hours and 28 mins on. Realistically, you are looking at a full day of regular usage but not any more than that.

Camera

Low light performance is underwhelming

On paper and for the price, there's not much to expect from the camera performance of the Byte. It surely uses an interpolated type of 5 MP main camera w/ LED flash and a 2 MP front facing cameras for selfie.

The result, while it's understandable is underwhelming and needs a lot of improvement. Colors are washed-out, pixels are distorted, grains is all over and the picture quality is just view-able at best. Even on daylight condition, you can feel the struggle of both cameras.
I've seen other phones from other local brands that was able to step-up their camera game in the sub 3K range so I'm hoping that SKK will do better next time in the camera department as this is simply not the "Lynx" type of caliber we always loved.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight shot 1
Daylight shot 1
Daylight shot 2
Daylight shot 2
Indoor challenging light
Indoor challenging light

Selfie camera sample

Grainy selfie
Grainy selfie

Performance

Benchmark results
Benchmark results

With Mediatek MT6580 processor, it is capable of light tasks. The speed is about average in its class. It is not as snappy as high end phones and it does not crash like other super entry-level phones.

The phone does have 1GB of RAM which is plenty for light browsing and multitasking. But multi-tasking between apps is hindered by having to long press the Home Button to open the Recent Apps tab, it takes even longer. Chrome with multiple windows is a nightmare.

For 2D games, the Chronos Byte manages to play them well. Clash of Clans, Alto’s Adventure, Stack, Shadow Fight 2 (on low) and Dark Sword all work well.

3D games don't run as well. Temple Run 2 with the ‘Good’ graphics settings and Sky Force 2014 lags when things go fast making late-game near impossible. Asphalt 8 and N.O.V.A. 3 play with horrible frame-rates, not to mention frequent crashes.

They Byte can happily play short 720p content. But watching large (400MB) 720p videos makes the Byte struggle at seeking and scrubbing, lagging for a second. Actual playback is good.

Chronos Byte has Dual SIM slots with up to 3G network. Only SIM1 has access to 3G while the SIM2 can use 2G. Dual sim operation is handled by a notification that pops up when you use the phone, contacts and messaging app. You can select there which SIM to use or to ask you every time.

This phone has very poor WiFi and Bluetooth ranges. I cannot use my Bluetooth headset with the Byte in my pocket. It would disconnect and lose signal. It is a similar story for WiFi where I have to be closer to my router to have fast internet. The ranges are poor compared to ZenFone 5 which I can use comfortably in those situations.
The Samsung UI like theme
The Samsung UI like theme

Software - The Byte runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with very few design tweeks to android. It does come with some pre-installed apps like Clean Master, FB, twitter and Viber. They can be uninstalled.

The Default home launcher is has icons and wallpapers similar to Samsung's touchwiz. It even has the rounded square background for the icons. Its pretty basic you can rearrange icons and change the scroll effect. If you download an alternative launcher like Nova, yhe rest of the phone looks and feels like stock android without some google apps, except for the lock screen. 

The lockscreen is loks similar to Samsung phones. Swipe anywhere to unlock and has shortcuts to Camera. However, when you put a security feature like password, pattern or passcode, you lose the Camera shortcut and the digital clock. This makes it hard to glance for the time and to take a quick photo.

What I find a little off putting with the Byte's software is the constant ad notifications that come from no where. They keep telling me to install specific apps over and over again. It's annoying.

One thing that is cool is that there are over 70 notification sounds and over 90 ringtones from almost all android iterations.

Pros - Great build, great price for specs, at least on Android 5.1 Lollipop
Cons - Poor WiFi and Bluetooth ranges, lockscreen lacks features when using security options, earphone experiences is underwhelming, cameras are terrible, unforgivable advertisements that bugs you constantly

Verdict

SKK's Chronos byte looks great physically and priced wonderfully; However, hardware quality and software experience took most of the blow to get it to this price. If you are looking for cheap good looking phone and can look past low connectivity range, inconsistent display colors and underwhelming cameras and audio then the Chronos Byte maybe for you.

GIZ Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
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