Starmobile Diamond X1 Review : 8 Things I Love About It Plus Sample Camera Shots, Antutu Benchmark Score, and Demo Video

Last December 23, 2013 (which also happened to be the date I celebrated my 30th birthday -- just sharing), Pinoy electronics company Happy Man Philippines - maker of Starmobile smartphones and tablets - quietly announced its first Octa Core Android smartphone; The first local player to do so.

January 30, 2013 - that's Thursday the other week, Starmobile Diamond X1 - with official suggested retail price of Php 13,990 - officially hit store shelves in key concept stores across the archipelago -- making Starmobile the first company (local or international) to actually make a True Octa Core powered device available to all Filipinos.

Last week, TP Friends, I finally got the chance to take the much talked-about smartphone for a spin and off hand, I have to say that Starmobile has really outdone itself with this flagship release. I'm sure a lot of you are thinking and wondering why it's a thousand bucks more expensive than its main competitors but, having played with it, Starmobile Diamond X1 is definitely well-worth every penny and really gives great value for money. Let me give you eight reasons why.

1. 6-inch HD IPS OGS Display The handset flaunts a ginormous screen - underneath scratch-resistant Asahi DragonTrail glass - that looks clear, vibrant, and crisp regardless of the angle you're viewing it from, making the X1 a great device for watching movies, viewing photos, and playing games. (And if that sheer screen size is not enough for you, you can always connect the phone to a TV via the X1's Wireless Display feature.) The display is not Full HD but its resolution allows the phone to deliver a stutter-free touch experience and even an extended uptime because it is hardly as power-hungry.

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2. Yamaha Speakers Other phones simply have a generic loud speaker but that of Starmobile Diamond X1 is made by Japanese audio and musical instruments company Yamaha and really gives you sound that's not just amplified but is also highly enjoyable to listen to because of its clarity and brilliance.

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3. Ultra-Slim Form Factor and Elegant Design Measuring just 7 millimeters at its thickest point, Starmobile Diamond X1 is the thinnest smartphone that the company has released to date and is currently one of the thinnest full-fledged phablets available anywhere in the world. Being so slim, X1's real metal, removable anodized back plate has a dual purpose. Aside from giving the phone an air of elegance and corporate sophistication, the cover also makes the device feel very durable whether you hold it in the hand or keep it in your jeans' front pocket.

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4. Great Imaging Capabilities X1 sports two cameras with backside illuminated (BSI) sensor for enhanced low light performance. There's an 18 MegaPixel autofocus shooter with LED flash at the back and an 8 MegaPixel fixed focus front cam. But what's really good about these cameras is that Starmobile spent months trying to tweak their configurations -- trying to get the colors and the brightness right.

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(Believe it or not) I haven't taken selfies using the front cam (will add those to this entry plus sample video capture in the coming days) but I've already shot photos with the 18 MP main camera with automatic settings and in various focal points and lighting conditions. Here are some of the resulting images. Kindly click on them for a higher resolution view.

5. Good Battery Life X1 is powered by a removable 2,300 mAh Li-Po battery pack, which - I find - delivers around 12 hours of mixed usage including taking photos, listening to music, playing non-specs intensive games, browsing the net, sending text messages, making calls, and checking and updating social networking sites both via WiFi and 3G. Now, for those who want to further extend the phone's uptime, you can turn on CPU Power Saving Mode under Battery Settings, which limits the maximum CPU performance to conserve battery life and lower device temperature.

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6. Dual SIM Dual Standby Dual 3G Capability If you're keeping two numbers and you want to be able to have a choice on which 3G network to use when you're traveling without having to swap SIM slots, X1 would be a great device for you. Also, if one of your SIM cards is a microSIM, you won't have to use a tray as one of the slots is made for it.

7. Starmobile's Software Enhancements Starmobile Diamond X1 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system with stock or vanilla user interface. But Happy Man added a few customizations, including the redesigned icons and some useful software including Starmobile Sync, which makes it easier for you transfer contacts and other data from your older feature phone to your new Octa Core smartphone.

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8. Powerhouse Innards Of course, the highlight of this release would have to be its Octa Core 1.7 GHz ARM Cortex A7 CPU and 700 MHz Mali 450 MP4 GPU based MediaTek MT6592 SoC paired with 2GB of RAM and 8 GB of ROM expandable via microSD card slot supporting up to 32 GB. The combination of these stellar specifications give Starmobile Diamond X1 an Antutu Benchmark Score of 27,338 - higher than that of the far more expensive flagship release HTC One and almost the same as Samsung Galaxy S4.

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My favorite games to play on my smartphones currently are Sonic Dash, Subway Surfers, Flappy Bird (I downloaded it on my active devices before the developer took it down), Raging Thunder 2, Deus Ex, and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and Starmobile Diamond X1 plays all of them flawlessly. Definitely, the phone's high Antutu mark merely reflects the overall smooth and lag-free gaming and touch experience that X1 provides.

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Did you know? Several weeks ago, Happy Man Philippines ran a contest on Twitter (just for fun) and asked me how much I think Starmobile Diamond X1 would cost upon launch. I answered, "Php 16,990!" -- which turned out far from the official SRP. Last Friday, Mr. Elijah Mendoza - Product Marketing Manager of Starmobile - disclosed to me that Php 16,990 was actually one of figures that they were considering for the price of the release.

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"We tried to keep the price of the device very affordable so more Pinoys can enjoy it," he told me. "[But we made sure that we're still offering the same key high-end features and specifications. So we just tried to save on the packaging and shipping of the device. If you notice, X1 has a smaller box compared to our other releases, which costs less and allowed us to ship more units for the same price. Also, we just put the manual inside the device itself, cutting the cost further and also allowing the user to access it anytime.]"

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Oh, and TP Friends, I want to commend Starmobile for being the first company - anywhere in the world, I think - to list down the complete and detailed technical specifications of all of its smartphones right on their packaging; From the exact components of the processor to the battery size, from the exact camera specs to the phone's dimensions. "We want consumers to know exactly what they're getting. We want to be transparent. Also, we know that Pinoy consumers are becoming more and more techie and they already know which specs to look for," Ms. Paula Rivera, Starmobile's Brand Manager, told me during our meeting last week.

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Mr. Elijah Mendoza also gave me a quick unboxing, specs rundown, and full demo of Starmobile Diamond X1, the first ever Octa Core smartphone in the Philippines. TP Friends, I got everything on video and I hope you can check it out.

So what's the TP Verdict? Starmobile Diamond X1 is hardly perfect. I wish the screen on/off button is located on the side for easier access given how tall the handset is; I kinda wish the screen is Full HD and that it had an even bigger battery pack to compensate for it. But considering all that X1 offers at a price that's already very low for a device of its caliber, it's hard to nitpick on its limitations. All things considered, Starmobile Diamond X1 gives you far more than what you pay for it; It looks great, it feels durable, it has powerful innards, it has good cameras, and it delivers a highly-enjoyable gaming and multimedia experience. For Php 13,990, I think it's already a steal. Overall, I give it 9.7 out of 10 TP Stars!

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