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Starmobile Icon Review: Impressive Optics and Sturdy Build for a Good Price

Our full review of the Starmobile Icon is here!
Our full review of the Starmobile Icon is here!

Starmobile Icon Full Review

The Starmobile Icon is the most affordable quad-core in Starmobile’s mid-2013 line-up. Priced at Php7,990, the device features a quad-core Qualcomm MSM 8225Q processor, 1GB RAM, 4.5-inch qHD display, and an 8MP rear-facing/5MP front-facing camera set-up (both have BSI). To make it a good offering, Starmobile also threw in their usual freebie set: jelly case, microSD card, and a screen protector. Over-all it’s a pretty solid package.

Starmobile Icon Spec Sheet

  • Quad-core Qualcomm MSM 8225Q Processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB Internal Storage expandable up to 32GB via microSD Card
  • 4.5-inches capacitive touchscreen, qHD display, 540 x 960 resolution
  • 8.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with BSI, autofocus, HDR, LED Flash
  • 5.0-megapixel front-facing camera with autofocus and BSI
  • Dual Sim, Dual standby* 3G, WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth, FM Radio, GPS/aGPS
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 1,800mAh Battery
  • Comes a free Jelly Case, screen protector, and 4GB microSD Card
  • Read on for our full review!

>>> SEE ALSO: Starmobile Icon Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Hardware: Practical and Durable with a Little Heft

Easy to manage with one hand, front looks a lot like the iPhone
Easy to manage with one hand, front looks a lot like the iPhone

The Starmobile Icon has more emphasis on practicality and function over aesthetics. It’s not the thinnest quad-core device out there but it definitely feels like one of the more durable and sturdy ones. There’s a comfortable and natural heft to it which makes it easy to handle and manage with just one hand. That’s in part thanks to the 4.5-inch display.

At the back of the device we have a smooth black matte finish which helps with the grip. Unfortunately though while it does help with grip it seems to be a fingerprint and smudge magnet, hehe. Make sure you have something in your bag to wipe this with if you’re the type that always wants their gadgets pristine. Also, the Starmobile logo is in red which is the brand color of Starmobile for their quad-core devices.

What the back looks like
What the back looks like
Metal covered buttons add a lot of class and elegance to the devices
Metal covered buttons add a lot of class and elegance to the devices

On the sides we have all the buttons and ports. To add a little sophistication to the device, the manufacturers used some sort of metal-like coating to it giving it a more premium feel.

Display Quality

Display is quite good
Display is quite good

The display on the Icon is qHD (960×540) which is standard for smartphones in this price range (anything less is a bit of a hard sell for us). Images, videos, and text come out very nice on it. Viewing angles are okay but we did encounter some issues when the device is put directly under sunlight.

Performance and Software: Quad-core Android Jelly Bean Experience

The Starmobile Icon packs a quad-core processor (slightly older series) from Qualcomm. Coupled with 1GB RAM and Android’s Project Butter, the Icon delivered a very fluid, smooth, and nice Jelly Bean experience. We rarely felt any lags or delays even if we had a live wallpaper running in the background with multiple widgets up on the home screen. We did notice though that it took a little bit longer for the device to load graphics and memory intensive apps than other quad-core devices. After it loads though it’s mostly smooth sailing.

Antutu Benchmark Score
Antutu Benchmark Score

Here are our other experiences with other case scenarios.

Gaming: Lag at the start, picks up after a few seconds

Despicable Me 2 Minion Rush! One of the best games to play right now. Highly addictive.
Despicable Me 2 Minion Rush! One of the best games to play right now. Highly addictive.

Like what we said earlier, starting up was a bit slow but after that it was good. We tested a couple of titles – Wild Blood, NBA 2k13, Dead Trigger (on Ultra High settings), and our current favorite, Minion Rush. The experience was the same with all of them. When it came to the lower graphics requirements games, it performed exceptionally well with no lags. Yep, we’re talking about Candy Crush, hehe.


Apps, apps, and more apps!
Apps, apps, and more apps!

The Starmobile Icon has all the basics covered. It did well with social networking, web browsing, and reader apps. The 4.5-inch display was actually quite refreshing since most of the phones we’ve been testing lately were phablets (requires two hands). It was a joy to navigate Twitter with just one hand again, lol.

When it comes to media consumption, in particular video, the Icon also delivers a good experience. That’s mostly due to the qHD display which will let you enjoy 720p content. By the way, just in case you guys haven’t done so yet, please do subscribe to the Unbox YouTube Channel.

Nood muna... pag may time, hehe.
Nood muna… pag may time, hehe.

Camera: Better than the usual 8M Shooter

8MP rear-facing camera and 5MP secondary
8MP rear-facing camera and 5MP secondary

Over-all image quality of the rear-facing camera was actually very good! This is arguably one of the best 8MP shooters we’ve seen in this price category. We did some research and it’s probably thanks to the BSI (Backside Illumination) which helps capture more light and color.

Unfortunately while we’re loving the pics, we’re not digging the camera interface. It can be chore just to focus. Definitely something they need to improve on, hehe.

Here are some sample shots:

Birthday cake!
Birthday cake!
My niece, Scarlet!
My niece, Scarlet!
Jollibee FTW.
Jollibee FTW.

Not bad right? Nagutom ba kayo? Chicken Joy tapos Cake. Win.

Battery Life: A bit Lacking

If there’s one criticism we’ll throw at the Starmobile Icon it would be battery life. I’m not sure if the Qualcomm processor they’re using eats up more power but we just got around an average of 7 hours with moderate-heavy usage. That’s with 3G and Sync on. Of course that also includes calls, texts, some browsing, and a lot of social networking.

It’s a good everyday phone but there will be times you’ll run out of juice. It would be a good move to bring a Power Bank with you if this will be your main phone.

Verdict: Good Camera, Solid Hardware


Compared to other devices in the same price range, the Starmobile Icon offers impressive optics (both front and back) and a sturdy chassis. It’s a complete package with little compromises and a lot of value given the Php7,990 price tag. Just make sure you always have a Power Bank so that you’ll never run out of juice in a busy day.

The Starmobile Icon is now available in Starmobile kiosks and stores for Php7,990.

Want more? Check out Unbox.ph’s Top 10 Quadcore Smartphones Under 10k

We compiled what we consider the top 10 quad-core smartphones under Php10,000 in one list for your perusal. Click here to jump to that article. Don’t forget to leave a comment and see you guys on the other side!

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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  1. Nice review po. planning to buy one soon. Naaasar na kasi ako dun sa Starmobile Energy na gamit ko ngayon, my fault naman kasi di ako nagbasa before ako bumili ng 1st android phone ko, medyo hindi maganda ung experience ko sa Energy, hindi smooth ung sensor or walang accelerometer ung phone ko, para lang akong ewan pag naglalaro ng temple run,kapag nag tilt ung phone 90 degrees kagad ung galaw sa game, un laglag palagi (hahahaha). Kapag nakabili na ako magpopost din ako ng experience ko.

    I’m planning about 50% sa Starmobile Icon, 30% sa Torque and 20% sa Arc mobile na quadcore.

    Thanks sir Erwin. Naliwanagan na ako.

  2. I bought this last Sept. 3 sa Mega Exchange – MoA. Okay nman sya kaya lang I keep having issues every 2 days. The first time I bought it, nd ko ksi na check ung cam. Ksi knbukasan ko pa nakuha ung unit ksi pinabili ko lang sa Kuya ko. I got the defive with defective screen protector kasi puro bubbles, pro nd ko nalng pinansin ksi nd nman sya hindrance sa pag gamit ng phone. Kinabukasan plang ng gabi ko sya nagmit and tried the camera ksi nag update ako the whole day ng mga software. Dun ko lang nakita na may dead pix sa camera. Then pinapalitan ko sya Sept 6. Tpos ngayon (sept 8), while browsing, nag karoon ng vertical purple line. So I’m not sure if its really the unit or malas lang tlga ako. Na kaka disappoint lang kc first Android phone ko to and local pa ung una kong natry. Motorola and Samsung fan boy kasi ako. And Wave ung OS na gngmit ko sa samsung at nd ako msyadong nag hahabol ng apps ksi pang text lang habol ko. lately ko lang ksi kelngn ng smartphone dhil sa blogs. Sna everything will go smoothly tom kpg pinapalitan ko unit ko.

  3. Not sure kung ang iba nakaka experience nito. Just bought my icon a week ago. Maganda ang phone. On the spot ang review ng unbox about it. Pero yung icon ko, araw araw kusang na u-unmount ang microsd ko. Minsan kusang bumabalik, minsan hindi. Literal na araw-araw. Ang gamit ko ay sandisk ultra class10 32gb na microsd.
    I can attest na ok ang microsd ko. 4 months ko gamit sa samsung ko at never ngka problema. Not once.
    Kalagitnaan ng pag gamit mo ay biglang mawawala. Minsan makikita mo lalabas ang notification sa top left ng screen na “preparing sd card”. Minsan ayaw lumabas. Tanggalin mo at ibalik ayaw mabasa/mount.
    I like the phone. Pero medyu nakaka asar lang.
    Yun lang issue ko sa icon ko.

  4. 5 days pa lang sa akin ung ICON pero nagkaroon na ng times na bigla siyang nagshushutdown. nung unang beses right after kong tumawag biglng shutdown sunod naman nung chinecheck ko lng phone ko.. plus ung front cam ko hindi ko alam kung talagang dark lang ung place or may prob sa front cam.. haay pero saktong sakto tong ICON, i can do whatever i wang un lang kelangan dala mo lagi charger mo..

  5. sakin naman nagkakaproblema ako sa Messaging app nya…I just bought my Icon last night. syempre excited mega install agad ako ng go sms pro, go launcher ex and go keyboard. ok n sana sya until i notice walang dual sim function sa go sms pro messaging.til this morning naghanap tlga ako ng solution to make the dual sim function work until i decided to call starmobile cust serv. sabi nila ako ung first na nagcomplain (swerte ko nmn) wala silang naibigay n solution sakin kundi ipacheck sa service center nila.i ended up uninstalling go sms pro nlng tpos nung magoopen nako ng txt msgs using the default Messaging app hindi ko n sya maopen and i keep on receiving “unfortunately, the Messaging stopped working” i even installed the latest firmware of my unit and restore everything to default pero andun pa din ung problem. im so disappointed kasi i thought this is better than crystal. actually happy nako sa crystal, naisip ko lng mag upgrade kasi me 1 yr na din ung old unit nato sakin. later ibabalik ko sya sa pinagbilhan ko and sana wala nakong maencounter na problem. 🙁

  6. Hi sir,
    I’m Jonna.. I just want to ask which is better this Star Mobile Icon or the Razor or Apollo of cherry, I’m so confused I can’t decide even if I already read the reviews.
    Pls. Help me decide sir…

    P.S. I considered mostly the Camera pixels and the processor.


  7. i have star mobile icon maganda naman siya mabilis gamitin coz quadcore problem lang kusa nga siya nag unmount yung sd q pero sa tablet q at lg hindi naman kainis and then yung battery ang bilis ma lowbat ok na sana kaya lang bilis niya ma lowbat e. pero camera ok and music browsing wla aq talaga masabi.. ;))

  8. hi sir i’m mikko asked ko lang po kung pano ayusin ang mobile networks or ang data connection di ko kasi magamit ang fb apps ko kahit naka register ako sa astigfb50 ,sayang lang pina paload ko help naman po plss

  9. Bumili ako ng Starmobile Icon thanks to Unbox.ph. you wrote “It’s a good everyday phone but there will be times you’ll run out of juice. It would be a good move to bring a Power Bank with you if this will be your main phone.” …any other options for more ‘juice’?

  10. really nice review by the way. camera output is great! thanks for this review of SM Icon

  11. last july 2013 nabili ko SM icon ko wala pa isang buwan may issues. nawawala signal, may signal pero no mobile network. wifi connected pero di maka browse. pag pindot mo ng unlock button di mag unlock pag inulit mo pindot mag unlock pero mag lock ulit. mabagal mag initialize ng apps at mabagal mag send ng message. tapos yung message icon lagi may notification na unread kahit nabasa mo na lahat. tapos bigla na lang nag rerestart ng kusa paulit ulit hanggang ma lo bat. 80 percent pa battery bigla na lang mamatay ang unit. dinala ko sa pinagbilan ko na ground zero sa olongapo di ka na iniistima pag nakabili ka na. palagi rin wala ang technician ng Starmobile. mga 30 kilometers away ako sa olongapo kaya di pwedeng pabalik balik. sana may trade in ang starmoblie para sa mga palpak na unit nila na di na nila pinopromote wala nga sa website nila.

    1. I too experienced these problems pero di kasalanan ng starmobile most of those (I read) are software bugs ng google android.

    2. Haay, Ganyan din nangyayari samin ngayon, gusto na nga namin ibato yung unit kasi di magamit. Wala na ba solution dito sa pamatay matay na SM ICON?

    3. I have myICON Madali lang talaga siya malowbat …tapos minsan mashutdown di nagpaalam.
      I installed all the apps in playstore that i think it can extend the life of my battery…. pero walang effect. Kahit bumili ako ng MSM na battery.. di parin .. nasulit sana ang pera ko kung long lasting ang battery.

  12. I have my Sm ICON now,
    Madali talaga sia ma LOWBAT !!
    IniNstall kuna lahat ng Battery Saver sa PlayStore wala pareng effect !
    Much better ba na bumili akong new original battery ???
    Tatalab kaya yun ??? Reply pliss

  13. Yung problem ko naman sa starmobile icon ko ay minsan ayaw mag-on ng bluetooth nya. Tapos ngayon, ang pinakaproblem ko, pag inoopen ko ang camera may lumalabas na “Can’t connect to the camera”. After nun di ko na magamit ang camera. Pano kaya to?

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