TECNO Phantom 9
The Good Stuff
- Beautiful design
- More than enough RAM and Storage
- All-day battery life
- VoLTE for Safaricom and Faiba4G
- In-display fingerprint scanner (cool factor)
- The wide-angle camera is bad
- The proximity sensor doesn't work as it should
If you choose to pick up the TECNO Phantom 9 (which is in for review), you’ll basically be picking up a device that’s got the basics of a proper midrange smartphone with a decent enough camera and performance to keep you going.
I know, we’ve already given out the end of the review before we even get started but there’s more to the story than that. We’ve divided the review into two parts, the things we loved most about the TECNO Phantom 9 and those that made us want to smash the phone up against the wall.
What we loved about the TECNO Phantom 9
The Phantom 9 is a really beautiful phone, especially from the back. The device features a gradient colour scheme – something that we’ve seen with a lot of 2019 phones but that’s not a problem.
The colour isn’t just the only thing good with the device, it’s quite light which is a great thing for a device of its size. The edges of the device are curved, making it easier to handle but unfortunately, this beautiful design scratches rather easily which means you’ll have to make use of the included case in the box.
The Phantom 9 features a 6.4-inch AMOLED display which has very punchy colours, has good viewing angles and can save some battery life is used with black wallpapers and night mode.
The huge size of the display means that it’s great for enjoying videos and also scrolling through your social media timelines. Yes, there’s a notch but its a waterdrop notch which only takes up a small section of the display thus does not really take away from the full-screen experience but that’s up for debate.
If you are wondering whether the phone is big enough to enjoy using it, then the answer is yes.
Good For Daily Use
When it comes to RAM and internal storage, things have really improved over the years. The Phantom 9 comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which should be more than enough for anyone. But if you feel the need to get more storage, the device has a dedicated Micro SD Card slot that can take up to 1TB of memory card.
In terms of performance, the octa-core MediaTek Helio P35 processor keeps everything running smoothly without hanging or slowing down. Gameplay might not be as smooth (for heavy games) but normal social media usage and the likes of candy crush will be a breeze.
There’s nothing as good as a phone that can last you throughout an entire day of usage. I am a pretty heavy user and I start off my day at 7 am with 100% battery and end it at around 11 pm with an average of 20%.
Honestly, this is not great (I have had a phone that ends the day with over 40%) but it’s impressive as well. The 3500mAh battery lasts throughout the day without the need for implementing any power savings features.
No. It’s not super good. This phone costs 25k but the photos produced are good for your eyes and the eyes of your followers on social media. In good lighting, you’ll be smiling at your shot with just one attempt but that smile fades gradually as the conditions worsen.
There’s a triple camera setup on the back, 16MP (normal) + 8MP (wide) + 2MP (depth sensor). The front has a 32MP selfie shooter and the story is the same, in good lighting, you get good photos, if the conditions deteriorate, so does the camera.
Will you be happy with the outcome? Mostly. I had a lot of people praise the Phantom 9 for having good cameras but then again these are people using much cheaper TECNOs, Infinix, Samsungs and even iPhone 6 peeps. Personally, I had a love-hate relationship with the camera but here are the best shots I could get:
Oh yeah, the portrait shots are decent if you don’t care that much and there are AR effects to have some fun:
This is how the selfie camera performs:
Other Cool Features
There are also a number of cool features that the Phantom 9 packs that would be appreciated by anyone who owns the device. For starters, the phone supports 4G VoLTE on both Safaricom and Faiba4G which is much welcome feature that all manufacturers should emulate (looking at you Apple).
There’s also an in-display fingerprint scanner and if you are not about that life, you can always revert to using the face unlock feature but note that this is less secure.
Okay, The Annoying Stuff
Honestly, I don’t want to go there. Actually, let’s borrow some words from MySmartPrice:
“Without building up the suspense, let me tell you that it is not pleasant by any stretch of imagination. Right from the homescreen, the interface elements look out of place. Take for instance, the smart panel, which looks like a third-party bloatware from 2012. The software also nags you with random news and poor game recommendations on homescreen along with the lockscreen. The app drawer looks more cluttered than a teenager’s wardrobe. The design lacks uniformity as some of the pre-loaded apps feature rounded icons while others have a square outline.”
What did I do? Just install a third-party launcher.
Buggy Proximity Sensor
The most annoying problem with this phone is that whenever you place or receive a call, the screen immediately goes off. On another phone, this would only happen when you place the device on your ear but with the Phantom 9, this happened immediately the call is connected.
At first, we thought that maybe the device does not have a proximity sensor and it’s using software to imitate this functionality but we can confirm that there’s indeed a hardware proximity sensor its just dysfunctional.
This can be so annoying because you cannot switch to the loudspeaker while on the call, you cannot dial keys (in case you are calling customer care) and even worse, you cannot hang up.
As a workaround, we realised that if you quickly toggle the loudspeaker after the call connects, the screen stays on. Alternatively, face the screen in direct sunlight once the call connects and the display will turn on. We know this is a hustle, we just hope TECNO can get it fixed.
Wide-angle Camera Needs Work
Remember when we said that the camera on the Phantom 9 was good? Well, that only applied to the telephoto lens and the standard lens. If you opt to use the wide-angle lens then you’ll end up with potato quality photos as you can see:
The good thing is that you can leave without it as the rest of the cameras are good.
Some might say that this is nitpicking but considering the previous generation Phantom 8 had a USB-C port, it makes no sense that TECNO would remove it from this phone but I guess everything has a reason?
The competition is tough in the 25k smartphone market. The likes of the Huawei Y9 Prime (2019), Huawei P30 Lite and the Samsung Galaxy A50 all compete in this price range.
The truth is if you decide to pick up the TECNO Phantom 9, then you’ll have yourself a decent smartphone and since you’ll not have had any experience with the competition then you’ll not know what your missing.
But would I buy it myself? Well…