The smartphone market in India has witnessed some gradual but noticeable changes in last few years. Some popular Chinese brands that started their journey with the online-only sale model jumped into the offline space to boost their revenues and market presence. The shift was meant to happen as smartphone makers cannot deny the fact that sustainable market share happens majorly through ground-level offline market model. There's a huge audience that still prefers hands-on experience before making a purchase instead of taking knowledge from YouTubers and online buying guides.
OPPO and Vivo are clear examples of the dynamic Indian smartphone market. The sister brands made huge investments in Indian offline space and managed to tap a respectable chunk of market with their selfie-centered Android devices. Resultant, Xiaomi and OnePlus have also boarded the offline train with their exclusive stores, which are still gaining presence in India but at a very low pace.
Transsion Holdings, another brand from the neighboring country (China) is trying to make a mark in the Indian market with the offline-only sale model. The Hong Kong based brand enjoys a good presence in African market and wants to replicate the same in India with its mobile products. The brand has announced a handful of budget and mid-range Android smartphones under its Tecno, iTel and Infinix series. The most recent product comes from Tecno's flagship series Camon and targets price conscious consumers.
Priced at Rs. 8,999, the smartphone focuses on low-light photography and multimedia playback. Tecno Camon i features a quad-LED flashlight module at rear panel and flaunts a 13MP front-facing camera accompanied with a dual-LED flashlight. The smartphone also brings an 18:9 aspect ratio display and as it goes with all the Tecno and Infinix products, has a dedicated microSD card slot to expand the internal memory. This brings us to the question, Is Tecno Camon i a good buy in budget offline market? Let's find this out with the help of the following review.
Design: Lightweight and Compact
Tecno Camon i is feather light. The smartphone weighs just 134 gm and feels extremely light in hands. This is due to the fact that unlike metal clad handsets, Camon i is crafted out of plastic that keeps the overall weight in check. And despite being a plastic build, the smartphone does not come across as a cheap device. Camon i looks premium and is also quite ergonomic.
The smartphone is compact enough to be used comfortably with one hand. The fingerprint scanner and buttons are placed ergonomically and the rear panel has been given a matte finish. The rear panel also reminds us of Apple and OnePlus handsets. The hybrid SIM card tray is placed on the left side that can be used to accommodate two SIM cards and one microSD card at the same time.
The smartphone will be available in three colour variants - Champagne Gold, Midnight Black and City Blue.
Display: 5.65-inch HD+ Display (18:9 aspect ratio)
Keeping up with the market trends, Camon i sports a 5.65-inch HD+ IPS display with 18:9 aspect ratio. The display is quite touch responsive and offers vibrant colors. The brightness level of the IPS LCD display seems on a bit lower side as it was not a very comfortable experience using the handset in direct sunlight. Video playback and gameplay looks immersive on the handset.
Camera: 13MP front and rear cameras
Tecno Camon series focuses on photography and Camon i is the first handset in the series. The smartphone sports a 13 MP rear camera that uses f/2.0 aperture and 5P lens. The rear camera is accompanied with a quad-LED flash module which as per Tecno is optimized with Night Shot Algorithm to brighten up your images in low light. For the selfie lovers, Camon i offers a respectable 80-degree field of view and has the same 13MP sensor. The selfie camera is also paired with dual-LED flash light and also has a screen flash.
The camera app is fairly straightforward and easy to use but fails to offer a good repository of modes and features. Honor 9 Lite priced at Rs. 10,999 offers better camera app, modes and features. But you have to spend extra Rs. 2,000 for the handset.
Good for macro shots
As far as picture quality is concerned, I am not quite pleased with the camera output. The images shot with 13MP rear camera looks good on phone's display as long as you don't zoom in to check detailing. It's really tough to figure out a text or any other object in particular if you zoom in images to maximum. The loss in detailing is also present in images captured by the front camera.
Interestingly, the rear camera does a good job in macro shots. The object's edges are produced very well and detailing is also maintained. The exposure control in camera app comes quite handy to control light in images you capture. The low-light performance is also not brilliant and noise is quite evident in images you capture. The camera struggles to focus on a subject when light conditions are not favorable. The LED flashlights (front and rear) help in capturing good information in low-light conditions.
Overall, the camera performance on Camon i is at par with other handsets, but could have been a lot better, considering the fact that cameras are the highlight features of the handset.
Hardware and Software
Armed with 3GB RAM and a 1.3 GHz Quad Core MTK6737 CPU, Camon i is an entry-level smartphone and works like one. The smartphone will not give you any major reasons to complain while running everyday tasks such as web browsing, camera usage, note making, YouTube, etc. You can also pass your time by playing some light games on this handset; however don't expect the handset to run heavy apps and games without any performance slowdown.
The smartphone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with company's in-house custom skin- HiOS. The custom skin is clean and easy to use. Surprisingly, there's no dedicated settings icon in the UI and I had to use the quick settings menu to access the phone's settings. It seems like the custom skin deployed on Camon i is still a work in progress. Nevertheless, the smartphone supports gesture controls such as flip to mute, cover screen to silence incoming calls, etc. and do not come with any unwanted bloatwares.
Battery and Connectivity
The battery unit on Camon i is rated at 3,050mAh. The battery can last a day even with light to moderate usage. As far as connectivity is concerned, Camon i supports GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB OTG. One feature that you will find across the company's product lineup is Hybrid SIM card slot with a dedicated space for microSD card. In short, you don't have to compromise on storage and Connectivity with Tecno Camon i.
The first handset in the Tecno's Camon series scores good in storage, design and display department. The smartphone fails to make a mark in photography, which is said to be the highlight feature of the Camon series. The software performance is also somewhat questionable. The handset is priced at Rs. 8,999 but faces tough competition from Infocus Vision 3 which is priced at Rs. 6,999 and also offers an 18:9 aspect ratio and even sports a dual-lens camera setup at rear side.
What can work in favor of Tecno Camon i is the bundled offers. Tecno is offering some interesting after sale schemes. The company's products come with 100 days' replacement warranty, 1-time screen replacement and 1-month extended warranty over and above the 12 months' warranty period. Besides, service support plays a big role in making or breaking a deal and Tecno says that the consumers would enjoy an extensive service network of Carlcare with 900+ multi-brand touch points.
If you find the above mentioned deals appealing, you can give Tecno Camon i a try, otherwise market offers plenty of other options in the same price-point.