Tecno Mobile, a part of Hong Kong based group Transsion Holding that also owns iTel has entered the Indian market with the launch of five budget smartphones- Tecno i3, i3 Pro, i5, i5 Pro and i7.
The most affordable handset in the lineup- the Tecno i3 is priced at Rs. 7,990 and the flagship handset-the Tecno i7 will sell at Rs. 14,990. The Tecno smartphones will be available in Champagne Gold, Sky Black, and Space Grey colour variants via offline retailers.
Tecno Mobiles claims that it is one of the biggest phone companies in Africa and is now ready to dominate the Indian smartphone market with India-specific smartphones. The company plans to do this by integrating region based features to enhance the usability in Indian market. We got a chance to test the flagship handset- the Tecno i7 and here are our first impressions of the mid-range smartphone.
Design: One of the most premium looking smartphone in its price segment
Tecno i7 is quite a stunning device. The all metal construction gives the handset a solid and premium feel. The smartphone is also quite sleek and has rounded corners and edges that allows for a comfortable feel in hands.
The 5.5-inch screen has very thin bezels on either sides and has a fingerprint sensor at the bottom, placed in the middle of touch capacitive buttons that can be used to access recently opened apps and to return to previous menu.
I couldn't find any option in settings panel that can lit up these touch capacitive buttons, which makes it a bit tricky to operate the handset during night.
The power button and volume rockers are also metallic, placed on right and offer a good tactile feedback. The hybrid SIM card tray is positioned on left and the 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on top. You will find the microUSB charging port at the bottom with speaker grilles.
Coming on to the rear side of the handset, the matte finish metal feels good to hold and does not feel slippery in every day usage. The 13MP camera module is placed at the left corner along with a quad flashlight module. Besides, another striking design element is the shiny chrome antenna lines at top and bottom of the rear panel that gives Tecno i7 a unique look.
Overall, Tecno i7 is ergonomic, feels sturdy in hands and is one of the most premium looking smartphone in its price-point.
Display: Crisp 5.5-inch Full HD screen
Tecno i7 also makes sure you get a crisp and vibrant multimedia viewing experience. The smartphone sports a 5.5-inch full-HD screen with 2.5D curved glass on top that adds a premium touch to the front fascia. The screen offers a good pixel density of 400ppi that makes texts, pictures, videos and other multimedia content crisp and sharp to look at.
The display also has good level of brightness and colour reproduction is also quite good resulting in satisfactory video playback experience. Tecno i7 also comes with Nippon Electric Glass to protect i7's display against accidental damages; however we have to evaluate its performance against Corning Gorilla Glass.
The only issue seems to be with the viewing angles as colours tend to wash out when you view the display diagonally. For a comfortable outdoor viewing experience, Tecno has added an 'Outdoor' mode that boosts up the brightness to maximum level for the first 15 minutes under direct sunlight. Post 15 minutes it will adjust the brightness level depending upon the surroundings.
Camera: Camera performance could have been better
Tecno is pitching the i7 as a capable camera smartphone and precisely the India's first night camera phone. This is due to the fact that the smartphone comes with a 13 MP rear camera that is accompanied by a quad LED flash module, i.e. double the amount of light of what you normally get with other smartphones.
The 13MP rear camera has f/2.0 aperture. For selfies, the smartphone sports a 16 MP camera that utilizes one dedicated LED flash light and the screen flash to brighten up the images you capture in low-light conditions.
We did try our hands on the cameras and the results were satisfactory but not the best we have seen in the segment. We will evaluate the camera's full potential in our comprehensive review of Tecno i7.
Hardware: Gets the job done
Tecno i7 is powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek 6750 chipset paired with 4GB RAM. The handset sails through every day jobs with an ease and can also handle memory intensive tasks without breaking up a sweat with the help of 4GB RAM.
I tried my hands on gaming and the experience was smooth, however the all-metal body did heat up when the GPU is pushed to its limits. We will stress test the handset to find out its true potential in our detailed review in the coming week.
Besides, the audio performance is decent and the fingerprint sensor that also comes with anti-oil coating works smoothly and wastes no time in unlocking the handset. Tecno i7 has 32GB internal memory that can be expanded via microSD card.
Software: Runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the box.
Tecno i7 is one of the few Android handsets that run Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the box. But as it goes with most of the brands, the UI is not stock Android and you get a layer of customizable skin- Hi OS in this case, on top of it. The Hi OS is mostly clutter free and runs smoothly for most of the part.
It also features several pre-loaded apps that come handy in everyday usage. For instance, you get Hi Manager that provides useful insights about data and memory consumption. You can also manage apps and clean up memory with just a tap.
The Hi OS also comes with Hi cloud to backup and restore contacts, messages, call logs, etc. and you also have a dedicated theme store- Hi Theme to change the look and feel of your handset.
Besides, some nifty software tweaks like 'inadvertently mode' that automatically locks the handset when you place it in pocket, Flip mute, cover screen to silence incoming calls, long press home key to trigger flash light, etc. come quite handy in everyday usage.
Another interesting feature coded inside the UI is WhatsApp mode. The mode disables the data access for all other apps except the WhatsApp so that you could connect easily with friends and family when you have less data and battery in your phone.
Battery and Connectivity: Large 4,000 mAh battery and all required connectivity features
Another highlight feature of Tecno i7 is its large 4,000 mAh battery unit. Despite the fact that the smartphone has a very slim profile, the manufacturer has managed to squeeze in a big battery unit that delivers on every day usage. I have been using the handset from last three days and it does manage to last a day on a single charge even with a heavy usage.
As far as connectivity goes, Tecno i7 offers dual-SIM, FM Radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 4G VoLTE and GPS.
Tecno i7 seems to be a capable mid-range Android handset in our initial tests. The smartphone brings a premium all metal design, crisp full HD screen, the latest Android 7.0 Nougat and some pretty decent imaging hardware. We will evaluate the handset performance in the coming week to find out how it fares in the crowded sub Rs. 15k price segment.
Tecno i5, i5 Pro, i3 and i3 pro will all be available across 3 states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab from April 22, 2017; while the Tecno i7 will be hitting the stores early May 17.