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Tecno Phantom 9 First Impression: Budget Chinese Smartphones Get New Rival
The smartphone industry is consistently evolving in the Indian market. Almost every other week we see a new device being launched in the country, specifically in the affordable and mid-range price-bracket. While, the primary players in the budget smartphone category are Xaiomi, Honor, Realme, Vivo, OPPO and Samsung, a number of emerging brands also unveil products from time-to-time to grab some market share.
Tecno, backed by Transsion Holdings is one such brand. The company had introduced some good budget smartphones in 2018. The list includes Tecno Camon iClick, Tecno i5, and others. Tecno has now launched its most premium offering- the Phantom 9 smartphone in India.
The latest entrant comes with some trending features such as a big AMOLED display with a waterdrop notch, triple rear cameras, in-display fingerprint scanner, etc. The device has been announced in Lapland Aurora color and will be available on Flipkart for Rs. 14,999. We were present at the launch event and got to use the device for a while. This is our initial impressions Of Tecno Phantom 9.
Gradient Plastic Body; Lightweight Design
Techno has used an all-plastic material to design its latest flagship, which might disappoint some users who prefer a metal-built handset. You do get a slim profile accompanied by a lightweight body which makes Phantom 9 quite ergonomic to use.What the company seems to be focusing on is the appearance.
The shimmering rear panel has intricate Nano-Holographic lines which looks quite appealing. An ‘S' shaped pattern emerges when light falls on the rear panel further adds to the visual appeal. Notably, the company boasted an anti-fingerprint coating on the device during the launch; however, it seems to be less effective.
The glossy back panel picks up fingerprints almost instantly when you pick up the device. Therefore, keeping the surface clean could be a task and using a case is highly suggested. Also, the device is bit slippery, so make sure you handle it carefully.
The rear panel houses a vertically stacked triple-rear camera setup accompanied by an LED flash followed by the ‘Phantom' and ‘Tecno' logos.
Moving to the front, you get a waterdrop notch for the selfie camera with Hair Crack Dual Flashlight which will allow it capture quality selfies in challenging light situations.
As for the placement of the ports and the keys, the right panel houses the power and the volume keys; whereas, the dedicated SIM card tray is placed on the left.
At the bottom, you get a 3.5mm audio port for wired headphones connectivity, a standard microUSB port and speaker grille. Overall, the Techno Phantom 9 offers a premium-looking design under sub Rs. 15,000 price segment.
Big 6.4-inch FHD+ Display With In-Display Fingerprint Reader
The Tecno Phantom 9 flaunts a tall 6.4-inch AMOLED display with an FHD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. It offers a screen to body-ratio of 91.47 percent (as claimed by Tecno), 19:5:9 aspect ratio and 600 nits of peak brightness.
The display is no doubt crisp and vivid, but we found it slightly dull. We still need to check the sunlight legibility of the display to give a final verdict.
One of the major highlight of this device is the in-display fingerprint reader.
This makes it the first smartphone to offer the trending technology in sub Rs. 15,000 price range. The competitors like Honor 20i, Redmi Note 7 pro and others come with a conventional rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
With this, the Phantom 9 scores some extra points in our list of sub 15K smartphones. Moreover, the high-resolution big AMOLED panel definitely makes it suitable for media consumption.
Cameras: AI-Backed Triple Rear Cameras
In the optics department, the Tecno Phantom 9 sports a triple-lens camera module at the rear. Backed by AI,the camera setup includes a 16MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide sensor with 120-degree FoV, and a 2MP depth sensor.
You get various camera-centric features such as HDR, Beauty, Auto Scene Detection, AR Mode, Animoji and others. The camera also supports Google Lens and 1080p FHD video recording.
The camera worked just fine in our brief testing. It seems to capture good quality images with ample detailing and near accurate colors. The bokeh shots also appeared fine; however, we still need to put the camera through extensive testing to check its imaging capabilities.
The waterdrop notch accommodates a 32MP AI selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture aided by Dual LED flash. You can also tweak the brightness of the flash upfront by a simple swipe up/down gesture on the camera app.
The selfie snapper supports features like HDR, Beauty, Wide Selfie, Animoji, and Night Algorithm 2.0. Using these features, you can capture some powerful selfies. We will share the detailed camera performance in our comprehensive review of the Phantom 9.
Hardware and Software:
Coming onto the innards, the Tecno Phantom 9 makes use of a 2.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P35 chipset aided with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The device supports an external microSD card of up to 256GB.
This should take care of all the space crunch issue on the device. Notably, the Redmi Note 7 Pro also offers 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, however that variant is costlier than the Phantom 9.
The handset will ship with Android 9 Pie OS layered with HIOS 5.0 UI. The UI seemed pretty neat and you get some useful features such as Smart Panel, Reading mode, and others. The device comes pre-loaded with third-party apps such as Ola, Dailyhunt, Dominos, Mobikwik, and others.
It would be hard to say why Tecno opted for a slightly underpowered processor to club with 6GB RAM. An updated MediaTek Helio P70 chipset would have sweetened the deal.
It remains to be seen how the device performs with extensive tasks at hand. We will thoroughly test the gaming, multitasking and overall performance in the coming days.
Smaller 3,500mAh Li-Po Battery
While most of the affordable smartphones offer 4,000mAh battery units, the Phantom 9 packs a smaller 3,500mAh non-removable battery cell. Also, there is no support for fast charging and it packs a standard microUSB port for charging and data transfers. We would have really appreciated a bigger battery with quick charging support.
As for backup, the company has made no such specific claims. Therefore, we will be checking its capacity with easy to extensive tasks. We expect it to deliver at least half a day of backup with moderate usage. But, let's save the verdict for later.
Our Thoughts On The Tecno Phantom 9 Smartphone:
The Tecno Phantom 9 offers some nifty features for its price range. The device looks good and feels premium to hold. The hardware packed inside is decent; however, the war in the budget smartphone market is stiff and the device has got some major competition out there.
The primary contenders include Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro, Honor 20i, Realme 3 Pro, and the Galaxy M20. It is worth noting that Tecno is up against some of the major players in the market in this price segment. It would be interesting to see how the device fairs in the long run against its counterparts.
We will soon be listing out the benchmark, display, camera, and battery performance in detail. Stay tuned with us for the comprehensive review of the Phantom 9.