Tecno, a Transsion Holdings sub-brand, started its journey in India back in 2017 focusing on the offline market. Two years down the road, the company (and many other offline players) has realized that having a presence in only the offline segment puts them at a disadvantage in the highly competitive Indian market. Therefore, Tecno decided to venture in the online space in order to extend its reach Pan India with the Phantom 9.
This affordable phone debuted in India earlier this week and plays by the online rules, which is to say that the Phantom 9 offers competitive specs and latest trends at an aggressive price.
Can the Tecno Phantom 9 make a mark? Or will it just disappear somewhere in the middle of the cut-throat battle raging between Realme and Xiaomi? We will discuss that and more in our Tecno Phantom 9 review.
Tecno Phantom 9 Unboxed
The Phantom 9 comes in a regular rectangular box that includes the handset, SIM-ejection tool, documentation, rubberized cover, a 10W charging adapter, a micro-USB cable, and earphones.
Tecno Phantom 9 Design and Build Quality
In recent times, gradient glass finish back is something that we literally see on every phone, and the Tecno Phantom 9 is no different. The Phantom 9 has been graced with a dual-tone gradient finish. The gradient pattern on our unit gradually moves from blue to purple and looking from an angle, you will notice an ‘S’ line effect. Apart from that, there is a diagonal texture which Tecno prefers to address as ‘nano-holographic lines’. These do add to the charm.
The rear panel also has vertically aligned triple cameras and the module marginally juts out. And there’s Techo branding parallel to camera module at the bottom left corner.
On the front, the Phantom 9 has a waterdrop notch and sleek bezels on three sides and a sizeable notch at the bottom. The phone weighs about 164 grams which is extremely light as per current standards.
Tecno Phantom 9 Display
The Phantom 9 display is one of its key highlights. The phone ships with a 6.4-inch AMOLED screen that has a resolution of 2340×1080 pixels. In the past, display calibration for Tecno (Infinix) phones hasn’t been particularly pleasant. Thankfully, the Phantom 9 leans towards more neutral tones, but it’s still far from perfect.
If you look closely, the cut out for the front camera (waterdrop notch) isn’t clean. Being an AMOLED screen, colors look punchy and the viewing angles are also good. Outdoor visibility is strictly average.
ALSO READ: Realme X Review
Tecno Phantom 9 Performance and Software
Tecno and MediaTek love affair continues with the Phantom 9. The phone is driven by MediaTek Helio P35 SoC which we have earlier experienced on phones like Oppo A5s and Vivo Y17. The 12nm fabrication process based octa-core chipset can go up to 2.35GHz in peak performance mode.
It is accompanied by PowerVR GE8322 GPU and 6GB RAM. The smartphone has 128GB of storage and gives users the option to further add another 256GB via microSD card. There is only one memory configuration option available in India.
The performance is good enough for an average user with basic networking and entertainment needs. The Phantom 9 can handle casual gaming or heavy games like PUBG mobile in lower graphics settings.
However, with competition flooding the market with more powerful SoCs like Snapdragon 675, Snapdragon 710 and Snapdragon 712 in the same price bracket, the Phantom 9’s Mediatek P35 puts it at a performance disadvantage.
The inclusion of an in-display fingerprint sensor for under Rs. 15k makes the Phantom 9 stand out. The sensor performance is pretty consistent.
On the software side, the phone runs Android 9 Pie-based highly customized HiOS version 5.0. The biggest problem I have with the software is the amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed on the phone. The good thing is that you are allowed to uninstall most of it. The custom OS takes a heavy toll on system resources which isn’t a good thing for user experience. I hope Tecno cuts down at least the duplicate apps in their next iteration of HiOS.
Tecno Phantom 9 Cameras
The Phantom 9 flaunts triple rear cameras. The troika includes a 16-megapixels primary sensor with f/1.85 aperture that’s supported by an 8MP ultra-wide senor and a basic 2MP depth sensor. And then there’s a big flash that defuses four LEDs.
The camera app includes a night mode, AI mode, wide-angle and 2x zoom mode and super-macro shots modes in the default app. For selfies, there’s a 32MP selfie shooter comes with two LED flashes on either sides.
We tested the Phantom 9 camera in different lighting conditions and, long story short, the camera delivers the best results in good lighting conditions. As the light deteriorates, there is a sharp decline in image quality and images often turned out underexposed. Even in cloudy conditions, metering is slightly off and images look dull.
Tecno Phantom 9 Battery
The Phantom 9 powers up using a 3,500mAh capacity battery that can easily last a moderate usage day. During my time with the phone, I had multiple mailing accounts, social media accounts synced with the phone. My usage also included calling, surfing web and youtube streaming. The mileage is not particularly impressive, but it’s still pretty good and shouldn’t be a problem.
Fast charging isn’t supported though and Tecno bundles a 10W charger in the box.
Tecno Phantom 9 Review: Should you buy it?
Phantom 9 is an interesting offering from Tecno that includes some impressive specs for a very reasonable price of Rs 14,999. Unfortunately for techno, the competition is intense and the use of mediocre Helio P35 chipset weakens Phantom 9’s case.
Online consumers are largely cognizant of and prioritize chipsets that go in their phones, and with options like Vivo Z1 Pro (review), Redmi Note 7 Pro (review), Realme X, Mi A3 and Realme 3 Pro (review), the Phantom 9 will be at a veritable disadvantage.
Having said that, advantages like light and compact design, in-display fingerprint sensor, and ample 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage give consumers with moderate and basic usage needs a lot to look forward to.
- Light and compact
- AMOLED screen
- Decent memory size
- Mediocre chipset
- Bloated software
- Camera performance