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Tecno Phantom 9 review: Swift performer marred by cluttered UI, sub-par UX

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Transsion Holdings’ subsidiary Tecno Mobile recently announced taking its smartphone business online in India with the launch of the Tecno Phantom 9. This Flipkart-exclusive device has a triple-rear-camera set-up, an AMOLED screen with in-display fingerprint sensor, gradient design and a dot notch-shaped display accommodating the front camera. At Rs 14,999, the phone seems to be value for money in a midrange segment. But is it? Let’s find out:

Design and display

The Tecno Phantom 9 cuts no corners on the design front. It boasts a curved glass-like panel with aurora reflective gradient design on the back that looks premium and is quite sturdy to endure day-to-day use and abuse. The phone’s thin chassis (7.75mm) feels comfortable to hold and its blue colour paintjob accentuates the phone’s overall design language. On the front, the phone has a 6.4-inch dot notch-based display, which leaves negligible bezels on the top and sides but a thick one at the bottom. The screen is of the AMOLED breed with in-display fingerprint-sensor technology, which takes some time to unlock the phone but works accurately.

Tecno Phantom 9
The display has a fullHD+ resolution, stretched in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Though it is an AMOLED panel, the screen’s contrast, saturation and colour rendition do not seem very well calibrated. Moreover, there is no option in the phone’s settings menu to tweak display settings. The phone also lacks Widevine L1 certification to confirm its ability to play content from over-the-top platforms in high definition.

Camera

Tecno Phantom 9
The Tecno Phantom 9 has a triple-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 16-megapixel primary sensor of an f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultra-wide lens of 120-degree field of view (FoV), and a 2MP depth sensor. On the front, it has a 32MP sensor with an LED flash on each side. Configuration aside, the camera performance is a bit of a let-down and fails to impress, especially in terms of capturing details and low-light imaging. The camera’s user interface is cluttered and affects user experience.

Camera sample: HDR

Camera sample: HDR

Camera sample: Ultra-wide

Camera sample: Ultra-wide

Camera sample: HDR

Camera sample: HDR

Camera sample: Ultra-wide

Camera sample: Ultra-wide

Camera sample: HDR

Camera sample: Ultra-wide

Camera sample: Ultra-wide

Camera sample: HDR
Performance

The Tecno Phantom 9 is powered by a Mediatek Helio P35 system-on-chip, paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The phone boots the Android Pie operating system-based HiOS user interface, which is a heavily customised skin layered on top of the default operating system. The UI is stuffed with bloatware, which keeps on pushing pesky notifications. The UI does not support app drawer and all the installed apps show up on different home screens, which look cluttered and are difficult to organise. Other than UI and UX flaws, the phone’s performance is neat and swift. It handles basic operations such as calling, messaging, internet browsing, multimedia streaming and social media without any hiccups. Performing heavy tasks such as playing graphic -intensive gaming titles is possible, but the experience is inconsistent. Powering the phone is a 3,500 mAh battery, which keeps the show going for around a day on regular usage.

Verdict

At Rs 14,999, the Tecno Phantom 9 does not seem to be a decent value for money smartphone. In the same segment, there are smartphones that offer better value such as the Realme 3 Pro, Redmi 7 Pro, Honor 20i, etc. However, you might like to consider the Tecno Phantom 9 for its design, on-battery time and decent performance.

Source: Business Standard