For the past one week, I have been using Tecno’s latest flagship smartphone, the Phantom 8 as my daily driver. The Tecno Phantom 8 was unveiled in Kenya less than two weeks ago and is currently available in retail stores for Ksh 37,000. This smartphone takes over from the Phantom 6 and 6 Plus that we saw last year. And before you ask, yes, Tecno skipped 7 and decided to go with the Phantom 8, probably to match with the current Android version (Android 8.0 Oreo) or with other smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung with the Note 8 and Apple with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
The Tecno Phantom 8 isn’t cheap and when using this phone, my main aim was to figure out if it is worth that much. I also wanted to see if it is an upgrade when compared to the Phantom 6 and 6 Plus and how it competes with other smartphones within the same price range.
Before we get into the review, some of the other smartphones you can get for this price in Kenya at the moment include the Infinix Zero 5 Pro, OPPO F5 and F5 Pro and the Huawei Mate 10 Lite.
Tecno is marketing the Phantom 8 as a great camera phone with a Dual setup that offers 10X digital zoom among other features, is this enough to get you excited about the phone?
Design and Build
Glossy back, metallic frame, lightweight
As we start looking at the Tecno Phantom 8, the first thing we are going to look at is the design and build quality. Since you are going to spend most of the time looking at the phone and holding it on your hands, it is important to know how that is going to be before you buy it.
For the design, the Tecno Phantom 8 looks good. It is not bulky and is not very thick. It feels light and can comfortably sit on your hand without feeling out of place. The edges are curved while the back is flat and this makes it much more comfortable to carry around. Speaking of the back, I am not entirely excited about the material used here, it feels like plastic but doesn’t look like one. It is glossy and shiny and different from what we have seen from the company before. I got the variant with a champagne gold finish that is not very bold, if you want a bold one, I would suggest you go with the blue variant, it looks much better.
Still on the back cover, as I have said it is not made of metal (at least that is what I think) and thus is prone to scratches. To help with that, Tecno includes a free back cover protector in the box. Putting this cover on is not the easiest thing but you will manage. Also at the back is where you will find the dual camera setup on 12MP and 13MP sensors. The fingerprint scanner is also at the back, it is fast and responsive and so far I have not had any issues.
The Tecno Phantom 8 side panel is made of metal. This adds some weight that balances out the plastic back cover. The right hand side has the power and volume keys while the SIM card tray is on the left. This is a hybrid tray and means that you can have two SIM cards in or one SIM card and one MicroSD card, not both. The headphone jack is at the top while the speaker grille and Micro USB port are at the bottom.
The front panel is an IPS LCD one with the 20MP selfie camera with smart dual selfie flash. Below the display you get the physical navigation keys.
5.7 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
The Tecno Phantom 8 comes with a 5.7 inch Full HD display. There is 2.5D Glass on top to give the phone a different and premium look. This display is bright enough to even be used under direct sunlight. One thing I noticed about this display though is that it is dull compared to the one on the vibrant one on the Infinix Zero 5 Pro. It is still usable but if you are used to your whites on the display being really white, you will notice the ones on the Phantom 8 not being the best you can get.
That aside, the display on the Phantom 8 is as good at it gets. It is very responsive and viewing angles are really good. It comes with a screen protector already installed and this is to make sure you protect your display from accidental scratches.
The display is a fingerprint magnet but it is not as extreme as other smartphones I have used. You will have the fingerprints on it after a few hours of using it but you probably won’t notice them unless you go looking for them. Even if that happens, you can wipe them out easily.
The display on the Phantom 8 is simple and gets the job done. It has a Full HD resolution that is enough for a bigger percentage of the people who are going to buy it. It is neither too big nor too small. Its size makes it the perfect device for those who are into video consumption. If you also work on your phone sometimes, this display is just right.
Software and Performance
Android 7.0 Nougat with HiOS, 2.6 GHz Mediatek Helio P25, 6 GB RAM, 64GB
If you are looking for performance from the Tecno Phantom 8, you will not be disappointed. The phone is a powerhouse on paper and in real life. I did not experience any performance issues during my review period. I really put it to the test running demanding applications and switching between different apps with no lags at all. I know I tested this for only a week but I expect the phone to hold up even after months of using it.
Some of the hardware helping with performance include the 2.6GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P25 processor, 6GB of RAM and the Mali T880 GPU. The processor used here is not top of the range from MediaTek but that is not a big deal. It works the way it is and does that really well. It is crazy fast and can meet your needs at all times.
As for the RAM, Tecno has decided to include 6 gigs of that. This is more than what the average person needs but is good to have. It sort of future proofs the phone and this is what I expect to see on a flagship smartphone. Not everyone has the money to buy a new smartphone every year and having features that will still be useful two years down the line is good. If you are into mobile gaming, the Tecno Phantom 8 is a phone to look into. Even graphics intensive games do not slow down this phone.
For light users, the Tecno Phantom 8 will get you through your tasks with ease. If you have always wanted a phone that does this, the Phantom 8 is worth checking out.
Dual 12 + 13MP, 20 MP front
One of the areas where the Tecno Phantom 8 shines is in the camera department. The phone has a dual camera setup of 12MP and 13MP at the back. The 12MP camera is made by Sony and has a wide angle sensor. This camera is perfect for capturing the depth of field and you end up with rich photos compared to what other smartphones offer.
The 13MP camera on the other hand has a telephoto sensor. Telephoto sensor allow for the zooming in on subjects without losing detail. In addition to this, the Phantom 8 allows 10x Super digital zoom. With the dual camera setup, you get a better portrait mode that Tecno is calling refocus. This is the feature where you can blur out the background as you focus on the subject.
Some other samples takes by the Phantom 8 are below. Use the arrows to navigate through the different photos.
The front facing camera on the other hand is a 20MP unit with dual selfie flash that the company says will ensure the selfies you take in the dark are well lit. Overall, the front facing camera is good, it capture so much detail which can be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask.
If you have ever used a Tecno phone, then you know that the company never compromises when it comes to the battery. This is the case with the Phantom 8, it comes with a 3500mAh non-removable unit that may seem small but can easily take you through two days without having to top up. For those who do not consider themselves heavy users, you can get more than two days with this phone.
As expected, you get a few power saving features that are meant to reduce performance and give you a few extra hours of usage. You can also set battery saver to be turned on automatically when the available power goes below a certain level.
Charging the Phantom 8 is a breeze. It supports quick charging that can give you a whole day of use with just a few minutes of charging.
Tecno has just refreshed its 2017 smartphone line up with a new flagship device. The Tecno Phantom 8 is here for those looking for superior performance and an amazing camera experience. If this is you, then you should consider getting this phone as it will not disappoint. The phone is well built and the software experience is really good. I am not the biggest fan of HiOS but I got through it during the review period with no issues. It is the perfect upgrade to the Phantom 6 and 6 Plus from last year.
The camera and performance aside, you get a really good battery on the Phantom 8. This is perfect if you have been looking for one that you do not have to charge in the middle of the day. In addition, it supports quick charging if you need to quickly charge the phone before leaving the house.
Another things I love about the Phantom 8 is the sound quality of the earphones included in the package. It is a small addition but I have to give commend Tecno for this. The earphones sound really well as you’d expect on a flagship smartphone.
Back to the design, the back cover is not that appealing in my opinion. For a smartphone going for Ksh 37,000, Tecno could have done better. The back feels like plastic and this is not something you expect for such an expensive device.
Lastly, Ksh 37,000 is not that cheap for a smartphones. I am of the opinion that this is too high for this phone as there are other options including the Infinix Zero 5 Pro and even the new OPPO F5.
Also Read: The Infinix Zero 5 Pro Unboxing