TECNO Phantom 9 review by John-Bunya Klutse.
The TECNO Phantom series has improved over the years and slowly bringing us closer to the ideal photography mid-range smartphone. The TECNO Phantom 9, the Lapland Aurora coloured device, is finally on the Ghanaian market for GHS1299 after a year-long wait from the release of its predecessor – the Phantom 8.
Comparing to its predecessor, the Phantom 9 features improvement in areas such as the chipset, camera, security, and display, but the battery remains 3500mAh in both devices. The device comes in one unique colour, the Lapland Aurora.
You are going to like 6.4″ AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display – it’s got FHD resolution with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, offering a good screen area. The Phantom 9 is TECNO’s first device with AMOLED display.
With the Phantom 9, TECNO aims to deliver a fast, reasonably priced smartphone with a beautiful screen, and an excellent camera to redefine what is called masterpiece photography experience by its remarkable AI triple camera.
And on paper, we seem to be looking at a recipe for success: the chip of choice is the Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35, the AI triple main camera, and the 6.4-inch display stretches from edge to edge.
What is it like living with the new TECNO Phantom? I have it for 2 weeks, and this is what I have to say. Let’s get started!
TECNO Phantom 9 key specs
- Lapland Aurora colour
- AI Triple Camera
- In-display Fingerprint]
- 128GB ROM (Storage)
- 6GB RAM (memory)
- 32MP Front camera with dual flash
- 16MP+2MP+8MP Triple Rear Camera with Quad flash
- 6.4″ FHD
- 2.25 GHz Octa-Core CPU
- HiOS based on Android 9 Pie
- Non-removable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery
TECNO Phantom 9 unboxing
The TECNO Phantom 9 comes in a grey box with the phone and its printed on which reflects. It’s still a nice looking box, silver as it may be.
What’s inside the box:
- TECNO Phantom 9
- Silicone see-through case
- 30-watt Warp Charger
- White standard USB cable
- SIM eject tool
- User Manuals and TECNO warranty badge.
Design and 360-degree view
The phone is beautiful and fairly light in hand. There’s no punch-hole camera cutout either. All you have at the front is a spacious screen with a notch and rounded corners and a very small chin at the bottom. TECNO maintains the use of on-screen buttons keeping the surface extremely clean and the use of the AMOLED panel has enabled TECNO to install in-display fingerprint reader, this is worth mentioning.
With the introduction of the in-display fingerprint, the back is almost bare. You are presented with the AI triple camera, the Phantom inscribed, and the TECNO logo on the back all aligned to the left, leaving the right portion of the back plain.
The Lapland Aurora used at the back cover gives the device the perfect aesthetics. Just the kind of phone you would want to leave on the table while on a date.
On the sides, we have the sim-tray which now pops in a microSD slot too on the left, and the power switch on and separated volume keys on the right.
I think TECNO is listening; we have the 3.5mm headphone jack moved to the bottom to join the microUSB port for charging, the speaker, plus a microphone outlet.
As I mentioned above, the TECNO Phantom 9 comes with a 3500Ah battery. This is probably why the phone feels quite light in hand, weighing a substantial 164 grams.
Display, battery life
The TECNO Phantom 9 uses a 6.4 Dot notch AMOLED panel. The 2340x1080px resolution in a 19.5:9 aspect makes for a 403ppi density. With 403 Pixels Per-square Inch, you will enjoy watching YouTube videos on this device. The resolution could have been better, but for a phone of this price, it is perfectly okay.
If you can not a fan of the notch, TECNO has made provision for this to be hidden on the Phantom 9.
A 3,500mAh battery powers the TECNO Phantom 9 – I would wish it has been 4000mAh just like that of the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 which also dominates within this category. It took 80 minutes to move from flat to fully charge on the Phantom 9. An hour charge should get you somewhere around 80%.
For heavy usage, this device can last for 6 -7hrs with a single charge.
In order to extend the lifespan of your battery, try to keep it between 30% to 80%. Don’t overcharge it above 80% and don’t also allow it to run down below 30%. Thank me later.
User interface, features, security, performance
HiOS 5.0 on top of Android 9.0
Phantom 9 runs on TECNO’s latest HiOS on top of Android 9 Pie. This new update brings new exciting features such as AI Assistant, AI Video Beauty, Smart Panel and AI Battery Lab to define the meaning of an intelligent smartphone truly.
With this new update, one can intelligently identify and broadcast the incoming calls, messages, news, etc.
Here are some key features of the new HiOS 5.0:
Smart Panel: Smart panel has all your favorite and frequent-used features, also localization services. You can access smart panel from any screens.
Recharge King: Making recharge fast and convenient by scanning the digital code.
Fingerprint Reset Password: HiOS 5.0 gives you the Fingerprint Reset Password, it solves your password amnesia within few seconds.
Other exciting features that can be enabled include:
- Being able to flip your phone to silence an incoming call.
- Screenshot with 3 fingers
- Lift to wake phone
- Usage modes like WhatsApp ( which allows only apps you open use your data), Read Mode, AI Mode,
The latest addition to the Phantom 9 security is the in-display fingerprint scanner. First of its kind on a TECNO device, and this was made possible due to the use of the AMOLED panel. However, I am more impressed with the face unlock, which is impressively fast and accurate. It is already my favourite option for unlocking my Phantom 9.
Processor and memory
My user experience so far has been existing and smooth. A performance boost from Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35 (12nm) chipset that clocks at 2.35 GHz Octa-Core coupled with a 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage make the Phantom 9 an ideal midrange smartphone. However, the most apparent difference is going to be experienced when playing games. Frame rates aren’t as smooth, so hardcore gamers may not find them suitable. For the casual gamer, however, they should more than suffice!
There’s a dedicated microSD card slot in addition to the dual SIM slots. In other words, you may have two SIMs in there and enjoy expandable storage at the same time.
The specs are decent so even though there is the presence of bloatware on the phone, it does not affect the overall performance and storage. You can uninstall any app you don’t consider useful.
As a flagship device of TECNO, you can expect that company to put in their best to make sure the phone stands out among midrangers with good camera’s for phone photography.
TECNO Phantom 9 is loaded with a 32MP front/selfie camera with dual flash and at the rear is an AI triple camera with quad flash.
The rear is an AI triple camera consists of a 2MP secondary camera (AI Bokeh effect), 16MP main camera (AI scene recognition, AI HDR), and 8MP secondary camera (120-degree ultra wide angle).
The rear camera has a wide-angle fixed-focus lens, and it is very useful when you need to capture more in the frame without stepping back. Alas, the camera has its drawbacks. Since it isn’t as sensitive to light as the main camera, its low-light photos lack detail, and the properties of the lens introduce noticeable distortion that makes the images appear stretched near the edges.
There’s an HDR+ mode which activates automatically when needed, and while it produces outstanding images in some cases, other scenes look flat and artificial.
At the front, we have a single 32MP selfie camera with an f/2.0 lens. Low-light images out of the front camera are quite good, but not spectacular. They’re a little soft, and there isn’t a ton of detail in there. The dual flash really makes a difference indoors and in low-light environments.
Camera samples, AI triple camera
Camera samples, ultra wide angle of AI triple camera
Low-light samples, AI triple camera
Selfie samples – 32MP front camera with dual flash
Portrait selfie samples – 32MP front camera with dual flash
Alternatives, pros and cons, price, verdict
If you are looking for a pocket-friendly phone with premium features such as an in-display, dual front flashlight, 6GB RAM, just get the TECNO Phantom 9 – there is no alternative. However, if you are willing to compromise on the above-mentioned features you are open to an option like Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 which sells at the same price but comes strong with a 4000mAh.
+ Stunning design
+ Excellent display
+ Impressive Face unlock for a midranger
+ Good speakers
+Battery ONLY 3500mAh
+ Not too great fingerprint reader experience
+ The screen is curved, not flat
+ No fast charging
TECNO Phantom 9 Price
The Phantom is selling at GHS 1299.
Among midrangers we available in Ghana, the Phantom 9 stands out tall with extra premium features which are not coming within this category.
I would have wished for a much bigger battery to further extend the battery life of this device.
Overall, The phone is incredible fast, the screen is large, immersive, has beautiful colors, the new HiOS 5 makes a difference, the cameras have improved, and battery remains the same , while not as great is still solid. And all of that, comes at a price still much lower than iPhones and Galaxies.
How long will it last?
The TECNO Phantom has no water resistance, so it won’t play well with water. Thankfully, it’s not made of glass, so you don’t need to worry about shattering both sides of the phone (just one).
This phone will likely last you two years, if not three, before the battery begins to deteriorate. You can only expect one year of version updates from TECNO, however, so the phone’s elder years will be spent running an outdated version of Android.
Who should buy this?
This midranger is ideal for anyone who desires premium features but can’t afford a flagship phone.
Should you buy it?
Yes, good for the price of GHS 1299. Other phones within this category cost more or have slightly lesser specs.