Tecno is well-known in the country for having a low-cost smartphone with impressive specs that is priced above its competitors. Making a name for itself quickly in the Local market. Last June, they finally have their own flagship lineup, which is the TECNO Phantom X. It has a curved Super AMOLED display with 90Hz and a unique design. We can say that it has distinct capabilities and impressive specs. In fact, I’ve been using it as a daily driver and discovered some ups and downs, so we decided to give it a full review 6 months after its release, so read on.
Design and Build
Starting with the design, we can already say that it has a premium and distinct look when compared to other phones released this year. The glass back is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, though it looks like it is made of polycarbonate plastic. It has a rugged texture that keeps smudges away but people with sweaty hands will still notice fingerprints, especially when light is visible while reflecting on the back.
When light hits the surface, the back shines in blue hues and it appears 3D because it shows depth. The centered camera module is made up of two protruding parts, the first of which houses a quad flash and laser autofocus. The second bump houses the main camera, which has a large 1/1.3″ sensor, and the two other cameras are located below it parallel to the TECNO Phantom branding at the bottom. Overall, it looks aesthetic and clean, and aside from the great design, it has a curved back for a better grip and a solid and sturdy build.
Even though it is a TECNO flagship device, a 3.5mm jack is included alongside the main microphone, USB Type-C port, and a single down-firing speaker. The power button and volume rocker are located on the right side, while the secondary microphone and simtray are located on the top. The simtray has a dual nano sim card slot and an expandable storage slot that can hold up to 256GB. The left side is clean, but there are antenna bands all around the frame for improved connectivity.
Flipping to the front, the Tecno Phantom X still appears premium, thanks to the curved display on its 6.7″ FHD+ Super AMOLED panel, which also has a 90Hz refresh rate. The Super AMOLED plus the high refresh rate is still an outstanding visual experience, even though we’ve seen phones under P20K with 120Hz and Super AMOLED. Nonetheless, the 3D borderless screen adds a distinct quality that is incomparable with other smartphones in the price range.
In terms of quality, it has a vibrant color that looks alive no matter what wallpaper you use on the display. But because the display is curved, the whites shift to the side, removing the aesthetic. Accidental touches are also possible, but there’s a smarter way to prevent them by disabling the Extend to Edges feature. The extended sides of the screen will be cut, and apps will not be displayed on the screen’s edges. It’s a nice feature that prevents accidental touches but has a less immersive experience on curved displays like the Phantom X. Still, the screen is punchy and bright, thanks to the Super AMOLED panel once again, and it also has an Always-on-display feature with limited designs but we hope they add more soon.
The visuals when binge-watching on Netflix and other platforms is appealing. The display also has a 180Hz touch response rate, which allows for responsiveness while gaming. It also has a fast and reliable in-display fingerprint scanner. In the display settings, you can also enable edge lighting, which is useful for displaying notifications even when the screen is turned off. We couldn’t say much more, but we do know for a fact that it has a great and stunning display and that they provide exceptional value to its screen.
Tecno Phantom X consists of a triple camera setup. A 50MP f/1.9 main camera with a 1/1.3″ ISOCELL GN1 sensor, a 13MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, and an 8MP Ultrawide. Even though it only has a triple camera, it still offers portrait and macro photography, though the portrait mode frequently outputs poor subject to background detection, especially in low light.
The main camera’s quality is excellent in any lighting situation. The colors are accurate, with nice shadows, and the white balance detection is very good. However, highlights are frequently blown out, so it is best to always shoot in HDR mode to improve dynamic range.
When there aren’t enough artificial lights at night, we recommend always capturing in night mode. Shadows in normal mode produce soft and grainy blacks, so switching to Night mode will produce a sharper image with a balanced exposure.
When shooting ultrawide, the quality is acceptable in low light but best in broad daylight. The 8MP lens captures good quality images with true-to-life colors and less distortion around the edges.
The Tecno Phantom X has a macro mode thanks to the ultrawide lens. It allows for a much sharper look while still preserving details up close. Though it is not the best of the best, knowing that we can still shoot in macro gives the camera versatility.
The 13MP telephoto lens is also excellent; the colors and sharpness are comparable to the other lenses, and at 2x zoom, it can be used in portrait mode. The hybrid zoom has a zoom range of up to 20X, but it is recommended that you only shoot at 5x because anything beyond that will reduce the quality. Again, the AI for portrait mode needs to be updated in order to produce high-quality images more frequently.
When it comes to selfies, there are two options: the 48MP selfie camera and the 8MP ultrawide camera. The 8MP ultrawide selfie captures decent quality in daylight; just make sure there is enough light source so that grains are not visible. The main selfie quality is excellent and sharp, the skin tone is consistent, and the blacks aren’t too dark. At night time, we recommend shooting selfies in night mode because it produces more balanced exposure, sharper images, and clearer images than normal mode.
The ultrawide lens produces different colors than the main selfie snapper; the blacks are deeper and the saturation is lower. The overall image appears darker, but there is no significant distortion on the edges.
In terms of video recording, it can capture up to [email protected] but without stabilization—the ultra steady mode is only available at [email protected] One disadvantage of its camera features that I noticed is that it lacks a pro mode for photo or video, which is something I prefer. I once wanted to photograph the night sky but couldn’t find the pro mode feature but fortunately, it has a Super Night mode as well as a tripod mode. It can still capture stunning night sky images with clean and sharp quality. Other features are Film mode, which includes a bunch of presets for quick montage, It also has AR shot, slow motion up to 960fps, and more.
Overall, the camera is excellent and versatile; it has good colors and sharp images, and it can capture nighttime images thanks to AI enhancements. There is still room for improvement, but the good news is that fixing the flaws is as simple as installing an update. Also, when the AI processed the images using the said camera enhancement features, it will produce the sharpest and balanced photo that stands out the most.
The Tecno Phantom X is powered by a Mediatek Helio G95 with 12nm architecture. This is by far the most important question we have about the device. The other specs are excellent for the price, but the chipset did not impress us. We’re not saying it’s bad, but its overall impressive specs are undermined by its processor. The Helio G95 is aimed at the lower midrange, and when compared to the Snapdragon 720g from last year, the competitor performs better and it has smaller transistors. However, after using the device for months, we noticed that the UI does not lag or stutter, and it handles the user experience very well.
We also tested its gaming capabilities, which you can see here. Furthermore, all games performed admirably on the device, from MOBAs to FPS. We experienced some frame drops while playing Genshin Impact, but this is to be expected. The device also heats up as you play, which may reduce battery life, but the AMOLED panel will compensate.
The Tecno Phantom X has expandable storage up to 256GB and only one configuration: 256GB storage and 8GB RAM. The 8GB of RAM is more than enough to handle multitasking, and it doesn’t cause stuttering or decreased performance while gaming or running background apps. The 256GB, on the other hand, is sufficient to install productivity apps as well as heavy games like Genshin Impact.
The software optimization of the Tecno Phantom X will be our primary concern. The device is powered by Android 11 with HIOS 7.6 on top. After a half-year of use, we discovered some system and visual bugs that need to be fixed or patched via a software update. This includes the notification card, which can sometimes take up almost half the screen without any context, rather than the main title, which takes up only 20% of the card. It’s concerning, but we hope they can fix it soon.
The user interface is straightforward, but it could be improved. Suggested apps in the app drawer are accurate, stock apps like the AI gallery are smart and have a vault feature to hide photos, but it lacks some features like direct video editing. It’s a hassle to post short videos to Instagram or Facebook, but installing a third-party app will do the trick.
With the exception of a few bugs, the Tecno Phantom X has a plethora of features that make the phone useful in any situation. It has a game mode to improve the gaming experience, a game assistant panel for extra controls and multitasking, and other features to help users control the phone’s usage. We also liked that it has a smart panel and lightning multi-window support. When using the Tecno Phantom X, multitasking is made easier by micro intelligence, which provides similar features to other flagship phones such as double-tap to wake, flip to mute, and so on. All of these can be found in the Special Functions section inside the settings.
Tecno phantom X also has a smart voice assistant called Ela, it can read or send SMS and can be summoned even when there is no network connection. The built-in assistant can provide a wide variety of functions such as playing music, reading news, taking pictures, providing weather information, and so on. It is similar to Google Assistant, but it has its integration and own ecosystem perfect when using stock apps from the HIOS 7.6.
Overall, HIOS 7.6 on the Tecno Phantom X is a great and smart OS with a TECNO-specific ecosystem. However, again, it still needs to be improved in order to provide the best user experience.
The Tecno Phantom X’s battery is adequate for the price. It is powered by a 4700mah battery, which can last up to a day or so with normal usage and up to 7 hours of screen on time if you game on the device nonstop.
In terms of charging, it has a 33W fast charging capability, and filling the 4700mAh battery took about 58 minutes from 0% to 100%. It is faster because other phones with 33W charging capability took the same amount of time but had a lower capacity. This is a significant advantage, but given that this is the brand’s flagship device, we expected it to have a higher wattage, but for the price, it’s sufficient.
There is no official price in the Philippines yet, but in Kenya, it costs KES49,999, or P22,000 when converted. It was released in June, and sooner or later, we may see another Tecno Flagship equipped with a newer chipset with 5G. If it makes it to the Philippines, it has the potential to disrupt the country’s smartphone market. But, returning to the Tecno Phantom X, it is the best TECNO phone available right now. The design and build quality are excellent, and the overall performance is adequate. However, the chipset and software are a major letdown.
Despite its slightly lower performance, it still packs a punch that can compete with other midrangers and provided us with excellent gaming performance. Overall, the Tecno Phantom X’s camera has a unique setup, and the 90Hz with super AMOLED and curved display gave us the best impression that this is a premium smartphone from TECNO.
TECNO Phantom X specs, price, availability in the Philippines
- Display: 6.7-inch, FHD+, Super AMOLED, 90Hz
- Design: Glass front, glass back (Gorilla Glass 5)
- Dimension and Weight: 163.5 x 73.8 x 8.7 mm, 201g
- Chipset: Mediatek Helio G95 (12 nm)
- CPU:Octa-core (2×2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
- GPU: Mali-G76 MC4
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB, microSDXC (up to 256GB)
- Main Camera: 50MP, f/1.9, 13MP 50mm Telephoto, 8MP Ultrawide | [email protected]
- Selfie Camera: 48MP, f/2.2 Main, 8MP Ultrawide Selfie | [email protected]
- Connectivity & Ports: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS with A-GPS, USB Type-C 2.0, USB On-The-Go, 3.5mm audio jack
- Security: Fingerprint (under-the-display)
- Features: accelerometer, gyro, proximity
- Battery: Li-Po 4700 mAh, non-removable, 33W fast charging
- Audio: with loudspeaker
- OS: Android 11, HIOS 7.6
- Colors: Starry Night Blue, Monet Summer
- Price: KES49,999 (PHP22,000)