Tecno Phantom 9 Review: Boring Phone With A Brilliant Display

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Tecno Phantom 9 Main Image

The Phantom 9 is Tecno’s most promising smartphone to make it to the Indian shores. Tecno is a subsidiary of Transsion Holding, which also owns other brands such as Infinix, Itel, and Spice. While not very popular in India, Tecno and its sister brands hold around 45 percent market share in Africa. With the Phantom 9, Transsion will be hoping to replicate that success to an extent in India. In addition to a sleek design and triple camera setup, the AMOLED display helps the Phantom 9 stand out in the crowd. But is that enough for Tecno to outshine the incredibly popular Redmi Note 7 Pro and Realme 3 Pro? Let’s find out:

Techno Phantom 9 Front

Tecno Phantom 9 Design

The Tecno Phantom 9 has a trendy design. It comes with reflective plastic back that feels like glass. The phone has a micro pattern on its back, which Tecno refers to as holographic design. The gradient scheme is a rage these days, and this phone no exception. I like how the color goes from light to dark blue. After that, however, Tecno has thrown-in a purple hue to the mix. There is a fine line between stylish and tacky, and this is where Tecno crosses it.

Techno Phantom 9 Back

The handset has a noticeable camera protrusion, which causes a wobble when placed on a table. Moving onto the front, the Phantom 9 flaunts its impressively slim bezels. Especially, the phone’s chin is quite thin for a budget phone. The plastic buttons are clicky but I still miss the sturdiness of metal keys. Ports and connectors such as a 3.5 mm headphone jack, micro USB, and a mono loudspeaker are placed at the bottom.

Tecno Phantom 9 Display

Here comes the high point of the Tecno Phantom 9. The device’s 6.4-inch AMOLED display is one of the finest screens in its category. It is the same type of display you generally see on premium handsets such as the Galaxy S10 Series, iPhone XS, and Huawei P30 Pro. Since AMOLED screens don’t require a backlight, you get a stunning contrast ratio. Colors look vibrant and the blacks are rendered to perfection. Even the popular Redmi Note 7 Pro’s screen stands no chance against what you get on the Tecno Phantom 9.

Techno Phantom 9 Display

The Full HD+ display has a pixel density of over 400 ppi, which makes up for a pretty sharp display. The screen is sufficiently bright and can hold its own under direct sunlight. For protection against the scratches, the Phantom 9 relies on Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The display comes with an integrated fingerprint sensor, which works but is slightly slow.

Techno Phantom 9 Fingerprint

Tecno Phantom 9 Software And Performance

The Tecno Phantom 9 runs Android 9.0 with HiOS 5.0 customization on top. Without building up the suspense, let me tell you that it is not pleasant by any stretch of imagination. While most brands including the Chinese ones are trying to put together neat and cohesive software designs, Tecno is heading into the opposite direction. Right from the homescreen, the interface elements look out of place. Take for instance, the smart panel, which looks like a third-party bloatware from 2012. The software also nags you with random news and poor game recommendations on homescreen along with the lockscreen.

Phantom UI

The app drawer looks more cluttered than a teenager’s wardrobe. The design lacks uniformity as some of the pre-loaded apps feature rounded icons while others have a square outline. Moving onto the color scheme, well there’s no coherent color scheme. By default, the phone comes with some puerile transition effects, but thankfully these can be disabled.

The Phantom 9 is powered by Mediatek’s MT6765 Helio P35 chipset. This 12 nm SoC (System on Chip) comprises of four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz and four more Cortex-A53 capped at 1.8 GHz. Loaded with 6 GB of RAM, this handset does well to keep the stutter and lag at bay during normal tasks.

However, things go south when you turn to gaming. The phone’s octa-core processor coupled with the PowerVR GE8320 GPU only manages to run PUBG Mobile like a slideshow even on low settings.

Techno Phantom 9 Gaming

The phone’s mono speaker is quite shrill. It is only good for watching YouTube videos. For movies and music, you are better off with the earphones. The bundled earphones are terrible, so you have no option but to buy a new pair of IEMs (In-Ear Monitors). On the bright side, with the right earphones, the Phantom 9 offers good sound output.

The phone comes with two SIM slots with support for 4G. Apart from the usual call drops on Airtel’s absolutely trashy network in Hyderabad, the device worked perfectly fine.

Tecno Phantom 9 Cameras

Moving onto the photography department, the Phantom 9 is equipped with a triple camera setup. It features a 16 MP main sensor, accompanied by a 2 MP depth sensor, and an 8 MP wide-angle lens. The camera offers AI, beauty, Bokeh, AR, and Panorama modes. AI cam is what you are going to use the most. The main sensor offers decent results. The resulting pictures pack in good amount detail, but the sharpening effect turns out to be aggressive. The wide-angle lens does what it says and Tecno has also done a good job with correcting the wide-lens barrel distortion. However, the wide-angle shots look unusually dark compared to those snapped by the main sensor.

The handset lacks a dedicated night mode. It is no surprise then that the camera disappoints in low-light conditions. The camera records Full HD videos at 30 frames per second. For a budget phone, the resolved detail is decent. However, due to the lack of stabilization system, the videos look jittery.

For selfies, the phone is loaded with a 32 MP AI front-facing camera. As per our selfie expert Awad, the Phantom 9 is impressive when it comes to the self-portraits. You get plenty of resolved detail with quite accurate colors. Moreover, the camera is flanked by two LEDs that help you continue your narcissism even in the dark. Overall, the camera is good but is far behind the benchmark set by the Redmi Note 7 Pro.

Resident selfie expert Awad replicating the same pose for three samples.

Tecno Phantom 9 Battery

The phone draws power from a 3,500 mAh battery. The phone chips with a 5V 2A charger. It takes over two hours to fully charge the battery. On a single charge, the Tecno Phantom easily last for an entire day with screen-on-time of around 7 hours.

Techno Phantom 9

Verdict

The Phantom 9 is not a bad phone. The AMOLED display is undoubtedly its strongest point. Build quality and cameras are also decent. However, it fails miserably in the gaming department. Tecno’s Android customization lags far behind Xiaomi’s MIUI and Realme’s ColorOS 6. Overall, it is an average phone struggling to keep up with the highly competitive handsets such as the Redmi 7 Pro and Realme 3 Pro.

Tecno Phantom 9

6.6

Design & Build

7.0/10

Display

9.0/10

Rear Camera

6.5/10

Front Camera

7.5/10

Performance

5.0/10

Software

5.0/10

Battery Life

7.0/10

Value For Money

6.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Excellent OLED display
  • Thin-bezel design
  • Good selfie camera
  • Decent battery life

What Is Bad?

  • Terrible for gaming
  • Cluttered software
  • Low-light camera performance is underwhelming

Chandrakant is a sci-fi movie aficionado and wannabe space explorer. He writes about consumer technology for bread and butter. He has worked with some of the esteemed publications like PCMag, TechTree, Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, NDTV Gadgets, and more.

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