Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: A Gutsy Move, But Does it Stick?

The Phantom X2 5G puts forward an interesting proposition with an enigmatic design approach, a flagship processor, and a curved display at an attractive price of Rs 39,999 in India. The main question here is; can Tecno lure customers from the other flagship manufacturers in this price bracket?

Highlights

  • The Phantom X2 5G is priced at Rs 39,999 in India

  • It is only available in a single 8GB RAM + 256GB storage variant

  • The MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC powers it

Tecno is well known in the Indian markets for its budget range of devices. It has made its mark in the budget segment with its Pova, Spark, and Pop series, while the Camon series meanders around the Rs 20,000 price point. However, Tecno clearly doesn’t wish to stop there, and it has shifted into top gear by launching its baby flagship, the Phantom X2 5G. We call it ‘baby’ because there’s no word on the bigger Phantom X2 Pro 5G (First Impressions), a smartphone that made headlines while the Qatar World Cup was in full swing.

Moving on, the Phantom X2 5G has a tall mountain to climb. With a price tag of Rs 39,999, it has to go up against the category favourites, namely Realme GT Neo 3, OnePlus 10R, OPPO Reno 8 Pro, and iQOO 9.

It has a bunch of things going for it, though. One, it is the cheapest smartphone with a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC in India. It also has a curved AMOLED display and a triple camera setup led by a 64-megapixel shooter. But are these specifications enough to stir things up in the segment? More importantly, is the Phantom X2 5G worth a shot? Find out in our review.

Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: Pricing and availability in India

Tecno has kept things simple with Phantom X2 5G. You can buy it in a single variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for Rs 39,999 on Amazon. Here’s the twist — Tecno promises a free upgrade to the Phantom X3 for the first 300 people who pre-book the device (divided between Amazon and offline stores). That’s one way to build a customer base if you ask us. Tecno provides 12 months of warranty and also offers 100 days of free screen replacement.

Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: The goodness of a curved display and a striking design

Making a device stand out these days is a tough job. However, the Phantom X2 5G, with its distinctive camera module, has clearly excelled at that. It grabs eyeballs everywhere because of its unique rear camera design. It happened to us, too – a few passers-by took a moment to take notice of the cameras as we clicked some camera samples in a garden nearby.

The device is available in two colourways: Moonlight Silver and Stardust Grey. We have the latter with us for this review, and it looks subtle with a coarse texture at the back, as opposed to the glossy and shiny approach of the silver colour variant. Along with the slightly rough texture, it has a silky finish with small shiny elements that glow when light hits it. The rear panel only has the “Phantom” branding at the bottom.

The Phantom X2 5G has a unibody design with a plastic back and glass front meeting its aluminium frames at the centre. Ergonomics-wise, single-handed use is risky as hell – it just doesn’t like staying in your hand! The Indian variant includes a case, we recommend using that. The device feels premium, and the curved edges around the phone slightly help with holding the device.

The Phantom X2 5G weighs 210 grams, which is on the heavier side. The weight seemed to be balanced, and it did not feel as top-heavy as the bigger sibling — despite both sharing the same camera island. The camera module has a total of three rings — which Tecno lovingly calls “3.5D lunar craters”. They protrude a bit, causing the phone to wobble when kept on flat surfaces.

If you hold it at an angle, the two big lenses replicate the eyes, while the small lens looks like a mouth — creating a funny little robot face. It gets a glass finish, different from the back panel, to add some disparity. The glass attracts fingerprint marks. Just like the curved edges around the phone, the camera module is also polished and smoothened out, so it does not cut your skin or get stuck somewhere in your jeans pocket.

The device has aluminium frames with the right side housing the volume rockers and power buttons — the latter gets special treatment with red accents. The buttons are well-placed for reachability. Despite their slim design, the buttons have good tactile feedback. The bottom portion of the device holds in place a speaker grille, a USB Type-C port, a primary microphone, and a SIM tray.

The device can take up to two nano SIMs, and there’s no room for expanding storage via a microSD card. The left side is as clean as a whistle, barring antenna bands, with the top portion holding in place a secondary microphone. The top railing has a mirrored finish, which is good for emergency hairstyle checks.

The front of the Phantom X2 5G is wrapped in a 6.8-inch curved AMOLED display with 2400×1080 resolution. It refreshes at 120Hz with a touch sampling rate of 360Hz. The display has a 20:9 aspect ratio and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for unfortunate drops and accidents. The curved display looks beautiful with a neat screen-to-body ratio. It has a centrally placed camera at the top which is not too distracting while consuming content.

Scrolling through the UI and social media apps on the 120Hz display was a smooth experience. The panel has a brightness of 500 nits. It also has a ‘High Brightness Mode’ which increases the brightness for more legibility outdoors and can go up to a maximum of 700 nits — which is slightly on the lower side.

Watching movies and other content on curved displays is a fantastic experience — the Phantom X2 5G delivers on that front too. The device supports Widevine L1 certification, so watching movies and TV shows in 1080p on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar is possible. However, it lacks a HDR certification. We watched shows such as Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and Wednesday on the Phantom X2 5G, and our experience was great. The colours on display pop well, and the videos look crisp and vibrant.

The AMOLED display produces deep blacks, which is good for saving battery, and it also helps enhance the whole watching experience. Shows with dark environments — like Wednesday — look good, and we did not notice any light bleed. Here’s a bummer, though – no stereo speaker! It’s almost a hygiene feature for smartphones at this price point.

It has a bunch of colour profiles for the display, like ‘Bright-coloured’, which saturates the colours, while the ‘Original colour’ preset goes for a more neutral look. The curved display is well-implemented, and the viewing angles are also good. It would’ve been nice to see Tecno implement some edge lighting, such as the one on Motorola, to completely utilise the display — but it’s nothing essential.

One downside to curved displays is accidental touches. The Realme 10 Pro+ managed to fight those off well thanks to its anti-mistouch algorithm — the Phantom X2 5G does not do a good job at rejecting palm touches. This was quite annoying when trying to take photos using one hand.

Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: A competent performer

The Phantom X2 5G is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor. As mentioned earlier, it’s available in a single 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB storage variant. The chipset is based on the 4nm fabrication process. It’s an octa-core processor with a clock speed of 3.05GHz. The Dimensity 9000 SoC is fighting against the big boys from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8 Gen-1 and 8+ Gen-1.

The cheapest Snapdragon 8+ Gen-1-powered phone starts at Rs 50,000, while the Phantom X2 5G with its Dimensity 9000 is priced under Rs 40,000. This is an interesting faceoff. The pricing puts the Phantom X2 5G amongst competitors running on the Snapdragon 888 processor. Stirring the pot further, the Phantom X2 Pro 5G also comes with the same chipset — which is an interesting choice considering the pricing disparity between the two in global markets.

The Phantom X2 5G supports a number of 5G bands. A tab in the settings allows you to enable ‘Smart 5G’, which automatically switches between 5G and 4G depending on the signal to save the battery. The device has support for dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, and NFC.

The Phantom X2 5G runs on HiOS V12.0 based on Android 12, which is a bummer as Android 13 is live and should have been loaded out of the box. There’s no word on future upgrades as of now. Our unit is running the September security patch. HiOS is not the prettiest operating system out there, and it took some time to grow on us. While the software, for the most part, is practical and works smoothly, it’s still let down by the presence of bloatware and spammy notifications.

Tecno has an app for almost all basic needs, ranging from its own gallery app to a video player that sends pesky notifications. Apps such as Boomplay, Caricare, Welife, Tecno Spot, and more can be found on the phone. Sadly, these cannot be uninstalled, only disabled. The notification bar holds a lot of useful shortcuts, and we found them to be handy.

A single swipe from the left side will give you access to your notifications, while a swipe from the right will show you the shortcuts. On the other hand, we found the notifications to be a bit cluttered, especially when there are a lot of messages from different chats on WhatsApp.

Gimmicks such as MemFusion, which basically uses a part of storage as RAM, can also be seen on the Phantom X2 5G. You can set aside up to 5GB. It also uses something called AI MemFusion. This predicts less used apps running in the background and puts them in the virtual RAM slot. This allows boosting the speed of the more frequently running apps. We did not notice any major improvements in the performance.

Alongside this, you also get to see ‘Special Functions’ such as Smart Panel, App Twin, Social Turbo, Lightning Multi-Window, Peek Mode and more. The ‘Social Turbo’ feature was quite interesting as it gets automatically enabled when you are on a video call on WhatsApp. It shows a small menu with a toggle for beauty mode and a front-facing flash. While the former was not really useful for us, the latter was fun to get some questionable faces from our friends. Overall, we had no major issues with the software, and it worked well in our daily usage despite it being a slightly heavier skin.

The Phantom X2 5G had absolutely no issues performing day-to-day tasks such as switching through multiple apps, multi-tasking, doom scrolling through Instagram Reels, and more. We performed our usual stress test on the device with Google Maps running in picture-in-picture mode and YouTube playing audio in the background.

We then went on to scroll through Twitter, followed by Instagram. The phone did not stutter and handled the tasks without hiccups, which is good. The Phantom X2 5G uses UFS 3.1 standard for storage. The in-display fingerprint sensor and face unlock are quick, and they work flawlessly each time. The haptic feedback on the Phantom X2 5G was not up to flagship standards.

Coming to its performance, we ran the Phantom X2 5G through a bunch of synthetic benchmarks. The device scored 946128 in AnTuTu v9 tests, it falls short of the iQOO 9T (Review), which managed to score a whopping 1087936 in its tests but beats the OnePlus 10T (Review), which scored 787,493. Both the above-mentioned devices run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.

To put things into more perspective, let’s compare the scores of the Phantom X2 5G against the OnePlus 10R and the Realme GT Neo 3, which fall under the same price bracket — the former scored 681353, while the latter managed 813402. The OnePlus 10R runs on Dimensity 8100-MAX, and the Realme GT Neo 3 is powered by the vanilla Dimensity 8100. We also compared it with the fairly recent OPPO Reno 8 Pro (Review), which also comes with the Dimensity 8100-MAX — it managed a combined score of 731279.

Geekbench tests returned a single-core score of 1207 and a multi-core score of 3866. We also ran Sling Shot Extreme tests on both Vulkan and OpenGL ES 3.1. The processor maxed out the scores on both. WildLife Extreme Stress Test returned the best loop score of 2394 with a stability rate of 99.5%, which is good. PCMark’s Work 3.0 returned a performance score of 18137.

As for gaming, Apex Legends Mobile can go all the way up to ‘Original’ graphic presets. However, keeping in mind practical usage and the need for more frames, we ran it on ‘HD’ graphics and ‘Very High’ frame rates at 50fps. We noticed minor frame drops to 46fps while landing, but besides that, we did not face any problems with the gameplay. After playing for 15 minutes, the Phantom X2 5G’s battery dropped from 79 per cent to 74 per cent.

We then switched to ‘Extreme HD’ graphic settings and ‘Ultra’ frame rates, which gave us 60fps. We noticed a massive dip in the frame rate to 46fps when trying to land into a hot drop — ‘The Coliseum’ in Kings Canyon. Once we landed, the frames settled and did not dip below 58fps. Moving on to Call of Duty: Mobile, the game ran smoothly at ‘Low’ graphic settings and ‘Max’ frame rates.

We were able to get 60fps without any major stutters. We did not notice any major heating issues with the device after playing for over an hour, though it’s worth noting that we tested it during winter. The Phantom X2 5G does not come with any IP rating, which is slightly disappointing for a flagship.

Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: A decent set of cameras, with room for improvement

The Phantom X2 5G has a triple-rear camera setup at the back, which is hard to miss. The device misses out on the 50-megapixel retractable portrait camera from its elder sibling. It features a 64-megapixel primary camera along with a 13-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera that doubles as a macro shooter. And finally, a 2-megapixel shooter completes the camera setup.

The front of the device holds in place a 32-megapixel camera for selfies. The camera app is easy to navigate around. The photo mode is called AI Cam, which helps in detecting the scene automatically. This works consistently. It has a ‘Film’ mode which stores a bunch of video templates such as ‘Vintage’, ‘Family’, ‘Travel’, and more. Besides this, it has a few video enhancement settings as well. It has a dedicated ‘Super Night Mode’ for both cameras but misses out on a pro mode.

The primary camera captures 16-megapixel binned images. We shot these samples in the peak winter season without proper sunlight. Photos shot in daylight were crisp and detailed. The colours were neutral, and we naturally prefer these over excessively saturated and punchy colours because this leaves room for more adjustments in the post.

Images had a good amount of contrast, but the dynamic range was not consistent at times. In the images below, the Phantom X2 5G overexposed the light coming from the window. Photos clicked of human subjects indoors caused a yellow tint on the face, this was rare.

Portrait mode clicks good images with proper edge detection for human subjects, plants, as well as pets. It lets you choose the blur level before taking a shot. The Phantom X2 5G does not have a dedicated telephoto lens, but it allows you to zoom digitally to 10x. It holds some details at 2x, but the watercolour effect (lack of proper details) kicks in at 10x.

It has a dedicated 64-megapixel mode which shoots detailed images. Text, and other elements were legible even after zooming in to the photos. Switching to the 13-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera changed the colour temperature to warm. Details in the image were fine, but we noticed noise around the corners, even in daylight. Distortion was also evident. The ultra-wide angle camera is also capable of taking some good and detailed macro shots.

Low-light photos were surprisingly good, with a decent amount of details, but it tends to over sharpen the images. Bright light sources were often blown out in low-light shots. Photos clicked with the 13-megapixel shooter during the night were usable, but the edges had softer details.

It also had some artefacts, such as a purple tint next to light sources. Due to the AI Cam, night mode kicks in automatically when necessary. It also has a separate Super Night mode which uses a slower shutter speed to capture more light, as compared to the regular night mode. The differences aren’t vast between the two.

The 32-megapixel selfie camera does a good job of maintaining skin tones as well as details. Portrait mode is a hit or miss. A front-facing flash aided selfies at night. If you are into filters, it has a bunch of options in the camera app.

The Phantom X2 5G can shoot videos up to 4K 60fps with the primary camera, while the ultra-wide and front snapper is capped at 1080p. The phone does not let you switch between the lenses while recording videos. The cameras have EIS, and while the stabilisation is fine, we noticed a shimmer throughout the video output. The videos had good details and colours.

Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: Good battery life with an average charger

The Phantom X2 5G is backed by a 5,160mAh battery, which goes head-to-head with the competition. But the 45W charger inside the box doesn’t make the cut. Even more affordable offerings, like the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus, have upped their ante.

We managed to get a screen time of over 7 hours, with gaming, camera usage, and content consumption — basically, a busy day. We really pushed the phone to its limits with our use, this should last more for people who do not use their phones as extensively as us.

Coming to the charging bit, the Phantom X2 5G took 30 minutes to reach 62 per cent. The device took an hour to hit the 90 per cent mark. It took a few more minutes to top up completely. We did not notice any heating during this period.

Tecno Phantom X2 5G Review: Verdict

The Phantom X2 5G opens up a new dimension for Tecno products in the Indian markets. On paper, the device seems like a good package, and that carries forward to our practical usage, however, with some inconsistencies. The curved AMOLED display is quite good for everyday usage, gaming, as well as watching content. While it has a questionable design choice, it sure is a device that will be etched in your minds forever — besides, the build quality is excellent. Tecno has optimised the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 well, to make it power efficient and also to draw a good performance out of it — which can be seen in its gaming abilities, as well as daily usage.

The device flies through everyday tasks. HiOS has a bit of a learning curve, and the present bloatware does not make it easier. It has a very competent set of cameras which takes some good photos, though the volatile HDR processing should be fixed. Looking past that, the cameras have a lot to offer, including the front snapper. The mentioned issues can be fixed with software updates.

But there are some things that cannot be fixed via software, like the lack of stereo speakers, an IP rating and a proper fast charger. So Tecno will have to go back to the drawing table and work things out in these areas.

The Phantom X2 5G, when compared to its competitors in the same price bracket, has new things to offer and provides good value for money. But considering this is Tecno’s first foray into the flagship market, people might be a bit uncertain as of now. Nevertheless, the company should build its lineup even more in the coming years, starting with the Phantom X2 Pro 5G.

Phantom X2 5G

Rs 39,999
8.1

Design & BUILD

8.7/10

Display

8.5/10

PERFORMANCE

8.8/10

BATTERY LIFE

8.5/10

CAMERA QUALITY

7.8/10

UI EXPERIENCE

7.8/10

AUDIO

7.0/10

DAY-TO-DAY USAGE

8.0/10

VALUE FOR MONEY

8.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Unique design, excellent build quality
  • Capable camera setup
  • Well-optimised Dimensity 9000 SoC
  • Impressive battery life
  • Responsive AMOLED display
  • Interesting pricing

What Is Bad?

  • No stereo speakers
  • Pre-installed bloatware
  • Slow charging, as per current standards
  • Still stuck on Android 12
  • No IP rating