So as a PR/Communication/Branding enthusiast, I have been watching Tecno’s entry and penetration into the Kenyan mobile phone market with interest. It has not been without woes. For starters, in Kenya, the word “China”, (no offence to Chinese people) is almost a synonym for “fake”. This has been due to the huge influx of fake/counterfeited goods from China that have tormented Kenyan consumers for years. I mean it’s way cheaper, therefore tempting, but when you buy it, it will surprise you every time with a new way of not working. We all know that cheap is expensive (I mean, the *Wahenga said it and we are constantly being reminded), but if your products keep teaching us practical lessons, we ARE going to hate you.
So Tecno have had the uphill task of proving that despite being a Chinese brand,
1. They are not purporting to be anyone we are not and
2. They are making quality stuff (go ahead and test them, the warranty is 2 years) (Not anymore, I was rather vexed and impressed at the same time to discover)
So when the Tecno Phantom made its debut, it was not just a phone (IMO) it was a symbol of how far the brand has come. On a scale of HTC to Samsung, well, Tecno has arrived!
What I love about this phone:
Screen (size and resolution)
The 5.0 TFT High Definition screen display rocks. It’s great for reading. I am currently reading a Kindle book on it and it’s very comfortable. Its also pretty roomy and accommodates the keyboard quite nicely, that I haven’t had to use the auto-rotate feature for typing.
This is one of my favorite things about this phone. On an auto setting, this 8MP camera will focus and take a clear, bright picture. You can easily zoom in during a shot by a pinching open motion on the screen. The image resolution is pretty good. (You have to zoom into the image quite a lot for it to become blurry) It makes me happy that I do not have to be a professional to take decent pics for Instagram using my camera phone.
Note that I am not that tall so I had to zoom in 🙂
Design and feel
I am a big fan of large phone screens. And at 5.0 this phone is pushing it. The flip side is however, that unless it’s a pricey phone, a larger screen usually means a heavier phone. However, this phone is surprisingly light and easy to handle. So while we are on the subject, this phone looks so much like an S4, that everyone gets shocked when I tell them it’s not. The resemblance is such that I once spent a full day with a colleague who had just acquired a black phantom, A+, assuming that his phone was an S4, and he spent the same amount of time assuming that my white one was an S4! (we had a laugh over that one when I finally asked!)
I must say however, that while I like the idea of the protruding camera lens (gives the impression that the camera is uber-powerful) it makes it so much more vulnerable to breakage. Mine is already cracked, though I am happy to report, it hasn’t affected the image quality, yet. If anyone is listening, may I suggest a rubber ring around the lens? Or silicone? You get my drift.
Technical specs aside (I know you can Google those 😉 ) The practical battery life of this phone is pretty impressive. Normally, despite what manufacturers claim, smartphone battery life sucks! So much so, that in Kenya it’s common practice to carry a basic phone as well (widely known as a *kabambe) coz you know you will run out of charge right about the middle of the day (that is if you are economical with usage).
Now I am a pretty heavy phone user. (I have heard complaints 😉 ) On a typical 2 hour trip to the office (when I am not the driver ) I will play music, Tweet, Whatsapp, do my emails (Gmail app), and the rest of the way read on the Kindle app or Bible Gateway app (which keeps crashing, by the way).
Usually I will switch off mobile data in-between using apps that need connectivity to preserve battery. And I will NOT play a game if I don’t want my charge to run out before I get to the office. With my previous phone (you can read about it here) I would get to the office at 25% or so battery. But with the Phantom, I do all that and still get to work at 70% battery! (I am trying to calm down here) I am in battery heaven. I do not even bother to switch off mobile data because I hardly notice its effect.
To make things even better, this phone comes with a Powerbank. So if I run out of charge enroute, all I have to do is connect my phone and voila! As long as I have a charged Powerbank in my bag, I can go up to 10 hours or more without needing an electric outlet. For me, with a smartphone, this is huge.
Another feature I like is the dual sim. Like many Kenyans, I have more than one sim card, which if you were using a smartphone would mean having an extra phone to keep both lines on (because no smartphone worth it’s salt would be dual-sim!) Well, yes, until Tecno went and did it with the Phantom! This was a risk, I’d say especially keeping in mind the branding thing that we talked about earlier.
The user interface is also a win, especially with regards to sending texts and making phones. One is able to do so with a single screen tap, not being taken to an additional, annoying menu that prompts you to select the sim card you want to use.
Apps! Especially Flashshare
The Phantom comes with a lot of considerately pre-loaded apps. My favorite being Truecaller, Whatsapp (which I love to hate – story for another day – but is convenient) and the one that had me all excited, Flashshare! So with this app, you do not need to be online to share stuff with another Phantom user. You connect (it creates a hotspot) and you shake it to send whatever you have selected (including apps!) to the paired device. I got a little carried away with this feature and received way too many videos into my internal memory. And now I can’t delete them before I watch them!
So the earphones sound pretty good, but they don’t seem to work on my laptop (MacBook Air) or my colleagues’ Windows laptops. That is a bummer as I had to get different ones for use with the laptop. Also, I recently misplaced my phone earphones (bummer!) and discovered that the earphones I got to use with my computer, do not work with my phone! (To clarify, when you plug them in while playing music, the instruments are audible but the vocals sound like they are being sung in a far away land. Very acoustic)
So the phone comes with a free flip cover, and a back-cover for those who do not want to use the flip (like me). I wish it came with a protective back cover for those anti-flip people whose phones tend to drop a lot! E.g. when you have a tech savvy toddler ☺. I for one would love a rubbery, yellow, floppy cover. I am yet to find one – and this is not from a lack of scouring the streets in search of one.
Well, Tecno seem to be good in a lot of things, but making SD cards is not one of them. The phone comes with a free 8GB card (my first thought was, “awesome deal!”) so from my normal usage, I determined I would not need to buy an additional card. However, every time I switch on my phone, it suggests that I format the card. Because it is damaged. Every time! So all my lovely photos that I have been taking with my awesome camera, have been disappearing on a regular basis.
Her Geekyness’ Conclusion
Overall, I think that at KES 24,000 this phone is incredible value for money. From the unwrapping the box experience (kudos for the awesome packaging), the extra accessories (especially the Powerbank), to it’s processing that is fast and robust (even with many apps open). I would buy this phone all over again. ☺ –
-her royal geekiness-
*Wahenga – wise people of the olden days who came up with all the wise quotes and proverbs in Africa (LOL)
*Kabambe – this would be a very simple feature phone, rarely internet-enabled. Most keep charge for days.