First Impressions with photos: The Phantom Z arrives MOBILITY

You’ve heard about TECNO’s new flagship, the Phantom Z. You’ve seen promotional images. Now, we have a unit here at MOBILITY Towers and have two weeks to play with it and tell you what we think about it. Here is what it looks like in the flesh:

TECNO Phantom Z live mobility

You are itching to know whether or not it lives up to the manufacturer’s hype. We are too. While we are still setting it up and so haven’t interacted with the software, I must say this outright: this is a fine piece of hardware that TECNO has put out there. The 5.2-inch display is super bright and has deep contrasts characteristic of AMOLED displays. But the resolution of 1080 by 1920 must be a contributing factor to the viewing quality.

The device is thin (just 7.8mm). That is thinner than the HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z2, Samsung Galaxy S5, and Lumia 930, and is just 0.02mm thicker than the iPhone 5S. That’s no easy achievement.

TECNO Phantom Z thickness

The back cover is a nice faux leather texture. The high quality plastic casing feels like a finely-crafted job. In all, this is the best hardware ever on a TECNO phone, and it brings the brand into the league of OEMs that make phones with style. If you place the TECNO R7 beside the Phantom Z, you will almost immediately despise the former. The Z is by far the classier of the two devices.

TECNO Phantom Z

The question now is, how well does the Phantom Z perform in everyday use? What optimisations and enhancements has TECNO made to the OS? What kind of battery life can users expect to experience on this device?

From the setting up process though, I can immediately tell you that the Z has Swiftkey keyboard built in (I still prefer the new Android L keyboard and will be installing that). It also has another UI graphics customisation of the dropdown menu and Settings different from what we saw on the previous two TECNO flagships (remember my article on the need for UI consistency across their phones?) The icons and other stuff are pretty much the same though.

There was a system update to fix existing bugs waiting for us right after setup, so OTA updates is there as well. But as seen with the R7, it has been used only for bug fixes and not yet deployed for firmware updates. When TECNO will venture that way is what everyone is waiting for.

TECNO bundled a power bank and Smart View Cover with the Z for a limited number of units:
TECNO Phantom Z with bundled accesories
Note: I have checked and double-checked for a microSD card slot on the Phantom Z and found none. I know I am getting senile, but if an expandable slot exists on the Z, it shouldn’t be this hard to find. I tried. A lot. I still have not found one. So, contrary to what earlier published specs say, it does not seem that the Phantom Z supports memory cards of any sort.

The Z has a SIM tray for the dual SIM (micro-SIM size for both) that requires a SIM extractor. One is included in the pack. TECNO has also included two micro-SIM adapters should you need to put your SIMs into a device supporting mini-SIMs only. In the photo below, you can see the SIM tray extended out, the SIM extractor, and the bundled adapters:
TECNO Phantom Z SIM tray et al

The Phantom Z’s 5.2-inch display and slim and trim frame make it a delightful device in the hand. It is clear that TECNO is gunning to be perceived as a producer of high quality smartphones – at least at the high end. They have my attention already. Here is the Phantom Z posing with the HTC Desire 816:

TECNO Phantom Z - HTC Desire 816
Note the single hardware button below the display. It also serves as a breathing light. I am not sure yet if any notifications can be attached to it, but expect details in the full review. The Phantom Z feels heavy though – heavier than the 816 which is the bigger of the two.

Feel free to ask any questions that you would love to have answered, so I can test for those things and include them in my proper review.

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  1. With The Exuberant Praise I Have Been Hearing From A Punctilious And Hard_To_Please Plus Knowledgeable Tecno R7 Owner, I Knew This Follow_Up Phantom Z Must Be Smashing…

    And If Moverick Is Impressed, It Must Be Truly Impressive.

    Note: I Have Checked And Double-checked For A Microsd Card Slot On The Phantom Z And Found None.

    Ouch!

    Bummer! Why Must There Almost Always Be An Omission Somewhere?

  2. Truly impressive job from Tecno. They did pay attention to the finishing details on this device and it deviated slightly from the regular rounded edges seen on most of their other Android devices.

    If you place the TECNO R7 beside the Phantom Z, you will almost immediately despise the former. The Z is by far the classier of the two devices.

    I think despise will be too strong but the Tecno Phantom Z without doubt feels more premium than the Tecno R7 but the Tecno R7 still delivers at its price point. That difference in price will certainly help a lot of people in deciding.

    Note: I have checked and double-checked for a microSD card slot on the Phantom Z and found none. I know I am getting senile, but if an expandable slot exists on the Z, it shouldn’t be this hard to find. I tried. A lot. I still cannot found one. So, contrary to what earlier published specs say, it does not seem that the Phantom Z supports memory cards of any sort.

    With 32GB onboard and with all the recent Tecno flagship devices including USB On-The-Go that works well, I don’t think this is much of a limitation for users as they can easily expand the storage via the use of flash drives, it only takes buying USB On-The-Go cable to use the feature.

  3. The Absence Of An Sdcard Slot Is A Major Minus O. If I Spend N55k On A Phone, I Want To Be Able Install And Store Things As I Want. If The Internal Memory Is Filled Up With Games Am Not Ready To Uninstall, Surely You See Am Out Of Luck? With An External Sdcard, I Would Be Able To Have An Extra 64gbytes To Roll With, Instead Of Messing Around With Some Serpentine Usb Cable And Flash Drives.. Besides, An Not A Fan Of Protuberant Appurtenances..

    1. Pull out the SIM tray using the extractor. You need micro-SIM size, so if what you have is the regular SIM, you need to go get it swapped to micro size at your network operator.

  4. I have just taken possession of one and can confirm that there is no SD card slot unless it has been made invisible. Another minus is that the battery is not easily replaceable unless you are tech savvy. The final minus is that you run the risk of your wife/ girlfriend wanting to commandeer it from you because it is just sexy looking.

  5. Why this deception from Tecno? I’m highly disappointed with their lies of SD slot being absent aaaaaaaa… If I had known earlier, I wouldn’t have gone in for one. I’m even considering sending it back. So worried.

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