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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with HDML/WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.