TECNO Phantom 5 review: Does it live up to the hype?

TECNO launched its latest flagship, the Phantom 5, with much hype and fanfare. Many bold claims were made. My job as a reviewer is to ascertain how much the device lives up to the marketing hype. This review unit was sent in by TECNO a few days before the official launch. If you know me, you know that my reviews are 100% my opinion. I do not dance to manufacturers’ whims in my gadget reviews.

If a brand wants endorsement or marketing from me, that is always done separate from my reviews. Our reviews here on MobilityArena.com are to give prospective buyers as true a view of the device as possible. The worst any manufacturer will do if I have negative things to say about a device they send me is to not send me another one the next time. That has happened before, and it hasn’t stopped me from saying things as I see them. So, sit tight and come with me as I share my experience with the TECNO Phantom 5.

Phantom 5 homescreen

Quick Specs
– Dimensions: 151 x 75.8 x 6.8 mm
– Weight: 172g
– Display: 5.5-inch, 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 PPI), Full HD, In-cell capacitive touchscreen, Gorilla Glass 3 with anti-fingerprint coating
– Processor Type: 64 Bit Octa-core 1.3 GHz CPU
– RAM: 3 GB
– Storage: 32GB + MicroSD card slot up to 64GB
– Camera: 13 megapixel, autofocus, rear camera with dual LED flash, 1080P HD video. 8 megapixel selfie camera with soft flash
– Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh
– Fingerprint Sensor at the back
– HIFI 2.0, DOLBY Surround Digital, Metal HiFi earphone included

You can get the full specs HERE.

Design
Phantom 5 top perspective
I love beautifully crafted smartphones. The Phantom 5 is one. I love the sleek metal build. TECNO fitted a 5.5-inch display in relatively compact dimensions. The phone looks beautiful and feels so in the hand too. The display is gorgeous and very smooth in the hand too. It easily reminds me of the quality we have come to know from high-end Nokias, iPhones, Samsungs and others.

Software
Phantom 5 App Drawer
Powering the Phantom 5 is Android Lollipop 5.1 with a mildy customised user interface. The UI is breezy, light and snappy. It is certainly and improvement over previous iterations by TECNO. You already know all the goodies that Android Lollipop packs. They are all in here. The device has full access to Play Store.

TECNO has promised an update to Android 6 Marshmallow for June 2016. To be honest, that is an eternity away in update cycles. Who knows – perhaps Google would have released Android 8 by then. Still, an update is promised. It is a good step in the right direction.

Multimedia
Phantom 5 rear Dolby Speaker
The first thing that will have you loving the Phantom 5 for multimedia is the beautiful, large display. The next thing is the quality of audio from both the loudspeaker and the bundled metal headset. Simply amazing. If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a thing for great audio reproduction. The TECNO Phantom 5 sits up there with the HTC M8 and BlackBerry Z30 (these, along with the HTC M9, are the very best out there). Though the Phantom does not boast stereo speakers, the audio quality from its loudspeaker is only a tiny notch below those two devices. It is that good.

But you will also love using the bundled headset. They are very, very good too. One of the best I have ever plugged into my ears. TECNO wasn’t joking. Besides quality, volume is also very good. Many phones with great quality audio have not-so-great volume. TECNO Phantom 5 combines the two.

And watching movies on the lovely display is bliss. Absolute bliss. Every video format that I have thrown at it has played well. There’s FM Radio in there too, so it is a complete multimedia device.

TECNO has its new, custom music player, Boom Player built in. What Boom Player brings to the table is the ability to search for, stream and download music by African artistes. In addition, it gives you the lyrics of tracks that you are playing (if available), and also lets you edit the meta details of each music file. User registration is available, so you can post comments. You can also share your music to social networks. It is a beautiful piece of work.

Camera
Phantom 5 camera fingerprint scanner
The Phantom 5 has a 13 megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera with soft flashlight. TECNO bragged about the quality of the photos this phone produces. The brags were not far from the truth. I have published sample photographs taken with the phone, and everyone is amazed at the quality (follow the link to see them for yourself). Both cameras are really remarkable.

In that feature article, I promised to bring you low-light shots. The following shots were taken with the rear camera and no flash light. You can click on each photo to see the full image.

This crop was taken indoors in a poorly lit room in the evening with curtains half drawn:
Phantom 5 low light shot

This shot is from a night out at a concert. It was taken from inside the crowd quite some distance from the stage:
Phantom 5 camera night concert

So you can see what level of details was captured, I have cropped a section of the concert stage:
Phantom 5 night shot concert cropped

Your thoughts?

Performance
In every day usage, the Phantom 5 is smooth and fast. Gaming is good too, but not on the level of phones with more powerful processors. However, this is no poor performer in the gaming and heavy duty field. The 1.3 GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6753 processor, Mali-T720 graphics processing unit and 3GB RAM keep things running smoothly. Personally, I had been hoping that the processor would be clocked at 2.0 GHz, but seeing that the phone works well in everyday use even with the lower clock, I can’t complain. Plus, I am guessing that the 1.3 GHz clock was a compromise to make sure that the phone delivers good battery performance.

It is a dual SIM phone and is also 4G LTE compliant. I use my regular SIM for calls and SMS, and my Smile 4G SIM for data in it. Both work very well without any issues. There’s 32GB internal storage and a slot for micro SD card of up to 64GB. The phone also supports USB-on-the-go and I have been able to use my flash drives with it without issues.

I have 35 third party apps installed at last count, and I haven’t run into any app install issues yet. The Phantom 5 comes with TECNO’s regular lineup of own apps – including Boom Player, and Xender (Flash Share).

Fingerprint Sensor
There is a fingerprint sensor at the rear of the phone just below the camera lens. It lets you programme a finger from all possible angles. You can register up to 5 fingerprints. And in everyday use, it works amazingly well. I pick up the phone like I want to use it, and my index finger (which is what I registered) rests directly on the fingerprint scanner. This simple, quick action wakes up the display and unlocks the phone.

No more tapping, swiping and typing a PIN or code to unlock. Having it at the back seems a whole lot more natural to me than having it in front like some other phones do. But this boils down to individual preference. The lovely thing here is that it works as advertised. It is very reliable.

Battery Life
The Phantom 5 runs for a full day of moderate use. If you push it hard, you will need to top it up before the end of the day. But it is a phone I haven’t had to nurse, battery wise. And should you be in dire straits, the Ultra Power Savings (UPS) mode is amazing and can easily give you 5 extra hours of battery life if you activate it when you are down to 5% charge. This is because UPS mode turns the phone into a Nokia 3310.

Phantom 5 top angle

Pricing and Verdict
Forgive me if this sounds too smooth, but here is my verdict on the Phantom 5: it is a flawless smartphone. I haven’t found one thing wrong with it yet. With a sleek design, superb performance, great up-to-date-software, polished UI, awesome audio, and a camera that holds its own against some of the best in the industry, the Phantom 5 redefines the TECNO brand.

It is easily one of the finest Android smartphones I’ve used. And I’ve used plenty. In my opinion, it is worth every naira of the N70,000 that it sells for.

Mobility Ratings
BATTERY: 8/10
DISPLAY: 9/10
CAMERA: 8/10
PERFORMANCE: 8/10
SOFTWARE: 9/10
DESIGN: 9/10

Award-winning Content creator, Digital marketing consultant, Trainer, Conference speaker, and Nigeria's pioneer and foremost mobile phone reviewer. Legend.

47 thoughts on “TECNO Phantom 5 review: Does it live up to the hype?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *