TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup

In our TECNO Phantom 9 review roundup, the MobilityArena team looks at what reviewers who have handled this 2019 mid-range smartphone from TECNO Mobile are saying about it. Is it shit or is it the shit?

TECNO Phantom 9 Quick Specs

TECNO Phantom 9 front and back

  • Body: Polycarbonate;
  • Screen: 6.4-inch, 1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, AMOLED display with a waterdrop notch, along with Gorilla Glass 3 protection.
  • Rear Camera: 16MP f/1.8 primary sensor + 8MP f/2.4 ultrawide sensor + 2MP f/2.8 depth sensor  triple camera, auto-focus lens; LED flash; 1080p at 30fps video recording,
  • Front Camera: 16MP fixed focus lens; 1080p at 30fps video recording
  • Chipset: Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35.
  • Memory: 6GB RAM. 128GB storage. Dedicated microSD slot for up to 1TB expansion
  • OS: Android 9 Pie + HiOS 5.0;
  • Battery: Non-removable 3,500mAh.
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM (4G), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, FM radio, microUSB 2.0
  • Colors: Lapland Aurora gradient colours.
  • Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader..

See the more complete TECNO Phantom 9 specs sheet. Before we go into our review roundup, let’s have a look at what is in the box of the Phantom 9.

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: What’s In The Box

  • TECNO Phantom 9 phone itself
  • a USB cable
  • a wall adapter
  • a pair of earphones
  • a matte TPU cover
  • a SIM ejector tool
  • documentations

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Our Reviewers

TECNO Phantom 9 review
TECNO Phantom 9 review roundup. Photo, courtesy of Don Caprio

For this review roundup, we reference TECNO Phantom 9 reviews by 3 websites, Don Caprio, The Asian Age, and PCTechMag. Each of these websites has published a review of the phone, and we pick key points from them. Links to each of the reviews is available at the bottom of this article, so you can go enjoy the full meal when you are done here.

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Hardware

TECNO Phantom 9 “is built out of plastic but feels solid and sturdy in the hand through and through,” says The Asian Age. Don Caprio is enamored by the beautiful back cover. He says it is “the first thing that strikes you”. PcTechMag says the phone “really feels so comfortable and compact in your hands”.

All three reviewers praised the AMOLED display for its viewing angles, deep black and punchy colours, as well as sunlight visibility.

In-display fingerprint mount on the Tecno Phantom 9
In-display fingerprint mount on the Tecno Phantom 9. Photo by: PC TECH MAGAZINE/Olupot Nathan Ernest

The fingerprint scanner is built into the display. Don Caprio says the in-display scanner works “pretty well”, but that face unlock “seems a lot faster”.

The Asian Age went further to describe the in-display scanner as  “the only disappointment we found on the device. The scanner is slow and often fails to recognise our inputs”.

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Software

On the software side, Don Caprio says, “The Phantom 9 runs HiOS 5, Tecno’s customized version of Android 9. There are customizations here and there and some really nice features. The software comes with a bunch of bloatware apps but gladly, most of them are removable.”

Which is in line with The Asian Age’s report: “The software part is usually where most budget devices that offer great value for money often fail. However that isn’t the case with the Tecno Phantom 9. The phone runs on the HiOS interface atop Android 9.0 Pie. The skin is not the lightest but its not bulky either. It doesn’t slow down your device, instead giving you tons of customisations like themes and cool transitions. There is a little bloat on the device but most of it can be uninstalled.”

Tecno Phantom 9 supports the hiOS UI which is topped on the Android 9.0 (Pie)
HiOS on TECNO Phantom 9. Photo by: PC TECH MAGAZINE/Olupot Nathan Ernest

It isn’t all favourable though, as PCTechMag reports that HiOS 5 comes with “unnecessary ads which drain the battery, and unnecessary pre-installed apps”. And we agree: that sucks. An absolute thumbs-down to TECNO. And yes; Xiaomi, we are looking at you too.

But how does the Phantom 9 perform in everyday use?

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Performance

Don Caprio says that the phone’s Helio P35 processor and IMG PowerVR GE8320 GPU combination “is quite good for everyday use by mid-range standards. As far as performance is concerned, there is no issue in terms of day-to-day use since I wasn’t expecting a mid-range device to act as a high-end phone”. Which makes sense.

The Asian Age says the combination of the procesor and 6GB of RAM, “ensures a snappy phone with smooth animations, transitions and scrolling, even in content heavy apps like Instagram and Chrome.”

Don Caprio does mention that “running games that require huge CPU/GPU power at medium/maximum graphics settings isn’t one of the strengths of this device.”

So, it is clear that as a mid-range smartphone, the TECNO Phantom 9 performs very well and falters only at the heaviest of tasks. This isn’t strange for mid-range smartphones. The best gaming smartphones are high-end smartphones.

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Cameras

PCTechMag says of the rear triple camera: “The general performance of all its AI-integrated cameras (Front and Rear) was very good. They provided crisp, sharp, well contrasted and saturated photos. The rear cameras provided good dynamic range, perfect ultra wide angle, and deep bokeh photos,” but the “photos appear to have too much noise when zoomed in”.

The Asian Age reports that “the camera performs well outdoors and average indoors.”

Don Caprio says he “wasn’t expecting a stellar performance, but the result was quite surprising. The brightness, saturation and color balancing were really good.”

Moving on to the 32 MP camera located inside the waterdrop notch at the top of the display, Don Caprio notes that “most of the photos were overexposed. I later discovered that the default HDRA mode was the issue. Changing this to HDR fixed the problem and I was finally able to take some really great selfies.”

PCTechMag reports that “In low-light setting with the help of the flash, the selfies had little in terms of detail and turned out noisy.”

The Asian Age corroborates Don Caprio’s observation about the selfie camera: “We found the best balanced results with the HDR-on mode compared to the HDR-Auto mode.”

As for video recording, Don Caprio wasn’t expecting a stellar performance, but got surprised with good results. “The brightness, saturation and color balancing were really good,” he says.

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Battery Life

On battery life, PCTechMag’s testimony is that the battery “ran for two days on a single charge. Apparently, the 3,500mAh battery could not last a days on a single charge if it were used by a heavy user”.

Don Caprio gets “between 7 to 8 hours of on-screen time using just social media apps and Chrome browser during the day” out of the Phantom 9’s 3500 mAh battery. That would put him in the category of “heavy user”.

As for The Asian Age’s usage, the “battery on the TECNO delivers over a day’s juice on a single charge.”

Battery life is often a function of how heavy each user uses the phone, and we have a range here, suggesting that the TECNO Phantom 9’s battery life is good.

All our three reviewers agree that the battery takes around 2 hours to fully charge from empty.

TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup: Verdicts

The Asian Age concludes with this verdict:

“The Tecno Phantom 9 has its shortcomings, like the poor fingerprint reader, but it is still a massively underrated device that delivers solid bang for your buck.”

From PcTechMag:

For premium specs and features, Tecno made it affordable. Therefore the asking price, for a phone with a huge storage, an AMOLED display, the camera performance with AI integration and the general performance at large, is fair.

And Don Caprio has an even more detailed verdict:

TECNO Phantom 9 has its strengths and weaknesses. The huge mass storage is an advantage everyone wants. TECNO’s choice to use an AMOLED screen with an in-display fingerprint sensor too is nice. The camera performance is similar to phones in its price range. However, running heavy games like PUBG or PES 2019 isn’t particularly enjoyable at medium graphics settings. It’s one of the trade-offs which might be a major dealbreaker for some. The absence of a USB Type-C port can’t be ignored as well. But if you care about a decent camera, a beautiful design, and plenty of storage, you can’t go wrong with TECNO Phantom 9.

All our three reviewers, after using the TECNO Phantom 9, are agreed that despite a few niggles, it is good value for money.

It is a wrap on our TECNO Phantom 9 review roundup. To read the full reviews that we have quoted from, hit the links below.

References

  1. TECNO Phantom 9 Review, by Don Caprio.
  2. TECNO Phantom 9 review: The underrated mid-ranger, by The Asian Age.
  3. Review: TECNO Phantom 9 Brings Huge Improvements From its Predecessor, by PcTechMag.
TECNO Phantom 9 Review Roundup
TECNO Phantom 9 review

The first TECNO Phantom 9 reviews are in, and despite the murmurings and backlash from a section of the online community, it looks like TECNO Mobile has a hit. MobilityArena looks at what reviewers are saying about this 2019 Android mid-range smartphone.

Editor's Rating:
4

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