The TECNO Phantom Z is here and looking good. Everything screams premium. TECNO is going for gold. How well did they achieve that with the Z? I have taken it for a spin over a period of one week and have my review ready. But before we delve into the stories, here is a quick run-down of specs:
SIM type: Dual SIM, Micro-SIM
Network data: GPRS/EDGE/3G/3.75G
Released: July, 2014
Dimension: 71.9 x 144.5 x 7.8 mm
Display: 5.2-inch, 1920 × 1080 pixels (424 PPI), AMOLED display, with Gorilla Glass
Memory: 32GB internal. No microSD slot
Camera: 16MP back with LED flash, 8MP front-facing camera with LED light.
OS: Android 4.4.2 Kitkat
Chipset: MediaTek MT6592
CPU: Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A7
GPU: Mali 450-MP4
Battery: 3030 mAh
You can get the full specs here.
Here is a quick summary for those who are not interested in reading the full review:
– Gorgeous AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass protection
– Very good build quality
– Fast and smooth in use
– Good battery life
– Camera results not outstanding
– Still searching. Please hold….
TECNO Phantom Z Unboxing
The Phantom Z comes in a nice cream case that is really of good quality, and for a limited number of units, there is a Smart Cover and power bank bundled.The sales pack includes a headset, USb cable and charging point.
HARDWARE AND DESIGN
The Phantom Z has a finely crafted unibody, meaning the back does not open and the battery cannot be removed. The quality of plastic is quite good. True to the form of AMOLED displays, the 5.2-inch, 1080 by 1920 pixel resolution display is super clear and has deep contrasts. Black is really black here. This is a brilliant display, and it has Gorilla Glass for some level of protection.
The device is comfortable in the hand, not just because 5.2 inches is a sweet spot, but also because it is just 7.8mm thin. 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. But in all, the Z feels fine in use with one hand, though it is in phablet territory.
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.
There’s 32GB of internal storage and no micro SD card slot. That will certainly be an issue for some users. However, in my experience with smartphones, lack of an expandable memory slot isn’t that big a deal in everyday use, especially since there’s 32GB storage built in. Still, different strokes for different folks.
The TECNO Phantom Z runs Android 4.4.2 Kitkat with minor modifications to the UI, as is TECNO’s style. The modifications show up mostly in the Settings and Drop-down menus, but you can tell immediately that app icons are different from stock Android. It looks all nice.
Camera has not been TECNO’s strong forte, and they seem to try to make up for it with an aggressive megapixel push. The Z has a 16 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and an 8 megapixel front-facing camera with LED light too. Yes; you read that right: the front-facing camera is 8 megapixels and has a light. Now, you can take your selfies even in the dark.
The large megapixel counts do not translate into top rate photographs though. Daylight landscape photos with the main camera do come out well, but the colour rendering isn’t so accurate. Night photos with flash come overexposed and with colours washed. The comparison below shows an indoor scene. I took the same shot with four different smartphones and picked the one that represents the true colours most accurately for this comparison. No flash was used in both photos. The upper image is the true representation of the scene. The lower image is from the Phantom Z, and you can see the washed out colour rendition, the noise, and the lower image resolution:
The front-facing camera lets you take selfies in the dark because it has an LED flash that lights up, but there is so much visible noise in the results. Here is a sample selfie taken in a dark room just before daybreak:
LED light with the front-facing camera is a great idea. However, TECNO needs to do more to give their users better cameras. It isn’t all about the megapixels. If outstanding photographs with your smartphone means the world to you, I am afraid the Z isn’t what you want. But for everybody else, it is more than adequate.
Watching videos on that gorgeous display is quite an experience. That is perhaps the highest point of multimedia on the Phantom Z. Music is good too, especially if you use a good quality headset. The mono loudspeaker placed at the back is quite loud and the quality of sound is okay, but I have heard much better loudspeakers.
The Gallery app kept closing when I launch it. Sometimes, it closes after a few swipes through pictures in there. So, I installed a lightweight 3rd party gallery app called QuickPic. For some reason, after that installation, the Gallery app became much more stable and closed less often.
NETWORK, CALLS & INTERNET
The Z is a dual SIM, dual standby smartphone and uses microSIM slots. In-call audio quality is really good. Callers are clear on the earpiece and they respond that audio quality at their end is good too. WiFi is present here, and the Phantom Z can be used as a WiFi hotspot as well. For mobile internet, there is GPRS, EDGE, and 3G up to 3.75G.
PERFORMANCE, APPLICATIONS & GAMING
The TECNO Phantom Z is powered by a 2.0 GHz octa-core processor and 2GB RAM. That sounds more than adequate. In everyday use, it is more than adequate. Apps run smoothly and general use is fluid and snappy. There isn’t anything to worry about in terms of performance. Raw benchmark tests produced the following results:
AnTuTu Benchmark: 31,259
Quadrant Benchmark: 14,788
I really am wondering why TECNO bothered bundling a power bank with the Phantom Z. It has a 3030 mAh battery. That is huge for a 5.2-inch device. By way of comparison, the HTC Desire 816, with a 5.5-inch display, has a 2600mAh battery. With my usage pattern, the Phantom Z is one of those few smartphones that have seen me through a full day without me having to worry about running out of power. Of course, if I stay on my phone all day, I can empty it. But then, I would be jobless or something.
Are you hunting for a handy up-to-date, solid Android phablet with very good battery performance? Get the Phantom Z.
The awkward colour choices that TECNO implemented in the TECNO R7 are gone and the user interface looks really well thought out now. The customised drop-down menu has been retained, providing fixed shortcuts to five apps. The drop-down menu and its “Switch” view are both black now and looking more elegant.
TECNO’s usual bundled apps are here as well. Top of the list are Palm Chat and Flash Share.
TECNO has pushed hard to change the perception that it is a cheap brand. The Phantom Z is a huge step in that push. Everything about the device screams premium. Plus, looks and feel aside, it is a very good performer. Photography is perhaps its weakest point – and it isn’t that it is horrible in that area. It just doesn’t rank among the best. Some users will frown at the lack of a memory card slot, but it wasn’t a problem for me.
But think of the premium build, beautiful display, snappy performance on Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, very good battery life, and yes, the front-facing camera with LED light, and there is very little to dislike about the Phantom Z. TECNO went for gold, and it is my opinion that they succeeded with the Phantom Z.
The Phantom Z costs about N58,000 in the market.