We finally have the Tecno Phantom 8 in our office for a spin, and this is a short piece that will look into the phone’s offerings and early impressions. We have already gone through the phone’s hardware specs in a previous post, as well as the details covering its global launch in Dubai in October, a local unveiling, not to mention early sales at online marketplaces like PhonePlaceKenya and Jumia Kenya, the latter of which comes with a couple of nice additions such as a free Telkom SIM card and 2.5 GB of data from the same carrier.
The device’s retail package is huge by any standards, but that’s because it is packed with a couple of additional accessories, including earphones that sound great, USB Type C cable and a charging brick on one compartment, a middle compartment that houses the phone, and a third one with a clear case, user guide as well as warranty information. At the same time, the unboxing experience is a joy if flaps that open like a huge notebook are your thing, and we are just glad Tecno made it as pleasing as possible for the target demographic of the device, which includes people who want high end specs and premium feel sans coughing more than KES 40,000.
Now, to the device of the hour. It is large at 5.7-inches for display size, and that does not cover a fair share of bezels. The chin houses capacitive keys that have no illumination, and the forehead has a number of sensors such as the 20 MP front facing snapper, a dual-tone LED flash, a notification light and an earpiece. The plastic, smooth and fingerprint-y back has a Tecno and Phantom 8 branding , a fingerprint sensor, dual cameras at 12 and 13 MP, as well as a triple-tone flash. Pretty clean.
The side railings are metallic for that premium feel. Your two SIM cards or a SIM and a microSD card go to a slot on the left, while the right side is home for a tactile volume rocker and a power button below it. The bottom edge has a single speaker grill, a Type C port and microphone inlet. At the top is a headphone jack. Our black unit manages to hide subtle antenna bands well, and you need to be really keen to spot them.
Handling is great, and because I’m a clumsy person, I snapped the included clear case right on. It appears that Tecno knows the device is somewhat slippery, so the case is a nice and obvious addition. It is worth mentioning that it has reinforced corners, which can be used to absorb shock in case of accidental drops. Speaking of protection, there is a pre-installed screen protector to keep the display scratch free, as well as a packaged protector for the back. Nice.
HiOS 3.0.0 runs the show on top of Android 7.0. It is a heavy skin with sooo many extra apps, some of them useful nonetheless. There a couple gestures to make day to day use a pleasure, including a swipe down to call the notification shade. Other features a left panel that populates you feed with news and most used apps for quick access. This is a trend that third party skins have taken on just to ape Google or Pixel launcher with its Google Now page at the extreme left on the homescreen.
The device seems to perform well, and I’ yet to experience any hiccups or slow downs. Battery performance seems fair, and I already have more than 5 hours of screen-on time in less than 12 hours of use. Also, I’m yet to plug the device in. So far, so good.
That said, we’ll investigate how the Phantom 8 performs for the next few days, and give you a comprehensive report in the form of a review at a later date.