Smartphones are getting cheap but more importantly, cheap smartphones are getting good. One smartphone that pulls all the tricks in the hat just to offer quality and good features on a budget price tag is the TECNO Spark 2.
This phone’s predecessor was allegedly Kenya’s best selling phone, well and good but what improvements have the company made to retain this crown of glory? I have managed to clock in more than a few minutes using the phone and frankly, TECNO have something good going on.
In the box we get the usual paperwork and accessories, please don’t make me list them. The only thing that stood out was the included plastic case that had a peculiar design – the bottom half of it is ribbed, giving it a weird I-Am-Not-Sure-How-I-Feel-About-It look. All in all, at least you get a case.
The design has changed slightly, we get a more refined look, it’s still plastic, poly-carbonate plastic to be precise but there’s no “cheap” feeling in anyway. We now have an 18:9 display, maxed-out at 720p. This time around we get a 6-inch display, still have 1GB RAM and 16GB internal storage and the battery gets bumped up to 3500mAh. No, there’s still no 4G support. One thing I also noticed, the power button is placed a bit too low on the phone, I ended up hitting the volume rocker each time I was trying to reach for it.
The Spark 2 is TECNO’s first Android Go powered smartphone but this has not stopped the company from slapping HiOS 3.3 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. The software looks clean, however, we do have two browsers, TECNO’s own PHX Browsers and Google Chrome – why? Someone once said that on budget smartphones we don’t call it bloatware but “value addition apps” and there’s a number of those here including Facebook Lite and Eaglee – which is a news aggregator that you cannot uninstall – again, why?
The best part, so far, is that camera. Marketing gimmicks aside, the camera on the TECNO Spark 2 is impressive. We have a single 13MP main camera that has been paired with an 8MP selfie shooter with dual flash (mind you, the screen also flashes white when you are taking a selfie in low light). Images look good, they’re Instagram ready and the software-induced portrait mode does a good job at blurring the background.
That front facing camera is also used to scan your face as an unlocking method, unfortunately my unit would take forever to enroll a face with 9 out of 10 times being a failed attempt. Once we managed to enrol a face – mine refused completely – it would also take longer than we’re used to to unlock. My guess is that this is a software bug and we hope TECNO works on it ASAP.
TL;DR: The Spark 2 is a worthy upgrade from its predecessor and we see the device easily breaking the records set by the forefather. The TECNO Spark 2 just launched and is currently exclusively available on Jumia for Kes.11,299 with an offline launch following shortly.