It’s been close to two months with the TECNO Phantom 9, TECNO’s latest flagship. I’ve taken it through its paces and here’s my full review. To catch up, check out our hands-on review, our camera performance review and how it compares with other devices in the same price point such as the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019. The TECNO Phantom 9 is the successor to the late 2017 TECNO Phantom 8 that was a great phone then and this year’s Phantom builds on that but is it worth spending your money on?
Display and Design
The TECNO Phantom 9 boasts a myriad of specs packed in an outstandingly designed device. The gradient back features a beautiful Lapland Aurora colour and is an attention-grabber. You get an AMOLED display at 6.4″ with a resolution of 1080 by 2340, a first for the company and will provide excellent viewing indoors and while on the go when binging multimedia content or just scrolling through social media or browsing the web.
The bezels are small apart from the small chin and the tiny notch that houses the selfie camera. Another first for TECNO is the in-display fingerprint scanner which works most of the time; it gets finicky sometimes and it can be annoying.
One thing worth noting, the phone is very light and sturdy. The back can get scratches and fingerprint smudges and TECNO provides a protective back cover that increases grip and keeps off the smudges.
Software and Performance
The TECNO Phantom 9 rocks 6GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard and is powered by an octa-core 2.35GHz MediaTek Helio P35 chipset. You get Android 9 Pie with HiOS v5.0.
The phone held its own but I hated that it couldn’t keep more apps in the background. When I resumed going to an app I was using, it got refreshed and it was annoying. The Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 that packs a more recent processor(Kirin 710) and 4 gigs of RAM did a better job especially if you’re a heavy multitasker. For light tasks and light gaming, the TECNO Phantom 9 will serve you well but when you push it to the edge, it starts to disappoint.
If you’re a power user and like playing games at their highest settings, then skip the TECNO Phantom 9 as other phones in the same price segment do an even better job.
The general software experience is decent except for the annoying pop-up ads from the bloatware the TECNO Phantom 9 comes with.
Also, the stock launcher is annoying as it keeps suggesting to you apps to download so if you do get this phone, slap a custom launcher like Nova.
If you want a smooth experience in terms of performance and everyday use, the TECNO Phantom 9 makes it hard to recommend especially with better-performing phones in this price segment.
Optics-wise, the TECNO Phantom 9 packs a triple rear camera set-up that features a 16MP standard sensor, an 8MP wide-angle sensor and a 2MP depth sensor aligned vertically next to the quad-LED flash.
On the front, you get a 32MP selfie camera housed on the tiny notch that interrupts the top bezel. For low light selfies, TECNO added Hair Crack Dual LED flashlights.
The cameras perform decently when provided with adequate light to give you social media-ready photos but indoors and in low light scenarios, it struggles and you’re bound to get less than average performance.
I’ve delved into the camera performance which you can check here plus camera samples. When put against another device in the same price category(camera comparison with the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019), it gets left behind and if you want a smartphone camera that can handle any situation you throw it at, the TECNO Phantom 9 ain’t it.
The TECNO Phantom 9 comes with a 3500mAh battery that performed really well. IT pushes a full day and it gave me up to more than 8 hours of on-screen time. The only thing missing is that it comes with a micro-USB port instead of a Type C port found in its rivals.
The TECNO Phantom 9 is dual SIM and supports Faiba 4G VoLTE so that’s an advantage that data-conscious people who prefer Faiba’s cheap data bundles will welcome.
Is it worth getting?
The TECNO Phantom 9 is a decent flagship and you’re bound to get value when you purchase it but when you start looking around, you’ll see better alternatives that will make you think twice before spending your money.
One example is the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 that starts selling from Ksh 23,499 just like the TECNO Phantom 9 and wins where the Phantom 9 fails – you get an uninterrupted full view 1080 display thanks to the pop-up camera, better general software experience and day to day use thanks to a less annoying EMUI skin and better app management thanks to the newer processor.
Camera performance on the Y9 is much better especially if you like more accurately coloured and more natural-looking photos and with the added Night Mode, you get a more dependable and versatile camera smartphone.
In my opinion, the TECNO Phantom 9 doesn’t bring enough value for your money and is playing catch-up in this tightly competitive segment that already offers more for even less.
However, the choice definitely lies with you.
Pricing and Availability
You can get the TECNO Phantom 9 for Ksh 24,999 and is already available in all official TECNO retail stores and Safaricom outlets countrywide plus online retailers such as Jumia too.
If you prefer paying using monthly instalments, TECNO partnered with Lipa Later who offer affordable financing options that start from as low as Ksh 2730 per month for 12 months.
Another sweet option is that you can trade-in your older TECNO(Camon, Spark or older Phantom series) device at LipaLater to upgrade to the TECNO Phantom 9.