TECNO Spark 5 Pro Review: Almost There

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TECNO Spark 5 Pro

TECNO recently launched the Spark 5 Pro in Kenya. This is the latest device in the country in the Spark series.

The TECNO Spark 5 Pro joins the earlier launched Spark 5 with bumped up specs but is the upgrade worth considering in the ever-competitive budget segment especially with new entrants?

We’ve been playing around with the phone, did a quick unboxing and first look review and took it through its paces for this full review.


Design

The TECNO Spark 5 Pro has all the whistles of a 2020 budget smartphone. We get a punch-hole display, a colour-gradient back and quad-camera setup.

The two-tone finish at the back gives the phone this iridescent look that is bound to attract attention wherever you go.

The back is made of glossy plastic so it’ll attract smudges and the case provided comes in handy to protect the phone, avoid fingerprints and scratches while also helping with grip.

You can get yours in Seabed Blue(our unit pictured above), Ice Jadeite, Spark Orange and Cloud white.

We get the usual ports at the bottom including a headphone jack, microphone, microUSB charging port and speaker grill.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro ports

At the back, we have the rear fingerpint scanner.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro back camera

On the left side is the slot for dual Nano-Sim cards and external microSD card to expand the phone’s storage.

On the right side, we get the volume rockers and the power button with an orange accent. The buttons are tactile and responsive.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro buttons

The TECNO Spark 5 Pro is very large and features a 6.6″ IPS LCD screen but thanks to well-positioned buttons, it makes it easier to use the phone.

Also, you can choose to use the included one handed mode right from the quick settings.

The screen itself has a resolution of 1600 by 720 pixels. It’s not full HD but users will definitely enjoy the near all-screen viewing experience from gaming to normal multimedia consumption.

The screen is decent enough at this price point. Contrast and color is okay but the brightness struggle especially when outdoors – you’ll have to crank up the brightness slider to use the phone when you’re out and about.

All in all, the build quality and design choices aren’t that bad for a budget device.

Performance

TECNO decided to beef up the internals the TECNO Spark 5 had and upgraded the predecessor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

This is such a commendable bump in specs the Spark 5 Pro features that average users will come to love.

We also get upgraded to the Helio P35 processor. This will be an Achille’s heel for the TECNO Spark 5 Pro as its rivals in the same price category or below.

The slower processor is such a huge compromise to make when the likes of Infinix Hot 10 ship with Helio G70 and cost less than the TECNO Spark 5 Pro.

We get Android 10 and HiOS 6.1 to run the phone. Android 10 brings all its nice features such as , new gesture navigation systems, boosted privacy, security and notifications (Grouped silent notifications)controls, better location permissions, Google Assistant “handles”, native screen recording, native desktop mode, QR codes to connect to Wi-Fi, system-wide dark mode plus more features.

HiOS 6.1 also has some nice to have features including Social Turbo for WhatsApp, Game Mode for an immersive gaming experience and Smart Panel that lets you have quick access to pre-selected apps and services – you can customize which ones to be shown according to your preference.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro smart panel

The UI is smooth once you’ve tweaked all the annoying HiOS features such as the recommendeded apps to install and the pop-up ads in the notification shade.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro bloatware

Just like Infinix, TECNO needs to reduce the ads and bloatware on its phones.

You’ll have to slap a third-party launcher like Microsoft or Nova to handle the little annoyances that can usually be frustrating.

Anyway, there’s a slight improvement in performance in gaming and multitasking. Quickly switching between apps will have them refresh or relaunch anew and can be annoying at times.

Games will have to be played with balanced or moderate settings to have a decent gaming experience. However, you’ll still experince lag and hiccups when playing graphics-intense games such as PUBG, Call of Duty or Final Fantasy Pocket Edition.

Relatively light games such as Ninja Arashi, Odyssey or even Asphalt 9 will play smoothly.

TECNO would have upgraded the processor too while they were at it to make the improvement more significant especially for users wanting to upgrade to the Spark 5 Pro – now that we have new budget phones with even better processors, RAM and storage configurations.

You can face unlock or the fingerprint scanner to quickly unlock your phone. However, face unlock is relatively slower so I stuck with the rear fingerprint scanner which has other functions such as acting as a shutter button when taking photos, receiving calls which you can record with along press.

In terms of multimedia consumption, the display is decent enough to binge YouTube or other media streaming servcies. The speakers are loud enough to consume music in – although it gets distorted when the volume is maxed out.

In terms of connectivity, we have 4G VoLTE including Faiba 4G which is impressive.

Battery Life

TECNO Spark 5 pro comes with a 5000mAh battery that boasts incredible battery life. I was getting an average of over 9 hours of screen on time.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro Battery Performance
TECNO Spark 5 Pro Battery Performance

On light usage, you can get up to two good days of use before needing to juice up.

When it comes to charging, that’s when you’ll need to have alot of patience with the TECNO Spark 5 Pro, it took me over 4 hours to go from empty to 100%.

• 12:00 – 1:20 : 0% to 40%

• 12:00 – 3:06 : 0% to 89%

• 12:00 – 4:30 : 0% to 100%

Cameras

I saved the best for last or did I?

Anyway, in terms of optics, you get a quad camera setup at teh back that houses the a main 16MP camera (f/1.8), a 2MP macro camera (f/2.4), a 2MP depth sensor and another AI lens for scene recognition and a quad-LED flashlight.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro back camera

On the front is the 8MP punchhole selfie camera.

TECNO Spark 5 Pro selfie camera

Here are some samples:

Selfies & Portraits

  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro selfie 3
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro beauty selfie 3
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro portrait 2
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro selfie
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro beauty selfie 1
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro beauty selfie 2
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro portrait
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro selfie 2

Regular shots(including bokeh and lowlight)

  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 10 regular
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 10 bokeh
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 11 regular
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 11 bokeh
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 13 regular
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 13 bokeh
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 12 regular
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 2
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 5
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 4
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 6
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 1
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 7
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 8
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 9
  • TECNO Spark 5 Pro shot 3
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 5
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 4
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 3
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 8
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 1
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 7
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 2
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 6
  • TECNO Spark 5 lowlight 3

On bright settings, the cameras take decent shots for sharing on social media.

Photos will occasionally suffer from overexposure.

Low light shots tend to be grainy and lose a lot of detail. A much needed Super Night Mode would have come in handy and that’s where the Infinix Hot 10 wins it for me as it ships with this mode that also featured on the Infinix Note 7.

So if you are looking for an all rounder in terms of photography, then you have to look elsewhere.

For video, the TECNO Spark 5 Pro shoots in 1080p at 30fps. There’s even a Short Video mode to shoot vidoes for Stories(Insta, Snapchat, Facebook) or TikTok.

So Should You Buy?

The upgrades the TECNO Spark 5 Pro are welcome but there are even well priced and well-spec’d phones right now with better features.

TECNO really slacked on this phone. In a tightly competitive budget segement, you need to stand out big to even get attention and the TECNO Spark 5 Pro has a long way to go to get there.


It’s not easy to make a case for the TECNO Spark 5 Pro. You should probably wait for the TECNO Spark 6.

Pricing and Availability

TECNO Spark 5 pro is available for Ksh 13,999 online and in official TECNO branded shops countrywide.


4 COMMENTS

  1. Personally I feel that the the Spark 5 Pro is a good upgrade with mediatek helio P35 but it should follow the lead of the Camon 16 series and upgrade to the Helio G chipsets

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