TECNO Camon 16s Review: Not Enough Spark

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TECNO Camon 16s

TECNO recently launched its Camon 16 series for this year including the Camon 16 Premier, Camon 16 Pro and Camon 16s.

I have been using the phone for a couple of days now since launch to know where the phone excels and where it does not.

However, after using the TECNO Camon 16s as my daily driver, here’s what you’re getting up to when you buy TECNO’s latest device or what you should know before you do that.


Here’s what you get in the box:

  • the device
  • 10W power brick and micro-USB charging cable
  • a set of earphones
  • Sim ejector tool
  • a plastic case
  • a screen protector

TECNO Camon 16s Unboxing and First Impressions Review

Design

TECNO Camon 16s is a beautiful phone. TECNO uses a two tone finish on the plastic back to give it that colour-gradient back.

This look is an attention grabber especially if you get the Ice Jadeite option. TECNO Camon 16s also comes in Blue Hawaii and Misty Grey colours.

The TECNO Camon 16s is a nicely designed phone. We have easy to reach volume and power buttons on the right side.

On the left side is the slot for your dual nano-sim cards and another additional slot for your external microSD card.

The phone supports 4G VoLTE for all networks including Faiba 4G – I thought I should mention this for Faiba 4G’s subscribers who are in the search for a smartphone compatible with their network.

At the bottom, we have a headphone jack, microphone, speaker grille and micro-USB charging port.

At the back, we have the TECNO Camon logo and at the top left we have the camera bump and fingerprint sensor.

To the front is the 6.6″ LCD screen which TECNO calls Dot-in display that features a punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera. The display has a resolution of 1600 by 720 pixels.

The display works as advertised – you’ll enjoy watching videos, reading or playing light games like Ninja Arashi, Odyssey or even Asphalt 9 not only indoors but outdoors too thanks to its decent brightness and visibility.

Performance

Under the hood, TECNO Camon 16s ships with MediaTek Helio P35 processor with Power VR GE8320 GPU and runs on 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The Helio P35 processor is not the best or the fastest for where the phone sits compared to its rivals and that is its Achilles heel.

This configuration will hold up well most of the times especially for light tasks like checking email, scrolling social media, replying to text or some light browsing on the web.

When you bring in the heavy tasks like playing graphics-heavy games like PUBG, Call of Duty or Final Fantasy Pocket Edition or switching between multiple Chrome tabs, you’ll notice a lot of slowdowns – more frequent than you’d want, especially for a 17K smartphone.

Expect unresponsiveness when operating heavier apps and multitasking.

TECNO Camon 16s comes with Android 10 and HiOS v6.1.

Android 10 offers its regular features such as system-wide dark mode, Focus mode(a compliment to Digital Wellbeing), 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 plus more features.

HiOS v6.1 comes with it little neat 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.

I was impressed by the tons of customization options available especially from the theme store which come in handy when tailoring the phone according to your preferences.

The downside of all this progress is the adware. If you’re using the stock launcher, expect unnecessary popup notifications – I highly recommend using a third-party launcher like Microsoft or Nova Launcher.

You can also uninstall the bloatware apps to ease your use of the phone.

Overall, in terms of performance, I was underwhelmed – even after recalculating my expectations based on the high price of the TECNO Camon 16s.

Cameras

In terms of optics, the TECNO Camon 16s has five cameras – four at the rear and one punch-hole selfie camera.

The quad setup includes a 48MP main camera, a 2MP depth sensor, 2MP macro lens and an additional AI sensor.

We also have an 8MP selfie camera hosted in the punch-hole cutout – a staple feature in most Android smartphones released this year.

As part of the Camon 16 series, the Camon 16s shows off its prowess – at least for its main camera.

Expect high quality photos especially for the main camera.

You are never going to be disappointed with most of the shots you’ll take each time you click that shutter.

Here are some samples:

There’s AI cam, Beauty mode, Bokeh mode, 48MP mode, AR shot, Panorama, Wide selfie and Portrait.

Videos can be recorded at 1080p, 720p and 480p resolution for either selfies or regular videos.

Overall, camera performance is among the good things going for the TECNO Camon 16s.

Battery Life

Battery life on the TECNO Camon 16s is excellent thanks to the 5000mAh battery. On light use, expect 2 days of battery life.

On heavy use, I was getting all day battery life. I was getting an average of 8 hours of screen on time, so you’ll never have to worry about charge when you’re out and about running errands or anything else. Remember to follow COVID-19 safety measures.

The downside of having a huge battery that charges via micro-USB is that it takes forever to juice the TECNO Camon 16s.

You’ll have to give it 4 hours to charge up from empty to full.

Verdict: Good but Not Good Enough

TECNO Camon 16s is the last device in the Camon 16 series and it’s in an awkward place – it isn’t as charming as the rest of its siblings in the lineup.

When someone is looking to buy a TECNO phone especially in the Camon 16 series, they’re in the market for value and I’m not fully convinced that the Camon 16s offers that value – this will prove detrimental to TECNO’s efforts in the country.

We’re not sure that the TECNO Camon 16s will fare quite as well under fire in the budget segment that has now been crowded by better and cheaper alternatives – it doesn’t stand out that much.


Either couple of spec changes especially the processor or a slightly lower price could have made the TECNO Camon 16s a really interesting contender in this budget segment.

Pricing and Availability

TECNO Camon 16 starts selling from Ksh 17,699 and is available countrywide in TECNO’s official retail stores.


1 COMMENT

  1. I still hold the opinion that the Tecno Camon 16s integrates much better specs in comparison to the Tecno Spark 5 Pro and the Mediatek Helio P35 is a decent processor for it

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