I have had with me Tecno’s newest smartphone, the Camon X Pro, for the last few days. It’s an interesting device and you will see why in a moment. The Tecno Camon X Pro builds on the foundation laid by previous members of the Camon family, starting with the Camon CX and Camon CX Air from last year (themselves successors of respectable past members of the Camon family) and running to the Camon CM, launched earlier in the year.
Traditionally, the Camon series is what the Chinese mobile device brand reserves for its photography-centric offerings. That is not changing this year as both the Camon X Pro, and its inferior sibling, the Camon X, try just as much as their predecessors to push the boundaries of what’s possible when it comes to mobile photography, at a budget. The jury is still out there on the merits of trying to pack a decent snapper on a device that costs a fraction of what those that lead DXOmark rankings go for but there’s surely a market for them given the popularity of similar ventures by Tecno’s sibling Infinix with its flagship Zero smartphone series and compatriot OPPO with its F series.
Talking about the F series, Tecno has something to offer as well.
In the box
The Tecno Camon X Pro comes in this black box which is just fitting as it is nowhere near the gigantic frame characteristic of the flagship Phantom series.
Here’s what you get inside the box of the Tecno Camon X Pro, alongside the device itself, of course:
- Some documentation (user guide – specification guide and user manual, warranty information and a Boomplay banner – Boomplay is Tecno’s music streaming service that also plays locally stored music)
- A SIM ejection tool
- Wall adaptor
- microUSB cable
- A pair of earphones
- Plastic snap-on case with a detachable frame/side and front bumper
- The one thing that caught my eye as I unboxed the Tecno Camon X Pro was the pair of earphones included. It’s been half a year since my last interaction with a Tecno smartphone so I’ve probably missed something… did I? The earphones look really good and I hope they sound just as good as they look. I am used to getting either a mediocre pair of earphones in the retail box of any device I buy or get to review, as was the case with the OPPO F5 (imagine, after paying over Kshs 30,000!) or no earphones at all as was the case with the Xiaomi Mi A1. So this is a nice touch. The looks are inviting.
- I like the overall design of the device. It’s particularly striking in the Bordeaux Red colour that the review unit in my possession has. I am just bothered by the protruding camera at the back which makes the device wobble when placed on a flat surface like, say, a tabletop. That is only avoided when one chooses to use the plastic snap-on case that comes in the box.
- I like the display on the Tecno Camon X Pro. That it’s a bit taller (18:9 things), which means, more space to work with, is another advantage.
- Quite noticeably, there’s no Tecno branding on the front of the device. The Tecno logo is etched on the back of the device, right below the fingerprint scanner.
- To maximize on the full view display experience, there are no capacitive buttons. Instead there are on-screen buttons which take on a different shape from what I’ve experienced on Tecno devices in the past.
- Removable batteries are slowly becoming a distant memory. In order to maintain its slender profile (visually, the device is just over 5 millimetres thick) and keep its design, the Tecno Camon X Pro’s battery is sealed inside the device. Budget device or no budget device, this is slowly becoming the way to go. I was surprised to find the Kshs 10,000 Xiaomi Redmi 5A also joining this fray. Hopefully, the 3,750mAh battery is able to go for at least 2 years without requiring a replacement.
- The Tecno Camon X Pro is very light. So light that were it not for its long profile to accommodate the display’s aspect ratio, it would easily get lost in the hand. And it does really feel good in the hand.
- I like the placement of the volume rocker and the power button. It makes it easier to use the device with one hand, something that the software has also been tweaked to support out of the box.
- While there are lots of welcome enhancements to Tecno’s custom user interface, HiOS, the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same. The setup process upon booting up the device for the first time is still the same i.e. saddled with a prompt to log in to the Tecno Spot forums and whatnot. There’s also an added information screen when one swipes to the left of the home screen a la the former Google Now launcher or the Samsung Bixby screen. To be honest, the interface could do without it. It’s an unnecessary addition that brings little in the way of value, at least as per my personal needs.
- For anyone who has interacted with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+, the similarity in the home screen interface against the backdrop of the full HD+ display cannot be overstated. The clock and weather widget that is available out of the box looks exactly like that on the Samsung flagship.
- Still on the interface, there’s a “smart sort” feature that I’ve found interesting on the Camon X Pro. Not because it is unique (you can find it elsewhere) but because its pretty neat. As the name suggests, this feature automatically groups apps that are either similar or belong to the same category e.g. social, together.
- In keeping up with the Kardashians of the phone world, the Camon X Pro also packs a feature we’re increasingly seeing embraced by rivals in the same space it hopes to play in like Xiaomi, OPPO and Huawei (and its sub-brand, Honor): improved facial recognition tech. The Camon X Pro has what Tecno is calling “Face ID” (no, it’s not you, you’ve heard that term before). The feature is activated through a standalone application that is found directly on the home screen. Setting it up is easy and, it just works. I haven’t had issues with it so far. In fact, it even uses the front-facing camera’s accompanying dual-LED flash to work in the dark. Nothing out of the ordinary but still cool.
- Of course, it’s definitely a big plus that the device has Android 8.1 out of the box.
- At the bottom of the device, two features stand out: the speaker and the microUSB port. The former is quite decent indoors and, while not as loud as, say, the Phantom 8, it’s just enough. The latter feature is a surprise addition. I was expecting a USB Type-C port in going with the industry trend since the Camon X embraces all the good things from the mobile world over the last year. I was wrong.
- It’s not a Camon if the focus is not on the cameras. The Tecno Camon X Pro packs a 24-megapixel selfie camera and a 16-megapixel camera at the back. At first glance, the cameras on either side of the device seem to be worth the hype but that is a matter for another day since I intend to take the device through its paces over the next few weeks before making a final report. In the meantime, I will be sharing a lot of the snaps I take on the go on the Android Kenya Instagram page. Be sure to follow us there.
Disclosure: The Tecno Camon X Pro used in this article was provided to me by Tecno Mobile Kenya.