Tecno’s 2018 camera-centric budget smartphone is one that is worth considering and, probably, spending your money on. At least that is the impression that I have come away with after 6 weeks of actively using it and taking it through its paces.
The design of the Tecno Camon X Pro, which is the subject of this review, just like that of its sibling the Camon X is nothing out of the ordinary.
We’ve seen this elsewhere. However, what matters the most is what Tecno has been able to do with it. The most, if you ask me.
The device is exceptionally light even with everything going on with it. It’s quite slippery as well which, for those who opt to use it, the snap-on back cover that is packaged with the device for free comes in handy. Despite having a rather unusually tall profile to accommodate the 18:9 display, it’s not long to the point of being unwieldy. Handling is manageable and easy something that is further enhanced by the ergonomic placement of the volume controls on the side and the power button right next to them.
While I love the Camon X Pro’s display colour vibrancy, it still falls short when you use it outside in bright lighting conditions. I particularly like the software-hardware interplay is so smooth when it comes to that 18:9 display more so for YouTube content, something that I have an issue with on the Nokia 7 Plus, a device that costs at least Kshs 20,000 more.
The Tecno Camon X Pro’s camera is good. Instagram good. I relied on it for a while and it mostly delivered. Would I ask for more from it? Most definitely. It is hard to be outrightly satisfied by most cameras that we find on budget smartphones but it’s 2018 and device makers are really bringing good vibes to the budget segment as far as the camera goes without demanding more money from buyers. With the Camon lineup being mainly camera-centred, the camera is the one feature that holds up nicely in the whole device. Right up there with others like the design and the battery. More on the latter in a bit.
Check out what I think about it.
HiOS is the name of Tecno’s custom software overlay. It has been getting better over the years and what we have to work with on the Camon X Pro is the latest iteration of the software. Sure, it’s much better than previous versions that I have interacted with but there’s still more work to be done.
First things first, I wish the process to turn off the Google-esque page on the left of the homescreen was much easier since I wasn’t able to completely disable it and resorted to trimming its components as much as I could.
I also wish that some of the features were made completely optional. Like the ads that you can easily mistake for notifications in the notification shade that require action on your part as a user and the addition of several components to the initial sign-in and setup process like the Tecno Spot forums. I think I have lost count of the number of times that I have lamented about this. It’s probably about time I just stopped whining about this since, it appears, it’s here to stay. Then, of course, there’s the additional bloat in the form of apps that I did not have much use of. The best thing is that some of them are easy to remove.
The auto-grouping feature which automatically suggests folders where newly installed apps can be placed in, is either pretty spot on with its suggestions or way off meaning that it still needs work.
Some add-on features to the Tecno Camon X Pro that help it stand out from the competition like the face unlock feature are surprisingly good. While it’s definitely not the fastest and it’s bound to have a couple of hits and misses some times, it worked most of the time even when I was in darker surroundings. When it’s really dark there’s a “Face fill light” feature that brightens things up in order to be able to properly capture faces.
I couldn’t help but throw some shade on the user interface for some of its uncanny resemblance to the Galaxy S8/Note 8/S9, though, since that is something any keen user can hardly miss.
The device’s performance is up to scratch. It met my level of expectation and I did not have any stutters and lag when using it even though I have been using the Tecno Camon X Pro while running pre-production software since I got the device from Tecno Mobile Kenya days to its official unveiling in Nigeria. It rose to the occasion for demanding tasks and behaved just fine for the usual stuff.
Battery life on the Tecno Camon X Pro is great. I have regularly been going for over a day without having to plug it in. Even though battery life is relative and varies by one’s usage habits, the longevity was far more consistent. Of course, this also has something to do with the fact that budget devices like the Camon X Pro don’t have a gazillion sensors running in the background, something that bedeviled my Xiaomi Mi A1.
I love the sound from the bottom-firing speaker even though it’s not the loudest I’ve had from a Tecno smartphone.
While gestures do work, it’s the same old stuff, nothing new or remarkable and the execution is rather tedious. One is better off using the phone like they would any other.
Network connectivity on both 3G an 4G LTE is excellent.
- Long battery life
- Good camera even though there’s still a big room for improvement
- I like the design
- The software is still a hit and miss despite the advances that HiOS has been able to make at this point.
The Tecno Camon X Pro has one thing going for it: its pricing. For Kshs 25,000, one is getting a camera that they can take with them anywhere and not come back with regrets and a phone that will get them through an entire day. However, the Camon X Pro has to fight it out with other equally impressive devices like the excellent Xiaomi Mi A1, the drab Nokia 6 from last year, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, the OPPO F5’s cheaper variant among others.