By the time Huawei’s latest budget smartphone, the Y9 2019, started selling in Kenya, Tecno’s Camon X Pro had already been available in the local market for half a year.
And just after the Huawei Y9 2019’s flashy unveiling in Nairobi just days earlier, Samsung quietly sneaked into the Kenyan market its latest J series budget smartphone, the Galaxy J6+.
How do the 3 devices, which go for just about the same price (give or take a few hundred shillings) compare?
First things first, there’s the obvious. Thanks to Android’s fragmentation that just won’t go away, while the trio all run on Android Oreo, what users meet on any of the devices does vary a lot in terms of how it looks and is presented to them. Each device’s maker has gone to great lengths to differentiate their product from the next one and it shows.
Tecno’s Camon X Pro runs on HiOS, the Chinese device maker’s custom Android overlay. As a result, users get more colour, since HiOS is one of the more colourful overlays out there, as well as unique features and services that they won’t be getting on either the Huawei Y9 2019 or the Samsung Galaxy J6+. The latter two have their own individual takes on this “Android thing”. Huawei’s EMUI is one of the most feature-packed on the smartphone market and it shows, as it can be seen on the Y9 2019. To say that there’s a feature overload may be an understatement. The same can also be said of Samsung’s user interface even though the latter is known for holding back when it comes to its budget devices, leaving some desirable features exclusive to its pricier devices, an approach that is quite opposite for Huawei as we see in the Y9.
While I am yet to use the Samsung Galaxy J6+ since it just started selling the other day, I have extensively used the other two devices that are the subjects of this article: the Huawei Y9 2019 and the Tecno Camon X Pro. Both have “Face ID” i.e. they incorporate technology that makes it easier for their users to unlock them without having to type in a PIN or password or reach out for the fingerprint sensor.
The J6+ does include the same but since I have spent more time with Tecno’s and Huawei’s products, I’ll shine a little more light on those two. While I found the Camon X Pro’s face unlock in low-light pretty much fast and overall, fast, everywhere, the Y9 takes things a notch (pardon the pun) higher. It’s ridiculously fast and, unlike the Tecno, as I have noted before, it’s so fast and good that I’d prefer the face unlock mechanism on the Y9 to its fingerprint scanner.
It is worth noting that while both the Tecno Camon X Pro and the Huawei Y9 2019 have fingerprint sensors in what many of us consider to be their natural position, the Samsung Galaxy J6+ belongs to a new generation of Samsung devices that are heralding something we haven’t seen on devices from the Korean device maker before: side-mounted fingerprint scanners. Sure, Sony has had a couple of those but…
The interesting thing is that both the Huawei Y9 2019 and the Tecno Camon X Pro are fronted and marketed by their makers for their photograpghy-centred features. The Tecno phone happens to belong that particular company’s camera brand’s so the expectations are quite high. The Huawei phone is an extension of its budget Y series but as the “head” of that line up, it carries with it the best camera(s) that the Chinese device maker has to offer with the Y series. As such, while the stakes are high, there’s nothing to convince me that the Y9 is beatable.
While, from my experience, I’ve found the selfie portrait modes on both devices to be comparable – they do a good job delineating the edges of subjects most of the time – the colour accuracy of the Huawei Y9, even without calling on the help of its Artificial Intelligence engine, is outstanding. It’s not always about that megapixel rat race, you know?
While the Tecno Camon X Pro eschews the dual-camera trend that is exhibited in the Huawei Y9 2019 and most other smartphones arriving over the last 2 years (heck, the Huawei Y9 has two cameras on both sides), the Samsung Galaxy J6+ got the memo and it has a dual-setup similar to the Y9’s (at least function-wise) at the back. Whether this will manage to outperform the Y9’s is a wait and see game since I haven’t used the device but…
While both the Huawei Y9 2019 and the Tecno Camon X Pro understand that we are in 2018 and if you are going to part with a quarter of what most premium smartphones will demand in this day age then you deserve more than just a glass back, it seems that Samsung missed the memo. The Galaxy J6+ arrives with a laughable 720p panel. In 2018! For Kshs 25,000. On a 6-inch display. There are no enough facepalm emoji to go around for this one. Surely, someone should’ve known (and done) better, no?
While I find both the Camon X Pro and the Y9 2019 at par when it comes to brightness outdoors, what makes me a fan of the display on the latter and not the former is what I can do with it thanks to far superior options available to the user through the software. Like I have described before, I can get just about everything out of the way on the Huawei Y9 2019 in order to get closer to a truly end-to-end display experience and I love it.
The only downside to the Y9 here, depending on which side of the never-ending notch debate you are on is the, well, notch. In true 2018 (sigh) fashion, the Huawei Y9 2019 comes with a cutout on its forehead. Sure, you can hide it with the software but the fact remains that it is there and its presence affects the way notification icons are displayed, a problem that the Y9’s competitors like the Camon X Pro and the new Galaxy J6+ lack.
Given that Huawei is not as economical with smartphone sensors as Tecno is, there’s no need comparing the Y9 and the Camon. Not only does the latter deploy software optimizations to help boost its endurance, it also goes slow on the hardware, something that Huawei doesn’t yet still manages to deliver some awesome battery life. Sure that can be attributed to the larger battery it packs but at 6.5-inches, the Y9 has a much bigger display, remember? The Samsung, and its 3,300mAh battery can’t afford to be a part of this conversation, at least on paper.
It is disappointing that none of the 3 device’s makers deemed it appropriate to make the jump to USB Type-C so, any of your old cables should stick work with any of them.
Talking about papers, here’s how specifications of the three devices compare:
|Huawei Y9 2019||Tecno Camon X Pro||Samsung Galaxy J6+|
|Dimensions and weight||162.4 x 77.1 x 8.05mm, 173g||158.6 x 75.8 x 5.2mm||161.4 x 76.9 x 7.9mm, 178g|
|Display||6.5-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels)||6-inch Full HD+ (2160 x 1080 pixels)||6-inch True HD+ (1480 x 720 pixels)|
|Camera||Rear : 13MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4|
Front : 16MP f/2.0 + 2MP f/2.4
|Rear : 16MP with ring flash |
Front : 24MP with dual-flash
|Rear : 13MP (f/1.9) + 5MP (f/2.2), Front : 8MP (f/1.9)|
|Processor||Kirin 710 clocked at 2.2GHz||MediaTek MT6763 clocked at 2GHz||Snapdragon 425 clocked at 1.4GHz|
|Memory||4GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage, expandable||4GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage, expandable||3GB RAM, 32GB onboard storage, expandable (there's a 4GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage variant but it's not selling in Kenya)|
|Operating System||Android 8.1, Oreo, with EMUI 8.2 layered on top||Android 8.1, Oreo, with HiOS 3.3 layered on top||Android 8.1 with Samsung's Experience UI|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, microUSB||Same||Same|
|Others||Fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM||Same||Same|
|Colour options||Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue and Aurora Purple||Midnight Black, Bordeaux Red||Red, Blue, Black|
|Recommended Retail Price||Kshs 24,990||Kshs 25,000||Kshs 24,000|
Which one will you go for?