Tecno’s latest pair of smartphones is meant to keep its long-running efforts to bring affordable kickass cameraphones to the masses alive.
While on paper, the Tecno Camon 11 and Camon 11 Pro are supposed to do exactly that, do they really live up to that billing? That is exactly what I am seeking answers for over the next few weeks as I take one of those devices, the Camon 11, for a spin, courtesy of the people at Tecno who provided me with the review unit.
However, before that happens, I am itching to share my initial impressions of a device I only met for the first time when I unboxed it – I had only interacted with its Pro sibling at the launch event the previous week.
First things first, here’s what you get inside the Tecno Camon 11’s retail packaging:
- Straight out of the box, the Tecno Camon 11 feels much lighter than other devices it is competing within its price range, like Huawei’s Y7 Prime 2018 even though that can easily be lost on anyone given the device’s striking resemblance to another member of the Huawei Y series of budget devices, the Y9 2019 its Pro sibling is taking head-on.
- I have with me the Bordeaux Red Camon 11 and, just like the Camon X Pro I looked at a while back, it really looks good even though I have my doubts about that shiny back. Luckily for me, and others who might share similar concerns, as you can see in the video above and the photo below, a back cover (is it right to call it a case?) is included in the Camon 11’s retail packaging which makes things bearable. It’s interesting that Tecno has dropped the colour used last time which saw the back cover’s colour match that of the specific device. For the Bordeaux Red variant in my possession, the cover maintains a black Kevlar look to hide its all-plastic construction.
- Of course, the very imposing cut out at the top of the Camon 11 is unmissable as soon as one powers on the device for the first time. Given the front’s all-black look, it’s easy to miss it when the screen is off. But it’s there, lucking in the shadows and keeping alive a trend that some of us struggle to see its importance. Luckily, though, as we are increasingly seeing, the Camon 11 does try to appease both sides of the unending notch debate by offering a way to hide it using the software from the settings app.
- Another thing that one notices as soon as they connect the Camon 11 to a network is that the front-facing LED flash also doubles up as the system LED. That means that it comes to life every other time there’s something that requires the attention of the user – a missed call, a new text message, name it.
- Of course, as is the case with any other consumer-centred device, what Tecno has done with the software on this device is bound to be quickly noticed by anyone using it for the first time. Something that I have critiqued for a while, the prompt to sign up for or sign in to Tecno’s Spot forums, appears to have been removed. I did not encounter it when setting up the Camon 11 for the first time. Like I have posed in the video above, I am not sure if it’s a case of a process that was skipped since I wasn’t connected while doing the setup or that it’s really gone for good. I pray that it’s the latter.
- As has been the case with every smartphone we have seen from Tecno this year, as well as every other maker of budget smartphones making it to the Kenyan market, the company has opted to play it safe and stick with the tried and tested microUSB instead of the USB Type-C that devices we have seen released by Tecno in the last quarter of the year for the last 2 years have stuck with.
- It’s not a Camon if the camera is not worth talking about, right? Well, I have only been using the Camon 11 for a couple of hours and that is not enough time to allow me to weigh in on its biggest selling point, yet. For that, and whether the much-touted AI smarts that the device packs, as well as its endurance, stick around for the review in coming weeks.
The Tecno Camon 11 is available across the country for Kshs 15,000.