Tecno Spark 5 Pro review: Worthy upgrade from Spark 5, not much else

Less than half a year since it debuted the Tecno Spark 5, Tecno now has a “pro” variant of the device available for purchase in Kenya.

I have been using that device for a few days now and, looking back, it is a worthy upgrade to the standard Spark 5 model, which is still in the market. Given that it comes in at the same price as that standard variant, there’s even a much stronger case to get it now than there would’ve been back in May had they been made available together. That is because they would’ve, mostly, differed in price with the Spark 5 Pro costing a little more. We have seen this play out previously.

In short, what Tecno is trying to do with the Tecno Spark 5 Pro is spark even more interest in its most visible entry-level smartphone series by refreshing the existing lineup and and removing any excuses we may have against it as far as pricing goes.

In that regard, Tecno appears to have won.

The Tecno Spark 5 Pro stands out with its Kshs 14,000 pricing and manages to tower above the competition, including devices like the Infinix Hot 10 from Tecno’s sister brand, Infinix.

When you look at the storage and memory configurations of competing devices and then glance the Spark 5 Pro’s way, you can see where it is, at least on paper, that you are getting more bang for buck outrightly.

READ:  Tecno Spark 5 Pro specifications

Going beyond the paper and closely scrutinizing the device closely, as I did over the last few days, shows that you’ll still need to balance that with the subjectivity that comes with using the device.

First things first, the Tecno Spark 5 Pro, physically, stays true to its roots and doesn’t deviate from the script written by the standard model. You get the same size so how it feels in the hand (good, if I must say, thanks to those very pronounced rounded corners), the lack of a protruding back camera hump which means that it stays put when laid on a flat surface like a table and you don’t have to worry about it tumbling over or something and a cutout to accommodate the front-facing camera are the same same as you had on the Tecno Spark 5. And the display is good.

Where things change, for the better is with regards to the performance of the device. Given what we have already highlighted above, this is obviously informed by the increase in memory, more wiggle room when it comes to storage and, mostly, a better chipset. There is a noticeable difference between the Helio A22 on the standard variant and the Helio P35 on the Pro. That carries over into how HiOS, Tecno’s custom Android build, responds to user interactions. There were instances when it stuttered, for whatever reason, but my overall takeaway has been that it handles everything just fine.

And, HiOS is still, well, HiOS. Heavy and strong on many useful additions to the standard Android experience that also make it possible to, at this price point, have features that the likes of Nokia and Samsung would have you parting with a couple thousand shillings more to get.

The annoying notifications from the many bundled services are still there and the onus is on the user to figure out what to do with them. It is exhausting but it is what it is. As Tecno tightens its grip on what it is offering customers, the flexibility that was once there seems to be disappearing bit by bit. For instance, I wasn’t able to put away the instant apps the company always offers users in the app drawer. And there wasn’t much I could do about the gigantic banner ad urging me to do this or that (mostly to install another app) that came a few rows down from where the instant apps were.

As far as the five cameras on the Tecno Spark 5 Pro are concerned, there is not much to write home about. They are just fine. The selfie camera, for instance, actually does a good job reproducing skin tones. It doesn’t fare so well in other aspects like shooting portraits, for instance. There’s an option to do wide-angle selfies but that involves panning like one would when shooting panoramas. It’s not the most convenient, given that we have seen Tecno do this better previously, but it works.

The other 4 cameras? Stick to using them during the day. That way you’ll have lots of very acceptable results. Nothing outstanding (getting the details you need is an exercise in patience and is mostly hit and miss) but good enough for your WhatsApp story.

If videos are your thing, you can shoot up to 1080p using the Tecno Spark 5 Pro.

If everything else is pretty average when we look at the Spark 5 Pro in isolation and outstanding when we pit it against the standard variant it appears to be replacing in the market, at least price-wise, then guess where there is no argument as to the device’s prowess? The battery.

The Tecno Spark 5 Pro guarantees you 2-day battery life and offers that effortlessly. At this price point we don’t expect much to do with fast charging technology so let us not even go there.

Network coverage, which makes possible internet access, calls and other things on the device, is excellent. The sound, as can be expected, is one that one learns to put up with.

The Tecno Spark 5 Pro is a very safe approach to the budget smartphone market and provides buyers with a compelling option depending on their priorities at the time. It has more storage, more memory, acceptable performance and long-lasting battery. Oh, and the no-frills design as well which removes any need for one to slap a case on it. If that sounds like music to your ears then it’s because it probably is as it manages to crush the competition with those features. A nothing-to-write-home-about camera experience manages to try and tilt the scales the other side, rounding up the state of the sub-Kshs 15,000 smartphones in 2020.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com