The Spark series is, for the most part, the gateway to Tecno’s smartphone ecosystem. There are a number of Tecno devices here and there that run on Android Go that come before it at the lower levels of the food chain but we’ve hardly ever focused on those here at Android Kenya. For the most part, the Spark series is where our interest starts.
As far as the latest installation of that series, which we have been experiencing through the Spark 9T, there have been many leaps and bounds to get the series this far. That is very visible and well appreciated on the Spark 9T.
The Spark 9T has been a pleasure to use for several reasons, many of which are such that you hardly expect what you are getting here from an entry-level device.
The memory and storage options speak to the device’s status but the rest of the specifications try very hard to elevate its status.
The 90Hz refresh rate, for instance, goes a long way in cementing what Tecno has been known for across the board: providing users at every price point with features that they’d ordinarily need to pay more to get elsewhere. The high refresh rate is not wasted on the HD+ display panel which is large and nice but becomes a tad darker than you’d want it to be when it gets very bright outdoors. That is something to keep in mind.
When it comes to the cameras, it is the front-facing 32-megapixel sensor that steals the show. The 13-megapixel triple camera setup at the back is just so-so. You’ll get soft snaps here, crisps one there. Mixed bag.
Overall performance, too, is somewhat of a mixed bag, if one pushes the device to the extremes. Else, it handles just fine. The transitions are smooth under normal workloads and, with compatible apps in use, one gets to appreciate the higher refresh rate. The very limited (4GB) RAM gets a boost by an extra gig (Tecno calls it “memory fusion”) when needed but that’s as much as it gets.
The battery is fantastic, guaranteeing up to two days on a single charge. One’s mileage varies depending on usage, obviously. It is let down by the lack of fast-charging but that is a trade-off we are willing to take and which users of the device should be, as well, given its pricing – about Kshs 17,000 for the entry-level (64GB) model of the Spark 9T and Kshs 20,000 for the 128GB model. It should be one of those things that we are likely to see get a bump up in future iterations of the device.
The device’s overall design, which is a nice surprise for a series where we usually don’t have as high expectations in that department as we would on something like the Camon series, for instance, is great. Great is relative, though. It looks good but you may have a different view after days of regular usage of the device as, if you have the Burano Blue colour model that we’ve had in for review, it is a big fingerprint magnet and smudges become the order of the day. The included clear case comes in handy but it’s also not the looker you want for such a gorgeous device so you’ll be at a crossroads.
As far as the user interface goes, it’s standard Tecno. That is to say, you are getting HiOS just as you would experience it on other Tecno devices. And you are getting the full package. Even Ella, the voice assistant, is there. HiOS remains very feature-heavy, colourful and, for the lack of a better word, useful. You’ll get things done using it. It will annoy you here and there but you’ll be largely ok. That is for people like yours truly who are not exactly the target market for this device. For those that it targets, the overall user experience when it comes to the software, should be a breeze.