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Tecno Phantom 6 Plus Full Review: Raw Power Meets Classy Build

Even if you’ve always been an unrepentant, die-hard critic of Tecno Mobile, holding Tecno Phantom 6 Plus and actually using this device should change the perspective from which you perceive the brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean this device is the definition of perfection, but Tecno Phantom 6 Plus has proven to be a great device. From the classy, sturdy build to great technical specifications, it is by far the best product from Tecno Mobile in their ten years of operation.

Although I like the slim Tecno Phantom 6 with its dual-camera setup, I still prefer the bigger Phantom 6 Plus. It’s a solid device and it looks like it’s built to take damages and rough-handling. We unboxed the Phantom 6 Plus a couple of weeks ago and we’ve put it to use extensively.

But is the device really worth your ₦133,000? Isn’t it way too expensive? Let’s find out as we delve into the full review.


Physical build and display

Metal unibody seems to be the norm on high-end devices these days, plastic design has been relegated to mid-range and budget phones. Tecno Phantom 6 Plus comes with a metal unibody design that looks pretty good. The design  looks and feels great.

To keep the device protected, Tecno Mobile ships a free flip-cover and a tempered glass with each purchase. As mentioned when we unboxed this device, Tecno Phantom 6 appears to take some design elements from Huawei P9 and HTC 10. But don’t all phones look alike these days?

The device has the front 8MP camera aided by an LED flash, both placed on the right side of the earpiece. On the left side of the earpiece sits the light sensor. However, I’ve been unable to locate an LED notification light.

Tecno Phantom 6 Plus has a 6-inch that screen some may find rather too big. Well, 6-inch devices are not for everybody and this is why the smaller Phantom 6 exists. It comes with a LTPS (Low Temperature Poly-Silicon) LCD screen, a screen type well-known for low power consumption.

The display looks bright and colors look balanced. Sunlight legibility is good and there’s not much to complain about in this regard. The space at the front is put to good use with bezels reduced to minimum, the screen-to-body ratio appears high if that matters to you.

Tecno puts the Phantom branding below the screen. There are no physical soft keys, they are placed on-screen. At the bottom is the centrally placed USB Type-C port, this is the first Tecno device to come with this. There are two grills on each sides but only one works for the speaker, the other is actually for the microphone.

On the right side of the phone is the volume rocker with the power button right below it.

On the left is the SIM tray. However, the 2nd SIM slot is a hybrid slot that either takes a nano-SIM or an SD card. For a 64GB device, I don’t really see this as a big issue. I would rather use a second SIM than add additional storage to a 64GB device.

The top holds the 3.5mm audio jack. Nah, it’s not the iPhone 7, you still have that intact.

The back has two antennae lines running diagonally at the top and bottom. A tiny hole centrally on the top antennae line appears to be the noise-cancelling mic. Below this is the 21MP Sony IMX230 camera. Underneath it is the dual-tone-LED flash. Below this is the fingerprint sensor.

Except for the camera bulge at the back, the design is beautiful. Overall verdict? Great, just great.

Software

Tecno Phantom 6 Plus runs HiOS but the version on this new Phantom is quite different from what we’ve seen on recent Tecno phones. It has a touch of black and gold, and there are some newly added functionalities.

In contrast to what we have on devices like the Boom J8 and the Camon C9, system apps sport a dark theme.

Hi Manager, Hi Themes, Hi Font, Hi Wallpaper and other apps remain.

Tecno Phantom 6 runs Android 6.0. It is worth noting that the Phantom series have been plagued with one major defect since the beginning of time: staying on the same Android version without any major upgrade. Even last year’s Phantom 5 still runs Android Lollipop despite the promise of an upgrade.

It would be rather unfortunate if a ₦130k device doesn’t get constant updates pushed to it for at least 2 years.

On this, I keep my fingers crossed.

Storage and Performance

Tecno Phantom 6 Plus comes with a 64GB storage which is more than enough. Although there’s an SD card slot, you have to decide between using a microSD card or a second SIM card. This isn’t really a problem as most people would be content with the huge internal storage.

The device comes with 4 gigabytes of random access memory. This is more than enough for efficient multi-tasking and smooth device operation. The Phantom 6 Plus is powered by the beastly deca-core Helio X20 processor. Ten cores on a smartphone is a huge deal, but we do know the device isn’t really going to use all at once.

Of course, performance is absolutely no issue and there has been no lag during operation. Tecno Phantom 6 runs pretty smoothly. On Antutu, the device got a score 85445, the highest we’ve ever seen on a Tecno device.

We also ran the smartphone through Geekbench 4 and the scores are very impressive. It got a score of 1599 in single core test, putting it ahead of flagship devices like Xiaomi Mi 5 and Samsung Galaxy S7. The multi-core test too gave a score of 4388.

Connectivity

We’ve gone beyond the point where you would want to know if a phone supports WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth and all that. These are standard even on the crappiest devices in the market.

4G LTE support seems the most important factor to consider. I did use the device with ntel in 4G only mode and it worked fine. Theoretically, it should work with Smile 4G too but I’m yet to butcher the SIM card to fit in this tiny nano slot.

Sensors

Take a deep breath and brace yourself for a major disappointment.

Right until this moment, I really can’t figure out why Tecno Mobile thinks just the basic sensors found on budget phones are the only things needed on a high-end device. I mean… WHY?

On the Phantom 6 Plus, apart from the GPS, fingerprint sensor and eyeprint scanner, you have just the accelerometer, a proximity sensor and a light sensor.

Compass applications won’t work on this device because there is no magnetometer. You won’t be unable to watch 360-degree videos on YouTube or enjoy virtual reality games and apps because there is no gyroscope. There are several other sensors too missing.

Dear Tecno Mobile, there are certain apps that require specific hardware support. Some devices sold for half the price of the Phantom 6 do have these features and this makes it even more disheartening.

Security: Fingerprint and Eyeprint ID

The fingerprint sensor on the Phantom 6 Plus is fast and very accurate. The 360-degree recognition leaves little or no room for errors. So far, I’ve had no issues with the fingerprint sensor and I can say it’s one of the best around. Apart from unlocking the phone, the fingerprint sensor can also act as the camera button. Long-pressing also picks up incoming calls.

The device also comes with the Eyeprint sensor first seen on the Camon C9. However, it’s still not a feature I would like to use to unlock my device.

Unlike iris scanners that use near-infrared light to read iris patterns even in the dark, this looks more like an ocular-based biometric technology that uses the blood vessel pattern in the white part of the eye. It won’t work if there’s inadequate light and this makes it unreliable.

Battery

A big phone like the Phantom 6 sure needs a big battery. It comes with a non-removable 4050mAh battery that performs greatly. Since there’s no way to measure each individual’s definition of “normal” use, our video loop test should give you an idea of how long it should last.

With 3G turned on, volume at 50% and brightness at 50%, MX Player looped videos for exactly 8 hours and 49 minutes before the battery dropped from 100% to 1%. That’s almost 9 hours of video play.

Charging too is quite fast. Here is a breakdown of our test:

  • 5:05 PM – 0%
  • 5:31 PM – 32%
  • 5:54 PM – 56%
  • 6:47 PM – 100%

Approximately, charging the battery from zero to a hundred percent takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. It doesn’t look like you’re going to be able to charge the phone with a computer though. The unit I have appears to be charging when plugged into a computer but the battery percentage stays the same after almost 10 minutes.

Camera

Unlike the Phantom 6 that comes with two rear cameras at the back for bokeh effect, the Phantom 6 Plus has a single 21MP Sony IMX230 camera. With adequate light, Tecno Phantom 6 delivers clear images. Did the camera meet expectations? Let’s take a look at these sample shots first:

Sample image taken in broad daylight

These images below too were taken in broad daylight at default camera settings. Click to enlarge.

The 8MP front camera too gives nice selfies. The freedom to selectively focus isn’t given though, the cameras is locked at autofocus.

Low-light photography

The camera has a f-stop value of f/2.0 There is a dual-tone LED flash at the back that greatly aids low-light photography. There’s also a night-mode that enhances images in low-light so far you can steady the camera.

This image was taken in a poorly lit room with default camera settings:

Low light, default settings.

This was taken with the camera set to shoot Night mode. This brightens the image, reduces noise and shows more details:

Low light, Night mode.

Here is the same image with flash enabled:

Low light, flash enabled.

Camera shootout: Tecno Phantom 6 Plus vs iPhone 6s Plus

The iPhone has always been seen as the benchmark to judge other devices. We pitted the Phantom 6 Plus against the iPhone 6s Plus and you can see the results below.

Note: To maintain a fair comparison, images taken with both phones were taken with default camera settings at exactly the same position. Autofocus was allowed to do its thing.

This was taken with Tecno Phantom 6 Plus:

Tecno Phantom 6 Plus

And here is the what we got from the iPhone 6s Plus:

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

This  was taken outdoor with the Phantom 6 Plus:

Tecno Phantom 6 Plus

Image taken from the same spot with iPhone 6s Plus:

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Super Pixel

The camera has a Super Pixel feature that extrapolates your image to 80MP. This sounds absurd but it comes in handy when you need to zoom an image without losing much quality. Also if you choose to crop out a small part of your image, this becomes particularly useful. To demonstrate how it works. This image was taken with Super Pixel enabled:

Zooming in on the window in the far distance, here is what we got.

Taking this same image with the 12MP camera on the iPhone 6s Plus and zooming in on the same window in the far distance gives this heavily pixelated image:

If you’re reading this from a mobile phone, there’s a chance you won’t see the difference between the two zoomed images.

Your camera accessories are going to work with the Phantom 6 Plus

If, like me, you have one of those universal lenses for mobile phones, you can be rest assured they are compatible with the Phantom 6 Plus. Here is an image taken with a macro lens clipped to the camera:

Multimedia

With a screen size of 6-inches at 1080p, watching movies on the Phantom 6 is fun. Although there’s only one speaker present despite the presence of two grills, sounds come out right. The speaker outputs quality sound.

Tecno’s proprietary music app, Boom Player is pre-installed. You also have Google Play Music pre-installed.

Verdict

As mentioned earlier in this review, even a critic of Tecno Mobile would have a rethink holding this beautifully crafted device. The solid build gives the phone a sturdy feel. The speaker placement is perfect and almost everything about the form factor is great.

Tecno Phantom 6 is a powerful device with impressive specifications. The software on this device has an aesthetic appeal that matches the device’s physical design. Talk about premium build and raw power, Tecno Phantom 6 Plus has these.

However, the absence of common sensors found on devices in this price range can’t go without being noticed. For some, this alone might be a deal-breaker. Still, a huge percentage of smartphone users don’t really give a hoot about this.

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This post was last modified on December 19, 2016 8:36 PM

Categories: Mobile Review
Don Caprio: @doncaprioHusband, superdad, ubergeek, lazy writer, serious gamer, gadget collector, amateur photographer, web designer. I'm on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

View Comments (38)

  • That was awesome thx. Well explained. I wonder how many brand name phones run on Deca-Core processors @ 4GB Ram & 64GB Rom with 4050mA battery. I lost my Galaxy S7edge Dual recently and decided to go for this P6+ since the price was fair with high end specs. Very fast charging system too. No complaints so far

  • I have had the 6 Plus for close 4 months. So far performance of the phone had been great. The only disappointment is the bluetooth has been a let down. It pairs okay with a bluetooth headset or speaker but it will not play. If it does then the speaker will continuously be cutting. I don't know whether it's just mine or others have experienced this.

  • Great product from Tecno Mobile, just like Infinix products, cheap and affordable with outstanding features.. I just bought this tecno phantom 6 some days ago, is cheaper when comparing it quality with samsung product.
    Thanks for your authentic specifications!!