Tecno Camon CX Review: Is It Worth The Hype?

If you got Tecno Camon C9 last year, the latest Camon CX gives you every good reason to upgrade. And if you’re new to the Tecno’s camera-centric devices, picking up the Camon CX isn’t a bad move. From a much better front and rear camera to a much better build quality, Tecno Camon CX defines a new direction in Tecno’s design for the Camon product line. With a metallic shell and a great design, Tecno Camon CX doesn’t look cheap at all.

We unboxed the device late last month and if you’re wondering what to find in the box, you can check the article here.

Form factor and display

Although the front of the device doesn’t hold much, one can’t help but notice the prominence of the centered 16MP camera and the dual flash. The front camera is almost as good as the rear camera. The front camera boasts a SONY-IMX298 sensor, the same camera sensor on Xiaomi Mi5, One Plus 3, Vivo X7 Plus and others.

There’s a dual-LED flash positioned to the right of the camera. Although I’m not really a fan of taking selfies in the dark, people who take nightlife very serious should find this particularly exciting.

The display doesn’t disappoint. You get a 5.5-inch display with full HD resolution. Colors look balanced and the brightness auto adjusts as expected. Legibility under the sun is good if you allow the auto-brightness feature do it’s thing. Cranking it up all the way to the maximum too works. The navigation buttons are placed on-screen, a deviation from the capacitive soft keys on the Camon C9.

I used to care about LED notification light but not anymore. All the same, Tecno puts one on the Camon CX if you care to know. This is placed just beside the front LED flash.

The top has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the bottom has a micro-USB port. If you were expecting USB Type-C port, you have to deal with this.

Tecno Mobile hasn’t fully switched even though we saw this on the last flagship. To the right of this port is the speaker grill, and on the left is the microphone opening. It’s a relief not seeing the deceptive dual-speaker grills put on devices lately.

If you hate having to choose between a second SIM slot and an SD card, you should like the separate  SD card slot on the right side of the phone just above the volume and power buttons. The right side takes the dual SIM slot.

The back of the device looks appealing even if it feels familiar. You also have also have a 16MP Sony IMX-298 camera sitting on the top antennae line towards the left. Below it is an ultra-bright ring flash consisting of four LED flash lights.

Tecno Camon CX is the first Camon coming with fingerprint security. I’m actually glad the Eyeprint security seen on last year’s Camon C9 is gone. It was a mess and I faulted it. The fingerprint sensor works great as expected and you can even use it to take photos.

It’s hard to fault the overall design of this beautiful device, trust me.

Camera

A smartphone boldly marketed as a camera phone is expected to have nothing short of an amazing shooter, right? The Camon CX hold its ground and produces great shots. As mentioned earlier, both the front and rear camera come with Sony IMX-298 camera sensors. The sensor comes with Phase Detection AutoFocus (PDAF), it also has capability to record in 4K and shoot RAW photos (though Tecno Mobile didn’t incorporate these).

With the new ArcSoft Denoise Technology, noise is greatly reduced to about 50%. To create brighter images, 4 different pictures are taken at different resolutions and combined into one within just a few seconds.

The ring LED flash actually consists of four separate LED lights and this gives you very good lighting in low-light.

Although there’s no dedicated camera button, the fingerprint sensor takes on the job. You can capture images with this.

Note: A filter was applied to this image with the default editor after capturing.

For the third time, I was expecting to see manual camera controls but was disappointed. I’m the type of user who likes to mess around with ISO and Shutter Speed settings when it comes to mobile photography. I could’ve used a third party manual camera app but HiOS doesn’t have Camera2 API. I wasn’t able to work with Manual Camera app. Tecno Mobile ought to implement this as professional photographers who solely rely on their mobile devices in the absence of their cameras will find the Camon CX lacking in this regard.

The selfie camera too performs great. Pictures come out bright and the camera software gives you the freedom to apply live filters that suit your mood before capturing your images.

The only problem here is that the front camera doesn’t allow you to focus manually and has no HDR feature. This sometimes results in parts of the the selfie getting over-exposed.

Anyway, the camera outputs great images and low-light photography on the Camon CX is awesome. Here are more sample images:

Battery & connectivity

Tecno Camon CX has a battery with 3200mAh capacity. It can last you up to 2 days, you can as well deplete the whole juice under 8 hours. Charging the battery from 0% took it to 30% in 30 minute and it took almost 2 hours to fully charge.

Since it’s hard to define a regular use pattern for everyone, I did a video loop test and the device came out with a pretty good result. With the battery at 100%, volume and 50%, brightness at 50% and Airplane mode turned on, it too exactly 10 hours 57 minutes before the battery gave up the ghost while playing videos continuously.

In the world of Android though, a 3200mAh looks average. However, the Camon CX battery loop test results shows it isn’t that bad.

Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G and all these are standard on even budget devices these days. Since 4G connectivity on mobile is starting to spread across the country, it should be the area of focus. I was able to use ntel SIM in 4G/3G/2G mode and 4G only mode. There’s one thing I noticed though, the signal strength wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been, I was getting more bars on another device. It could be my particular review unit though. Anyway, it should work on all 4G networks (theoretically).

Storage, performance & software

Tecno Camon CX comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The storage can be expanded with up to 128GB microSD card via the external storage slot. There’s a 1.5Ghz octa-core processor (MT6750T)) on-board and it handles everything quite well.

Animations are smooth and there’s no lag. The benchmark performance isn’t stellar, but the Camon CX still gets a 43644 score on Antutu. The GeekBench 4 single processing score hits 620 while the device gets a score of 2683 in multi-core processing.

As Tecno Mobile’s proprietary HiOS takes different form at every device launch, it looks different again on Tecno Camon CX as expected. It is not the same dark-themed one we saw on the last Phantom, HiOS takes on a light theme here.

It comes with all the great new features found in Google’s latest Android Nougat. It appears Tecno may take updates serious this time; I received an OTA update earlier today with Febraury 2015 security patch.

If you’re wondering what sensors are available, you have the standard Accelerometer, Proximity and Light sensors. Others include Magnetometer, GeoMag Rotation Vector sensor, and Orientation sensor.

Verdict

Whether we admit this or not, Tecno Mobile has done something good with the Camon CX. As much as I wish a few things could’ve been added to make it the perfect device for power users and pro photographers, we should be reminded that this is still a mid range phone that costs only N70,000 and there’s a target market for each device.

For most users, the camera would be perfect, the ultra-bright front and rear LED flash lights accompanying both 16MP cameras make low-light photography great. As for the storage, I’m still of the opinion that 16GB should be relegated to only low-end devices, it’s rather too small for a mid-range phone. Anyway, the external storage slot separated from the dual-SIM slots is a good move.

Can I recommend the Camon CX as a reviewer? Yes, if you want a good camera and you’re on a budget.

Pricing and availability

The device is already in the market. It’s being sold for about N70,00 on Nigerian ecommerce stores right now.

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This post was last modified on June 9, 2017 7:01 PM

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

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