The in-display fingerprint sensor was one of the big innovations of 2018. Back in 2017 the iPhone X took the Face ID route with advanced facial recognition to unlock your phone. Quite a few brands chose the in-display fingerprint sensor in 2018 – a feature that was exclusive to pricier devices and one that created a better design language for smartphones. Hong Kong-based smartphone major Tecno’s decision to add this feature to a sub Rs 15,000 smartphone gives its flagship – the Phantom 9, an edge in this ultra-competitive price band. How does the rest of the device measure up?

EPL fans might know Tecno as one of the brand partners of Manchester City, a team that has enjoyed a great run recently. Tecno renewed this partnership as it unveiled the Phantom 9 in India, a key market for a brand that has its task cut out. Tecno gets its design right. The Aurora Lights-inspired colour palette swings from blue to purple in a gradient pattern. While it might be too flashy for some folks, the back looks premium for its price. A dew-drop notch is the distinct design element in a bezel-less display. Tecno pushes the screen: body ratio to almost 85% with this 6.4-inch display (1080 x 2340 pixels / 19.5:9 aspect ratio / 403 PPI). Colours are quite vivid even under harsh light.

A triple camera bump with an LED flash is the other standout design element. Tecno positions this as a feature-packed camera – one that lets you shoot everything from macro shots to wide-angle images. This rear shooter combines a 16MP primary lens that with a 2MP depth sensing lens and an 8MP wide-angle lens for ultra-wide images. It’s certainly quite versatile for a device at this price point. Image quality was reasonably good in ambient light, the wide-angle lens is certainly a nice to have feature. AI is a recurring theme in the device’s camera set-up including a 32MP selfie cam. Yes, you can max out on the beautification mode on those days when you quite don’t look your best. Tecno adds an interesting dual flashlight for those lowlight selfies. Then again, flash photography is not for all.

A MediaTek Helio P35 processor is at the heart of the Phantom 9. The device comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of Internal storage. There’s room for a Micro SD card in case you want to expand the storage. It’s enough firepower for the average user but it didn’t quite blaze through our AnTuTu benchmark test notching up a score of 86991. It didn’t stutter through regular tasks though. The camera is super responsive while the fingerprint sensor wasn’t sluggish too.

The Phantom 9 has a 3500 mAh battery under the hood. Again, this should work for most users. Tecno sticks with a Micro-USB charging slot, an odd choice in 2019 and one that doesn’t offer fast charging, a feature that is becoming common even with devices priced under Rs 20,000. Tecno opts to layer this device with its custom UI 0 HiOS 5.0. This is the company’s spin on Android 9.0 Pie. This is not a version that fans of pure-play Android will enjoy. There are some useful touches and we also like some of the screen transitions but it’s still too layered for our liking. There’s also a fair bit of bloatware out of the box.

The Tecno Phantom 9 has more hits than misses for its Rs 14,999 price point. The triple-cam is quite versatile while the in-display fingerprint reader and form factor are some of its strengths.

 

The Tecno Phantom 9 is priced at Rs 14,999 and is available in a Lapland Aurora shade.