Today, the definition of a smartphone is constantly changing, and India is a big part of this change. It can be said that in the world of smartphones, India has become a big name today. However, credit to Chinese smartphone makers isn’t out of place here. Brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus have brought prices down and added value to the devices we can buy today. In fact, these brands have shown the way to our homegrown Indian brands, and indeed even Indian brands depend heavily on Chinese components.
When it comes to offering value for money, Xiaomi has led the way in India. Today, it’s one of the leading manufacturers in India by smartphone shipment volumes. And although smartphone brands such as Intex, Micromax and even Samsung have tried to offer competition, it’s been an uphill task to take on Xiaomi.
While Xiaomi has a lot of rivals, the one we’re talking about today is the Tecno Camon I. A device from Indian smartphone maker Tecno, I was impressed with this device when I first saw it, and I’ve been using it for some days now. Here’s our review of the new Tecno Camon I.
Competition to the Tecno Camon I
If we talk about price, the biggest competitor to the Tecno Camon I in this price bracket is the Rs 8,999 Infinix Note 4. Apart from this, there are a couple of phones from InFocus’ Turbo series, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Xiaomi Redmi Y1 and Y1 Lite, as well as the Micromax Canvas Infinity. Furthermore, the InFocus Vision 3 should also be considered a competitor despite the lower price. You’ll also find a handful of similarly priced options from Indian smartphone maker Intex.
Tecno Camon I Build and Design
Talking about build and design, the smartphone may appear to be metal at first, but is actually made of plastic. What truly appeals to you about the phone is the midnight black color. The fingerprint sensor is at the back, and there is no physical home button at the front. Thanks to its 18:9 screen aspect ratio, the phone looks almost convincingly flagship.
The rear camera is placed at the top-left corner of the phone, similar to what we’re used to seeing on the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. There are also strips on the body that resemble antenna lines, but considering this is a plastic smartphone, the antenna does not need specialized plastic strips. These are likely only for aesthetic value, to more closely resemble the Apple iPhone series.
On the left, you have the SIM tray, while on the right you have the power and volume rocker buttons. At the top is the headphone jack, while at the bottom are the speaker grille and micro-USB port. The front camera also has LED flash and is placed just above the screen at the front. The phone is quite light, and can be easily used with just one hand.
On the whole, I was most impressed with the design because as earlier mentioned, this is a plastic smartphone that looks metal. It’s a well-designed smartphone for the price, and is far more than we would typically expect from a Rs 9,000 smartphone.
Fingerprint sensor and other key features
Before that I tell you about the fingerprint sensor and other features, let’s talk a bit about performance. I usually do a bit of gaming with smartphone I review to get an idea about performance with intensive usage, and have done the same with the Tecno Camon I. The phone has 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. This storage can also extend up to 128GB with a microSD card. The Mediatek SoC under the hood isn’t ideal for gaming in my opinion, and although the rest of the specification sheet is good, around 10-15 minutes of intensive gaming on the Tecno Camon I will cause the phone to heat up significantly.
Let’s now talk about its fingerprint sensor. Although I didn’t have any trouble with the fingerprint sensor initially, over time I found that the phone was a bit slower in unlocking or accurately recognizing my fingerprint. Multiple tries later, the phone would finally unlock. Keep this in mind if you buy the Tecno Camon I, as the fingerprint sensor isn’t as quick and accurate as you might like.
I’m particularly impressed with some of the smaller features on the Tecno Camon I. For example, switching between the front and rear cameras only needs a swipe down on the camera screen, rather than tapping a button. Similarly, a quick three-finger swipe on the screen will take a screenshot on the phone.
When installing new apps, the Camon I automatically categorizes it into the right folder on the home screen. For example, the Facebook app would be automatically categorized into the Social Media folder. Similarly, it’s possible to use the smart sort feature to quickly sort apps into the right folders for a cleaner home screen.
Tecno Camon I Specifications and Features
As the market for smartphones grows, devices will only be distinguished by their features, considering that the use of Android on most phones makes them all so similar. We’ll now explore the special features on the Tecno Camon I which will help set it apart.
The phone runs on Android Nougat, with Tecno’s own HiOS user interface on top. What is disappointing and beyond my understanding about the Tecno Camon I is the use of Android Nougat when Android Oreo has been out for so many months. Had this phone been launched with the latest version of Android, it may have given the Tecno Camon I a significant edge over its competition. It remains to be seen if the phone receives an update to Android Oreo in the coming months.
The Tecno Camon I has a 5.65-inch HD+ (720×1440) 18: 9 aspect ratio screen. At this price, you won’t find too many smartphones with this aspect ratio. This is the current trend for budget smartphones, and other devices in this price range such as the Micromax Canvas Infinity and InFocus Vision 3 also offer this kind of screen. The Tecno Camon I will go on sale through the offline market this month.
In addition, the smartphone has a 1.3GHz Mediatek quad-core SoC, along with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. You might experience some stability issues on the phone as the Mediatek SoC isn’t the best option available and can’t compete with budget Qualcomm options from some of the competition. You can increase storage on board by up to 128GB with a microSD card. There is also a 3,050mAh battery in the device.
Tecno Camon I Display and UI
The display on the Tecno Camon I is fairly good, with decent brightness, good color reproduction and impressive performance even with sharp viewing angles. While it’s a good display, this kind of performance, resolution and size is also available on competing devices in this price range from Micromax and InFocus. The screen has good sunlight visible as well, raising its peak brightness to improve viewability even under bright sunlight.
Coming to the user interface of the phone, I’m fairly impressed with it and it looks and feels premium. It’s well designed and laid out, although there are some bloatware apps that can’t be uninstalled. The phone interestingly comes with certain social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp pre-installed. This is useful for most people that use these services since they don’t need to be installed, but you are free to uninstall them if you choose.
Tecno Camon I Camera
When it comes to the camera of the Tecno Camon I, you get decent pictures in good light, but average performance in low-light. However, worth noting is that the phone comes with a quad-LED flash at the rear, which really brightens up pictures in low light. You can also add watermarks to your photos with the Tecno Camon I. Both sides have a 13-megapixel camera, and you get flash at the front as well. The flash is the differentiating factor and makes the phone stand out in its price bracket.
In addition, pictures taken in good light are decent as well. The camera app is well designed and is easy to use, without too many complications in the way it’s set up. Look at the camera samples below to get an idea of camera performance on the Tecno Camon I.
Tecno Camon I Performance and Battery
I usually test performance on smartphones I review with gaming, and I play everything from Fruit Ninja to Asphalt 8 to test this. On the whole, I haven’t been very impressed with performance on the phone, particularly due to heat issues. Thanks to 3GB of RAM, multi-tasking usually isn’t a problem. However, similar to a lot other phones in this price bracket, heavy gaming will cause the phone to heat up quite a bit. Nonetheless, performance is what you would expect for the price.
Along with heavy gaming, I have also tested the smartphone with web browsing, messaging, emails, social media, and multi-tasking, and I’ve seldom come across issues in these fields. Therefore, it’s safe to say that performance is reliable enough for basic usage, and you’d do better to look at a slightly more expensive phone if you want better performance on the whole.
The Tecno Camon I comes with a 3,050mAh battery, which helps is getting decent battery life from the device. Usually budget devices don’t come with large batteries, so this is a pleasant surprise on the Tecno Camon I. Even with gaming, you can get about 8-9 hours of usage. If your usage is a bit more basic and you don’t game much, you could expect up to a day and a half on a single charge. I’m fairly impressed with battery life on the Tecno Camon I as a result.
There are a lot of options available today at less than Rs 10,000, but few offer as well-rounded an experience as the Tecno Camon I. It has a decent combination of features, performance and looks, and is definitely an option worth considering if you’re looking for a new phone today. And a definite bonus is the fact that this is an Indian smartphone maker. The two stand-out factors that help this phone are its battery and design. The Tecno Camon I is available now at Rs 8,999 and can be purchased both online and offline at local dealers in your neighborhood.
Translated to English by Ali Pardiwala