You will probably never use a Tecno phone. Until this week, I had never heard of the Chinese brand or its line of phones, Camon. Now, I’m not likely to forget them.
The company recently launched a luxury launch in New York City for the new Tecno Camon Series 19 Pro Android 12 The phones though products will not be for sale in the US (or UK, for that matter). I honestly wondered what they were doing there, and more importantly, why I was there.
Tecno insisted on describing the phones as “designed for fashionistas”. I can’t tell you what that means, but I admit that I was intrigued by the design, the specs, and especially the price.
Key specifications include:
- 6.8 inch FHD+ approx. 120Hz edge-to-edge display
- 32 MP front camera
- 64MP and 50MP cameras on the back
- 2X optical zoom
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 5000 mAh battery
- Fingerprint Reader
- face unlock
- Some cool photo tricks that contain artificial intelligence
- 3.5 mm headphone jack (!)
- Power brick, cable and headphones (!!)
It’s also a surprisingly attractive phone. There is a diamond-coated back that rejects fingerprints and looks beautiful. The dual-circuit camera array (which includes three cameras – there’s a 2-megapixel bokeh auxiliary lens), is large but elegant, and its premium look is backed by a frosted glass cover. The chassis is slightly thicker than iPhone 13 Pro MaxHowever, the phone looks much lighter.
The Camon 19 Pro comes with all of this (and more) for $280. This is a phone that you can pay off in five or six months (if you’re paying around $50 a month). Camon Series 19 Pro 5G starts at just $320. This is, on both phones, 128 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM.
To put that in perspective, the cheapest iPhone you can buy is $429 Apple iPhone SEIt has only 64 GB of storage.
There is a trick
There are, of course, huge caveats, the biggest of which is global availability. These Tecno phones are available in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, but not, as I noted earlier, in the US or Europe. The price may also vary and Tecno’s offer of $280 and $320 is still just an “estimate” for my market.
There are several limitations often associated with budget phones such as the lack of a fingerprint reader under the screen. Instead, the power/wake button doubles as an efficient fingerprint reader. The screen is still LCD, not OLED. No IP rating reported (maybe keep it out of deep puddles). It does not provide wireless charging.
Then there’s the mobile CPU, a MediaTek Helio G96which is probably equivalent to Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G. Its benchmark numbers aren’t even in the same neighborhood as Apple for example A15 Bionic or a Snapdragon 8 first generation.
So, when I unexpectedly walked out of the event with a review unit in hand and decided to spend a day or so with it, I tried to set my expectations.
For the most part, though, this budget device has outgrown it.
Not bad at all
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As I mentioned, it’s an attractive large screen phone with a vibrant display and, of course, looks excellent inside. Outside is a different matter. It struggled in bright light, but I still saw well enough to use the camera and fairly rich settings to capture a variety of shots. Everything from the standard telephoto to the 2x telephoto, and from the portrait to the slow motion look very good. Even the shots in low light and at night were good (nothing that could be considered great). There’s no wide-angle lens, let alone an ultra-wide, but the included lenses capture sharp, colorful, and accurate photos.
Portrait mode from the rear camera is fine (the front camera has more artifacts), although you can’t adjust the bokeh level before or after the shot (how many people do that on the iPhone 13 or Samsung Galaxy, In any case?). There is an editing tool that lets you add and tweak the bokeh effect to any photo, but it’s not directly related to Portrait Mode photography, which is kind of silly.
The AI camera and its efforts to locate objects in a scene were entertaining. Once, I pointed the phone into my hand, and came across the word “pet.”
There are many image processing options that you may not find or use all of them. Body manipulation set is, at best, problematic. It provides waist, head and shoulder slimming, slimming and lengthening of the “buller butt” legs along with other cosmetic modifications. Perhaps this is what techno meant by the phone for “fashion lovers”.
To be fair, these features were hard to find and the phone definitely doesn’t push them. However, it is strange that they are there.
Perforation over weight
For a phone under $300, the Tecno Camon 19 Pro is the best performer. You’ve played tax games like Asphalt 9: Legends without missing a beat. I think a frame or two might have been dropped, and the sound could have been richer, but it was still a fun experience.
It’s an efficient productivity platform for browsing and file management, and I like the list of easy to find apps sorted alphabetically.
By the way, the 5000 mAh battery is an all-day champion.
Basically, this is an above average phone at a ridiculously good price.
Will you make it to the US and UK? I don’t know and Tecno has not provided any guidance. I’m not sure it’s important. What the Tecno Camon 19 Pro shows me is that all phone manufacturers can do a better job in terms of affordability. We’re paying as much as $999 for powerful big screen phones which will likely do a lot more than we’ll need (at least for most of us).
Camon 19 Pro is a great example of budget capabilities. I think it’s time for Apple, Samsung, and others to respond in kind.
Clarification 6-19-2022: An earlier version of this post indicated that iOS does not have an alphabetical app list. It is, within the Applications Library.
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