The Tecno Spark 7 Pro is the latest in the 7 series smartphones. The Tecno brand is quite popular in emerging markets including Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe for stylish but affordable smartphones. Tecno phones are known for providing excellent value for the price for the young generation and university-age students.
With a launch price of under $150, the Tecno Spark 7 Pro provides an amazing value and just might be the best budget smartphone out there. But before we get to the review let’s get this phone unboxed.
Tecno Spark 7 Pro Unboxing
The colorful orange box has an insert with a transparent TPU case, warranty card, and SIM tool. Underneath is the Spark 7 Pro which comes with a factory-installed screen protector. My review unit is the Spruce Green color. Below the phone, you will find a 10W power brick, micro-USB cable, and wired earbuds.
Hardware design is muted but quite functional
Size-wise this is a big phone. However, this device is targeted at people in countries for whom this is their one and only electronic device. Despite the large size, it has good weight distribution and in-hand ergonomics.
Even though it has a plastic frame, the execution is flawless and you might mistake it for an aluminum frame. The back has a nice ridge texture that provides ample grip. The bottom right corner in the back has a Tecno logo. There is a smooth stripe on the left side which also houses the camera module at the top. The fingerprint scanner is located on the back in a convenient spot.
The bottom rail houses the headphone jack, microphone, micro-USB charging port, and the bottom-firing speaker. The right-hand side rail has the power and volume buttons. And on the left-hand side rail is the dual SIM + micro SD card tray. A silicone rubber strip on the tray indicates that there is possible splash resistance built into this device which is a nice touch.
On the front, there is a large 6.6” display with a top left corner punch hole for the selfie camera. The bezels are uniform at the top and sides. However, the bottom chin is quite large and perhaps the only clue that this is a budget smartphone. Overall, the device looks quite modern with the exception of the micro-USB charging port. Having said that the countries in which this phone is going to sell I am guessing the USB-C port adoption is slow.
The device is available in three color options – Alps Blue, Spruce Green, and Magnet Black/ The special color Neon Dream is not available yet. I like the green color of my review device, as it definitely looks different.
Let’s look at that 6.6” display on the Tecno Spark 7 Pro
On the front is a large 6.6-inch 90Hz refresh rate display. The resolution is 720 x 1600 pixels, yielding a pixel density per inch of 268 PPI. The Tecno Spark 7 Pro screen has the modern 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen-to-body ratio is a respectable 89.5% primarily due to that slightly larger bottom chin. Within the budget smartphone range, you can get other devices that have smaller screens and even worse screen-to-body ratio. So I am quite happy with what Tecno is offering here with the Spark 7 Pro.
On a bright sunny day in Southern California, I did not encounter any major issues in terms of outdoor readability.
The software offers quite a few customization options for display which isn’t normal for budget smartphones. Adaptive brightness and Dark mode are available to further tweak the display. And you can adjust the refresh rate to stretch battery life further. All in all the display is quite good considering the price of the device.
Performance is excellent for the price
The Tecno Spark 7 Pro is powered by the Helio G80, an all-new 2.0GHz, Octa-core processor with a dedicated 950MHz graphics unit. Benchmark scores are twice as fast in comparison to the previous generation of this device.
Paired with 4GB or 6GB RAM and eMMC 5.1 storage in either 64GB or 128GB configuration (my review unit has more storage but only 4GB RAM) the phone does day-to-day tasks without any glaring hiccups.
Benchmark scores are in line with other smartphones running on the Snapdragon 66X series. Despite being a budget phone you can easily play games like Call of Duty and PUBG at normal settings. Easy games like Angry Birds or Subway Surfers are a breeze to play on this phone.
The only issue is that the review device has only 4GB RAM. So occasionally I had to clear some apps in the background. Other than that though no issues when comparing this device to my daily Pixel device. I would say for the price this device offers stellar performance.
Software is HiOS7.5 based on Android 11 which is a good thing
The Tecno Spark 7 Pro is running Hios 7.5 on top of Android 11. As soon as I booted up the phone there was an update available. Upon restart, I saw that the security patch is March 2021 on this device.
As far as software goes, it is a light skin on top of standard Android. There is good Google integration in terms of Discover feed to the left of the main home screen and no duplicate email or contacts apps. However, there is a separate Palm Store and a few preloaded apps on the phone. Depending on which country you are located these might be useful. I ignored most of the preinstalled apps during my review period. You should note that you cannot uninstall most of these preloaded apps.
Overall, the software on the Tecno Spark 7 Pro is fairly clean and reminds me of the software on Realme smartphones.
Battery life is excellent
A Full day without charging is quite easy on the Tecno Spark 7 Pro. For moderate to light users, you can easily get two-day battery life. I managed to get over 5.5 hours of screen on time during my review period with this device.
HiOS offers quite a few options in the Battery settings to stretch the battery life even further too. In fact, I was quite pleasantly surprised with the number of things you can tweak in the Battery settings to maximize the battery life. This includes controlling individual apps from a battery drain perspective.
As far as recharging goes, it is a bit slow but overnight charging with the 10W brick in the box should be fine. There is built-in support to prevent overheating or overcharging the battery which is a great bonus.
Audio quality is more than reasonable
Kudos to Tecno for sticking with the 3.5mm headphone jack. The audio output from the jack is excellent and my suggestion is most users should make this their default choice on this smartphone.
There is only one downward-firing speaker on the bottom. It gets plenty loud but the sound lacks any detail from a bass or treble standpoint. Audio output via Bluetooth is more than adequate as well. So using a wired or wireless headset is probably a better choice for most folks.
Call quality is good in handset or speakerphone modes. Overall the audio options are quite satisfactory on the Tecno Spark 7 Pro in my opinion.
Main camera performance is excellent even in low light
The Tecno Spark 7 Pro has a triple camera module on the back. However, most of the work is done by the 48MP main camera. The other two cameras are mostly for depth sensing and AI calculations. On the front, there’s an 8MP selfie camera.
Let’s first deal with the selfie camera output. Selfies are reasonably decent for sharing via smartphone and need a little tweaking before posting on social media. I would suggest that you use Portrait mode as that has slightly better results versus the AI Cam mode which uses Beauty mode by default. Portrait shots have a decent amount of background blur and edge detection as long as you don’t do too much pixel peeping.
The main camera results on the back are quite good during daylight. The AI mode is also quite good at turning on HDR and recognizes the subjects quite easily. This device has features that are typically found in higher-end devices.
The biggest surprise was the quite impressive performance in low light and in night mode. The nighttime pictures do take a bit longer to process but the resulting output is quite good so worth the wait. Take a look at some sample pictures in our Flickr gallery below.
Video from the rear and front camera is capped at 2K but for most folks, 1080p will be good enough. There aren’t a lot of options but there is eye focus which is quite handy in keeping the subject in focus for selfies and shooting video.
In summary, the camera performance is quite good considering the price. If Tecno managed to sneak in an 8MP Ultrawide camera in the back, that would really make this device stand out in a crowd of budget smartphones. But overall the Spark 7 Pro performs quite well in terms of camera performance, both in day and night.
Connectivity in the USA is limited on the Tecno Spark 7 Pro
Even though this is a global unlocked smartphone, I could not get 4G LTE on T-Mobile in the USA. For starters, I had to manually enter the APN settings but even then the most I got is a 2G connection. This works for calls but unfortunately not for data. I don’t expect this to be the case in the markets this device is targeted at though.
Calls sounded clear both ways in handset or speakerphone mode. Texting is via Google Messages with RCS chat features baked in from the factory. Since I could not get any data connection I wasn’t able to stream or download anything on the go but on WiFi, there were zero issues.
There are a few other connectivity options as well. Nearby Share and Screen Cast are available in the Connection Settings. You can also toggle on VPN and WiFi Direct. And if need be link a Chromebook to the smartphone as well.
There is no NFC for contactless payments or sharing files. Besides this though, all the basics are present from a connectivity standpoint which is a good thing.
Tecno Spark 7 Pro Verdict
The Tecno Spark 7 Pro is an extremely affordable and stylish smartphone. You get good-looking hardware, a good processor, lots of base storage, clean software, a big screen, good battery life, decent camera performance, and a headphone jack! On top of it, you have a case, charging brick, and even wired earphones in the box!
In summary, the Tecno Spark 7 Pro offers an absolutely stellar price to performance ratio in the markets it is on sale. People looking for a decent smartphone on a tight budget should definitely consider the Tecno Spark 7 Pro.