PHANTOM X is a premium smartphone from TECNO available starting July 1st. AndroidHeadlines did a quick preview of the brand new mid-range flagship from TECNO a few days ago.
You can check out the preview article for the unboxing experience. I have been using the PHANTOM X for about a week now and so it’s time to dive into the full review.
PHANTOM X Hardware Impressions
PHANTOM X is a gorgeous-looking smartphone. I am a big fan of my Van Gogh Starry Blue color review device courtesy of Tecno. If you didn’t know anything about this phone you might easily mistake it for a device from Samsung or Huawei. It looks that stylish and premium.
Build quality is absolutely stellar with no rattles or squeaks and all the buttons that have a satisfying click to them. In-hand ergonomics are also excellent thanks to the curved screen and the curved back cover. The overall design of the device and the texture on the back cover result in a good grip on the phone for one-hand use.
Besides design curves and texture on the back surface, PHANTOM has also done a great job with the overall weight distribution. There is minimal to no fatigue while using this phone in one hand. This attention to detail is also applied to the case included in the retail box. The vegan leather finish on the case provides excellent grip while being extremely lightweight.
There are nice subtle touches everywhere else on the phone. For example, the power button has a nice texture finish and there is even a flash for the selfie cameras. But the best feature is a 3.5mm headphone jack in 2021 on the bottom rail! The top rail is clean except for a tiny cutout for the second microphone and the SIM/SD card tray slot. The left-hand side rail is devoid of any buttons or ports. The right-had side rail has the power button and volume rocker.
On the back, we have light branding and even subtler branding on the camera module. I am a fan of the decision PHANTOM made to put the cameras in the middle of the back glass. This gives the PHANTOM X a unique look in my opinion. But the best part is the unique textured glass back that hides fingerprints well and has built-in scratch resistance but is extremely comfortable to hold.
The front of the PHANTOM X features a 6.7″ AMOLED curved edge borderless waterfall screen with Gorilla Glass 5 protection. In addition, there are two front-facing selfie cameras and an optical fingerprint sensor underneath the display for unlocking the device.
PHANTOM X comes in two colors – Van Gogh Starry Night Blue and Monet’s Summer. I like my Starry Night Blue review unit quite a bit.
Curved AMOLED Display on the PHANTOM X is easy on the eyes
The PHANTOM X has a 6.7 inch curved AMOLED display with a 90Hz high refresh rate. The high refresh rate ensures a smooth user experience during web browsing or scrolling your Facebook feed. The display panel has a resolution of 1080 x 2340 which results in an FHD panel with a high color gamut and very high contrast ratio compared to other devices that have LCD screens.
The 430 nits of brightness results in the ability to view the panel easily while outdoors on a bright sunny day. Ultra-slim bezels all around along with a 19.5:9 screen ratio mean fatigue-free one-handed operation on a daily basis.
The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and PHANTOM includes an HD film screen protector from the factory which is a nice touch.
Additionally, for further customization, there are quite a few options in the Display Settings. For my review, I used Dark mode, Adaptive brightness on, and a 90Hz high refresh rate. To reduce eye strain, there is a special Eye Care setting that you can toggle on if necessary.
There are a few other settings that may help you with your overall display experience. These are Always on display, Edge lighting, Inadvertently mode, and Extend to edges.
Overall, I am quite impressed with the quality of the display and the number of software settings available to tweak the display to my personal preferences. These should let the PHANTOM X stand out when cross-shopping with other competitive smartphones.
PHANTOM X performance is excellent
PHANTOM X processor with a Mali-G76 MC4 GPU at 900MHz is more than adequate for gaming. One thing to note is that most games are likely to stay around the 60fps mark so the benefits of the 90Hz refresh rate may not materialize for gaming.
From a memory perspective, PHANTOM X comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB base storage which are both quite good. You can also add an SD card for storing music, videos and photos.
From a benchmark perspective, it actually performs quite well and is in line with the Snapdragon 7XX series performance. I basically had zero issues from a performance standpoint during my review time with the PHANTOM X. As far as gaming is concerned, there is a specific ‘Game Mode’ setting which optimizes gameplay by limiting interruptions.
Long story short, from a performance standpoint there should be no issues for the average smartphone user including gaming.
Software is HiOS 7.6 based on Android 11 with useful addons
PHANTOM X runs on HiOS 7.6 on top of Android 11 with April 2021 security patch. The HiOS is a light skin on top of stock AOSP.
There is quite a bit of Google integration in terms of software apps so there are no duplicate email or contacts apps. Messages with RCS chat features is the default app for SMS / texts which is my preferred app on Android. There is however no Google Discover Feed as you swipe left from the home screen.
There are a few preloaded apps some of which you cannot uninstall. However, depending on which country you are in, these apps might prove to be more useful. For my review period, I did not use these since their applicability in USA is minimal. Besides Google Play Store there is an additional Palm Store for apps and games which probably may have local apps for users in certain geographies. I did like the Translate app on the PHANTOM X.
There are some additional software settings such as Privacy Mode and Child Mode that provide granular level of control for your smartphone. So you can easily hand the PHANTOM X to someone else without having to worry too much about your personal data getting into the wrong hands.
Under the Special Function setting you can find additional helpful software functions such as Game Mode, Smart Panel, App Twin and more. Oh, and PHANTOM X also has its own digital assistant Ella which may be more helpful in geographies with limited data access.
Overall I find the software skin to be light with a lot of useful features on the PHANTOM X.
Battery life is better than expected on the PHANTOM X
PHANTOM X packs a 4700 mAh battery which is fairly large and results in every other day charging cycle for normal use. Even under heavy use – GPS, Camera, and general web browsing you can get through a full day without having to worry about charging. In daily use, I saw Screen-on-Time of around 6 hours.
Once you need to charge the battery, there is fast charging support with the 33W charging brick that comes in the box. In 2021 we have to give credit to smartphone manufacturers that include a charging brick in the box free of charge.
PHANTOM X claims that the 33W charger will charge the battery to 50% in just 20 mins and up to 70% in half an hour. A full 100% charge gets done in a little bit over 1 hour which is quite good. in 59 mins. I would say that these are definitely fast recharging times enabling pretty much a full day of use on the go.
Cameras take really good pictures in various lighting conditions
On the back, there’s a triple camera module. The main camera has 50MP 1/1.3 inch ultra large sensor which enables some extremely clear nighttime shots via Super Night 3.0. It uses laser focus which results in quick focusing and balanced exposure in varying light conditions. In fact, this allows the PHANTOM X to take very quick pictures in twilight compared to other smartphones.
There is also a 13MP 50mm equivalent portrait lens and a 48MP 105° wide-angle camera which doubles as an extremely capable macro shooter at close distances. Night mode is however only available on the main camera. The other two cameras produce good pictures in daylight. And I found the Ultrawide camera to give good results of close-ups when using it in macro mode.
Photo quality from the rear cameras is quite good in daylight
The 50MP main camera takes good pictures in daylight with good dynamic range and a decent amount of detail. Color accuracy is surprisingly very good for the main sensor. respectable with low noise.
The 8MP ultrawide camera in daylight yields pictures with good contrast and detail. But I found issues occasionally with light exposure and color balance in comparison to the main camera. There is minimal barrel effect at the edges despite a hefty 120° wide-angle.
I did not get a chance to use the 2X telephoto much during my review period. As far as portrait mode goes, the PHANTOM X does a decent job in terms of blur and edge detection. There is quite a bit of AI in the background to help people with various skin tones in different geographical areas with portraits. Take a look at the various pictures in our Flickr gallery.
Lowlight performance from main camera is actually very good
The 50MP main camera with 1/1.3-inch large sensor results in low light are actually very good. This level of low-light performance is something I wasn’t expecting. Exposure and colors are good with a decent amount of detail.
A lot of times, Night Mode does not need activation unless it is quite dark. It does take about 4-5 seconds with Night Mode to take a picture. This is a bit slow in my opinion but the overall results are definitely better than using the main camera in point and shoot mode.
Selfies and Video recording observations
Selfies are more than adequate for sharing on social media. The photos from the main selfie camera have reasonable color accuracy, detail, and contrast.
Also, the second selfie camera allows taking group selfies with a 105° field-0f-view. Portrait selfies are good but edge detection and blur are a hit and a miss.
You can shoot videos up to 4K 30fps with the main camera. Video quality and audio capture quality are more than acceptable and I can see myself using the main camera to take videos.
The ultrawide camera video can only do 1080p 30fps maximum. Take a look at the sample video in the Flickr Gallery.
Overall, I think the PHANTOM X cameras offer quite a bit of versatility and good results in varying lighting conditions.
Connectivity is great even for a non-USA device
I was surprised to get full LTE on the PHANTOM X on the T-Mobile network in the USA. I used the PHANTOM X in 4 separate states and had no issues whatsoever and data speeds are comparable to my other LTE devices.
Since this is a 4G LTE device, your battery life is going to be great since 5G processors are power-hungry. Also, 5G rollout is still slow in a lot of countries. So lack of 5G connectivity is probably not that big of an issue for a lot of buyers.
Besides the regular call and data, the PHANTOM X supports Bluetooth, Nearby Share, XShare, and Screen Cast. The only thing missing is NFC but again in a lot of places you can use a QR code for contactless payments so it may or may not be a big issue.
Audio quality is way better than other devices in this range
PHANTOM X has a single firing bottom speaker but it is loud and clear in terms of audio quality. Of course with a single speaker, the bass can be a bit low but other than that I have no issues with the sound quality. Just make sure you don’t cover the speaker grille at the bottom with your hand while playing videos or during gaming.
The more exciting thing is that the PHANTOM X still has a headphone jack. Again it is something we have to marvel at in 2021; since most devices seem to be ditching the headphone jack at a fast pace. The audio output from the headphone jack is excellent. I used my Audio Technica earbuds to test the audio output for this review. And in case you are wondering, the audio quality via Bluetooth is also excellent.
In summary, the PHANTOM X is quite good in the audio department and definitely better than some other devices in this range.
PHANTOM X Verdict
I think PHANTOM X has all the right features for an excellent mid-to-high-range phone. The PHANTOM X has stellar-looking hardware, a superb AMOLED curved borderless display, excellent battery life, and 33W fast speedy charging. To top it off, you also get fairly useful software and a great camera experience at a very attractive price.
There are no obvious or glaring flaws with the PHANTOM X. This means that it should definitely be on your shortlist when looking for a premium smartphone.