Three months ago Tecno launched the successor of Tecno Boom J7, a better looking, light weight more trimmed Tecno Boom J8. The Boom series of Tecno smartphones are supposed to be music centric, where they feature more enhanced music hardware and software to give music lovers a phone that can immerse them deeply into their music world.
We have been playing with Tecno Boom J8 for those three months and now we are ready to tell you just how much we like or dislike the latest Boom smartphone from Tecno. For a quick spec rundown, check out this article. After familiarizing yourself with the quickspecs, let us now dig deep into this mid range device under the following sub-headings: 1. Body and Design, 2. Core Specs,3. Camera, 4. Battery and 5. HiOS.
Body and Design
Tecno Boom J8 is in the range of phablet sizes as it features a screen size of 5.5 inches up from the 5 inch of Tecno Boom J7. The body is generally plastic but sleeker than the predecessor. This is because it is both slimmer and has a metallic trim. On the right side of the metallic trim (width) are the audio and power control buttons.
When you quickly press on the power button, the phone will ask you whether you want to shut it down or restart it. To shut it down you’ll need to swipe the screen down while to restart you will have to swipe the screen up. This idea of swiping was one of the few problems I encountered when trying to use the phone as one is required to swipe all the way down or all the way up. This can however be resolved simply by Tecno rolling out an update. In other phones there is the option to take a screenshot when the power button is briefly pressed, and I found that option very useful as pressing both the power button and volume up or down button at the same time have proven to be very difficult to execute for most people.
The 3.5 mm audio jack is nicely placed at the top of the phone from where you will be able to plug in your earphones or Tecno Boom headsets or speakers; and at the bottom you get the micro USB charging port and the outlets to the internal stereo speakers. The Internal speakers are exceptionally powerful and deliver high quality surround sound that may tempt you not to pick up the phone when you have selected a favorite music as the phone’s ring tone. Immediately you buy the phone, you will be able to enjoy three pre-installed Nigerian hits namely Say You Love Me, Turn Up and CommentTuTappelle. I have no idea who the artists are.
By size, Tecno Boom J8 is 76.84 mm wide 153.3 mm long and 7.35mm thick and although these dimensions make the phone be in the phablet range at 5.5 inches in screen diagonal, the phone is still comfortable to hold and use single handedly. Even when you hold the phone from the bottom, you will still easily reach the top of the phone when required to press or select an icon hidden well at the top e.g. some quick access options found at the Notification Panel.
Tecno Boom J8 is in the mid budget range which means it delivers specs found in high end devices of 2014. These include an IPS LCD screen that has a 1280 by 720 pixels resolution – a resolution that has become the standard for both midrange and low budget smartphones since the beginning of last year. The screen delivers crisp pictures and videos at maximum brightness, renders text in an easy to read mode that in general purpose is friendly to the eyes. The fact that the phone has a 5.5 inches however lowers the pixel per inch density to 350ppi, which is at the lowest level that allows the human eyes to really appreciate variety of colours.
The phone is powered by a quad core 64 bit processor with each core clocking 1.3 GHz. The processor of choice is the Mediatek MT6753 Cortex-A53 version that supports 4G LTE connectivity. On memory and storage, the phone has a sizeable well function 2GB RAM that ensures the phone rarely hangs. It has a sufficient 16GB internal storage but with the ability to expand the storage with a microSD card up to 128GB.
As already mentioned, the phone supports Internet connectivity all the way from 2G up to 4G, although one thing I noticed is that when you lock the phone on 4G network only, it locks out voice but performs extremely efficiently in data delivery.
Tecno has also upped the Camera on Tecno Boom J8, providing it with improved camera sensor, a tweaked software that renders photos better, and increased pixels from 8MP to 13MP for the rear camera. The 13MP works perfectly okay when there is abundant light, although there are scenarios where it whitewashes the photo to unacceptable levels. In those situations, even when you try to play around with white balance you still do not get a perfect looking photo with rich colours. One such situation is when attempting to take a photograph of a light coloured object under a shadow when the sun is fully bright. In perfect situations however, like when taking photos indoors during the day, the picture quality is simply perfect. Have a look at the picture below.
I did try to take a few photos in low light scenarios and at night and I wasn’t impressed with what I got. In today’s smartphone world, the only cameras that delivers good enough photos in low light situations are the Samsung Galaxy S6 and above, with the best camera being that of Samsung Galaxy S7. But since Tecno Boom J8 is a mid budget phone, you can’t expect the phone to provide you with the best pictures in every situation.
Tecno Boom J8 also has a 5MP front facing camera which is pretty impressive. I tried to take a few photos with the camera but since I was unable to see what I was focusing on nor able to accurately locate the shoot button, the photos did not come out great. To make this easier, Tecno should include a voice command option that will not only make it easier for people to take selfies, but will also eliminate camera shake that mostly happen when the shutter button is pressed. My own selfies that I did manage to take with the camera were of good quality.
Both the front and rear cameras support video recording including supporting recording videos in slowmo. The video recording in Tecno Boom J8 however cannot be useful in creating rich HD rated videos but for a quick Facebook talk or YouTube comedy you can still use the cameras to record the videos. This is because both YouTube and Facebook normally compresses the videos to lower definitions sometimes as low as 360p.
Recently I found out that the best way to test a smartphone battery is to get into a bus headed to nowhere and use the phone on social media, maps and play random videos. If the phone can survive network fluctuations during the trip for five hours without the battery draining to below 30% mark, then the battery can last for as long as 2 to 3 days during normal use. Of the phones that I have subjected to this test, only Infinix Hot Note 2 was able to remain with battery above the 30% after the five hour test period.
The battery on Tecno Boom J8 is Li-Ion battery with a capacity of up to 3000 mAh. This is not a small capacity as other smartphones at the high end levels have batteries with as low capacities as 2600 mAh. Most mid range phones have batteries with capacities as low as 1800 mAh but mostly between 2200 mAh and 2400 mAh. The 3000 mAh battery on Tecno Boom J8 should be able to power on the phone for more than 24 hours in ordinary use, but at heavy use the battery will hardly last for 12 hours. By the way, continuously browsing, playing games, and watching online videos drains batteries more quickly than watching offline videos, listening to music and basically making and receiving calls.
Even though the battery on Tecno Boom J8 is not as good as the battery on Infinix Hot Note or even the Infinix Hot Note 2, the phone has an Ultra Power saving mode which blocks all battery draining functions and allows you to only make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, and jot down quick notes. This is the mode that you should always default to whenever the phone is on standby to both save the battery and data bundles.
HiOS first on Tecno Boom J8
Tecno Boom J8 is the first phone to implement the HiOS Tecno User Interface. We already talked about the HiOS user Interface in the article New from TECNO – TECNO Forum and TECNO HiOS and also mentioned a few good things and setbacks about HiOS in the article Infinix vs Tecno Phones, which is better?
From experience point of view, HiOS is a sleek User Interface, providing a better rendering of icons, richer colours and familiar Android user Interface. It is not clunky neither sluggish. When opening Apps, the HiOS makes the phone to feel fluid. One of the most praised features of HiOS is that it has superb battery saving functionality that allows the 3000 mAh battery to work as if it were a 5000 mAh battery. This must however be taken with a pinch of salt as I have found the battery on the Infinix Note series which are at 4000 mAh to perform way better. The other setback I got from HiOS is the inability to respond to text input in certain situations like when trying to use the MPESA toolkit.
For shs 17,000, I would say Tecno Boom J8 has been highly priced for its features as we have phones with similar specs for as less as shs 14,000. However, the Tecno phone offers a wide range of add-ons including the HiOS tweaked Android 5.1, good performing cameras particularly the 5MP front facing camera and the smooth performing 4G LTE connectivity. The music experience on Tecno Boom J8 is also something that will sooth you all through until you fall asleep in sweet dreams.
So yes, Tecno Boom J8 is worth your investment.