There was a time when talking about over 6-inch screen size meant you were talking about something closer to a tablet. Then the tablets started dying a slow death, with the Smartphones growing in size to compensate for the functions that we were envisioned for the tablets. What was initially known as phablet was meant for very high end phones but many of the phone manufacturers have tried to bring the same experience for the lower end phones.
Tecno which has built its reputation as the segment first has brought the experience to the entry level point segment with their popular Tecno Spark series. And they have continued with the trend, with their new Tecno Spark 5. Read more on our first take on the phone here
Tecno Spak 5 is an interesting phone especially from the design perspective. The premium look would convince one that is not an entry level phone and I proved this by a doing a little experiment. I show the phone to a number of people without them knowing the phone brand, the specs and the cost. Just to be clear I blocked all the Tecno branding on the phone, just in case any of them knew about the Tecno Spark series. I asked what they think about the price of the phone as well as the segment of the market. Around 30 percent of them said the phone is a high end costing 40K and above, a round 50 % said the phone is mid-range phone with a price range of around Ksh.30K, the rest said the phone cost at least 20k and above. The reality is that the recommended retail price for the phone is Ksh. 13,999 in Kenya.
So what is the big deal about Sparks 5? Well, the secret lies on the design. The 6.6 inch Dot-in Display combined with textual curves and gradient color choices put it into another level. I am more about functionalities of a gadget than the outer beauty or colors of the phones but this one grabbed my attention. Based on colors the consumers have variety of choices including misty grey, vacation blue, ice jadeite and spark orange. Let me just confess that being a color blind person this is the first time I came across some of those shades of the colors.
What else make this phone unique?
The beauty about the over 6 inch phones is that they have the room to enabled them to be fitted with bigger battery. Tecno Spark 5 comes with 5000mAh. My view on the smartphones batteries in general is that it is one area that smartphone manufacturers have not gotten right and they need to do more. Meanwhile for me, one of the selling points for this phone is the battery life. It takes longer to charge but once it is fully charged, then you are ready to roll for a while. Below are how long you can use the phone for some specific actions
-344 hours stand by Time
-16 hours calling time
-8 hours Camera
-16 hours music
-14 hours data use/browsing
-14 hours video playback
For a long time I did not believe that it would reach a time when the quality of phones would mostly be defined by the phone cameras more than any other functionalities. But that is now the reality with selfie obsessed generation. With time what used to be the standards quality for the smartphones changed and increasingly cameras and storage spaces became more important than the other functionalities. That is why increasingly even the entry level phones now come with huge amount of camera specs as well as the larger aperture sizes. Spark 5 is loaded with 8 MP AI Selfie camera. With dual front flash and Portrait HDR, it is capable of taking brighter and better selfie in a low light scenario. It is important to mention that it is very rare to see flash on the selfie cameras even for very high end phones.
The rear camera setup features a 13 MP main camera with an f/1.8 aperture. The setup has further 2MP Micro Lens for close-up shot, 2MP Depth lens for AI Bokeh Effect, AI Lens, AI Camera 3.0. In case you are wondering what Bokeh effect is, it is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out of focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Simply put according to Wikipedia it is the way the lens renders out of focus points of light
The AI here is mostly used for the scene detection. The camera is able to detect 10 different scenes both simple and mixed scenes at the same time. Once the scene is recognized, it would offer corresponding AI optimization, letting the user to take more realistic and detailed photos.
As I have already mentioned, storage has always been a big deal but its importance as a feature of the smartphones has increased as the phones moved from a simple tool of communication to a full productivity tool. And when you add that to the need to take numerous pictures and selfies then you can see why this is so. The Spark 5 host 32 GB internal storage and 2GB Memory. Some might consider that not good or big enough but considering that this is an entry level phone and also the fact that there is an option to expand it up to 256 GB and you realize that Tecno has done a good job here.
This is my favourite aspect of a smartphone, though most users do not pay much attention to it. You see capabilities and productivity of the smartphones is based on the CPU. So whether you can use a phone to play advanced games, multitasks among others depend on the depends on chipset, CPU, GPU and Operating system. Tecno Spark 5 runs Android 10 with the HiOS 6.1 modification. It is powered by an octa-core 2.0 GHz CPU.
As the World move towards 5G technology, connectivity will be an increasing aspect of discussion when talking about phones. In Kenya 5G is still far off from being a reality but at least we can talk about VoLTE. Voice over LTE is when the mobile network operators like Safaricom allow the users to place a phone call over the LTE connection instead of the more common voice networks. LTE which is basically 4G standards, allow the user to receive higher audio and video quality when calling. Spark 5 support VoLTE and in Kenya you can use it effectively on Safaricom network. Not sure about the other mobile network operators like Airtel and TelKom Kenya