Value for money
Transsion Holdings is a manufacturer of mobile phones based in Shenzhen, China. It was the largest smartphone manufacturer by sales in Africa in 2017, and also sells mobile phones in South Asia. Its brands include phone brands Tecno, Itel and Infinix, after-sales service brand Carlcare, and accessories brand Oraimo. Transsion’s success in the African market has been attributed to tailoring its phones’ features to the needs of the African market. Transsion’s phones offer a feature that calibrates camera exposures for darker skin tones, develops phones with dual SIM functionality, long battery life and support for multiple African languages. Being successful in the African continent moved it’s business in India where it is among the fastest growing smartphone brands in the country.
The manufacturer is looking forward to increasing its share of the market pie and debuted a variety of modern smartphones last semester. In our hands we hold one of these smartphones, the Tecno Spark 7 Pro.
This brand new Spark 7 Pro comes with good specs for a mobile phone in the entry-level category. There is a main 48MP AI camera, a 90 Hz display, a 5000 mAh battery and a Helio G80 chipset. The most amazing is the price as it begins with 140 USD. We used this phone for two weeks and below you can read our impressions using this device as a main smartphone for all purposes.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Specifications
- Dimensions: 9 x 76.2 x 8.8 mm.
- Material: Glass front, plastic frame, plastic back.
- Display: IPS LCD, 90Hz, 6 inches, 105.2 cm2 (~83.7% screen-to-body ratio),720 x 1600 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~266 ppi density).
- CPU: Mediatek Helio G80 (12 nm), Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.8 GHz. Cortex-A55).
- GPU: Mali-G52 MC2.
- RAM+ROM: 64GB 4GB RAM, 64GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM eMMC 5.1, microSDXC slot.
- Battery: Li-Po 5000 mAh.
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps
- GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2
- HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100
- Biometrics: Fingerprint (rear-mounted).
- Main Camera: Triple Camera, Quad-LED flash
- 48 MP, PDAF
- Secondary unknown camera
- Third unknown camera
- Selfie Camera: 8 MP, Dual-LED flash.
- Video: [email protected]
- Selfie Video: [email protected]
- Βluetooth: 5.0.
- GPS: dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS.
- Ports: USB Type-C, 3.5mm jack.
- Sound: 24-bit/192kHz audio.
- Sensors: FM radio,accelerometer, proximity.
- Colors: Alps Blue, Spruce Green, Neon Dream, Magnet Black.
- Software: Android 11, HIOS 7.5.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Unboxing
The handset comes in a yellow box with a nice finish using “T” hidden letters and a large glossy SPARK 7 PRO blue font. Around the box there are stickers with information about the included device. The Spark 7 Pro in our hands is the 8/128 GB version in Spruce Green. Tecno informs us that the smartphone has 13 months of guarantee as a 12+1 offer. Generally speaking this is a nice retail box. Inside the box we can see the normal sum for most of the smartphones in this price range:
- The Spark 7 Pro smartphone
- A USB-C to USB-A data transfer / charging cable
- A simple 5V/2A wall charger
- A SIM tray ejection pin
- A set of headphones
- A Silicone soft case
Judging from the above I am really happy that earphones are included in the box – these times even a charger is considered a luxury. On the other hand, a first for me is the absence of user manuals, quick set up guides and the guarantee leaflet. A guide exists in the Settings of the smartphone.
A plastic screen protection film is pre-installed on the phone. It can be easily scratched and I advise the addition of a tempered glass sooner than later after removing this film. The silicone soft case is very nice but… yeah soft, so if you drop your smartphone more times than you desire add a harder protective case.
You can buy TECNO Spark 7 Pro from here
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Design
Tecno has designed a very nice phone that has nothing missing from smartphones in the category, even the best sellers from Redmi or Realme. The 6.6 inch display comes with medium sized bezels, having a bit bigger “chin”. There is a hole for the selfie camera on the top left side. What is weird here is the fact that the camera itself is not wide in diameter but the display has a larger hole.
My opinion is that the people wanted the hole to appear to buyers and users, as a mean to prove that Spark 7 Pro is modern and not an old notched design smartphone. The display itself is flat and big. Over the display is a very wide hidden horizontal line for the earphone, perfectly designed to listen to your caller without having to center a smaller earpiece to your ear. There is no second speaker in the phone or notification light – there is nothing else in the front.
The side frame is connected to the back panel and is one big curvy piece of plastic. There is a line to separate them as a design detail but there is only one panel here. On the left side we can see the tray where 2 SIM cards and a microSD card fit. On the right side we can see two volume buttons and under them the lock/power on button. The position of them is ok, I can reach them easily with my thumb.
The three buttons are well made without rattling. There are no visible bands because the smartphone’s sides and back are plastic. The top has nothing of interest while the bottom has a 3.5mm audio jack, a noise-canceling microphone, a microUSB port and a speaker grille. A drawback in my opinion is the inclusion of a microUSB port. I know that this is cheaper and people have a lot of chargers to lay around but it is 2021 and companies must stop providing smartphones and chargers based on this protocol.
The back panel is amazing! The smartphone is separated in parts – there is a vertical part with almost glossy design (in green color) that takes some space on the left side. The rest is matte (in green color as well) and looks like sand-blast texture. In the center and almost in the top we can see the fingerprint reader. On the left we have a huge but elegantly designed camera area. The big vertical setup is divided into the top part, where we can see 3 camera sensors and into the lower part where we see the SPARK logo, an AI log and a 48 MP triple camera logo. The almost matte part divides the camera island.
The main part is mirrorish here with the thinner right side providing an almost clear reflection. On the thin right side, inside the camera area we can see a LED. Top down on the panel we can see the TECNO brand logo in a not so mat reflection finish. The division between matte and sand-blast texture and the very beautiful camera area makes a very elegant device. TECNO is focusing on the artistic / presentation of this device and have surely succeeded in it.
You will not find any protection for water or dust – you can understand this from the SIM tray, there is no rubber seal. So guys, be carefull with water or any usage under heavy rain.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Hardware
The display is a 6.6 inches IPS LCD panel with a refresh rate of 90Hz. It has a 83.7% screen-to-body ratio and a resolution of 720 x 1600 pixels. The side ratio is 20:9 ratio and there is a 266 ppi density. The panel is not very bright, you will have to shade it in mid-summer sun. Colors and angles of view are good. Generally this is a good budget panel for all kind of usage.
The driving power behind this smartphone is the Mediatek Helio G80 SoC. It is an 8-core chipset that was announced on February 3, 2020, manufactured using a 12-nanometer process technology. The chipset packs 2 cores Cortex-A75 at 2000 MHz and 6 cores Cortex-A55 at 1800 MHz. Obviously this isn’t something extravagant, just a decent SoC that provides good processing power but you will not be able to play high render 3D games or multitask. We can also find Mali-G52 MC2 for graphics and eMMC 5.1 for storage. The smartphone comes with 4/64GB, 6/64GB and 4/128GB versions. There is no software lagging or heating issues.
Spark 7 Pro has a single loudspeaker and music sounds ok in all levels of volume. Sound in calls and video-calls is ok but nothing to brag about. Connectivity is also good. Full signal in call conditions. Bluetooth is ok too – I ‘ve used the smartphone with my wireless headphones daily without interruptions and by the way, its GPS is instantaneous.
There are two ways to unlock 7 Pro. Face-unlock is very fast. There is no IR light for unlocking during the night, so in total darkness this method does not work. A minimal light source is needed for this functionality. The company says the Face Unlock enables closed eye protection and screen fill-in light. Please remember that this is not the safest method to unlock your phone so it is not the advised usage outside your usual premises.
The other way is the back panel fingerprint reader. Be careful here, you must do a good setup else the scanner is not working probably, as it did in my case. I deleted all data and passed my fingerprints again and the result was a very accurate and extremely fast process. The in-display sensor will meet your needs in all day usage – most of us wear masks – and it is very secure. My opinion is to use it only and disable Face Unlock for the reasons I explained. Adding also on this, is the speed that the in-display sensor unlocks the phone – it is ultra fast, the company advertises a speed of 0.12 seconds.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Software
The smartphone comes with Android 11 which is an amazing offer for this price segment. This is the first time that I used HIOS 7.5. It brings all the functions and abilities ROMs have these days. I have to mention that there’s some bloatware and advertisement as we see in other similarly priced smartphones. There were no major bugs or limitations and I believe with a little polishing HIOS can stand next to other skins but it needs a lot of work to reach MIUI or OxygenOS levels.
The customisation is rich with many features, a theme shop and a dark mode. We can find a memory boost app, Phone Master – a general taking care app, a private app shop called Palm Store, a browser, Instant Apps – a very nice shortcut app to various games and apps that you can use without installing, a Community app for Tecno, various tools, and various other applications like music stores, data share apps etc. Especially in Notifications we are constantly bombarded by information and advertisement… The good thing is that we can find Google Services and you can instantly start removing any application you don’t use/need. In 20-30 minutes the software is more light and user friendly
I have the feeling that the people behind HIOS will do a good job onwards since this very rich skin covers all needs a user wants and does it with good speed and minimal energy consumption. HIOS 7.5 also updated with OTA and that is an excellent sign. I hope Tecno will continue to provide updates for this phone.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Camera
Tecno Spark 7 Pro comes with an AI 48 megapixel triple rear camera. I tried to find more information about the two smaller lenses and after a time I discovered that the one is a 2 megapixel depth sensor and a “AI” lens. The camera setup is paired with a quad LED flash. I have no idea what the latter sensor can do but the company advertises the system as AI capable. Indeed inside the camera app – a nice app, rich in details – we can find a lot of gimmicks that are around the Beauty and AR shot functions. A lot of work is done on the selfie camera. On the front we can find an 8-megapixel selfie camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and a dual adjustable flashlight.
The phone has an eye-tracking autofocus – a first for me and weird to look at, it reminds me of a sci-fi film. The user can also take pictures only by smiling! The camera app has Super Night, Portrait, Google Lens, Beauty, Video, AI cam and Short Video. The latter is for usage on social media and has a lot of extras for visual effects. The company has added fun in the usage of the camera and I spent a lot of time playing with it.
Taking into consideration the camera installation I was surprised at how good daylight pictures are. The 48 MP sensor works perfectly. I can’t tell whether the depth / AI lenses help. This phone could be sold with a single camera in other times, but seeing how multi-camera phones push sales, all companies provide extra lenses. Night photos are good in case of light and get better with Night mode. I don’t think anyone will complain about the camera.
Video is another story. Video resolutions include shooting them at 30fps for 720p, 1080p and at 2K. While it provides similar quality with the photography day or night there is ZERO stabilization. The result is good only when the phone is stable somewhere. If you move it a bit it becomes a mess. Sound is not recorded well, I would prefer less lenses and EIS / sound improvements.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Battery
The huge Li-Po 5000 battery and the software added by TECNO is an excellent combination that provides two days of light usage or one day of medium usage (no gaming). SOT is about 8-9 hours which is a top performance.
I cannot say the same for the charging speed. The old type micro-USB 5V/2A wall charger is at 10W and that means a long, long charging procedure. You will need about 3 hours for a full change and there is no flash charge in case of need.
TECNO Spark 7 Pro – Conclusion
Tecno Spark 7 Pro is a budget device with a lot of advantages and just a few shortcomings. The display is excellent with 90Hz frame rate but the brightness is mediocre. The SoC is energy efficient and stable and cool but 3D gaming or multitasking is a hassle. Camera has good performance but the lack of electronic image stabilization and sound of the video recording hurts the total performance in the area.
Software is rich but needs polishing to remove some of the bloatware. There is a 5000mAh battery with top standby/usage times, but the charging is a tiring task left for night sleep. Design is great and the addition of case / earphones in the box is a plus. Price is good, the mobile took an OTA update and looks excellent in my hands. I am suggesting this handset as a good buy but only for those who are not into video recording.
- 48MP camera
- 90 Hz Display
- 5000 mAh Battery
- OTA update on Android 11
- Slow charge with microUSB
- No stabilization in video
- Mediocre sound recording
You can buy TECNO Spark 7 Pro from here