Tecno Camon 18 Premier

Tecno Camon 18 Premier

Introduction:

Tecno has announced another smartphone with main focus on the cameras. The new Tecno Camon 18 Premier features a noticeable upgrade over the Camon 16 Premier and Camon 17 Pro with premium features like the gimbal stabilization and long-range zoom thanks to a periscopic lens.

Tecno is a brand that focuses on developing countries, hence its approach is different to its smartphones compared to the mainstream brands. The Tecno’s Camon series brings large screens and batteries, with good camera experience and satisfying performance with a cheap price tag. The price is even lower thanks to the pre-installed apps and baked-in ads within the interface. Some people might not find it appealing but for some it might be a good deal.

Body

163.8×75.9×8.2mm, 201g; tempered glass front and back, plastic frame.

Display

6.70″ AMOLED, 120Hz, 550 nits (typ), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 393ppi.

Chipset

Mediatek Helio G96 (12 nm): Octa-core (2×2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G57 MC2.

Memory

256GB 8GB RAM; microSDXC (dedicated slot).

Rear Camera

Wide (main): 64 MP, f/1.6, 26mm, PDAF;

Telephoto: 8 MP, f/3.5, 135mm, PDAF, 5x optical zoom;

Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, gimbal OIS.

Selfie Camera

32 MP, (wide).

Video capture

Rear camera: [email protected], [email protected], gyro-EIS;

Front camera: [email protected]

Battery

4750mAh; Fast charging 33W, 64% in 30 min (advertised).

Operating System

Android 11, HIOS 8.0.

Misc

Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; FM radio; 3.5mm jack.

Unboxing:

The Tecno phones are shipped with a rich retail bundle, and the Tecno Camon 18 Premier is no exception. The retail box packs plenty of accessories starting with the 33W charging brick and a 3.3A-rated USB cable.

The bundle includes a nice pair of earphones with a mic ending on a 3.5mm jack. The box also contains a soft transparent case that not only covers the phone but also its camera island.

There is a thin protective film covering the screen. Surely, it may not seem as durable as the tempered glass sheet, but it’s not as cheap and smudgy as the ones we’ve seen pre-installed on some more popular phones.

Design:

Although the Tecno Camon 18 Premier is not a flagship, it still does look like one, and the design stands out for a couple of reasons.

Both front and back are covered by AGC-made flat glass sheets. The rear panel has a cool silky matte finish, which may attract fingerprints. However, it feels amazing on touch and looks premium when clean.

The rectangular camera model is also flat while the plastic frame has a slight curve. Some budget cuts had to be made and most of its effects could be seen on the frame and chassis.

Tecno seems to have paid quite a lot of attention to the build and looks of the smartphone, there is another area where we noticed the company paid attention – that’s symmetry. The first thing that we noticed is the perfectly center aligned selfie camera within the punch-hole cutout.

Another place where symmetry is often missing on budget phones is the cutout for the ports and speaker(s) around its frame. The Camon 18 Premier has a perfectly centered audio jack, mouthpiece, USB port and speaker holes at the bottom. We appreciate the extra effort made by Tecno.

The Camon 18 Premier is missing the ingress protection, meaning there is no sort of dust and/or splash resistance.

The front has a 6.7” AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution and 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. The 32MP selfie camera sits behind the center-aligned punch-hole cutout.

The earpiece is positioned above the screen, but what you cannot see is the LED flash next to it. It’s pretty thin but powerful enough to make a difference at night.

The back panel is silky smooth and has a smaller and subtle Tecno Camon branding. It is nowhere near grippy, and it is the only part we didn’t feel good about. On the contrary, the camera island is not that flashy. It houses the triple camera system – 64MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide and 8MP periscope camera with 5x optical zoom. There is also the four-LED flash.

The frame is made of plastic and is slightly curved and glossy. It’s a huge fingerprint magnet and is far from grippy. The left section is where the SIM card slot sits alone, while the right-side houses the power button and the volume rocker. The power button also doubles as the fingerprint scanner.

The top frame is home to the lonely secondary microphone. It is used for stereo recording in videos but not for noise canceling in a call.

The bottom accommodates the 3.5mm headphone jack, the primary mic, the USB-C port and speaker grille.

The device measures 163.8 x 75.9 x 8.2 mm and weighs 200g – that’s nearly 7mm thinner and 10g lighter than the Tecno Camon 16 premier.

Overall, the people are going to like the Camon 18 Premier, and if there are handling issues, the case supplied with the retail bundle should solve most of them, if not all of them.

Display:

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier comes with a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a usual screen resolution of 1,080 x 2,400p and a pixel density of 395ppi. The display has a small center aligned punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera. The front is protected by AGC-made glass.

The display has a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. There are three refresh rate modes – 120Hz, Auto and 60Hz . The 60 Hz does pretty much what the name suggests, while the Auto uses 120Hz throughout the UI and 60Hz in apps and games.

The highest 120Hz mode runs everything at their maximum supported mode – 120Hz in most cases, 90Hz in some apps and 60Hz in video apps.

There is no HDR support, even if it were there the lowest Widevine L3 DRM won’t allow you to enjoy it.

The maximum brightness recorded was 425 nits, but there was an occasion where it hit the 450 nits mark. There is no Auto-brightness mode. The brightness can go as low as 3.2 nits.

The handset’s display supports a wide color gamut, but accuracy towards the DCI-P3 isn’t that good with the prominent bluish-white and gray hues.

Battery life & Charging speed:

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier has a 4,750mAh battery under the hood that supports 33W fast charging.

This Tecno Camon 18 Premier recorded some excellent numbers. It did a commendable job all across the board in the battery life department. The handset can get by 37:14 hours of voice calls without breaking a sweat. The handset can make it through 12:38h of web browsing or nearly 17 hours of video playback.

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier comes with a 33W power adapter, meaning you won’t have to step out to buy a new one to enjoy the full possible fast charging. It’s a 5V/3A, 10V/3.3A charger, not the best one out there, but still a fast one.

In 30 minutes the phone charges from 0% to 60% while a full charge takes about 1:05 hours. Sadly, there’s no wireless charging support, there is no support for reverse wired charging.

Speaker:

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier, just like many other Tecno phones, has one bottom-firing speaker. The speaker is pretty good in terms of loudness.

The audio quality of the speaker is quite unimpressive – there is no bass, the mid-tones are somewhat suppressed, but there are some good high-tones audible.

Performance:

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is powered by MediaTek’s Helio G96 chipset. The Helio G96 is built using TSMC’s 12nm FinFet manufacturing process.

The Helio G96 has an octa-core processor – two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.05GHz and six energy efficient Cortex-A55 cores capped at 2.0GHz. The graphics department is handled by a new GPU from Valhalla generation by ARM – the Mali-G57. The chipset is supported by 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB UFS storage.

Moving on to the benchmarks, the handset achieved a score of 3,46,389 points on the AnTuTu. On the Geekbench the phone got a score of 514 and 1,758 points on the single-core and multi-core tests respectively.

Camera & Photo quality:

Rear Camera

Wide (main): 64 MP, f/1.6, 26mm, PDAF;

Telephoto: 8 MP, f/3.5, 135mm, PDAF, 5x optical zoom;

Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, gimbal OIS.

Selfie Camera

32 MP, (wide).

Daylight photo quality:

The photos from the primary camera are saved in 16MP by default. They have pretty good contrast, low noise and true-to-life colors. The images aren’t over-sharpened

There is a 64MP mode for shooting great photos (called Ultra HD), and it saves detailed enough photos, with excellent colors and good contrast. The dynamic range is mostly good.

If you downsize the 64MP photos to 16MP, you get some impressive shots – sharp with previously invisible detail, with a balanced unprocessed look. In fact, if you are after outstanding photo quality, this is the way.

The 12MP shots from the ultrawide camera have accurate colors, good contrast and well-handled noise. The dynamic range is excellent on most occasions, though there are chances of misfires with the exposure.

It’s sad but the resolved detail is rather low and the photos seem soft, especially outside the center, the automatic barrel distortion fix is probably part of the issue in the corners, but there is no excuse for the rest. The sensor has large pixels, and we did expect more detail than this soft mess.

On a positive note, the images look good on the phone’s screen and social media since they are usually downscaled during the upload.

The 8MP zoomed photos are likable – the 5x optical zoom can be a big helper during the day, and this camera can capture otherwise impossible to shoot stuff. The images are detailed enough with gentle noise reduction, the colors are accurate and the contrast is great. The dynamic range is also wide most of the time.

Low-light photo quality:

The 16MP low-light photos from the primary camera are in line with what we-ve seen from similar shooters. The resolved detail is average, though it seems like some of it was eaten by the aggressive noise reduction. Noise is still present here and there, but not that intrusive.

The color saturation is good and true to life. The highlights seem to be clipped and shadows look underdeveloped than expected.

The overall quality is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s okay.

The Super Night mode is available only on the main camera and it looks really unnatural. It takes about 3 seconds and turns the night into day. The photos are more lively and the highlights are restored and the contrast is visibly lower.

The ultrawide photos at night are good if we talk about the colors, contrast and realistic look. The aggressive noise reduction and poor processing algorithms washes off the details. Since there is no Super Night mode support, we suggest using the main camera.

We recommend not using the zoom camera at night unless it’s a bright scene. If the scene is bright, you’ll get noisy but detailed photos with good colors.

There is a Super Moon mode, which uses the telephoto camera and works after you zoom beyond 25x. The software tries to read the moon’s shape and texture and then enhance it artificially. And it works well if you don’t expect too much of an enhanced digitally zoomed moon.

Portrait:

The phone uses the primary camera to capture portrait shots, and they turned out to be good. The 16MP shots have abundant detailed subjects, and the separation from the background is proficient. Contrast is good, though not great, and some further adjustment in the blur could make more benefit.

Selfie:

The selfie camera saves 8MP photos; it’s a Quad-Bayer snapper, after all. These photos are particularly good – sharp with plenty of resolved detail, accurate colors and high contrast. The dynamic range is average though.

There seems to be some sort of beautification at work, thanks to the AI camera and there is no way to turn it off.

The portrait selfies turned out good too. They are quite detailed and colorful, with decent subject separation, though the faux bokeh has room for improvement.

Final verdict:

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is quite an interesting smartphone. It features a great AMOLED display with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and a unique camera that is not only versatile but comes with premium hardware like gimbal and periscopic lens. The handset also offers amazing battery life and fast charging.

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is not all a bad phone, but we suggest checking out other options and then making your decision.

Pros

  • Classy dual-glass design and a rich retail bundle.

  • An AMOLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate.

  • Great battery life, with fast charging.

  • Unique camera package with several options.

  • The camera is pretty dependable in terms of photos and videos, if you are not picky.

  • Amazing selfies.

  • Standalone microSD slot, 3.5mm jack, FM radio and NFC.

Cons

  • No IP rating for dust and water resistance.

  • Single speaker with unimpressive sound.

  • Average performance.

  • Photo and video quality could have been better.

  • No OIS or EIS for the main camera.

  • No night mode for the ultrawide camera.

  • No 4K video capturing.

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