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TECNO PHANTOM X2 Series: Premium smartphones with revolutionary camera tech

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PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G Eco-Friendly Edition

TECNO’s PHANTOM X2 series landed just the other week. Sporting a selection of high-end features — from a powerhouse MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor to blazing-fast memory and storage, through to super-quick charging, and a striking unibody double-curved design — the handsets aim to the brand’s spirit of “Stop At Nothing.”

But perhaps the standout highlight is found in the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G’s camera package. Building on essential camera features like Super Night and Beautification Mode, the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G is the first smartphone with a retractable lens designed specifically for portrait photography.

This innovation can help take your smartphone photography game up another level; here’s how.

What does a retractable portrait lens let you do?

Tecno Phantom X2 Promo6

Just like a professional-grade DSLR or mirrorless camera, the PHANTOM X2 Pro features an adjustable focal length lens. Based on a 2.5x optical zoom, the retractable lens has 65mm focal lengths, the latter being ideal for portrait photography.

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You see, a camera’s focal length is determining factor of two key portrait photography attributes. First, natural bokeh. Longer focal lengths create additional background compression, naturally softening and blurring the background to add depth to your pictures. This means you can achieve professional-looking portraits without the need for hit-and-miss software-applied blur. The PHANTOM X2 Pro boasts a shallow 18.9cm depth of field for more pronounced natural bokeh.

The second benefit is producing a natural face shape and a tighter crop for perfect framing. While wide-angle lenses are great for fitting more into your shot, they don’t reproduce the world exactly as your eye sees it. For a more realistic field for view and face shape, a focal length between 50 and 80mm is considered ideal. The PHANTOM X2 Pro lands right in the sweet spot at 65mm, ensuring that your subjects look flatteringly realistic.

There’s an added benefit here too: both 1x and 2.5x shooting modes make use of the PHANTOM X2 Pro’s large 1/1.3-inch 50MP image sensor with 1.2µm-sized pixels and ƒ/1.49 aperture lens with 1.28µm-sized pixels. That powerful sensor will ensure that your snaps look great in low light, whether you’re shooting landscapes or portraits. This makes the experience unlike other flagship smartphones, which typically resort to a separate, smaller image sensor for optical zoom.

PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G: Premium Photography, Premium Everything

Tecno Phantom X2 Promo4

Although the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G’s retractable portrait lens is innovative and eye-catching, this is a true premium device in every sense of the word. All this camera technology is powered by MediaTek’s robust Dimensity 9000 processor and supported by 12GB of RAM under the hood. Combine this with a 5,160mAh battery with 45W rapid charging, and you’ve got a device that’s ready for a photoshoot (or really anything) all day and at a moment’s notice. And with 256GB of storage space, feel free to take as many full-res shots as you please.

But premium doesn’t just mean high-end specs these days. We’ve come to expect more from our devices, and TECNO delivers in these capacities as well.

For example, TECNO has partnered with photographer Rankin to co-develop the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G’s “Master Filters.” With multiple filters to choose from, creative photographers can tailor their images just to their liking. “The tech involved with this phone is extraordinary,” said Rankin. “It’s not just about taking good images quickly anymore, it’s about creating something visually stunning that we can be really creative with.” With this kind of technology and expert insight coming together, even the most inexperienced photographers will be able to capture beautiful, masterful images.

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The PHANTOM X2 series piles on the photography features with a dedicated Super Night mode to reduce noise and capture enhanced shadow details with greater clarity. Excellent low-light capabilities extend to video too, thanks to the PHANTOM X2’s Super Night algorithm, which reduces noise in high ISO scenarios. In addition, TECNO’s self-developed Beautification Mode provides refined adjustments to facial features for up to three individuals in a picture. There’s also a choice of make-up filters to further fine-tune the look of your portraits.

Tecno Phantom X2 Promo2

But there’s more to TECNO’s latest smartphones than excellent photography powered by top-of-the-line hardware. The PHANTOM X2 Series also comes packaged with a number of Smart Business features to take these devices from selfie snappers to workhorses.

The Smart Business suite includes a bevy of systems designed to make your life in the business world easier. The Translator feature allows you to turn on live subtitles for international online calls, and you can enable it to automatically translate messages in WhatsApp, Messenger, LINE, Twitter and more. With photo translation and face-to-face translation, you’ll never be out of the loop again.

Tecno Phantom X2 Promo1

If you take a photo of a document, the Smart Business File Secretary will recognize it as such and convert any text into an editable file. Perspective correction and edge detection work together to make sure the documents you photograph are correctly formatted for later reference. You can even use this feature to scan multiple continuous documents, save and share PDF files, and, yes, there is document signature support.

In a nutshell, the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G isn’t just a hardware revelation, it’s backed up by essential software features to put image quality even further.

PHANTOM X2 series: Redefining Premium

Tecno Phantom X2 Promo0

TECNO’s PHANTOM X2 series has its sights firmly set on disrupting the premium flagship market. Innovative features in the photography space, including the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G’s retractable portrait camera and premium-tier hardware all around.

TECNO is also taking a stand in terms of responsibility for the communities in which it operates, raising the bar not just for what it means to have a premium-tier smartphone, but what it means to be a premium-tier company. For example, the brand’s eco-conscious credentials have produced an Eco-Friendly Edition of the PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G with a back cover built from 14.4% recycled materials, resulting in a 38% reduction in carbon emissions for each device produced.

Combined with a top-tier display, performance, a unique unibody double-curved design, and AI-infused software features, the PHANTOM X2 series certainly brings a fresh perspective to the high-end smartphone market.

The TECNO PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G is a groundbreaking device that sets itself apart. Its stunning camera system features a retractable lens for professional-level portrait photography with natural bokeh and a flattering field of view, and its high-end specs and large image sensor make it a powerhouse for all types of photography, delivering exceptional performance and image quality. The PHANTOM X2 Pro 5G is a top choice not just for photographers and selfie-snappers, but also businesses and high-end users. With its versatility and top-of-the-line features, this premium device is not to be missed!

The PHANTOM X2 Series is slated to hit global markets from the end of December.

Tecno Phantom V Fold Review: Fantastic Low-Light Camera and Stunning Performance

An impressive folding phone, with a stunning camera system, innovative hinge system, and excellent performance.

Tecno Phantom V Fold

Despite some initial skepticism about the folding screen concept, the device's innovative hinge system and gorgeous 7.85-inch AMOLED almost square screen has won over even this most cynical of reviewers. The camera system is impressive too, with the main Super Night sensor offering incredible clarity in low light. The Dimensity 9000+ chip outperforms folding competitors that use the Snapdragon counterpart, providing a smooth UI and productive experience.

  • Brand: Tecno
  • SoC: Dimensity 9000+
  • Display: 7.85" foldable AMOLED 120Hz LTPO main screen, 6.42" front sub-screen (also AMOLED 120Hz LTPO)
  • Storage: 256GB as tested, 512GB also available
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Operating System: HiOS 13
  • Front camera: 32MP sub, 16MP main
  • Rear camera: 50MP main, 50MP telephoto, 13MP wide
  • Connectivity: Dual NanoSIM (5G)
  • Dimensions: D14.5 x H160 x W72mm when folded (D0.57 x H6.30 x W2.83 inches)
  • Charge speed: 45W Super Charge (USB-C)
  • Price: ~$1000

I admit, I’ve been somewhat bemused by the very concept of a folding phone. Are phone screens suddenly not big enough? Do we really want to introduce yet another failure point on already fragile devices? Does no one remember bend-gate?!

Which is why, after a week with the Tecno Phantom V Fold, I’m quite shocked to find I actually want to keep using it as my main phone. That isn’t something this Apple-fanboy has experienced before. Now I'm a believer. It’s not perfect by any means, and I do have my doubts about the long-term durability, but for now, this changes everything. And the low-light camera system is superb, too.

Tecno is not a well-known brand to most Western audiences, but is big in developing markets such as Africa, India, and South Asia. But perhaps that's about to change. The Phantom V Fold is launching in India first, with an early price of just under $1000, but will come to other markets with similar pricing soon after.

There are some durability concerns with a folding screen, and if you tried, it would be easy to break the device deliberately. Tecno specifically warns against pushing on the fold while folding the screen up, but it seems like that should be an easy thing to avoid doing.

When folded, it just feels like a somewhat chunky regular smartphone. Unlike the Samsung Fold, there’s no cheese wedge shape in between the panels, with an innovative hinge system to protect the screen and allow it to sit flush. It’s quite a stiff mechanism, and requires a fair bit of force to unfold, but you get used to it. So far, I haven’t experienced any physical issues or delamination of the screen.

Once unfolded, you're presented with a glorious 7.85-inch AMOLED, almost square 4:3.55 ratio screen, running at 2296 x 2000 pixels (2K+, around 388PPI) at an adaptive 10-120Hz. It’s gorgeous and vibrant, though I did find it a little harder to read from this screen in bright light.

The flexible display, to my surprise, doesn't exhibit any screen artifacts when viewed straight on. Move closer to a 45-degree viewing angle, and an apparent dark and light line runs the full length of the fold. While I haven’t got another foldable phone to compare, I don't think that's unusual. I noticed this more if it was just sitting on the table, but if you have it propped up, or looking straight on, there's no distortion.

The laminate layer that protects the screens is very reflective, though, so usage in bright sunlight is quite tricky. If you catch any kind of reflection on the screen, you will notice a distortion of the reflection, but not of the display image, which can be unnerving for my smooth brain to comprehend. You can also feel the hinged part of the display if you run your finger over it, but it won't present actual problems other than feeling a bit weird.

The screen remains visible right up until the moment it closes, which I still find myself wincing at every time.

It's natural to have concerns about the long-term durability of folding screens, which unfortunately can't be tested over the few weeks I've had the device. However, Tecno claims that it can withstand 200,000 folds, which, if we conservatively estimate around 20 folds a day (40 if we count a fold as one way only)—should last roughly 13 years. So my fears may be entirely unwarranted.

The most surprising thing about a foldable screen for me was how much better it made typing feel. Sure, it's just the same as turning a regular phone into landscape mode to get a wider keyboard. But you're lucky to get more than a single line of editable text visible if you do that. With the square format of a folding phone, it's actually viable to type on a wide keyboard and have a good amount of screen real-estate left. That's a real boon for mobile productivity.

For watching videos, most of the time, you'll get a larger image on the unfolded screen. The exception is if you're watching a cinema-format movie with a 21:9 aspect ratio, for which you'll get massive letterboxing on the unfolded square screen. On the other hand, most YouTube videos and modern TV shows are 16:9 ratio; older shows are even squarer at 4:3. Either will be significantly larger on the almost-square unfolded screen.

For browsing the web and reading documents, the square format is ideal. Not every app will take advantage of the full screen though. Google Discover feed, for instance, displays only a single column, rather than scaling to show two columns at once as it can on tablets.

As for gaming, I tried playing Call of Duty, which utilized the full screen, and seemingly offered an enormous advantage by expanding my vertical field of view. I don't play Call of Duty on mobile regularly, and it was only early levels, but in the first few games, I was getting two to three times more kills than the next-highest player. It felt like cheating, and I think a lot of players couldn't see me if I was higher up or crouching.

Design and Specifications

When folded up, the Tecno Phantom V Fold features a power button with built-in fingerprint sensor and volume rocker on the side, both on the lower panel.

The USB-C charging port is also on the lower bottom panel, with the bottom speaker grill and the sim tray on the upper panel, which can hold up to two Nano SIMs, and is capable of 5G.

On the top edge, the microphone sits on the lower panel, while above that is the other speaker grill. This provides stereo sound when the phone is held horizontally, either folded or unfolded.

On the back of the device, you'll find the circular camera island, small silver Phantom branding, and a back panel covered in fibrous textured material. Although it's unclear exactly what material it is (some sort of recycled plastic?), it feels surprisingly nice and warm compared to the usual bare metal. There's a basic slimline case included in the package.

The front or sub-screen is a curved 6.42" Full HD+ display with a resolution of 1080 x 2550px (431PPI). The screen is also adaptive LTPO, with a 10-120Hz refresh rate, and is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus (twice as scratch-resistant as Gorilla Glass 6, apparently). Although the glass is curved, the screen itself doesn't follow the curve over the edge, with only a millimeter or two of bezels on both the sub and main unfolded screen.

With the included slimline case, the Tecno Phantom V Fold is roughly 14.5mm thick, 160mm tall, and 72mm wide. When unfolded, the phone expands to 140mm wide. Although it's not quite twice the thickness of a regular smartphone, it's not far off.

The Phantom V Fold is powered by a Dimensity 9000+ chip, which is very performant, backed up by 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. A 512GB model is also planned for around $100 more.

Performance and Benchmarking

The graphical performance of the Tecno Phantom V Fold is excellent, as evidenced by its 3D Mark Wildlife score of 8226, which is better than 93% of all devices tested. The stress test suffered a little from thermal throttling, resulting in a slightly lower loop score of 7885, but still maintained a superb 97% stability overall.

In comparison, the Samsung Z Fold 4, which features a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, scored a little higher at approximately 9600 on Wildlife, but had a stability of only around 60% in stress testing. Therefore, while the Dimensity 9000+ chip may have a slightly less powerful GPU, it is far more reliable over long periods of extended gaming.

PCMark gave the Tecno Phantom V Fold a respectable Work 3.0 score of 16,175, while Storage 2.0 was 44,645. By contrast, these scores significantly outperform both the Samsung Z Fold 4 and the recent Honor Fold V (which uses the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1) by about 20% to 30%. Thus, while the Dimensity 9000+ GPU may be slightly less powerful, the overall performance is significantly better.

Users should not experience any issues with a sluggish UI or gaming. Browsing is fast, and video playback is smooth.

For those who want more comparisons, Geekbench gave 1262 single core, 4008 multicore, and 9052 GPU compute scores.

Imaging System

Another surprising standout feature of the Tecno Phantom V Fold is the camera system, featuring a total of five lenses. Of those, two are selfie cameras (for both the sub and main screen), a 50MP main camera with a custom Super Night sensor, a 50MP telephoto 2x optical zoom, and a 13MP ultra-wide lens.

While the secondary telephoto and ultra-wide lenses are not particularly remarkable (nor are they bad, by any means), the main sensor is stunningly good and performs far better in low light than my main driver, the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

In low light, the Phantom V Fold's main camera outperformed the iPhone 13 Pro Max in both video and photography, producing stunningly sharp and detailed images and footage with great contrast. The Phantom V Fold features a couple of different night-mode video shooting options, included standard (a little shakey), Super Stabilized (much better, though you lose a little field-of-view), and Ultimate Video Enhancer (which just seemed to make things brighter). Be sure to watch the full review video to see this in action.

In outdoor daytime shooting, the Phantom V Fold performed admirably as well, producing sharp, realistic images and video at full 4K 60FPS. The difference in quality here from the iPhone was less pronounced if any. Both produced satisfying video at the required frame rate and resolution, as I'd expect from any modern smartphone sensor in good light.

One neat feature unique to having a folding screen allows for ultra-high-quality selfies using the main camera, with the front sub-screen serving as a preview. That said, I did find pressing the shutter button one-handed to be a bit awkward like this.

The camera app also includes some easy-to-use templates for short, beat-matched TikTok-style videos with music, which some might appreciate when their creativity is waning.

Overall, the camera system on the Tecno Phantom V Fold is superb, and it's great to see a folding phone with such a good camera to back up its innovative design.

Battery Life

There are few disappointing aspects of the Phantom V Fold, but one of them is the battery. On paper, it sounds large at 5000mAh, but in any smartphone, the screen will be the biggest drain on the battery. If you unfold this, you've got a screen that's twice as large as usual, but not a battery that's necessarily twice as large. So, inevitably, battery life suffers.

With heavy use of the camera, playing Call of Duty, and running some tests, the battery went from full to almost nothing before the end of the day. In real-world normal usage, it lasts just over a day, but certainly not two days. Now, this isn’t bad for a folding phone by any means, but coming from a Plus Model iPhone, it’s a bit less than I’d like. It means a return to the overnight charge routine for me.

The audio is unimpressive, though it gets reasonably loud. If you're watching landscape mode on the main screen, you get stereo output, but I often found myself often covering up the speaker grills with my fingers. I wouldn't say the audio is disappointing; they're just not as good as they might have been, and media playback is not the main selling point of this device. It's not as good as the Honor V's with its IMAX certification, for instance.

User Interface

The UI is a custom version of Android 13 called HiOS 13 Fold. I understand the need for a custom UI given the non-standard interface size and additional features like two apps running side by side. But I'm not a fan of some of the things HiOS has replaced. I’m quite used to swiping left for Google Discover feed, for instance, and you can’t get that here. Granted, it's only one click away on the Google icon, but instead, you have a screen "info cards", such as the number of steps or a countdown to important holidays. The rest of the card options aren’t exactly thrilling, so for me, this part of the UI is now useless and can’t be replaced easily.

There’s also a fair bit of bloatware installed with the phone, from system support apps to management utilities, RAM cleaners, a video player, WPS office, and some fitness thing. All I really want is a standard suite of Google apps and the Play Store. You need to go in and enable Hey Google voice assistant; it's not on by default, presumably because they want you to use their voice assistant instead. Other aspects can't be changed, like the Google Discover feed.

I can uninstall most of the bloatware and eventually get it set it up as I like. I’d probably hate the Samsung Fold UI just as much, if not more. But still, it would be nice to have a more stock experience and not have to customize so much.

So, Is the Tecno Phantom V Fold a Game-Changer?

For me, it certainly has been. I've switched to this as my main phone, which is the highest praise I can give any device. Despite initial skepticism about the folding screen concept, the device's innovative hinge system and gorgeous 7.85-inch AMOLED, almost square screen has won over even this most cynical of reviewers.

The camera system, featuring five lenses, is especially impressive, with the main Super Night sensor offering incredible clarity in low light. The Dimensity 9000+ chip allows it to outperform its counterparts with general UI and work performance.

The battery life is less than I'd like, but only having been spoiled on a Plus-model iPhone for so long. The UI may be frustrating for those looking for a more stock experience, but it's not so bad as to seriously detract from the overall experience.

The Tecno Phantom V Fold is an excellent device for anyone looking for a unique and innovative smartphone experience. Just be prepared to gamble on the device's long-term durability.

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This bright orange phone has a pop-out camera unlike anything I’ve seen before

Andy Boxall

The Tecno Phantom X2 Pro is a confusing phone. It has this clever, unusual, and actually very capable pop-out camera that makes you want to know more. Simply put, it’s an enticing package.

Who is Tecno, and what is the Phantom X2 Pro?

  • What’s special about the camera
  • This weird camera hits … and misses

What about the rest of the phone?

But then, when you do explore, the rest of the camera and the phone itself can be quite disappointing. There’s a lot to unpack about this odd phone, so let’s get started.

Tecno Mobile sells smartphones in 70 different countries, but you won’t find them in the U.S., and you probably won’t recognize any of the brand’s previous smartphone models either, even if you’re a die-hard mobile fan. You may have heard of Infinix , though, and both it and Tecno are owned by the same company, Transsion.

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What made us pay attention to the Phantom X2 Pro? It has a pop-out camera on the back. Motorized cameras aren’t really anything new , but we’ve not seen one quite like this before. The 50-megapixel camera extends out a short distance from the body of the phone and promises to take portrait photos with a strong depth of field for that desirable blurred background look. The 65mm focal length and f/1.49 aperture certainly make it technically impressive. It’s joined by another 50MP main camera and a 13MP wide-angle camera.

The rest of the phone is made up of a 6.8-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor, 12GB of RAM , 5G connectivity, and a 5,160mAh battery. It comes in either a grey color or the unusual Mars Orange seen in our photos. The rear panel is made from recycled plastic and has a textured, almost fibrous finish. It feels more like fluffy cardboard than plastic and is unlike anything I’ve seen before on a phone. I really like it.

In your hand, the Phantom X2 Pro feels like many Huawei and Oppo phones from around 2019, with a gently curved screen meeting the chassis. It’s fairly slim at 8.9mm and averagely weighted at 212 grams, but the camera module on the back is not pretty at all. In black, it has nowhere to hide against the bright orange rear panel and draws even more attention to itself with the orange ring around the extendable camera. It’s not hideous, but it’s certainly not pretty, either.

What’s special about the camera

The camera module may not grab attention due to its design, but the child in me loves to see cameras popping out the back of phones — and the Phantom X2 Pro satisfies that need, but does it actually make any difference to the photos you take? The camera extends when you tap the 2.5x option in the viewfinder, and a gloriously natural depth of field is added to your photos. This isn’t like a portrait mode with artificial blur, it looks more like a DSLR. Take a look at the gallery below to see what I mean.

A photo taken with the Tecno Phantom X2 Pro's pop-out camera.

The shot of the Porsche emblem is my favorite. The camera focused exactly where I wanted it to, and kept the water droplets in focus along with the emblem, then added a strong background blur — giving the photo depth and visual interest. The photo of the flowering plant shows how you can play around with the focus too. Remember, this isn’t digitally manipulated blur, it’s natural blur added by the camera lens . I like how sharply focused the flowers are, and how isolated they are in the photo.

You need to experiment with the Phantom X2 Pro’s camera to get the right look, though, and not every photo taken with the extended camera looks good, something we will come on to next. However, it’s exactly the type of feature I like, as it prompts you to mess around with it, and I know it can take some amazing photos in the right circumstances. It’s different, fun, and makes me want to go out and take photos — just to see what it can do.

Tecno also says the camera is good at taking photos of action scenes in which an object, like a car, is moving quickly. I haven’t had much of a chance to try this out, but in the photos I’ve taken, it’s hard to see any difference over other powerful smartphone cameras .

This weird camera hits … and misses

The Tecno Phantom X2 Pro held in a person's hand.

After the success of the pop-out camera, the Phantom X2 Pro gets confusing. Not every photo you take is a winner, and it goes to show just how important software tuning is to provide a consistent look to your photos, plus how a very interesting hardware feature needs great software to really bring out its best. It’s not that the Phantom X2 Pro’s camera is all bad, it’s the inconsistency that really annoys me.

A main camera photo taken with the Tecno Phantom X2 Pro.

In the gallery above, take particular note of the two sunset photos. The first is rather nice, with the pleasing tone of the golden sun, the growing ground mist in the distance, and the chilliness of the air all captured very effectively. The next photo is the same scene taken with the wide-angle camera, and it’s bad . From the noise on the wall to the poor focus and lack of detail, it’s a genuinely poor photo.

This was in challenging lighting conditions, so what about a daylight comparison? The other sets of photos in the gallery show how the main camera can take a pretty photo with a lovely atmosphere, and then how the wide-angle camera ruins it with edge distortion, poor focus, and all kinds of odd artifacts and errors. The main camera doesn’t escape inconsistency either, and it can badly misjudge colors. The Tecno Phantom X2 Pro’s camera is all over the place .

The Home screen on the Tecno Phantom X2 Pro.

This was the first time I’d used a Tecno phone, so it was also an introduction to the brand’s HiOS version of Android 12. Compared to operating systems like Samsung’s OneUI and Android on a Pixel phone, it’s dense and overly complicated, with multiple swipe-down and slide-in panels all providing “features” of dubious usefulness. There are a lot of pre-installed apps, many of them duplicating Google apps, plus at least one additional app store too. The screen’s responsiveness is inconsistent as well.

Performance is adequate, but overall the optimization isn’t very good. The camera app, in particular, can be slow to respond, and you regularly have to prod and poke the 2.5x button multiple times to get the extendable camera to pop out. The system lacks polish, but I have been using the phone ahead of release, so software updates may cure the slow response in the future. I haven’t been inspired to use it as my main phone, though.

Who doesn’t like a camera that pops out the back of a phone? Especially when it’s a bright orange phone! #TECNOphantomX2 pic.twitter.com/0VRStVnsFs — Andy Boxall (@AndyBoxall) December 7, 2022

This is a shame, as the pop-out camera is fun to use and really does take photos that other camera phones can’t. But when the rest of the camera is so inconsistent, and the phone’s software, in general, is packed with off-putting apps and duplicate features (Tecno even installs its own virtual assistant alongside Google Assistant ), one standout feature isn’t enough to tempt me.

I’ll be watching what Tecno does in the future because the pop-out camera shows it’s not afraid to innovate — Tecno just needs to address the rest of the phone and the software to make the whole package similarly enticing.

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Andy Boxall

I’ve been using and reviewing Android smartphones for at least a decade, and during that time, I’ve spent time with a massive variety of devices that mostly fall into three distinct categories: good, passable, and bad. But what about the ones that have really stirred my emotions in a negative way? The phones that have elicited a visceral, guttural response? I’m not talking about the ones I love, but the ones I’ve downright hated.

Here are the six models that have irked me the most over the last 10 years of using and reviewing smartphones, and the reasons why they’ve made this list. Google Pixel 4

The iPhone’s operating system is many things, but perfect is not one of them. It’s been two years since I shifted to using an iPhone as my primary device, but I still use an Android as my secondary smartphone. And if I weren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem, I would have ditched my iPhone a long time ago.

I have been hoping desperately for iOS to get better at some things Android has been doing for years. For instance, I love scrolling through Twitter while watching a music video on YouTube. I can do this simultaneously on an Android thanks to multiwindow support, but iOS only offers picture-in-picture at best.

Two new phones are doing something different with their cameras to create a stronger, more versatile depth of field effect, where the background is blurred around a subject. It’s a complicated technical endeavor on a phone, as to replicate the effect naturally, it normally requires a DSLR camera with a large sensor and manually adjustable aperture.

But is the new system any good? We’ve put the Huawei Mate 50 Pro and the Tecno Phantom X2 Pro, with their fancy apertures, against the Apple iPhone 14 Pro and the Google Pixel 7 Pro to see if the clever camera systems really can create a better natural bokeh effect. The phones and the cameras

TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G review: the smartphone with extending camera lens

The first phone with an extending wide-aperture telephoto lens; the TECNO Phantom X2 Pro has some impressive bokeh, along with a flagship feature set.

The first extending phone lens has an awesome wide aperture

I'm sure you probably haven't heard much about the TECNO brand in North America, but they've been pretty active in other markets like Africa, the Middle East, South/Southeast Asia, and Latin America. The new TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G is their latest flagship Android smartphone and there's something really special about the camera array. You'll learn more about that in the rest of the review. Besides that big stand-out camera feature, the TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G has most of the other features you may want in a flagship premium smartphone as well.

What's in the Box

The packaging is quite premium as well. The Phantom X2 Pro 5G comes in a nice black box with a nice soft finish and a varnished stripe along with gold foil embossed logos.

Besides a 45W charging brick, USB-C charging/data cable, and wired earphones, the TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G also includes a nice white hard rubber case. What's more, the case has a big rim around the camera array that also has a hinge so that ic an act like a kickstand to hold the phone at an angle for watching movies and such. Kickstands like this on phones used to be much more common and it's great to see the feature return as part of an included protective cover.

The big kickstand rim around the camera array with the case on is great for protecting the camera lenses, not only when you lay the phone on a desk or table, but also while holding the phone. The ledge is easy to feel with your fingers so that you can be sure to avoid getting finger prints on the big lenses.

For internal specs, the TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G has a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 4nm ARMv9 octa-core CPU with bursts up to 3.05Ghz, with 12Gb of LPDDR5X DRAM and 256Gb of UFS3.1 flash storage space. It's also got a 5160mAh battery with a long duration mode and 45W fast charging. The screen is 6.8" AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate and a 20:9 aspect ratio at 1080 x 2400 pixels with 9H hardness Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The phone's dimensions are 164.6mm x 72.7mm x 8.9mm. We've also got support for a good number of 5G bands such as sub6 TDD: n38, n40, n41, n77, n78, n79, sub6 FDD: n1, n3, n8, n28, n71.

The top is flat with a single microphone hole. It looks like this is where the internal hardware is inserted into the phone's unibody double-curved metal frame design.

The bottom looks really smooth with rounded corners. The SIM card tray can take 2 Nano SIM cards. Of course there's USB-C here, too and a speaker grill. The speaker's sound isn't as premium or loud as other more expensive phones.

The left side is thin smooth and round with a couple segments for the antennae. The thinness of the edges can make holding the phone more slippery than something with a larger surface area and friction.

The right side is where the very thin power button and volume rocker buttons are. They're kind of hard to see even, but they protrude sharply so that it's easy to feel for them without having to look. The power button is colored red to make it a little more distinct which also matches the red ring around the camera on the back.

The shiny "Phantom" logo on the back looks great, and this matte black finish has a fine speckled texture to it that nicely avoids fingerprint grease blemishes and feel pretty nice to hold.

This is the extra cool part of the TECNO Phantom X2 Pro; the camera array, and more specifically, the extending wide aperture telephoto lens.

One thing I don't like so much about the TECNO camera is the camera software. While it's going to work fine for most people, it's missing some features that I personally really like such as RAW DNG output, manual controls, white balance controls, and burst shot timers. One reason I love RAW DNG output is that I can control things after the fact. TECNO's software applies noise reduction to the JPGs when there's low light and that reduces the quality of the image. I'd rather have the RAW image with noise that I can correct to my tastes after shooting. Lack of white balance control is frustrating too as sometimes the camera doesn't automatically set the color temperature to what I want.

Extending telephoto 2.5x camera

The extending lens has an f1.45 aperture and a 9.3mm telephoto focal length which equates to about a 65mm focal length in terms of 35mm full frame film cameras. Of course the f1.45 aperture is more like an f8 aperture in terms of depth of field when compared to a 35mm full frame camera lens, but that's still about 2 full stops wide than any of the other medium telephoto prime lenses that you'll find on other cameras.

The extending lens housing naturally lets you keep the phone pretty thin when the camera isn't in use. This also enables the longer focal length without periscope style mirrors and we can have a very wide aperture for a narrower depth of field and better low light sensitivity. The disadvantage to the extending lens is that there are moving parts here and I'm afraid something might break if too much dust or particle matter gets in there.

Above is a comparison between the 65mm equivalent TECNO Phantom X2 Pro extending lens camera on the left and my full frame 35mm Nikon with an 80mm f1.4 lens on the right. Obviously the Nikon is capable of a much narrower depth of field with smoother real bokeh, but the TECNO's wide aperture is still getting some decent bokeh that actually looks realistic... because it is real bokeh! This isn't a depth sensor trying to guess the edges of the subject and applying a blur filter to the background. This is real physics.

The TECNO's f1.5 aperture at 9mm focal length certainly doesn't translate to an f1.5 aperture at a 65mm equivalent lens focal length. It's more like an f8 aperture on a 35mm full frame sensor. Still that's better than any other phone out there with a comparable 2-3x telephoto lens! This is one or two full f-stops wider than most other phones with comparable focal lengths.

I was able to get a lot of great photos with the narrow depth of field in the 2.5x extending lens camera. If you click some of the above samples to zoom in, you'll see that the details around the edges of the subject remain in focus. It's not at all like the iPhone's fake portrait mode that smudges out the edges and erases details. You can actually see the little strands of hair overlaying the blurry background. It's beautiful!

Video with the extending telephoto lens

Another fun thing to do with the narrower depth of field in the 2.5x telephoto lens is shoot video. Real bokeh in video is much better looking than the simulated background blur other phones try to do. The wide aperture lens nicely and realistically blurs the background in videos and I love it. There's not much lens flare from the sun either.

The wide aperture telephoto lens works well for video in low light as well as long as you have just the right amount of light. In the above you can see the background nicely blurs out and so do the leaves moving around in the foreground. That's how real bokeh works and it looks great.

We even used the TECNO Phantom X2 Pro for some clips in a little Gossip Girl season 2 promotion.

Normal wide angle lens camera

The 1x camera has the usual wider focal length that you'll find on most other flagship phone cameras. This one is 50Mp with a 1/1.3" sensor size, but really it only outputs to 12Mp like most quad-bayer sensors. The "50 Mp" option in the camera software does give you a 50Mp file, but it doesn't look like it. It looks like an upsampled 12Mp file as there really isn't any more detail at all. You don't really get any better quality out of that option, it's just a larger file.

Take a look at some samples of the 1x camera/lens combo below:

Ultrawide angle lens camera

The 0.6x camera lens is only 13Mp and doesn't do nearly as well in low light as the 1x or 2.5x cameras, but that's ok, you can't have everything. It's a smaller camera too, so that's probably part of the reason. Still, I love having the ultrawide lens available and it's great for outdoors shots.

Take a look at some samples of the ultrawide camera/lens combo below:

Front facing camera

Of course we have a decent camera for selfies as well. It's technically a 32Mp sensor, but outputs only 8Mp. It's not spectacular especially in low light, but it usually gets the job done.

Take a look at some samples of the front facing camera below:

The TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G uses HiOS 12 on top of Android 12. HiOS is not my favorite flavor of Android for some specific reasons; you have to swipe the top left corner to see the notifications and the top right corner to access quick action controls. There shouldn't be any controls at the top edge of a phone with this large of a screen. It was fine when Android phones had 3.8" screens, but at this size it's extremely awkward to have to scoot your hand to the top in order to touch that edge; or have to use a second hand to poke at it. Putting controls within reach of a thumb while a hand is actually holding the phone would have been much smarter interaction design.

HiOS 12 also comes with a lot of bundled apps that might be considered questionable in North America at least. Things like Palm Store, AHA Games, Welife, Boomplay, Ella, Carlcare, XShare, Visha Player, and Hi Translate are not normally found on North American Android phones, but they are often bundled with phones meant for Latin American and African countries, and that is the market that this phone is meant for.

The TECNO Phantom X2 Pro has a large 5160 mAh battery that's plenty to last through the day depending on how heavily you're using the device. I like to increase efficiency by turning things off like haptic feedback, high refresh rates, screen brightness, and extraneous notifications. The Dimensity 9000 processor also has some good optimization capabilities to help with the battery life and the phone supports 45W fast charging.

The TECNO Phantom X2 Pro 5G will not be available in North America or Europe. It will only be sold in Asian, African, and Latin American countries. In Saudi Arabia where it is being announced on 12/7/2022, the PHANTOM X2 PRO / AD9 will cost 3499Sar (about 930.72 USD).

Pros & Cons

  • Extending 2.5x telephoto lens has a wide aperture for real bokeh
  • Beautifully designed body
  • Nice kickstand case included
  • Great 1x normal wide angle lens camera
  • Thin and comfortable form factor
  • Matte body doesn't attract fingerprints too much
  • Camera software doesn't provide RAW output or manual controls
  • Extending lens has moving parts that may get damaged accidentally
  • Not available globally
  • No wireless charging

This is the first time we've got a smartphone camera with a telephoto lens and wide aperture that actually gets a good amount of real narrow depth of field and nice bokeh without obviously fake software simulation. The TECNO Phantom X2 Pro's 2.5x extending lens is 1 to 2 full f-stops wider than other phones with similar focal lengths. While it's still a long ways away from what's possible on large dedicated full frame (or larger) cameras, getting real bokeh into a smartphone camera is an impressive feat, and I love shooting portraits with the Phantom X2 Pro! If only it could save RAW files like other flagship smartphones. The rest of the phone's features are pretty nice too. The Phantom X2 Pro is a nice entry into the competition as TECNO's flagship.

Special thanks for photo appearances by Angelina, Raquel, Rosy, Liga, and Val.

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tecno phantom camera

Tecno Phantom X Comprehensive Review: Curved Display Makes The Noise

Phantom X review

Key Highlights

  • The Phantom X flaunts a premium design with a 6.7-inch AMOLED display that has curved edges.
  • It comes with Triple Rear Cameras with Depth-Sensing Feature.
  • It is equipped with 4,700 mAh battery that lasts for more than a day.

Tecno is an emerging player in the Android smartphone market. In a short span, the Transsion-holdings-backed brand has set up some high standards in the budget smartphone market. Tecno like other prominent smartphone OEMs has introduced multiple lineups dedicated to specific user segments. While most of Tecno’s product lineups are designed for the budget masses, the brand is gradually transitioning into the flagship smartphone race with new feature-rich Android phones. Tecno’s Phantom series is one of the high-end smartphone lineups by the brand which recently got refreshed in the Indian market with the Phantom X.

The Phantom X is one of the bold approaches by Tecno in the mid-range Android smartphone market. It grabs your instant attention by offering a premium design with a curved-edge display at just Rs. 25,999 in the country. But is it just the premium design or display that makes the Phantom X the best buy in its segment or other hardware aspects as well? We have tried to break it down for you in this comprehensive review article:

Also Read: Tecno Phantom X2 Series Arriving On December 7: Curved Or Flat-Edged Display This Time?

Tecno phantom x review: premium and practical design for modern day users.

We have seen numerous new smartphone launches in the Rs. 25,000 price segments in India in recent times, but the Tecno Phantom X begs to differ with its curved display design. What makes it special is only a handful of devices are available in this price segment that flaunts a high-resolution screen with curved edges. The front panel sports a dual punch-hole camera cutout which is positioned on the top-left corner.

Phantom X design

The Phantom X’s back panel offers a mix of gradient and textured feel. The protruding vertical camera island at the center top of the back panel painted in black gives it a distinctive appeal. While the Phantom X’s rear panel is appealing, wrapping it with a case is advised.

That’s because the back panel picks up fingerprints and smudges, so, keeping it clean would be a task. Besides, the leatherette case that ships the retail box itself adds to the overall appeal without adding extra bulk to the handset. The placement of ports and keys on the Phantom X is standard. The right spine accommodates both volume as well as power keys.

Tecno Phantom X full design

Whereas, the bottom panel features the USB Type-C port which is positioned between the 3.5mm headphone jack and the speaker grille. Not just the front panel, the Tecno Phantom X’s overall design language is premium. It’s good to see the Phantom X has a compact form factor despite the tall frame. Now, this is handy if you use generally prefer using smartphones with a single hand.

Also Read: Best Samsung And Tecno Smartphones With 7,000mAh Battery In 2022

Tecno phantom x review: curved high-resolution display gets all ticks.

The Tecno Phantom X steals the limelight with its massive 6.7-inch display panel. It is a curved Super AMOLED panel that supports an FHD+ screen resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. In tecno’s terms, it’s a 3D borderless display. The Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection safeguards the panel from scratches and also in case of accidental drops.

Phantom X display review

Now, if you are one of those users who prefer binging on shows and movies while on the go, the Phantom X wouldn’t let you down. The colors are refined and the panel does justice to every scene played on the screen. Despite the curved edges, the viewing angles are decent and you get an uninterrupted watching experience from all corners.

The vivid output is surely a visual delight in all senses. The blacks are deeper and you don’t see dilapidated dark backgrounds during a night scent in any movie. The output is good with online medial playback via OTT and also social media platforms.

No complaint’s about the panel performance in any situation. Even the sunlight visibility isn’t hampered majorly when outdoors. The 90Hz refresh rate further helps smooth frame transitions during gaming.

Tecno Phantom X Review: MediaTek Helio G95 Chipset Performs Like A Beast

The Tecno Phantom X uses the octa-core Helio G95 processor. This gaming chipset supports Mali G76 MC4 GPU and 8GB RAM configuration. This is a powerful combination in its segment that helps with refined gaming as well as general user experience. The phone doesn’t warm up with extensive gaming or even if you are hooked to the screen for hours.

tecno phantom camera

We didn’t experience any lags during entire usage. The apps fire up instantly and also toggling between multiple of them running simultaneously in the background isn’t a hassle. The swift multitasking experience is possible with the 8GB RAM. Thus premium mid-tier Tecno phone has a native storage space of 256GB.

You can also expand the storage via microSD card to take care of the additional storage requirements. Thanks to the high capacity RAM, we did;t experience noticeable lags with the general usage as well as gaming. The frame drop issue with graphic-intensive games is not major. That will be a respite for budding mobile gamers.

tecno phantom camera

There might be slight warm-up issues with the phone. However, that’s primarily when the handset is being connected to a charger and is still being used extensively with multiple apps or gaming. Otherwise, the device temperatures have been stable in general scenarios.

The Tecno Phantom X is laced with Android 11 OS which is topped with a HIOS 7.6 interface. Tecno has improved the custom user interface with the new versions. The UI is loaded with useful features and Android 11 goodies. But at the same time, there is multiple pre-loaded bloatware with which the UI gets cluttered. That’s one of the only drawbacks we found with the user interface.

Also Read: Tecno Pova 4 To Be Available Exclusively Via Amazon In India Soon: Landing Page Confirms Helio G99 Chipset, 6,000 mAh Battery

Tecno phantom x camera review: decent performance overall.

The mid-range Tecno Phantom X is packed with powerful camera hardware that complements the entire spec sheet and premium design. The Phantom X’s back panel has three sensors. The primary camera is a 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 sensor which gets accompanied by a 13MP telephoto sensor with 2x optical zoom. It also has an 8MP sensor for ultrawide angle frames. The overall camera module is good for general photography.

tecno phantom camera

But you wouldn’t be disappointed either if you are a mobile camera enthusiast and good imaging output is what you seek. The Phantom X is good with daylight photography. The images have good detailing levels when are clicked with good lighting conditions. The dynamic range, as well as the edge detection, is also good with the Phantom X’s back camera. Despite the missing dedicated depth and macro sensors, the cameras add software-based bokeh effects and capture close-up shots.

And no complaints there either. For low-light photography, the Phantom X features a Night mode which you can access from the camera app itself. This mode refines the imaging quality in areas with a dark background. The low-light images are less distorted and the output with night scenes isn’t all grainy with the Night mode.

The video recording experience is decent as well so is the selfie camera performance. Infact, the Phantom X has raised the bars in the selfie camera race with a dual front camera module. The Tecno Phantom X is equipped with a 48MP main selfie camera and an 8MP ultrawide selfie snapper. The self-portraits are crisp and vivid. With high clarity levels, the Phantom X’s selfie camera is not only at par with the competition but also will please the selfie lovers.

Tecno Phantom X: Battery Backup

Tecno has used a big 4,700 mAh unit on the Phantom X. During our entire usage, we found the setup to be decent enough to deliver almost an entire day of power backup. But this is only when you use the device moderately or for basic tasks. The backup will drop down to almost half a day if you use this handset extensively.

tecno phantom x battery verdict

Frequent gaming and media playback are a few of the factors that might hamper power backup. But that wouldn’t be on a massive scale. The fast charging technology used by the Phantom X is 33W. The handset’s refuel time is less than an hour which is handy in different scenarios.

Also Read: Tecno Pova 4 Budget Gaming Phone With Helio G99 Chipset Launched In India: Worth A Buy?

Tecno phantom x competition.

The Tecno Phantom X gets multiple rivals in the Indian market. Some of the popular handsets with which it competes included the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite , Moto G72 , and the Infinix Zero X . The cheaper alternatives of this handset include the OPPO F21S Pro and the iQOO Z6 Lite.

Tecno Phantom X: Final Verdict

The Tecno Phantom X definitely one of the most capable mid-range Android phones that you can buy currently in India. It steals the limelight with the curved AMOLED display which you hardly see in any latest premium mid-range phone priced below Rs. 27,000 in India. The phone complements premium users with its good-looking design and powerful set of internals.

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About Sandeep Sarkar

As a senior sub-editor, Sandeep is generating tech-oriented content and also monitoring the content published on the website. He has over five years of experience in tech journalism and has expertise in product reviews, news articles, campaign articles, and listicles.

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Tecno Phantom X2

Tecno Phantom X2

  • Screen: 6.8" AMOLED - 1080 x 2400
  • SoC: MediaTek Dimensity 9000
  • Camera: 3 (64 MP + 13 MP + 2 MP)
  • Battery: 5160 mAh
  • OS: Android 12
  • Weight: 203 grams (7.16 oz)

Full specifications

Design and build, performance, connectivity, user ratings, write a comment.

Android Police

Which book-style foldable has the best battery life.

Can the $1,000 Tecno Phantom V Fold compete against competition from Samsung, Google, and OnePlus?

Since the early days of phones — with the Nokia 9XXX Communicator range — big and thick devices have always been correlated with good battery life. As smartphones took over the scene and multi-day battery life disappeared, the adage that a big phone meant a big battery continued to apply, especially as product lineups like the Galaxy Note (and its successors, like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra ) brought larger batteries back into the mix.

The smartphone industry eventually homogenized enough that all-day battery life meant a day with average usage, and even phones with the best battery life still required charging once per day. Thankfully, this has improved with the launch of foldable phones.

Traditional slabs struggle as ever-increasing camera sizes, displays, and other components mean less space to incorporate large batteries. Foldables offer a considerable alternative, thanks to their increased internal space, an expectation that they can be thicker than a regular phone, and clever engineering that allows a split battery to act as one.

The end result is incredible battery life — or, at least, that’s what each foldable maker promises. Do they deliver, though? I've been testing the best foldables on the market over the past couple of months, so let’s find out!

Here are the battery specs for the four phones I've included in this test.

The charging tests

Foldable phones are, understandably, not budget smartphones. They top every best phone list when price is no object, but whereas the best Android phone will cost you around $1,000, the best foldable phones will cost you $1,600 or more.

Much of this extra cost goes into the larger internal display, but do you still get the same amount of value when it comes to charging? I ran a charging test to find out and looked at the total charging time and the % charged in 15 minutes and 30 minutes. All tests were conducted with each phone starting at 0%.

Here’s how each phone performed in the 15-minute and 30-minute charging tests:

As you can see, the 67W charging speed on the OnePlus Open tops every other folding phone by a considerable margin in all three tests. What makes this test interesting, however, is that the Tecno Phantom V Fold — which, at $1,000 is the cheapest foldable in this test — comes second, whereas Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 — the most expensive foldable in this test — comes in last place.

One common trait among Samsung phones is that they charge quickly for the first ~70% and then slow down considerably for the remaining 30%, which is also prevalent with the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

The time taken to charge to full isn’t the most accurate when considering each number independently, as battery sizes vary between phones. To standardize, I divided the phone's capacity with the time taken (rounded to the nearest minute) to give us a mAh/min rating. Here are the results:

These results are interesting, as while the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Phantom V Fold charge to the same percentage after 15 minutes, the Phantom V Fold powers up considerably faster overall. The Phantom V Fold is 91% as fast as the OnePlus Open, despite the charging speeds being a third slower.

These charging tests also show that while there is a considerable overall difference between the 67W charging on the OnePlus Open and the 25W charging on the Galaxy Z Fold 5, the latter can still charge in a respectable 77 minutes. The biggest surprise is the Google Pixel Fold , which takes 93 minutes to charge to full despite offering 30W charging and lags significantly behind the competition here. It's something the company will have to improve on in a future Pixel Fold 2 .

The video playback test

Battery life is quantitative and qualitative, as while you can measure it, each person’s actual usage varies enough that overall battery life will be considerably different. When testing battery life under objective conditions, I've found that the best way is to conduct a few tests of vastly different resource usage and environments.

To run our video playback test, I loaded a 4k YouTube video and looped it until each phone depleted its battery from 100% to empty. I picked a YouTube video — versus a local playback file — as, these days, most of us stream video versus storing it locally. This also meant an ongoing connection: each phone was on airplane mode with Wi-Fi enabled.

Here’s how each phone performed:

As you can see, the OnePlus Open wins this test, with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in second, followed by the Tecno Phantom V Fold. The Google Pixel Fold was the biggest surprise, as I expected it to perform significantly better than it did in this test. The Phantom V Fold was also surprising, managing to match the Galaxy Z Fold 5, although it does have a larger capacity.

Basemark Web 3.0 battery test

The video playback test is a static test that only tests one key part of the overall optimizations around battery life but isn’t completely reflective of day-to-day usage. The Basemark Web 3.0 test is a well-recognized benchmark that measures performance, and the battery portion runs the same series of benchmark tests on a loop until the entire battery is depleted. This includes testing the graphical performance, web rendering, video playback, and more.

Here’s how each phone performed in these tests:

Once again, the OnePlus Open was significantly better, and it outperformed the second-placed Galaxy Z Fold 5 by almost an hour. The Phantom V Fold didn't quite match the Galaxy Z Fold 5 here, but the Pixel Fold was in last place again.

Which foldable phone has the best battery?

There’s more to the battery life than just the performance in one environment. First, each phone needs to handle various scenarios and tests. Second, and more importantly, each phone needs to be able to replenish the battery at speed, especially when you’re in a rush.

Overall, the OnePlus Open has outshone the competition throughout these battery tests. It offers the best overall charging speed and the longest video playback, something also proven in day-to-day testing, where it can regularly last well over a day even with heavy usage. The OnePlus Open is undoubtedly the foldable battery champion.

Beyond that, however, the results aren’t as clear-cut. The Phantom V Fold offers the second-best charging speed and is fairly strong in the battery tests, whereas the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has average charging speeds but strong overall battery life. The Pixel Fold is the biggest surprise here, and clearly the Tensor processor struggles compared to the Qualcomm and MediaTek chipsets powering the other devices in this test.

Now consider the price of the Phantom V Fold. At $1,000, are these differences in the overall results worth saving $700 over the Pixel Fold or the Galaxy Z Fold 5? Similarly, when it comes to battery, is the Pixel Fold or the Galaxy Z Fold 5 worth buying when the OnePlus Open is priced $100 lower at $1,700, even before adjusting for the guaranteed $200 minimum trade-in? All these are things to consider when deciding which foldable to buy, but if you want the best battery life, look no further than the OnePlus Open. Much like our recent foldable camera shootout from the world’s tallest building, OnePlus’ best phone is more than a match for any other foldable.

Google Pixel Fold

Google's first foldable improves on Samsung's models in a lot of ways. For instance, the switch to a wider phone means the front screen feels much more comfortable in daily use, plus the inner display opens up perfectly for video. It does have some first-gen issues on the hardware and software side of things, but if you want a Pixel phone with the flexibility of a tablet, this is the one to get.

OnePlus Open

OnePlus' first foldable packs an impressive specs sheet and boasts some equally remarkable features. The lightweight design, the super-bright cover and folding screens, the high-end internals, and the triple-camera setup make the OnePlus Open a great alternative to Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold lineup.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

The Z Fold 5 is here, and it’s nothing short of splendid! While it doesn’t particularly blow us away with what it offers, we surely appreciate the subtle improvements it sports over its already-decent predecessor, the Z Fold 4. Even though we didn’t get to see some of the changes we'd hoped for — such as improved battery life — the disappointment was compensated by a powerful chipset, an aesthetically pleasing hinge, and an upgraded camera setup.

  • 1 Description
  • 2 Dual Format
  • 3 Operation

Description

The Moskva-5 (MOCKBA-5 in cyrillic writing) was produced by KMZ ( Krasnogorskii Mechanicheskii Zavod or Krasnogorsk Mechanical factory) in the 1950s. Earlier models of the Moskva were copies of the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta C , but it makes more sense to call the Moskva-5 an adaptation. Unlike the Super Ikonta, its solid top plate has a built-in rangefinder and a dual-format viewfinder . The best thing about the Moskva-5 is the coupled rangefinder. A lever with rotating wedge-shaped prisms is fixed to the lens plate. Turning the lens to focus rotates the glass, thus adjusting the rangefinder: a very sophisticated device inherited from the Super Ikonta, with no mechanical linkage between the lens and the body. The two windows are 6.5 cm apart for accurate focusing. The separate viewfinder has a larger field of view, which helps composing the picture. As stated above, a sliding frame in the viewfinder selected on top of the camera can be set to 6×9 or 6×6.

The back of the camera showing the year of production (1958), two red windows for 6×6 and 6×9 numbering, the rangefinder window (left) and the separate viewfinder window (right). The symbol to the left of the serial number is the Krasnogorsk company logo.

Dual Format

Super Ikontas were made either for the 6×9 or 6×4.5 format. The Moskva-5 is a 6×6 and 6×9 camera. Since it has a fixed 105mm Industar lens, at 6×6 you have a mild tele at your disposal. To use the 6×6 size, you need to set the viewfinder to the square format. there is a lever to select the right window so you can see the numbering on the film back. The pressure plate does not need to be removed. The 6×9 red window is now blocked, so there's no room for confusion.

As a last step, the 6×6 mask has to be inserted. The camera locks right into its holes. Close the camera and you're ready to shoot.

The Moment 24c is a leaf shutter with speeds of B, 1 to 1/250s. To fire it, the film needs to be transported or the release button will be blocked, indicated by a red window on the top plate. The shutter isn't set by advancing the film; it has to be cocked at the lens by a lever. To take a picture, press the button on the left of the camera top. The button on the right is for unlocking the front plate when the camera is collapsed. Before folding the camera, you shouldn't forget to push down the lever with the polarised glass window.

  • Moskva-2, -4 and -5 user manual at Butkus.org
  • Tips for using the Moskva at Photosensitive
  • Moskva 5 archived bulletin-board discussions, formerly at Robert Monaghan's Medium Format Photography Megasite (archived copy dated 8 May 2006, at Internet Archive )
  • Locating light leaks in a Moskva 5 at Nelsonfoto forums (archived)
  • Fixing light leaks (in french) at Dirapons'site
  • Flickr image
  • 6x9 rangefinder folding
  • 6x6 rangefinder folding
  • Soviet cameras
  • Image by Dries van den Elzen
  • Image by Siim Vahur

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My top 5 phones of 2023 – Hristo

  • Post your comment
  • Comments (27)

Chip 08 January 2024

Featured Tecno Apple Motorola Honor Oppo Samsung

Hi there, I’m Hristo, the lead news editor here at GSMArena and I have the honor of wrapping up this year’s installment of the "My top 5" series. Being arguably the biggest foldables fan at the office I don’t share the sentiment expressed by some of my colleagues that the year was boring. Granted, the bar phones have been a bit meh for a good while, but incremental upgrades are what you get in a mature market. The foldable space, on the other hand was booming and I’m loving every bit of it.

My top 5 phones of 2023 – Hristo

I couldn’t quite fit within the 5 phones required by the format, so I’ll begin with a couple of honorable mentions and then go up my personal ranking in reverse order.

Honorable mention: Tecno Phantom V Flip and Phantom V Fold

Tecno’s journey over the past few has been remarkable - from an entry-level maker barely recognizable of outside Africa to the creator of some of the most exciting phones out there. The Phantom X2 Pro from last year with its unrivaled natural bokeh was impressive, but the entrance to the foldable segment in 2023 is more so.

The company gave us the most affordable horizontal foldable in the Phantom V Fold and managed to bring it to a number of overseas markets too. Samsung has been left to run unopposed in the segment outside China for too long and I welcome any competition.

Tecno Phantom V Flip review

The Phantom V Flip was equally aggressive with its pricing and packs one of the better camera systems among clamshells. I really dig its circular external display, even if I’ll readily admit it’s not the best solution when it comes to usability. Sadly, the promises of an even wider launch for this one never materialized and it only made it to a few Asian markets.

This is also the reason why the V Flip didn’t make the actual Top 5, while the V Fold was let down by its UI, which is unable to properly take advantage of the internal screen for multitasking purposes - the key selling point of the entire category for me. I sure hope Tecno keeps on the same trajectory, however, and deliver more exciting phones like this in 2024.

5. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

The odd one out in more ways than one on my list grabs the final spot. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is not the most exciting phone out there, nor is it necessarily the best bar phone to come out this year. However it’s by far the one that made me say “Fucking finally” the most during its debut. There’s the move to USB-C, which while not entirely voluntary, will make life easier for people on both sides of the OS divide.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

The adoption of a periscope camera finally brought Apple up to speed with the Android cameraphone top dogs, while the move to 256 GB storage for the base version was long overdue. I also appreciate the switch from a stainless steel frame to titanium one. While not as tough the new material is an acknowledgement that the weight of modern smartphones is getting out of control and something needs to be done about it. Better yet, the company finally replaced the sharp-edged frame with a more rounded version that doesn’t dig in your palm and fingers when you hold the phone.

The importance of these changes is magnified by the fact that Apple is the biggest trend-setter of the industry, and that makes the iPhone 15 Pro Max one of the most important launches of the year.

4. Motorola Razr 40 Ultra

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra or razr+ as our US readers know it is the kind of technology limit-pushing phone that you can’t help but admire. The cover screen encompassing the entire half-panel and capable of running most apps in full is both practical and cool looking. Gone are the days when clamshell foldables needed to be opened for the simplest of tasks and now we can have the best of both worlds.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra review

There are still some compromises involved - notably smaller camera sensors and battery capacity compared to the Razr 40, but the Razr 40 Ultra still embodies the kind of innovative spirit that I just love to see.

3. Honor Magic V2

The Honor Magic V2 would have probably topped my list, had it managed to hit international markets within 2023. Alas that was left for 2024, so what is arguably the best piece of hardware I tried in the past year has to settle for third.

With its sub-10mm thickness and 231g of weight the ground-breaking phone matches the feel of a conventional bar phone when folded, while still delivering an 8” screen. It’s really an amazing feat of engineering and almost hard to believe the first time you handle it. It really makes no sense to even consider those boring old bars then, unless you really need a powerful periscope camera.

Honor Magic V2 hands-on review

Honor still needs to up its game when it comes to multitasking on the large screen, but Magic OS 8.0 will hopefully be ready in time for the global rollout in the next couple of months. It might be a 2023 phone, but I’m still excited about it at the start of 2024. With Samsung doing the bare minimum when it comes to hardware development of its Fold lineup over the past three years a phone such as the Magic V2 shows that there is, indeed a lot of room for improvement.

2. Oppo Find N3/OnePlus Open

In another milestone development the OnePlus Open and its Oppo Find N3 doppleganger have the exact same camera setup as the OnePlus 12 flagship bar phone. Better yet the Open got it before the 12 and was the most capable cameraphone OnePlus was making for a good few months. In fact it might still be, thanks to the extra flexibility enabled by the form factor - selfies with the main camera and being its own tripod.

Oppo Find N3 review

Ever since the start of their existence, foldables have been absent from the cameraphone race, excusing themselves on the split bodies being unable to accommodate the large sensors needed for that. Yet Oppo/OnePlus delivered definite proof that you can, in fact, have your cake and eat it too.

Oneplus Open review

Better yet, the Oppo-made duo has the best multitasking UI outside of a Galaxy phone. In fact it closed the gap so much that at this point you can be almost equally productive with either of them.

1. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5

The Galaxy Fold5 may have been a disappointment, but the Galaxy Z Flip5 is a well thought out upgrade that brought more people to the foldable game than any before it. It finally made the external screen usable and it dropped the unsightly gap when folded - the latter far more of an issue on the design-first clamshells than the productivity focused book-style foldables.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 review

There’s the improvement in battery life to consider thanks to the new Snapdragon chipset, but moreso due to the fact that you no longer need to open the phone and light up the large main screen just to read a message. And with the pricing in Europe currently hovering around €800 the Z Flip5’s popularity is easily understandable.

With the durability issues of the early generations a lot of people are understandably hesitant to give foldables a try. The best way to fix those is get the new units in people hands, where they can prove their worth. And since no phone has done better at this than the Z Flip5, it ends up on top of my personal ranking for the year.

My top 5 phones of 2023 - George

Reader comments

  • Dometalican
  • 15 hours ago

Might want to...tone down the profanity (at least censor it) for journalistic integrity, no?

  • 08 Jan 2024

Actually it says my top 5 phones. There is no favorite in the title my guy

tecno phantom camera

I can't give a reason, part of me just doesn't want an Apple foldable to come to existence

  • Read all comments

tecno phantom camera

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