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REVIEW: The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is a Intriguing Smartphone

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier an easy recommendation if you are after a smartphone with the best camera on a budget. (PHOTO: Olupot Nathan Ernest/PC Tech Magazine)

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier an easy recommendation if you are after a smartphone with the best camera on a budget. (PHOTO: Olupot Nathan Ernest/PC Tech Magazine)

Tecno Mobile launched another premier phone in the Camon series with a major focus on the camera department. The new Tecno Camon 18 Premier features a significant photography upgrade over its predecessors with premium features like gimbal stabilization and long-range 5x optical zoom thanks to a periscopic lens.

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is among the three new Camon phones that were released and with them bring large screens and batteries, a good camera experience, and satisfying performance for a reasonable price. The price is kept even lower thanks to pre-installed partner apps and baked-in ads within the interface. For some, this might be a deal-breaker, but for others —a welcome tradeoff they’d gladly make.

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier has a few flagship-worthy traits like a large 120Hz AMOLED screen, 256GB base storage, a large battery that supports fast charging, but most importantly and the major highlight/headline of the phone is —an impressive trio-rear camera that has a gimbal stabilization to produce steady shoots.

Having had the phones for quite a few days, well we can say the phone is a good buy —and an easy recommendation if you are after a smartphone with the best camera on a budget. It is a beautiful phone with a dual-glass design, catchy paint jobs, and a thin 8mm profile which is sturdy. The design of the body was well thought out.

Specification highlights:

Design, Build Quality, and Display
Tecno Camon 18 Premier has a standout design for sure. First, it’s a dual-glass build with AGC-made flat glass sheets on both sides. The rear panel has a silky matte finish, which is pleasant to touch and premium-looking when clean. The rear camera rectangle is also flat and made of glass, while the frame is slightly curved and made of plastic.

So, the Tecno Camon 18 Premier is good-looking and well-built, and we noticed another area with great attention to detail —symmetry. The front camera is perfectly centered in a punch-hole format. Another place where symmetry is, the Camon 18 Premier has a perfectly centered audio jack, mouthpiece, USB port, and speaker grille at the bottom, and we are happy that Tecno made the extra effort on this.

The phone has a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen at the front which has a 1080p resolution, supports a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, and has a centered punch-hole for the new 32MP front camera and also has a LED flash which cannot be seen since it is quite thin yet powerful enough to make a difference in low light settings when taking photos or making videos.

At the back, as we mentioned before, it’s silky smooth and has a Tecno Camon insignia at the bottom right corner. The camera island is not that flashy —it looks stylish and not that intrusive. The housing contains the 64MP primary (main) camera, 12MP ultrawide shooter, and a periscopic 8MP snapper for 5x optical magnification. A four-LED flash is also around.

On the sides of the phone, the tri-card slot is alone on the left, while the volume rocker and the power key are on the right. The surface of the lock key is also your fingerprint scanner which upon our testing is fast and accurate.

At the top on has a secondary microphone which is mostly used for stereo recording in videos and finally, the bottom houses the 3.5mm jack, the primary microphone, the USB-C port, and the single speaker grille.

As for the frame, it is made of plastic, slightly curved, and is all glossy. The Tecno Camon 18 Premier measures 163.8 x 75.9 x 8.2 mm and weighs roughly 200 grams.

At the end of the day, we did love our time spent with the Tecno Camon 18 Premier. It is a phone of solid build and a well-thought-out design. The dual-tempered glass is always good to have that is with no doubt, though it lacked any sort of ingress protection.

Overall, we think people will like the Camon 18 Premier, and if handling issues are present, the supplied soft rubber case can help.

As for the display, the Tecno Camon 18 Premier packs a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen of the usual 1,080 x 2,400 pixels. It has a small punch-hole centered around the top that houses the 32MP front camera and is protected with an AGC-made glass.

The display supports an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. There are three Refresh Rate modes; 120Hz, Auto, and 60Hz. The 60Hz is self-explanatory, while Auto uses 120Hz throughout the UI and 60Hz in apps and games. The highest 120Hz mode pushes all apps to use their maximum supported mode – 120Hz in most cases, 90Hz in some apps like Play Store, and 60Hz in video apps.

The screen is bright enough and can be adjusted according to the ambient light and a very good indoors and is quite legible outdoors even in direct sunlight. The phone’s display also supports a wide color gamut.

Software, Performance, and Battery
The Camon 18 Premier boots Android 11 with a layer of Tecno’s in-house HiOS on top (v.8.0). The company’s aggressive advertising policies and pre-installed bloatware have been toned-down and lightweight on bloat, we do applaud this. However, the company still insists on having a bunch of pre-installed apps and utilities, and the app store still pushes a ton of notifications, nudging you to install an app or game even when you don’t need them. The company, therefore, has to look at this and discontinue it. If some of the third-party apps are bothering you with various notifications – you can disable those – either from within the annoying app or from the Notification settings but can’t be uninstalled.

Themes are available as part of HiOS, and there is a dedicated Theme store for this purpose.

All the custom bits found on the Camon 17 Pro and 16 Premier are also here on the 18 Premier. That includes the Game mode with all the settings statistics and parental controls. There is also a Smart panel with slide-from-the-side shortcuts.

For performance;

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier runs on the Helio G96 chipset by MediaTek. It packs two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores ticking at 2.05GHz and six energy-efficient Corext-A55 cores working at 2.0GHz. The chipset features a new GPU from the Valhalla generation by ARM – the Mali-G57. Unlike the previous G9x chips, here we have a dual-core configuration instead of a quad-core, so we expect some drop in the theoretical performance compared to the previous versions.

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is available in one configuration with 8GB RAM and 256GB onboard storage (this can be expanded with a microSD card). Finally, the offscreen performance of the new GPU is passable, though indeed inferior to the Helio G95’s and G90T’s (in the previous Tecno Camon phones).

The phone offers top-notch stability and long-lasting peak performance this is because it did very well on the CPU Throttle test by keeping nearly 70% of its maximum performance during an hour of 100% CPU usage. We noticed that it would get a little bit warm (not hot) when the CPU reached 100%.

We managed to play a few “heavy-load” games and they had good 3D graphics [thanks to its GPU] and a smooth frame rate stutter-free. Sure, you cannot have the best gaming experience, but everything else was just fine.

Also, multi-tasking was fine.

For battery life and charging;

The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is powered by a non-removable 4,750 mAh battery, and it supports fast 33W charging. The phone scored an excellent 112-hour Endurance rating on the GSM Arena battery test. According to the test performance of GSM Arena, it did a commendable job across all test scenarios including; video playback, calls, web browsing, and demonstrated long-lasting standby performance.

When it comes to charging, the Tecno Camon 18 Premier comes with a 33W power adapter. It’s a 5V/3A, 10V/3.3A charger, not the most versatile one, obviously, but still – a fast one. The battery was able to charge from 0% to 60% in 30 minutes (as opposed to the 0% to 64% in 30 minutes advertised by the company) as for a full charge takes 65 minutes which is plenty fast.

Camera, Photo, and Video Quality
This is what we really looked forward to since the phone is highly marketed around its cameras.

The highlight of the Tecno Camon 18 Premier is its trio-rear camera. It features a 64MP primary camera, a 12MP ultrawide shooter with gimbal stabilization, and an 8MP tele snapper with a periscopic lens for 5x optical zoom. There is also a 4-LED flash. Impressive, indeed.

The primary camera has no OIS while PDAF is available. The ultrawide camera features high-end gimbal stabilization. While the telephoto camera has both OIS and PDAF are available and telephoto camera goes beyond and provides a 5x optical zoom.

The main camera has the Night Mode, Super Moon mode, Film mode, and Bokeh mode —so you are able to shoot in any mode of your choose and you will get pretty much good shoots and videos. The downer, is that the camera doesn’t have the Manual/Pro mode, which is an awesome feature on the phone for most photographers.

On the other hand, over on the front, the phone is a 32MP camera for selfies. The focus on the camera is fixed at infinity.

The highlight of the Tecno Camon 18 Premier is its trio-rear camera. (PHOTO: Olupot Nathan Ernest/PC Tech Magazine)

Photo Quality;

Generally, the photos are alright and detailed enough —their contrast is good, the noise is low, and the excellent colors stay true to reality. The images aren’t as over-sharpened as on other phones and retain a bit more natural look. The corners are as sharp as the rest of the image, which is good, too. The dynamic range is commendable on most occasions (Auto HDR was on by default). The ultrawide camera gets ultrawide-angle and the photo results have accurate colors, good contrast, and well-handled noise.

So for photogenic, your photos with minimal or no edits will still look good and can be sharable on social networks as they are usually downscaled during the upload.

Super Night mode is well, absurdly unnatural. The photos taken with this mode are punchier, and the highlights are restored, but there are all sorts of visible artifacts, and the contrast is visibly lower.

The selfie camera saves 8MP, and we are so happy with that decision. The photos are good and sharp, with a ton of resolved detail, accurate colors, and high contrast. The dynamic range is okay, too. The portrait selfies turned out good, too. They are detailed and colorful, with acceptable subject separation, though the faux bokeh could use some improvements.

Overall, the photo quality is okay.

Video Recording;

The video resolution for the main camera maxes out at 2560×1440 (1440p), while the rest of the cameras are only limited to 1080p@30fps. The footage from the main camera is quite good —the picture is sharp and detailed, the colors are remain accurate (as we expected), the contrast is high, and the dynamic range is average.

The ultrawide camera has gimbal stabilization while the zoom snapper benefits from optical stabilization. The main camera has no hardware stabilization and that is a bit disappointing but that does stop you from getting good shots with the main camera.

Overall, the video quality is good.

Our verdict
The Tecno Camon 18 Premier is a intriguing smartphone —packing a great AMOLED screen, unique camera, features such as gimbal stabilization & periscopic lens, excellent battery life & fast charging capability, among others. The phone is most likely to make good purchase numbers on the market since it is not a bad phone, not at all. With that in mind, we do believe many people will be happy with the Tecno Camon 18 Premier.

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