The SPARK series of smartphones is considered the second most affordable after the POP line in TECNO Mobile. This summer it was expanded with several new smartphones and the first representative of the fresh SPARK 9 series was TECNO SPARK 9 Pro. Today we will get acquainted with the updated Spark and learn about all its strengths and weaknesses.
There is TECNO SPARK 9 Pro in only one modification of 4/128 GB. At the same time, some sources mention the second variant with 6 GB of RAM, but there is no confirmation of this, and even on the official website of the manufacturer there is no mention of other versions of 9 Pro with larger memory.
Among all the models of the SPARK line currently on the market, 9 Pro is the most expensive option. But it is also worth noting that the smartphone is in any case cheaper than the current novelties from the POVA and CAMON series, for example.
In addition to the smartphone in a medium-sized cardboard box with TECNO branded design, the buyer will find an 18 W power adapter, USB Type-A/Type-C cable, wired headphones with headset function, a protective cover, a card slot ejector key and the usual set of accompanying documentation.
The headphones, of course, are simple, but why not. Another interesting thing is a plastic transparent case instead of the usual silicone case in the package. The case does not cover the side edges at all, but only the upper and lower edges together with the corners. But there is a small rim around the cameras at the back and above the screen, as well as a protective film on the smartphone display.
The appearance of TECNO SPARK 9 Pro is quite interesting and somewhat resembles the design of devices of the CAMON 19 series. Although in this case, due to some changes, it can be called even a little more bold and non-standard. At the same time, there are some not very relevant moments, and some design ideas, for example, do not look as expected in real life.
In front we see that the manufacturer decided to abandon the front camera embedded in the screen, using a more classic teardrop-shaped design in all “nines” without exception. At the same time, in SPARK 8 Pro, the camera was just embedded in the top center, and here they returned to the “drop”. The side bezels are relatively thin, a little thicker at the top, and the indentation at the bottom is the widest.
The rear panel, or rather the design of the cameras on the back, is already similar to the TECNO CAMON 19 and 19 Pro smartphones. The camera modules are located in separate rather large round eyes without any usual island under them. The cameras stick out decently, but their glass is slightly recessed and at least somehow protected from scratches.
The next design element is a glossy insert on top, which occupies a little less than one third of the back of the smartphone. Such a combined design looks very unusual, although we cannot say that we have not seen anything like this on the market before. But for an inexpensive smartphone it is a nice design feature.
However, the insert is not so simple and several effects were applied to it, if I may say so. In addition to the fact that it is glossy and with a mirror surface, the second effect with a 180° inverted reflection was added there. And if you look closely, you can notice the iridescent effect coming from the upper module of the camera.
But, in my opinion, all this is a bit too much for one insert. In reality it is very difficult to catch such an environment where such a combination would look really nice and attractive. Most often, the reflections just flow over each other, and together with the iridescent effect it looks kind of… messy or something.
It seems to me that here either the second reflection is superfluous, or the effect of iridescence should have been made more expressive. I do not deny that someone will like this design, but it seems to me to be a bit too complicated. Although I like the idea of combining different finishes and visual division of the back into several parts.
Zero comments to the matte part, because it just gently shimmers in the light, and depending on the viewing angle, the original color can become both lighter and darker. Plus, this part is covered with a semblance of sparkles and we have already met a similar solution in the TECNO CAMON 19 smartphone. As well as a flat frame around the perimeter, by the way.
Except the frame here is a bit more practical, because it has a matte finish. The main part of the back is also pleasant to the touch and resembles glass with the corresponding decoration. However, both parts of the back panel, as well as the frame, are plastic. The glass in the whole structure is only in the front, but for an affordable smartphone it is not surprising, of course.
The assembly of the smartphone is very good and all the details are perfectly fitted. Of course, there is no moisture protection, although there is a card slot with an additional seal. It is easy to leave traces of use on the body, especially on the glossy insert. But the matte part is also covered with stains over time. Although, the lighter the color, the less traces will be visible.
There are a lot of colors of TECNO SPARK 9 Pro. There is black (Quantum Black), blue (Burano Blue), white (Holy White) and light green (Hacker Storm). In the latter, the entire lower matte part is covered with the inscriptions “SPARK” in large glossy letters. It is assumed that not each of these solutions will be available in a particular market.
And recently we were shown TECNO SPARK 9 Pro Sport Edition. Designworks, a design studio belonging to the BMW Group, worked on the design of this version. The smartphone in this version is significantly different from the other four options. It looks even more unusual in general and is clearly designed for fans of sports racing themes.
In front in the upper part above the screen there is a slot for the earpiece speaker and a front camera underneath it. The light and proximity sensors are slightly to the right, and next to them there is a small window with a flash. It also lights up when the smartphone is charging, but does not indicate notifications.
There are no additional elements on the upper end of TECNO SPARK 9 Pro, and all the usual ones, as always, are placed on the bottom of the smartphone. These are the main multimedia speaker, a USB Type-C port in the center, the main and the only microphone, as well as a 3.5 mm audio port.
On the back in the upper left corner there are two large eyes with a total of three cameras and a flash, and on the right there is a vertical silver inscription TECNO SPARK. On the bottom right there is only a glossy inscription “STOP AT NOTHING”, without any service markings.
The usability in general is standard, as for a smartphone with a display diagonal of 6.6″. However, it is not the most compact solution and the dimensions of the case are 164.2 × 75.6 × 8.4 mm with the weight of 197 g. It is rather tall, of course, but not very wide at that. It is rather difficult to use it comfortably with one hand and it is also impossible to reach the upper half of the screen easily, but the one-hand control mode is still available.
With a normal grip with the right hand, the thumb is just between the power button (fingerprint scanner) and the volume down key. Thus, there are no difficulties with their use, and you have to pull out your finger only to increase the volume level. The flat frame allows to grip the smartphone normally, but its finish is not the most tenacious at that, and the device still needs to be held tighter in order not to slip out.
TECNO SPARK 9 Pro received a 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with the optimal Full HD+ resolution (or 2460×1080 pixels) and high pixel density at 407 ppi. The aspect ratio is stretched, 20.5:9, but the refresh rate is the usual 60 Hz. The manufacturer does not disclose any more details about the display.
The display resolution, again, is optimal. And in some smartphones from the same segment it may be lower, but with a larger diagonal. The color reproduction can be called bright, saturated and contrasting. Moreover, we have an ordinary IPS, not AMOLED. But it is impossible to make colors more neutral or change the temperature by standard means.
The level of maximum brightness is slightly higher than average and it is desirable to avoid direct sunlight on the street. Viewing angles are relatively wide and the picture at linear deviations is not distorted and the color temperature does not change. At diagonal deviations there is a slight fading of dark tones, which, however, is typical for all screens of this type.
The TECNO SPARK 9 Pro hardware platform is no different from the CAMON 19, POVA 3 and POVA Neo 2 smartphones. We are already very familiar with the MediaTek Helio G85 chipset and know what it is capable of. This is a 12nm chip with 8 cores: 2 Cortex-A75 cores operate with a maximum clock speed of up to 2.0 GHz, and 6 Cortex-A55 cores with a frequency of up to 1.8 GHz. Graphics – Mali-G52 MC2.
The amount of RAM is 4 GB of LPDDR4X type, and today this amount of RAM is a standard basic option for a large number of inexpensive smartphones. Multitasking is generally fine, except that applications restart a little more often than in smartphones with 6 GB of memory, for example.
But there is also a Memory Fusion function, which allows you to increase the amount of RAM if there is excess free space in the permanent memory of the smartphone. The option is enabled by default and adds 2 GB of virtual memory, but the maximum expansion is available by 3 GB and in total you can get 7 GB of RAM in TECNO SPARK 9 Pro.
The storage, for its part, is quite good for this price category at 128 GB. However, it is of eMMC 5.1 type, which means it is not very fast. For the needs of the user there are 106.98 GB, but the storage can always be expanded with a microSD memory card. The slot in the smartphone is full and allows you to use the memory card together with two SIM cards.
There are no surprises with performance either and the smartphone works according to its level. It feels quite fast, but not very smooth. The blame is on the system animations, which tend to slow down. Although in ordinary applications this behavior is less common than when interacting with the device shell.
In games, there is also practically no difference with other smartphones based on MediaTek Helio G85. The chipset allows you to run any modern and demanding project, however, mostly on medium graphics settings. You can play some games at high settings, but in some cases you will have to choose low parameters. Measurements of the average FPS in some popular games are below:
Read also: TECNO Pova 3 Review: Large and Lasting Mid-Level Phone
The main camera unit of the smartphone consists of a pair of large separate eyes. In the upper one is the main wide-angle module with the following characteristics: 50 MP, f/1.6, 27 mm, 77°, PDAF. The lower one has two auxiliary modules: depth measurement (2 megapixels, f/2.4, 88.9°, FF) and the so-called AI module (QVGA, f/2.0, 40°, FF).
The main camera is very similar to the camera of the TECNO POVA 3 smartphone, at least in terms of pure specifications. By default, photos are saved with a resolution of 12.5 megapixels, however, if in POVA 3 the full resolution of 50 megapixels is available as a separate Ultra HD shooting mode, here it can be simply selected from the top of the main screen of the camera application.
Images with a resolution of 50 megapixels are distinguished by higher detail and “warm” color temperature when shooting during the day. In standard resolution, on the contrary, the frames are more “cold” and with a slight oversharpening, which does not always look appropriate. At the same time, full resolution is not suitable for every scene due to more digital noise.
Speaking in general, TECNO SPARK 9 Pro shoots quite well, as for this class. It is quite possible to get a good quality picture with it, but there should be a lot of light. Otherwise, there will be less detail throughout the frame and more noise, although even so the pictures look quite acceptable for a budget phone. Still, it is probably wrong to expect something more from it.
EXAMPLES OF PHOTOS IN FULL RESOLUTION
Of course, there is a night mode and it significantly brightens the frame, adds sharpness, more accurately copes with bright light sources. However, in aggregate, photos often turn out not very natural. This is more of a situational mode: one time it may turn out well, and the next time it could be quite the opposite.
As for video recording, the smartphone does not stand out, but the maximum available resolution for shooting is 2K at 30 FPS. The results, of course, are modest. There is no electronic stabilization, the detail is low, and sudden movements are accompanied by a “jelly” effect. You can shoot something for yourself, of course, but it will hardly be enough for something more.
The manufacturer places great emphasis on the front camera of TECNO SPARK 9 Pro. Here is a module with a resolution of 32 megapixels, f/2.5 aperture and fixed focus (FF). First of all, the camera can be praised for a fairly wide viewing angle, thanks to which many faces fit in the frame. I also liked the color reproduction, which is not decorated, but at the same time not dull.
On the one hand, this camera shoots quite well. The photos look quite nice on the smartphone screen, but you can notice a large amount of digital noise under any lighting in the shadows (and in general in any dark areas throughout the frame). As for the detail, I cannot single out the standard resolution of 8 megapixels, but if you select the full resolution, the difference in clarity is noticeable in favor of 32 megapixels.
Video on the front camera can be recorded in a maximum resolution of 2K with 30 FPS. They are not very detailed, with the same large amount of digital noise, but also with pleasant colors. There is no electronic stabilization during recording, but there are no distortions of the image during sharp movements and turns.
There are more than enough different shooting modes in the standard application: short videos, video, photo, beauty, portrait, night, augmented reality (AR), panorama, documents, slow motion and fast motion video. The only thing missing for a complete set is the manual mode. And they did not forget about filters, and about several useful options in the settings.
Read also: TECNO Camon 19 Review: A Stylish Smartphone With Powerful Camera
You can unlock the smartphone with a fingerprint scanner located right in the power button on the right side of the device. As in all other current TECNO smartphones, the capacitive scanner works very quickly and accurately enough, especially if you save the same fingerprint several times. Errors are minimal, and unlocking is almost instantaneous.
Unlocking can also be carried out by recognizing the face of the smartphone owner, but this method is not as fast and reliable compared to the scanner, of course. It works best in excellent lighting conditions, but you can use it under any conditions and even in complete darkness if you enable the option of backlighting the face with the screen.
The battery installed in TECNO SPARK 9 Pro has the usual 5000 mAh capacity for the class. This figure is unlikely to surprise anyone, especially after the POVA series smartphones with huge 7000 mAh batteries. But it is worth recognizing that SPARK 9 Pro can also offer very good autonomy, which will definitely be enough for many.
The smartphone also supports 18 W fast charging, and the device charges faster than the conventional TECNO CAMON 19 with a battery of the same capacity and 18 W charging, but the whole process still takes more than two hours, which is not very fast today. Detailed measurements in 30-minute increments are below:
The sound from the earpiece speaker is just normal, but it stands out neither with a wide frequency range, nor with a very high level of maximum volume. It is quite enough for basic tasks, but it is not involved in other tasks.
The multimedia speaker on the bottom plays alone and sounds quite simply too, without any outstanding volume reserve or cool quality. There is no way to correct the sound of the speaker, although usually TECNO offers such an opportunity.
What is even more surprising, there are no settings, effects or equalizer for headphones. Although this is not a very big problem, because by default everything is quite good there. But some presets would not be excessive, as it seems to me.
But in terms of wireless networks and modules, the smartphone has everything you can want from a smartphone for such money: support for 4G and dual-band Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0 and GPS, as well as an NFC module.
The software component of TECNO SPARK 9 Pro also practically does not differ from most of the manufacturer’s smartphones based on Android 12 with the current version of the proprietary shell HiOS 8.6. There are a lot of settings here, and in addition to the usual customization tools, there are useful things with floating multi-windows, a “smart” panel for quick access to selected applications and actions. Separately, we can note the game hub, the function of cloning some popular applications and a decent number of different gestures. Call recording is also available.
The new TECNO SPARK 9 Pro turned out to be a very balanced smartphone, which in general has everything that can and should be in an inexpensive device. Unusual appearance, good quality display, performance on par with more expensive TECNO devices, decent battery life, as well as a lot of memory and decent cameras for its segment.
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