The TECNO CAMON 18 Premier for me sits in a weird position as a device from TECNO. The Camon Series has always been TECNO’s camera-focused series of phones – with the Phantom Series being the flagship lineup. However that seems to be changing. Recently, TECNO declared the Phantom lineup a separate sub-brand. They call it their flagship sub-brand. And the newest Phantom X costs KES 50,000. Compare it to the Camon 18 Premier which costs KES 40,000 and you wonder which one is the actual flagship.
The Camon 18 Premier is really good. (I also happen to have the Normal Cheaper Camon 18 – and it’s also really good). The Premier has quality specs; a 120Hz AMOLED panel, lots of RAM, lots of Storage, a powerful processor, a good main camera, and great battery with fast charging. For many, it ticks the boxes you’d need a phone to.
However, in a world where many more phones tick such boxes, you need to either offer a lot more to stand out, or compete – and I mean really compete – in terms of pricing. Any company must find a way to make sure their phone is what customers choose when thinking of spending money within a certain budget range.
I don’t know what TECNO‘s decision making process was like when making the Camon 18 Premier, but I will try to speculate on the things that TECNO believes will make you choose the Camon 18 Premier. I’ll do this by sharing on my favourite things that I like about the phone.
I will also link my camera review later on once it is out.
So here are my favourite Camon 18 Premier features:
- The display
- The build and design
- The main camera
- Battery and fast charging
We’ve come a long way in terms of displays from TECNO. And I am quite happy that we are at a point in time where the company can ship quality panels which have no issues, and compete with flagship offerings from other OEMs.
The 120Hz AMOLED panel that TECNO is using is really quite good.
When I wrote my review of the Redmi NOTE 10 Pro I wasn’t so pleased with the saturation levels of that display. I didn’t like the fact that colours would look so saturated on the display making things appear sort of weird. I noticed this especially with photos which when viewed from other displays would look quite different from what I believed I’d taken.
I am happy to say that – for me – the saturation levels on the Camon 18 Premier display are close to accurate, I think. Things are represented as they should be. And nothing is forced to be vibrant so as to appeal to the eye. I am talking of the display here – I’ll touch on cameras later on.
What I don’t get is TECNO’s decision to have an AMOLED panel but have a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. I thought they’d have an under-display fingerprint scanner given those work with AMOLED panels. Perhaps maybe it is better this way since optical under-display scanners can be quite annoying at times?
Perhaps this was a move to make all devices in the Camon 18 Series be sort of uniform?
You will enjoy consuming content from the wide display. Be it games, or movies, or YouTube.
Build and Design:
I feel like this part of the phone has contributed a lot to the pricing. You should hold the phone in person. It is well done. It is premium by all means.
I don’t know what material has been used for the back, but it is nice and shiny and cool and attractive. I like how the phone feels on the hand; comfortable but also big, sturdy, not heavy, not light. Just right.
I like the design of the camera bump. It is a statement. You see it and you expect the cameras to be quite something. You see the way they’ve been arranged and yes they’ve copied designs from other Android makers, but they’ve also sort of made it appear unique and different at the same time.
I like the colours of my review unit. The curves on the sides of the phone, the arrangement of the ports at the bottom and the side buttons. It all feels well and seriously built.
There’s an included plastic/silicon case which fits on the phone so well. Yes, it will lose its appeal over time, but you will love the way it builds on the look of the phone without destroying the design. Many other cases destroy a phone’s look.
I am purposefully saying ‘Main Camera’ because I don’t really get the stabilised camera’s work on this phone, and I also don’t like the quality of the output from the periscope lens.
To be clear, this is a serious set of cameras. I must says that. There’s a 64MP main lens, there’s a 12MP stabilised lens, and there’s an 8MP periscope lens that can do 5X optical zoom and 60X Hybrid Zoom. Those are huge numbers. And they show just what TECNO is trying to achieve with the Camon lineup.
However, in real life use, only the main camera stands out for me. It can take quite good pictures in different scenarios. I’ll try to show you the different pictures I’ve taken with it in my camera review article.
Here’s where my mind is sort of confused. Let me be clear, this phone performs well. You can game, you can do stuff. And I like that! You will be comfortable without any serious issues. Maybe you’ll experience, and very rarely, some unexpected lags here and there. But that’s all.
What’s confusing my mind is the fact that TECNO uses the same processors we see Infinix use on much more affordable smartphones. For example, with the Phantom X, the company used the Helio G95. That phone is KES 50,000. Infinix used the same processor for the NOTE 10 Pro. That phone is KES 25,000.
Right now, the Helio G96 powers the Camon 18 Premier a KES 40,000 phone. Infinix is doing the same with the NOTE 11 Pro which costs KES 28,000. And the similarities between these two – the Camon 18 premier, and the Infinix NOTE 11 Pro – don’t end in processors only. So you get why I feel quite confused on what to say about the Camon 18 Premier when you can sort of get similar performance from a cheaper device.
What I can say TECNO must be capitalising on is the fact that their phones have better designs and looks. But that’s me trying to force an explanation here. Only TECNO knows.
Battery and Fast Charging:
A phone must be able to last me the whole day – and some more if possible. And it should also be able to charge really fast so that when I need to be going out or doing something, I can be sure a little plugging in will take me a long way. The Camon 18 Premier assures me of that.
What TECNO needs to work on:
- Android Auto – I feel like this is something the company ignores a lot. I need this sorted out on their devices, especially phones that cost this amount of money. I hate the audio situation over Android Auto. On the Camon 18 Premier, my phone must have the display on for Android Auto to continue working. It is quite annoying that something this important isn’t considered when developing HiOS.
- HiOS is now better, but there’s more to be done – Yes, TECNO has shifted a lot in HiOS 8, but there’s still unnecessary things that need removal or opt-in requests. I don’t want ELLA which is TECNO’s AI assistant. And I should be able to restrict what it can view or access. I don’t want notifications from apps I haven’t signed in to. I don’t want to be forced to try out things I don’t know about.
- Pricing – I feel like yes, TECNO is making really good phones, but pricing them really wrong. Like, yes these are good prices if marketed to the western market, but here things are a little more competitive. Price this phone at KES 33,000 and you will get a whole lot of people wanting to get it.
- More features – If TECNO doesn’t want to reduce pricing, perhaps add in things like wireless charging, or IP Rating for water and dust resistance. Yeah?
TECNO CAMON 18 PREMIER SPECS:
Check it out on Jumia
|6.7-inch AMOLED Display
120Hz Refresh Rate
|8.15mm x 75.85mm x 163.8mm
64MP Main Camera
12MP Stabilised Gimbal Camera
8MP Periscope Lens
Quad LED Flash
|32MP Front Camera with Dual Flash
|Mediatek Helio G96
(Expandable Storage with dedicated Slot)
|Android 11, HiOS 8.0
33W Flash Charge
|2G, 3G, 4G
|Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4/5G
3.5mm audio jack
|Summer Breeze, Ocean Moonlight
|Side-mounted Fingerprint Scanner
DTS audio Speakers