It’s 2023, and weirdly enough finding a good value phone for less than 20k has become increasingly challenging. This is because of two things: taxes in Kenya, and the weakening shilling in terms of the exchange rate. But TECNO has found a way in, with the new Spark 10 Series.
The series has a couple of device. The Spark 10C starts at 15,000 shillings with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. There’s the Spark 10 Pro and Spark 10 with 5G, whose prices and availability will be announced later on. And then there’s the Spark 10 which I’ve been using which costs 19,300 shillings for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model. Of course these are recommended retail prices, and different vendors will list them differently.
For my time with the TECNO Spark 10, these are three things that stood out:
- The Design
- The Cameras
- The RAM, Storage and Performance
In this review, I will focus on these three things. I will also within each of the topic cover stuff that I wish was done better.
Every single time I showed this phone to someone, the first reaction has been “why is the back like an iPhone?”. I want to be clear that I don’t see that look. Is it the arrangement of the cameras? Is it the size of the lenses? Or is it just an optical illusion where people think the cameras are on a raised bump?
There are 2 cameras on this phone. Look closely. The third bump is the LED flashlight. Around the three bumps, TECNO have this shiny glowing squircle that can give you the illusion that the whole of it is raised from the body.
The rest of the back body has this matte-texture finish that’s really soft on the hand. It is hard to accept that the back is plastic. It feels very glassy and fragile to me. And that’s the allure of its premium-ness. I believe everyone getting a new smartphone wants something premium.
TECNO has gone for a clean finish almost all around the device. At the back there’s only the cameras, and the easy to miss TECNO Spark branding. The top is clean. One of the sides has the volume buttons and the power button which is also the fingerprint scanner for unlocking. The other side has the SIM tray which has two SIM slots and one microSD card slot. At the bottom you get the headphone jack, a microphone hole, the USB Type-C port and the single speaker on this phone.
At the front you get a 6.6 inch Full HD display that supports 90Hz refresh rates. It gets plenty bright and you will have no issues with accuracy of colour, and watching of stuff.
The things I wish were changed are the teardrop notch which houses the 8MP selfie camera. I wish it was a punch-hole cutout. Also, the bottom bezel is quite thick. I wish it was a more even with the rest of the phone’s bezels.
However, I do understand these decisions as being cost cutting measures.
The biggest selling point for the TECNO Spark 10 is in the cameras. These are the 8MP selfie camera, and the 50MP main camera.
The selfie camera is decent. I’ve used it for a couple of videos, and its biggest challenges are shifts in light and movement. So, if you prop it up well, you will get decent output.
TECNO is yet to fix HDR on their budget cameras, meaning highlights still end up blown up in certain scenarios.
The 50MP camera is quite good, almost really good at this price point. From the photos taken using the device, the output is quite commendable given these are point and shoot.
Similar to the selfie camera, the best way to get good videos from the main camera is to ensure you have good continouos lighting, and that the phone is properly fixed on a stationary surface for example, a tripod.
The back camera can record either 720p footage at 30fps or 1080p footage at 30fps. There’s no dedicated night mode, but in low light the AI camera will switch to “night view”.
TECNO is selling you 8GB RAM – which they’re marketing as 16GB RAM thanks to RAM Virtualisation – and 128GB storage at just shy of 20,000 shillings, and that’s commendable. The problem one would point out would be the Helio G37 processor, which is an entry level “gaming” chipset.
From my use, for usual tasks including photography and social media use, performance is very okay. However, when you have many apps open, or when you’re doing something that requires a little more processing, you need to exercise a little patience for tasks to complete.
It would have been great to see a more powerful entry-level chipset, but that’s the thing with budget devices, you win on certain numbers, and on others you don’t.
Other stuff on the TECNO Spark 10:
- The battery is great. It also supports 18W fast charging which is decent.
- There’s NFC support, which unfortunately hasn’t taken off in Kenya
- You get Android 13 out of the box
- TECNO’s HiOS has inbuilt Intelligence features including Ella which we covered in this short video
It is interesting to see TECNO’s refresh of their Spark series with a worthwhile series of devices. Yes, there’s competition, and yes scouting around you may find better deals. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that with the Spark 10, you’re getting new software, and really good design, plus a fairly good experience at a budget.