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Okay Tecno, I like clamshell foldables now


Update: This phone received the Android February 2024 security update.

Okay, Tecno, you win! You’ve convinced me! Before, I didn’t really see the utility in clamshell foldable phones. Sure, I used flip phones in the past like the Sanyo Katana and others, but I wasn’t nostalgic for the experience. So, clamshell phones just didn’t pique my interest. THEN, I got the opportunity to review the Tecno Phantom V Flip.

In case you don’t know, Tecno is a smartphone manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China, and it’s owned by Transsion. The Phantom V Flip is the company’s first clamshell foldable, and it’s competing against the likes of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Motorola Razr+. With such incredible competition, it’s easy to wonder if foldables belong at the sub-$1,000 price range. With an MSRP of around $870, it undercuts much of the competition.

However, is it good? Is the Phantom V Flip a solid alternative to the more expensive foldable phones, or is this Flip a flop? Let’s find out in this review.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Design

In terms of design, I was impressed with how far Tecno went to make this one of the prettiest foldable phones on the market. This is, seriously, one of the most elegant-looking phones I’ve ever reviewed. I chalk this up to the leather aesthetic that it achieves with the materials. It almost makes it look like one of those limited-edition versions of phones made in collaboration with prestigious companies.

The circular outer display almost gives it the appearance of a fancy timepiece, and I think that’s what Tecno was going for. It contrasts the likes of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Motorola Razr+, which are also nice-looking devices. They have a more utilitarian look because of their larger screens, but the Phantom V Flip has more of a “fashion over function” mentality. Does that affect the overall usability of this phone? Heck yes! But that’ll be discussed later in the review.

Another thing I like about this design is the use of color. The Phantom V Flip comes in two colorways, and they’re Misty Dawn (the color of the unit being reviewed) and Iconic Black. Both colors come with a glossy metal frame, and the frames are also colored to reflect the color of the phone.

Other little details include the Phantom logo etched on the hinge and the little circle with a letter “V” on the back. It shows that Tecno put a lot of time and effort into making a good-looking phone. As good as more popular foldables look, I think that the Phantom V Flip has a more elegant look to it overall.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Build Quality

The build quality of this phone is a weird story. When I first got this phone. I didn’t know what to expect. None of the Tecno phones I reviewed in the past seemed to be poorly built, but I wouldn’t say they had a premium feel. This is why I was blown away when I first held the Phantom V Flip.

This isn’t a $1,000 foldable phone, but it sure feels like it. The first thing I noticed was the satisfying heft of the device that I felt. Sure, you don’t want your phone to be too bulky, but you also don’t want it to be too light. The Phantom V Flip sits right in the sweet spot between average heft and bulky.

Everything from the leathery material to the metal frame just feels good to the touch. Where some of the cheaper Tecno phones used cheaper materials to keep the price down, this phone goes all in on the premium materials.

I think that’s extremely important, more so for Tecno than other companies. Tecno phones mainly inhabit the affordable phone price bracket, so it’s easy to assume that the Phantom V Flip would be behind the competition in terms of the build quality. I admit that I had that assumption as well, but I was gladly proven wrong.

Hinge

The hinge is where things get a little weird. The folding feels smooth and high-quality no matter how many times I open and close it. It stays in place at several angles, so I can adjust it- I’d estimate from about 20° to 165°, the hinge will stay in place. Any further than that, it will either slide all the way open or close.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 2

So, in terms of the feeling, everything is good… But, in terms of the sound, things are not so. That’s right, there’s a sound! Ideally, when you have a foldable phone, you won’t hear any sounds when you’re opening or closing it. At very first, I didn’t hear any sounds coming from the hinge, but I started to shortly after using it.

Occasionally, when I’d open the phone I’d hear this disconcerting crackle come from the hinge; it’s really unsettling to be honest. So, if this is something that happens with all of the units, I think that Tecno will need to work on its hinge. The hinge is one of the most important parts of a foldable phone. If it’s making noises, that’s not a great sign.

Ingress protection

When it comes to foldable phones, ingress protection is extremely important. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s any IP rating to speak of. That’s not great, seeing as one of the main issues with foldable phones is protection from outside elements. If you get this phone, then you’ll need to be careful where you take it.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Display

I haven’t used a Tecno device with a screen that I didn’t absolutely LOVE. The display on the Phantom V Flip did much to live up to my expectations; however, it being a foldable phone, there’s one aspect really holding it back.

Colors

Tecno hit a sweet spot with the color calibration of this display. Out of the box, the colors are set to their Natural setting, which mutes the colors to look more like a standard LCD display. However, once you turn on the Bright-Colored mode, all of the colors just come to life.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 11

All of the colors that this panel produces are juicy and extremely pleasant to look at. One thing to note is that, while OLED displays are naturally more colorful, it depends on the manufacturer to decide just how colorful they are. It’s very possible to go overboard with the colors. In the case of this phone, just like with other Tecno phones I’ve reviewed, the colors reached this beautiful balance between saturated and oversaturated.

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When it comes to the color temperature, there’s a slider in the display settings that lets you adjust it. you can get pretty precise with your adjustments as well, which is nice.

Brightness

This is the area where this phone is held back, but I can’t really fault Tecno for this. The Tecno Camon 20 series comes with some decently bright displays. They appear to cap out at about 900 nits, which is pretty good when it comes to sunlight visibility. I never really had much of an issue using these phones outside. Sure, other phones come out with substantially brighter displays, but 900 nits still battles the sunlight pretty well.

In the case of the Phantom V Flip, I feel that the brightness is just a bit below that 900-nit brightness. It doesn’t feel like a massive drop off; I still get the sense that the brightness is exceptional. However, it just takes a bit more effort to see my screen when outside.

The thing that holds it back is the screen protector. Both the inner and outer displays come with plastic screen protectors. The one on the outer display can be taken off, but the one on the inner display can’t. The issue with these screen protectors is the fact that they cling to fingerprints like there’s no tomorrow. This creates an extra layer of reflective oil that helps obscure the screen. It heavily inhibits the sunlight visibility. I can’t fault Tecno for this because foldable phones all come with permanent screen protectors for added protection.

I’m not sure it’s the screen protector that makes me think that the brightness was reduced. In any case, I’d say that the sunlight visibility is just slightly above average. I could still see the screen decently well, but I have to cover the screen just a bit more.

Crease

Oh, the dreaded crease! Foldable phones and the middle crease are a package deal. I think that the crease in the Phantom V Flip is pretty shallow. It’s definitely there; I can see it and feel it. However, it doesn’t distort the content I’m viewing. I can feel it, but it’s not annoying in any way. The crease is about par for the course, I’d say.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 7

Overall, the display on the Phantom V Flip takes the amazing quality from other great Tecno phones and seamlessly transfers it to the foldable form factor. You’ll have some trouble seeing it in direct sunlight due to the screen protector, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Speakers

It’s a bit tough to review the speakers with this phone because there are several settings you can change to edit the sound. However, I’m going to review the speakers based on their out-of-the-box experience, since more people are likely to hear them with their default settings.

Admittedly, the speakers in Tecno’s phones have never impressed me. I felt that there was always this lack of depth with them. I wouldn’t say that they were bad; they were just so plain. With the Phantom V Flip, it feels like Tecno made some changes to its speakers and the overall sound profile because I think there have been some major improvements.

Loudness

In terms of loudness, these speakers get extremely loud. If you’re outside or in a loud environment, you won’t have any issues hearing them. Just like with any speaker, you’ll hear some significant distortion when at full volume. In my opinion, there’s just a bit more distortion than I would have liked to hear at the higher volumes.

With some of the best speakers I’ve heard, I’d hear distortion at the highest or second-highest volume level. In the case of the Phantom V Flip, I’d say that I hear distortion at the three highest volume levels.

Bass

This is the area where I heard the most improvement. The issue I had with other Tecno phones’ speakers was the lack of bass. The sound would be pretty tinny compared to other phones I’d review. With the Phantom V Flip, I’m hearing some more low-end audio from the speakers. There’s a pleasant boost in that department, and it adds some much-needed depth to the sound.

It’s far from the best that I’ve heard, but it’s still nice to hear. I mostly tested these speakers on music from the last quarter of the 20th century(the 70s, 80s, 90s), and I also used newer music. The bass sounded nice on all of the music that I listened to, but I felt that it shined with 80s music. The added crunch of the basses from that era really sounded great on the speakers.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 1

Treble

In terms of the treble, I think that the performance is pretty similar to other Tecno phones that I reviewed. That’s not a bad thing because I rather enjoyed the high-end performance of those phones. One thing that I noted in other reviews is that these phones’ speakers are actually really good for ASMR. Higher tones like clicks and pops sound pleasantly punchy.

This performance does translate nicely to music. When listening to music, especially more modern music, higher instruments and percussion all have a lot of punch to them. The treble compliments the bass nicely to create an all-around immersive sound.

Vocals

I never really thought that the vocals were an issue for Tecno’s speakers, and that didn’t change with the Phantom V Flip. When listening to songs or watching videos, all of the voices cut through nicely. I didn’t have any issues hearing any of the voices when listening to these speakers.

Overall, I think that Tecno ironed out some of the issues holding its speakers back. Again, I wouldn’t say that they’re the best out there on the market, but they’re far from what I’d consider to be bad. The loudness is nice, the bass got a nice boost, and the treble and vocals remain crisp.

Adjustments

Again, this is how the speakers sound out of the box. In HiOS, the Android skin that Tecno’s phones run on, there’s a section in the sound settings called DTS Sound. Here, you’ll find a suite of settings that you can do to tailor the sound experience to your liking. Starting off, you’ll be able to choose the sound mode.

There are four modes in all: Music, Video, Game, and Smart. As you can guess, the first three modes will tune the audio so that it sounds the best when you’re consuming that form of media. Music gives you an overall warmer audio profile. The other two are tuned to emphasize the high-end audio to accent voices.

The Smart audio mode will automatically switch modes based on what media is playing on your phone. This is the mode that’s selected by default.

Once you pick your mode, you can further adjust it by choosing the stereo profile of the audio. Lastly, you can choose whether you want to boost the bass, treble, vocals, or any combination of the three.

 

Rounding out the adjustments, there’s the EQ. It’s a five-band equalizer that you can use to further refine your sound. You can adjust the 100Hz, 300Hz, 1kHz, 3kHz, and 10kHz bands between -5dB and +5dB. That’s an amazing feature to have built right into the software.

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Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Camera

The camera performance of Tecno’s phones that I reviewed has been solid, with the exception of the Tecno Camon 20 Pro. However, foldable phones aren’t known for having good cameras, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the camera in the Phantom V Flip. When I actually started using this phone’s camera, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Details

For this review, I used the camera in its regular mode. The Phantom V Flip has a 64MP camera, but it bins down to what I believe is 16MP. Using the regular mode, I got some really good details in my shot. I’m able to zoom in a good bit before I see degradation in the image.

Exposure

In terms of exposure, I think that the company went for a very balanced approach. Taking pictures in the bright afternoon sun, I didn’t really notice many points where the highlights were blown out. Everything is nicely exposed in the shots I took. I’d probably say that it’s some of the best exposure I’ve seen with phones that I’ve reviewed.

In terms of the overall contrast of the images, I think that this camera does a great job. The highlights and shadows all look nice throughout the images.

Colors

As for the colors, I think that they’re nice. They’re very pleasant and nice to look at. Everything is responsibly saturated with a nice boost to everything. I’m happy to say that colors like red don’t sizzle my eyes, as red is usually a tough color for digital sensors to capture.

In terms of the saturation, while it’s kept in line, I think that it’s right on the edge of being too much. I don’t think it crosses that line, but some of the colors are approaching that candy-like area. It’s not too bad. I think it’s the most present in the shot of the sky and the flower below.

While the colors are definitely robust, they don’t go overboard. So, I think that the colors are a strong aspect of the pictures.

Low-light

When it comes to the low-light performance of this phone, I think that it reflects the camera’s performance as a whole; it’s very good. In situations with diminished light, it maintained a fair amount of detail and I was still able to get some nice colors. However, when I moved into extremely dark situations, as you can imagine, the colors and detail took a hit. I saw the typical drop in saturation and warmth.

When the lights go even lower, I can use the Super Night mode which takes a longer-exposure shot to bring some more light in. While this mode does brighten up the image, there’s something that differentiates it from more expensive phones.

The likes of Samsung and especially Google use extra image processing on those lower-light photos to boost the details and colors and reduce the noise. In the case of the Phantom V Flip, I didn’t see any of that. I only saw the boosted brightness. Because of this, the image came out noisy and a bit blurry. You might just be better off taking your chances with the regular low-light performance rather than with the Super Night mode.

Focus

I don’t think that this is a major issue with this camera, but it did pop up. There was an issue getting it to focus on a particular subject in one of the images. I tapped to focus on the leaf about 15 times, and it just did NOT want to focus. When I eventually took the picture, it focused on a section at the bottom of the picture. So, you might run into instances when the focus doesn’t cooperate.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Camera Sample (10)

Overall

I had no issues making this my main camera after my Pixel 6 died on me. The shots that I get are typically nice, but the low-light performance could be better.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Battery

So, the complaint I had about the plastic screen protector is similar to my complaint about the battery life. I can’t really be mad because this is one of the characteristics of a foldable phone. Foldable phones typically have smaller batteries because the cells are split. Also, there has to be room for the hinge to run down the phone. Thus, there’s a smaller 4,000mAh battery in the Phantom V Flip.

With a 20% reduction in capacity compared to other Tecno phones I’ve reviewed (5,00mAh), I definitely felt a dip in battery life. I wouldn’t say that the battery life is bad, it’s not up to the standard that I saw with other phones with larger batteries. With moderate to light usage (casual video-watching, some gaming, and a lot of social media), I’m able to get through the day with about 20% left in the tank. On heavier days, I know that I’ll need to reach for a charger before the night’s through.

The battery life is what I’d call average. It’s not bad, but it’s not spectacular. You’ll be able to stretch it to a day and a half, but that will have to be with minimal usage.

Charging

If you run out of juice, and you need to top up your battery, then you’ll be able to quickly. Tecno Phantom V Flip supports 45W charging, and it has a charger included in the box. 45W isn’t the fastest on the market, but it’s plenty fast. If I need to do a quick 20-minute top-up, I will be able to recover more than half of the battery power. So, charging this phone when it’s low on power is no problem.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 3

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Performance

Tecno, HiOS, and MediaTek make a great team because Tecno’s phones deliver some really good performance. Now, we need to shed the notion that MediaTek processors are automatically low-quality.; it’s all about the optimization. The Phantom V Flip uses the MediaTek Dimensity 8060, which is a premium mid-range SoC. Thus, it’s able to deliver some pretty powerful performance.

However, I can’t forget about Tecno’s software optimizations. The company’s HiOS runs as smooth as butter. I’m able to navigate the interface, use apps, and do any task without any sort of slowdown. Now, I have to admit that there’s the ever-so-rare stutter in the software, but these instances are very few and far apart. I’m getting consistently good performance from this phone, and this is one of the reasons why I enjoy using these phones.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Gaming

The gaming on this phone is very much in line with other Tecno phones running similar hardware. It has its ups and downs, and there’s one aspect where I have an issue.

2D games

Playing 2D games on this phone is no sweat. I tested this phone out with games like Fishing Paradiso, Sweet Sins 2, Snowman Story, Survivor.io, and others. Neither of these games gave me any issues. If you’re looking to play your simple puzzle games, match-3 games, platformers, or other 2D titles, you won’t see any performance issues.

Graphically intensive games

Let’s crank things up a notch. Sure this phone can tackle Candy Crush, but what about the mobile behemoths? There are a ton of graphically intensive games on the market. The story with the gaming performance with graphically intensive games is multi-layered. I, of course, used games like Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail to test the higher-end gaming performance.

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I cranked both of these games to their highest graphical settings, and I was pretty impressed with the performance. It was similar for both games. Now, it wasn’t 100% smooth; there were definitely some dropped frames here and there. They happened every so often, but they weren’t so plentiful that the games felt laggy. The performance was smooth overall with frame rates hitting 60fps. It’s just that I’d see a dropped frame every so often.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 6

This is multi-layered because this phone has a suite of game-specific settings, and one of them is the performance mode. By default, the performance mode is set to “Equilibrium”, which means that it’s balanced between power-saving and performance. When I set it to “Performance” mode, I saw a notable improvement in the performance. Was it perfect? No, there were still the occasional dropped frames. However, they were less often.

Heat performance

This is the area where I had the issue. This phone heats up a lot while doing some intensive gaming. I could feel it getting hot not long after starting a game. It got pretty uncomfortable before too long.

Overall, while this phone is not the most powerful gaming phone on the market, you won’t have any issues using it as such. It’s able to give you some pretty smooth performance when playing some of the most graphically intensive games that are on the market.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Foldable phone features

So, the Phantom V Flip looks like a good phone, but how is it as a foldable phone? Well, there’s both good news and bad news.

The good

Starting off with the good news, I think that Tecno did a great job transitioning HiOS onto a foldable form factor. Software-wise, everything makes sense. Also, there are some live wallpapers that change as you open the phone. For example, there’s one with flowers that bloom as you open it.

There’s a mode that’s similar to Flex Mode on the Galaxy foldables. When you open your phone at a 90° angle, it will dedicate half of the screen to one task and the other half to another. For example, while in the camera app, it will push all of the controls down to the bottom half of the screen and dedicate the top half to the viewfinder.

Next, there’s a selection of widgets that you can choose to show on the outer display. You’re able to cycle through them and assign which order you want to use them in.

The bad

Moving onto the complaints I have with this phone, there aren’t too many. For starters, the outer display is rather small. Over the years, we’ve seen the outer displays of foldable phones grow gradually. With outer displays getting larger, the smaller display on the Phantom V Flip seems dated.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 9

This next one is a minor gripe, but when you’re viewing the notification list on the outer screen, there’s no way to swipe away notifications individually. Another minor gripe is the fact that you can’t edit the list of quick replies that are present with messaging app notifications. When you get a notification that you can respond to on the outer display, you’ll see a list of different quick replies to send. Well, the list is limited to just a short list, and that’s what you’re stuck with.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Software

This is a flavor of Android that not too many people in the West are familiar with. It’s called HiOS, and it’s Tecno’s customized Android skin. The software itself is characterized by large and cartoonish app icons, a UI that focuses on transparent elements, and a heavily customizable experience.

The customizability is one of the major features of this software. You have a ton of options that you can use to customize the look and feel of the home screen. For example, you can enlarge folders, choose the page transition animation, and add up to eight different home screen gestures. There are also eight gestures you can draw on your phone while the screen is locked to quickly start apps.

Unfortunately, this flavor of Android doesn’t use the Material You features like Dynamic Color. So, you won’t be able to assign a color scheme to your software like you can with Google, Motorola, Samsung, and other phones.

However, that wasn’t the biggest issue for me. I’ve been using Tecno’s software for several months, and I’ve become accustomed to how it performs, I think that Tecno optimized it to work amazingly with the hardware. It’s an incredible and cohesive experience.

Software updates

The Tecno Phantom V Flip is currently running on HiOS version 13.5.0. This is based on Android 13. It received the Android February 2024 security update. This update isn’t the newest version, however, it brings a good number of bug fixes, stability improvements, and vulnerability fixes. This version of Android fixes several security issues with the software including a handful of several security vulnerabilities affecting MediaTek processors.

Since it took Tecno months to issue its first security update, it’s unlikely that we will see another update for a while. In any case, sparse updates are better than no updates.

Tecno Phantom V Flip Review: Final verdict

I never really showed interest in clamshell foldable phones, no matter how good they got over the years. They were just like regular slab phones that could get smaller, but that concept was always boring to me. Instead, I always pined after notebook-style foldables because of the added usability that came with the increased real estate. So, when I found out that I was getting a Phantom V Flip, my reactions weren’t all too spirited.

All of that changed with the Tecno Phantom V Flip. This phone really introduced me to the fun of having a clamshell foldable. Sure, the folding action doesn’t add much utility to the overall experience, it’s nice having a smaller outer display to see notifications, timers, the weather, and other information.

Tecno Phantom V Flip 10

Being a foldable phone doesn’t mean much if it’s not a good phone in general, and the Tecno Phantom  V Flip is a great phone. It has the gorgeous screen and smooth performance that I expect from Tecno devices with a solid camera, improved cameras, and an amazing design. This is truly a beautiful phone on both the outside and inside.

Should you buy this over a Galaxy Z Flip phone?

That all depends. If you’re looking for the best of the best, then you’re better off with the Galaxy. It has a larger outer display, IP water resistance, a more powerful processor, and other advantages. However, if you’re looking for a phone that still delivers a great experience with an elegant design AND a notably lower price, then the Phantom V Flip is perfect for you. I highly recommend this phone.



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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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