This is the time for us to forget about the Galaxies, iPhones, and any other expensive phones that usually interest the select few who can afford them and still a darling to people who are not able to splash cash on them – or see no need to. Rather, this is the time to briefly talk about the TECNO Camon 12 that has been around for a while now for KES 15499. We have discussed it extensively in previous articles, and as a recap, the introductory piece that features out first impressions went live more than one week ago, and so did a camera dive that lauded the snappers considering this is a pretty affordable phone, and is the one that probably most Kenyans are going buy to flex their image-taking techniques.
It is also worth noting that the Camon 12 is sandwiched between the Camon 12 Air (with a punch-hole selfie camera) and the Camon 12 Pro. Both have no local availability record, although it is likely you will see them smiling at you from shop stores very soon (take this information with a grain of salt). Nevertheless, don’t let the position of the Camon 12 fool you because it is still a competent device, besides the Pro’s under-the-display fingerprint reader, a higher-res front camera, and a Google Assistant button that has become quite common for low-end handhelds. Still, the Camon 12 wins some points with a generally good screen that is quite big, packs a large battery for a lengthy road trip, although refilling it could be faster and is mostly an okay performer.
Design: LARGE, LIGHT PHONE
In classic smartphone fashion, the Camon 12 is a rectangular slab with a 6.52-inch screen. It has rounded corners that do not dig into your palms, which improves overall usability. It is a tight package too that is constructed mostly from plastic. All buttons are on the right side and are not as clicky as I would want them, but serviceable nonetheless.
About the construction part, we would have been happier if TECNO snuck in premium materials such as aluminium considering competitors have a superior build quality for the same price bracket. It is a convenient compromise because the phone is quite light, and metal can only make it more substantial, and no one wants a brick in their pockets.
The phone is narrow, too, but that is just how devices roll nowadays since the new 18:9 aspect ratio became a norm. The screen fills a large part of the front panel, although the chin is quite broad. The good thing is that the bottom bezel is dark with no markings, hence the front is quite clean. The top part is only interrupted by a tear-drop screen cutout that also houses a 16 MP selfie cam.
The usual suspects such a micro-USB port, headphone socket, and single speaker on the bottom edge. Nothing out of the ordinary here as this has been a conventional design for many other phones.
The black panel, which has blue hues for our review unit, is somewhat glossy if not stylish. The colour gradient is a neat touch for me. It is also served by a triple vertical camera with an LED flash. Next to the camera setup is a fingerprint reader that is quick and works as advertised. The Camon and TECNO branding are vertically painted on the left side of the rear panel too.
Your two SIM cards and SD card can be accommodated in the tray situated on the left side. This is a welcome feature a lot of people love because it eliminates the need to carry two phones.
By the way, the front panel has two tiny LED strips to illuminate your face when taking selfie shots in dark rooms. If that is your jam, then you are covered, bearing in mind this is a Camon device that aims to make your photo-taking exercise a pleasant experience.
Obviously, all these are positive sentiments, so where is the catch in the design department? Well, micro-USB should die soon, and so is the prominent chin. Also, I look forward to the day the Camon will be built with better materials, even if it means the development will precede a price bump.
Display: SEND MORE PIXELS
The biggest issue to trip about the Camon 12? Screen resolution. Do not get me wrong, the HD+ display is fantastic and will serve most people just about right, but if you are coming from a higher-res screen, then you are going to notice degraded quality. Also, other budgets or mid-range phones rock 1080p panels, but TECNO makes you do with an HD+ screen with the Camon 12.
Put differently, the Camon 12 is quite sharp if your eyeballs are as mine (I am not the picky kind), but better eyes will be able to see the pixelation, particularly for such a large display.
Quality-wise, the screen is decent. Colours are not supersaturated, and it is a good LCD overall. Although it could be brighter outdoors…
The notch up there can be deactivated for groups that do not want interrupted experiences.
There is also a feature called Eye Care that cuts blue light for night use because blue light is bad for your sleep.
Camera: GOOD OVERALL EXPERIENCE
We discussed the camera aspect of the Camon 12 in a previous article, which is actually longer than this review. Probably. So, I will advise you to check it out, but before you go, here is a summary:
The triple cam does a fantastic job for the price. Captured samples are very good, especially in good lighting. The selfie camera is equally good, although its AI and beautification model goes a little overboard in trying to make people with severe appearance deficits look good. The good thing about the selfie camera is that you can snap a selfie in dimly-lit corridors, although I can’t come up with an intelligent answer as to why you would want to do that.
By the way, a triple camera is not a gimmick no more, at least in this case. you can capture moderately wide-angle shots or macro samples. Portrait shots are supported too, although they are not very good, but have come a long way nonetheless.
Sample images are attached in the camera review article so don’t worry about that.
Software and performance: MORE MEMORY, SAME OLD HiOS TRICKS, BATTERY
HiOS is here, meaning you can customize the hell out of the Camon 12 because TECNO wants you to get the experience you deserve. However, HiOS is not my cup of tea, primary because it supports ads. The solution? I am glad you asked: Get a new launcher.
The software experience is also served by several apps that TECNO thinks are good enough for you. Most of them will bother you with countless notification, but at least you can uninstall them, which is what I did as soon as I powered the device right from the box.
On the whole, HiOS is okay, and I am yet to see customers make noise about it. you can learn to live with it, and add a fresh coat of paint on it with themes and fresh wallpapers.
Now, head over here and check the spec list of the Camon 12. See the numbers? Good, right?
A large room for your media files is always a welcome idea for customers, and you got 64 GB for that. RAM is equally substantial at 4 GB, and remember this is not even the Pro model. This, to me, is a good move, and we are looking forward to future Camon devices that will be accompanied by an even better processor.
You are not going to have performance issues with the Camon 12. I don’t use my phones quite heavily nowadays because of old age, but I can still tell when a device is doing a fine job when executing tasks. HiOS just needs more polishes to sing even with modest specs, but I am glad we are here.
Battery phone has never been an issue with TECNO phones, and the Camon 12 is no different. The 4000 mAh juicer does its job superbly, although it could charge faster as refill times take a little over two hours. That is an extended period in modern times.
Verdict: NOTABLE UPDATE FROM THE CAMON 11
Remember the Camon 11? It is still an excellent phone, save for its colossal notch. The Camon 12 is a neat upgrade, and its camera system has been given a shot in the arm, which makes it one of the best performers in the optics department for the price.
While not as petite as other phones, the Camon 12 is lightweight for its large footprint. Its personality is what you would call elegant, but a plastic build is not what you could call premium.
My gripes with HiOS are insignificant in this case, but the screen needs a resolution bump, and we expect to see it in the next Camon device.
That side, if you are searching for a phone that has good cameras and a large battery at less than KES 20K, then look no further. Just don’t wear pants with small pockets.