The Tecno Camon CM is the first smartphone with a FullView display (with 18:9 aspect ratio) from Tecno Mobile, but asides that and the 13MP cameras typical of the Camon series, it’s a budget device. We unboxed the device last week and it left good first impressions, and from my two-week experience with it, the Camon CM is a nice device to use. Does it deliver good value for money, however? We find out in this review.
First, the things I like and don’t like about the Camon CM.
- 18:9 aspect ratio.
- Slim and light in weight.
- Notification LED.
- Good rear camera.
- Internal storage not sufficient.
- Average battery life.
- Software issue with selfie camera.
Tecno Camon CM Specs
Here’s an overview of what the Camon CM brings to the table:
- 5.7-inch IPS LCD FullView display.
- HD+ (720 * 1440) pixel resolution.
- ∼320 PPI pixel density.
- 18:9 Aspect Ratio.
- Weight -135g.
- Dimensions – 152.2 * 71.7 * 5.6 mm.
- Quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6735 CPU.
- Mali-T720 GPU.
- 2GB RAM.
- 16GB internal storage, expandable up to 128GB (dedicated).
- 13-megapixels rear camera with Quad-LED flash.
- 13-megapixels front camera with LED flash and screen flash.
- 3,000mAh battery.
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2.
- 4G LTE connectivity (Bands 3, 7, 20, 28 & 40).
- Android 7.0 Nougat OS with Tecno HiOS v3.2.0.
Tecno Camon CM Review
Design & Form Factor
What first caught my eye when I saw the Tecno Camon CM was how slim it was. After using the 5.5-inch Vkworld Mix Plus for about two months now, it felt strange holding a phone that is just 71.1 millimetres wide in my hands, and you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that its screen size is 5.7 inches.
At 5.7 inches, the Camon CM is more comfortable to hold and operate than similarly-sized smartphones, and even last year’s Camon CX Air which is 5.5 inches in size feels bulkier when compared to this phone. The secret is in its 18:9 aspect ratio, which basically means that the phone’s bezels (especially those on the sides) have been shrunk, and the phone is now longer and slimmer.
So while a 5.7-inch device (with an 18:9 aspect ratio) might feel smaller than a 5.5-inch device (with a 16:9 aspect ratio), you still get more screen real-estate on the former, and it’s easier to use. The Camon CM is thin too and very light in weight; it weighs just 135 grammes, and for smartphones in its category with the same battery capacity, the Camon CM’s weight is outstanding.
The design of the Tecno Camon CM is also something worth talking about; it emulates a modern smartphone design language. The form of the antenna lines can only be seen in recent smartphones. Apart from the notification LED, front camera and its accompanying LED flash on the top bezel, the front is completely blank. The rear which is non-removable houses the main camera, quad-LED flash, and branding info about the device.
The notification LED blinks when the screen is off and you have unread notifications, and stays on when the phone is charging. Its functionality is basic, though; unlike some other smartphones that display different LED colours for different events, the Camon CM’s notification LED only displays a blue colour, and only works for charging and notifications. You also can’t customize how it works.
The aluminium unibody design on the Camon CM is not the best you can get on a smartphone, but it’s decent when its price tag is considered. The fingerprint sensor on the rear works well with a fast response time and high success rate.
The Camon CM comes with an HD+ (720 * 1440) pixel resolution which is decent, even though a Full HD resolution would have been perfect. Colours are good, and for those who stare at their smartphone screen for a long time, there’s an “Eye care” mode which is basically an adjustable filter that reduces the emission of blue light from the display.
I used to run away from smartphones that are larger than 5.5 inches, but with the Camon CM’s 18:9 aspect ratio, it has suddenly become convenient to use a phone with a size of 5.7 inches. The new aspect ratio is just perfect for things I do with my phone: you can now view more content at once when browsing through web pages, and overall usage of the device is convenient.
I don’t use my phone to watch videos a lot, but I noticed that videos don’t expand to the full length of the device, leaving black bars on both sides. This isn’t an issue with just the Camon CM though; most videos are not yet optimized for the 18:9 aspect ratio, so all devices with this aspect ratio are known to exhibit this behaviour.
As for brightness, sunlight legibility is good and auto brightness is sufficient most of the time.
Performance & Memory
The Quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6735 processor powering the Camon CM’s operations is one meant for budget devices, and moderate performance should be expected from it. The smartphone performs well in day-to-day usage, and I noticed some lag when running high-end games and apps on it. I was able to play Shadow Fight 3 and Injustice: Gods Among Us without trouble on the device.
I ran some benchmarks on the phone and the results were quite impressive for a budget device. The Camon CM scored 36,178 on AnTuTu Benchmark v6.2.7, and the single-core test on Geekbench gave a score of 594 while the multi-core test yielded 1,680.
With 2GB of RAM, you can’t expect to keep too many apps in memory. Memory management on the Camon CM is quite annoying; once you start running up to four apps simultaneously on the phone, some get killed in the background. Turning off the appropriate option in the Phone Master application doesn’t solve this issue. Also, you can’t lock apps in memory from the Recent Apps menu.
The Tecno Camon CM comes with 16GB of internal memory out of which 8.02GB is available by default. For a smartphone in 2018, that’s quite insufficient. Even though you can insert an external microSD card with a size of up to 128GB in the slot dedicated for that, I’d still have preferred it if the phone came with at least 32GB of onboard memory.
Cameras are the highlight of the Tecno Camon series, and the 13MP cameras present on the front and rear of the Camon CM don’t disappoint. They take clear pictures in the abundance of light, and low-light photography is aided by the very bright quad-LED flash system on the rear, and single LED with screen flash on the front.
I noticed an issue with the front camera, however. Selfies sometimes appear over-saturated, and it seems the beauty mode (which is available on both cameras) is interfering with the normal mode, overlaying the unwanted beauty effect on regular photos. This is something that can be fixed with a software update, and I hope Tecno Mobile addresses the issue in its next software release for the phone.
The Quad-LED flash on the rear of the smartphone is more than enough to brighten things up for photography in low light. Consider the images below that were taken in the night:
The ones on the left were taken without flash and the ones on the right with flash, in the same conditions. For the first two, in particular, I was far from the tree…in fact, I was in the first floor of a building when I shot it, and the LED flash was bright enough to illuminate it from that distance. You can find the daylight image of the tree in the shots further above.
For the front camera, the LED flash is also sufficient in low-light. I don’t fancy the screen flash, though; it gives a reflection of white light on your face in the final image. The selfies below were taken in the night; the first with no flash, the second with the LED set to flash when the shutter button is pressed, the third with the flash turned on permanently, and the last with screen flash.
The camera app has been stripped down which doesn’t speak well of a phone (and series) touted for its camera. Apart from the different shooting modes and HDR, you can’t tweak professional settings on the Camon CM. No ISO, no shutter speed, no white balance adjustment. Where’s that WhatsApp meh emoji…oh yes, I found it.😑
Battery, Connectivity & Hardware
The 3,000mAh battery on the Camon CM doesn’t perform up to expectations, but an average battery life of 12 hours from full charge (with constant usage) on a budget device isn’t bad. The company claims that the phone has quick charging, but that’s true only if its definition of fast charging is almost three hours to reach 100% from 0%. Or what do you think?
My definition of constant usage is data turned on permanently with my laptop connected via hotspot, messages coming in constantly and me playing some games now and then. You’ll get more battery life if you combine the various battery saving options available in the smartphone. When there was a blackout in my area, I was able to use it for the whole day by turning on the battery saver early and minimizing data usage.
The smartphone’s speaker is located beneath it on the right side, and sound quality is no different from the regular. The speaker is not very loud, but it’s also not too low; everything is average. If you’re planning to play music or audio files a lot (on loudspeaker), you might want to look at the company’s Boom series.
The Camon CM comes with a multi-purpose slot on the left side that can take two Nano SIM cards and a microSD card at once.
4G LTE Bands supported by Tecno Camon CM
The Camon CM supports 4G LTE Bands 3 (1800MHz), 7 (2600MHz), 20 (800MHz), 28 (700MHz) and 40 (2300MHz), which means it supports all major 4G LTE networks in the country. This is great news for Glo users as the smartphone supports band 28, the network’s sole 4G LTE band. I’m yet to test an actual Glo 4G SIM with the device, though; I’ll update this article when I do so you can know if truly it’s possible to use Glo 4G LTE on the Camon CM.
UPDATE 2018/02/18: The Tecno Camon CM doesn’t support Glo’s 4G LTE network, even though the application I used to check its supported bands shows that it supports Band 28.
The Tecno Camon CM runs on Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box with version 3.2.0 of Tecno’s HiOS layered on top. I’m not aversed to custom UI skins on Android, but I’ll readily forgo HiOS for stock Android any day. It’s a matter of personal preference, though, and application icons have been further customized to look more like those on Apple’s iOS.
There’s a considerable amount of bloatware on the Camon CM, and you can’t even uninstall many of them without rooting the device. With just around 8GB of storage available for use out of the box, being unable to uninstall unwanted apps is really frustrating, especially if you don’t want to perform advanced tweaks like rooting on the device.
Sensors are almost non-existent on this device; you only get the basic ones like light sensor, proximity sensor and accelerometer. That means no VR (Virtual Reality) since it doesn’t have a gyroscope. Who still considers mobile VR a dealbreaker these days though…
When you compare the Camon CM to the 2017 members of the Camon series, the Camon CX and Camon CX Air, the specs sheet remain pretty much the same. The addition of a FullView display with 18:9 aspect ratio, and a sleek design, are what make the Camon device worth buying this time around.
At its price point, the Tecno Camon CM offers good value for money and is a great choice for budget users who desire great photos. The Camon CM was launched at a price of N47,000 last month, but you can get it for as low as N45,000 on Jumia.