It’s not the first time that mobile phone manufacturers cooperate with huge automotive brands. Huawei, Nokia, Motorola have done it (and we have each review), and now it was time for TECNO to follow that road. With quite a success I might add. Designworks, a BMW group company, is responsible for the color, material, and finish design of the SPARK 9 Pro Sport Edition. Combining the design language of vitality and strength, as well as first-class automobile design experience, the Sport Edition was created. Built to be an icon of young and trendy culture originally, while also providing selfie pleasure and nice user experience with its 32MP front camera, MediaTek Helio G85 chipset and the 6.6″ 1080P Full HD display.
This TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition comes with an impressive 32MP super clear selfie camera. It’s designed to boost young people’s confidence in self-expression by enabling them to take clearer/brighter selfies. It provides higher number of pixels and better photosensitive performance. It uses updated features like Super Night Mode 3.0 and AI Portrait Restoration. We used this phone for two weeks and below you can read our review impressions.
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition – Main specifications
- 6.6-inch (1080 x 2460 pixels) Full HD+ LCD screen
- Octa Core MediaTek Helio G85 12nm processor (Dual 2GHz Cortex-A75 + Hexa 2GHz 6x Cortex-A55 CPUs) with up to 1000MHz ARM Mali-G52 2EEMC2 GPU
- 4GB LPDDR4x RAM, 128GB internal storage, expandable with microSD
- Dual SIM (nano + nano + microSD)
- HiOS 8.6 based on Android 12
- 50MP (f/1.7 primary) + 2MP ( f/2.4 depth) + 2MP (f/2.0 AI Lens), Dual LED flash
- 32MP front-facing camera with dual LED flash
- Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
- Dual 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz), Bluetooth 5, GPS/ GLONASS/ Beidou, USB Type-C
- 5000 mAh battery with 18W fast charging
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition – Unboxing
Taking its cue from an icy crystal talisman, the youthful blue and pure white color scheme of the SPARK 9 Pro Sport Edition reminds people of the power and drama of the superhero. The bold and bright blue expresses the elements of metaverse and also presents futurism, while the purity and primitiveness of white appeals to young consumers who wish to express their refinement and preference for high standards. A distinctive crystal diamond-cut element is a subtle nod to luxury, showcase dignity and enthusiasm, while conveying a sense of time-tested refinement.
The vibrant colors are also applied to the edges of the camera lens, making the unique design of the phone visible and expressing the bold and passionate personality of young consumers. The Spark 9 Pro in our hands is the 4/128 GB version. According to the company it has 13 months of guarantee as a 12+1 offer. Inside the box we can see the normal sum for most of the smartphones in this price range:
- The Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition smartphone
- A USB-C to USB-A data transfer / charging cable
- A 18 Watt wall charger
- A SIM tray ejection pin
- A set of headphones
- A hard plastic case
Once again I am really happy that earphones are included in the box – these times even a charger is considered a luxury. On the other hand, a first for me is the absence of user manuals, quick set up guides and the guarantee leaflet. An e-manual exists in the Settings of the smartphone however – a choice which is good for the environment I have to say.
A plastic screen protection film is pre-installed on the phone. It can be easily scratched and I advise the addition of a solid tempered glass sooner than later after removing this film. The plastic case is very nice but if you tend to drop your smartphone more times than you desire add a harder protective case.
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition – Design
Tecno worked closely with Designworks, a BMW group company in creating a phone that has nothing to envy from smartphones in the category, even the best sellers from Redmi or Realme. The 6.6 inch display comes with medium sized bezels, having a bit bigger “chin”. There is a water drop hole for the selfie camera on the top middle area.
According to DesignWorks, this specific Sport Edition model has vibrant colors applied to the edges of the camera lens, making the unique design of the phone visible and expressing the bold and passionate personality of young consumers. The display itself is flat and big. Over the display there’s a wide hidden horizontal line for the earphone, perfectly designed to listen to your caller without having to center a smaller earpiece to your ear. There is also a notification (white) light placed on the top right side of the display.
The side frame is connected to the back panel and is one big flat piece of plastic. There is a line to separate them as a design detail but there is only one panel here. On the left side we can see the tray where 2 SIM cards and a microSD card fit. On the right side we can see two volume buttons and under them the lock/power on button. The position of them is ok, I can reach them easily with my thumb.
The three buttons are well made without rattling. There are no visible bands because the smartphone’s sides and back are plastic. The top has nothing of interest while the bottom has a 3.5mm audio jack, a noise-canceling microphone and a speaker grille. A welcomed sight is the inclusion of a Type-C port, that offers faster data transfer speeds and a more modern look to the device. Nice work here TECNO.
Camera and video features
According to both TECNO and DesignWorks, this is a camera phone – oriented towards those who strive for excellence. A 32-megapixel selfie camera at the front allows users to capture sharp, highly detailed images in a variety of popular photo settings. Equipped with image restoration and quality optimization features, the handset’s front camera promises a one-stop selfie experience for any user and lets you shine at every moment.
TECNO SPARK 9 Pro Sport Edition’s Super Night 3.0 algorithm can intelligently recognize ambient light and restore facial and background features via multi-frame shooting, performs background adjustment, and multi-frame fusion optimization to create clearer and brighter photos and videos even in the dark light. I really enjoyed the Squircle screen fill-in light during my photo shoots. It’s a light that provides a uniform and three-dimensional lighting effect that sufficiently illuminates the face, ensuring clear portraits and charming night shoots that accentuate beauty in darkness.
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition review – Camera
Obviously, the main reason one should buy the Tecno Spark 9 Pro is its impressive AI Selfie camera but also all cameras to be honest. The SPARK 9 Pro Sport Edition features an industry-leading 50 megapixel main camera that boasts an unparalleled f/1.6 aperture and 77 degree visual angle, allowing the camera to produce better shots in poor light conditions. Beyond clean and textured landscape or portrait shots, the phone comes with a 2 megapixel Bokeh camera with an f/2.4 aperture and impressive 88.9 degree visual angle, as well as a QVGA camera.
The phone’s HDR mode provides ambient backlighting in dimly lit environments, ensuring that photos and videos can still be taken and recorded clearly. When HDR Mode is turned on, users can obtain photos that retain details in bright and dark areas in a backlight. Whether you like shooting during the day or night, you can snap photos with plenty of details. Likewise, Super Night Mode makes sure you can capture the charming night scenes that are around you.
TECNO has invested a lot in the selfie camera department, and I believe the result is impressive. It provides several interesting features for youngsters mainly:
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- Customized beauty adjustment
- Smart AI
- Smooth skin
- Skin tone adjustment
- 3D sculpting/Nose shape
- Eye shape
I really enjoyed the AR Shot, with Animoji/stickers, the face recognition software that can transform our face in an instance, the portrait restoration technique that we can find embedded and of course a seriously sick bokeh effect! Beauty filters are all the rage today, and the SPARK 9 Pro Sport Edition comes with its own built-in smart beauty mode. Smart beauty mode offers a comprehensive suite of beauty solutions that cater to different skin tones, creating charming portraits and breaking through stereotypes for all users.
The phone in our review has an eye-tracking autofocus – a first for me and weird to look at, it reminds me of a sci-fi film. The user can also take pictures only by smiling! The camera app has Super Night, Portrait, Google Lens, Beauty, Video, AI cam and Short Video. The latter is for usage on social media and has a lot of extras for visual effects.
More camera features
TECNO SPARK 9 Pro have also optimized the Super Night Mode 3.0 with AI Scene Light Detection, Multi-frame Fusion Optimization Algorithm and the cutting-edge Touch-up Restoration Technology. This appropriately brightens your image to make it both clear and natural even shooting in a dark environment. What’s more, the Ring Screen Fill-in Light provides an even, three-dimensional fill-in light for the face even in low light conditions.
All in all, the company has added fun in the usage of the camera and I spent a lot of time playing with it during our review.
The main camera setup on the back comprises of 3 lenses:
- 50 MP, f/1.6, (PDAF)
- 2 MP, f/2.4, (Bokeh)
- 8 W, f/2.0, (AI cam)
They all support HDR/Super Night Mode/Panorama modes. But also have the ability to shoot 120/240fps Slow Motion videos, 2K lapse videos, and huge Panorama photos that will impress you. There’s also AI support in Beauty Mode, optimized for retouching the user’s body parts! You can easily now become… slimmer with the touch of a button 😉
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition review – Software
The smartphone comes with Android 12 which runs below the customized skin called HIOS 8.6. It’s a theme that easily conveys technical style of fashion by richly-designed icons, wallpapers and vivid interactions, enlightening your digital life. However I have to mention that there’s some bloatware and advertisement as we see in other similarly priced smartphones. There were no major bugs or limitations and I believe that – with a little polishing- HIOS can stand next to other skins.
The customization is rich with many features, a theme shop and a dark mode. We can find a memory boost app, Phone Master – a general taking care app and a private app shop called Palm Store. There’s also a browser, Instant Apps – a very nice shortcut app to various games and apps that you can use without installing, a Community app for Tecno, various tools, and various other applications like music stores, data share apps etc. Especially in Notifications we are constantly bombarded by information and advertisement. Thankfully we can find Google Services and you can instantly start removing any application you don’t use/need. In 20-30 minutes the software is more light and user friendly.
I have the feeling that the people behind HIOS will do a good job onwards since this very rich skin covers all needs of a user and does it with good speed and minimal energy consumption. I hope Tecno will continue to provide updates for this phone.
There are two ways to unlock 7 Pro. Face-unlock is very fast. There is no IR light for unlocking during the night, so in total darkness this method may not work. iA minimal light source is needed for this functionality. The company says the Face Unlock enables closed eye protection and screen fill-in light. Please remember that this is not the safest method to unlock your phone so it is not the advised usage outside your usual premises.
The other way is the side panel fingerprint reader. Be careful here, you must do a good setup else the scanner is not working probably, as it did in my case. I deleted all data and passed my fingerprints again and the result was a very accurate and extremely fast process. The in-display camera sensor will meet your needs in all day usage – most of us wear masks – and it is very secure. My opinion is to use it only and disable Face Unlock for the reasons I explained. Adding also on this, is the speed that the in-display camera sensor unlocks the phone – it is ultra fast, the company advertises a speed of 0.12 seconds.
App Twin: Double Accounts, Double Experience
APP Twin is a feature embedded inside the HiOS 8.6 that – according to TECNO can do wonders. It wants to be the best assistant of your social circle. With it, you can run two social accounts simultaneously and switch between different social accounts fast and smoothly. To do that, head to Settings – App management – Dual apps – App Twin.
Impressive network competence
The device did excellent while using any type of network – 4G or WiFi. Using an intelligent network optimization feature, videos and TikToks play smoother with at a 46% and 50% faster refresh rate respectively. Users can download any file 45% faster regardless of network conditions. Nearly three times as fast if files are downloaded via Wi-Fi. To check out this feature, head to Settings – SIM & network settings – Intelligent network optimization – Smart network allocation.
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition review – Hardware
The display is a 6.6 inches IPS LCD panel. The optimized screen design enables better visual experience and makes the scrolling smoother. Also the touch feedback is more sensitive for playing games and watching videos.
It has a 90.2% screen-to-body ratio and a resolution of 1080 x 2408 pixels. This means that we get 403 ppi of density, an impressive screen quality. The panel is not very bright, you will have to shade it in mid-summer sun. Colors and angles of view are good. Generally this is a good budget panel for all kind of usage.
The driving power behind this smartphone is the Mediatek Helio G85 SoC. The chipset packs 8 cores: two powerful Arm Cortex A-75 CPUs and six Cortex A-55 processors, connected with an L3 cache. This significantly boosts performance for even games on high-intensity and high-performance settings. During everyday use, it offers smooth and lag-free game experience without loading. It also allows you to easily control the situation whether in a large mobile game or a single-player game.
Obviously this is a decent SoC that provides good processing power but you will not be able to play high render 3D games or multitask. We can also find Mali-G52 MC2 for graphics and eMMC 5.1 for storage. The smartphone comes with only 4/128GB versions. There is no software lagging or heating issues.
Spark 9 Pro has a single loudspeaker and music sounds ok in all levels of volume. Sound in calls and video-calls is ok but nothing to brag about. Connectivity is also good. Full signal in call conditions. Bluetooth is ok too – I ‘ve used the smartphone with my wireless headphones daily for review purposes without interruptions. By the way, its GPS is instantaneous.
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition Review: Battery
The huge Li-Po 5000 battery and the software added by TECNO is an excellent combination. It provides two days of light usage or one day of medium usage (no gaming). SOT is about 8-9 hours which is a top performance.
I was happily impressed by the charging speed. The brand new Type-C 18W wall charger is a welcomed addition to the setup. It provides 2,5 hours for a full change and there is no flash charge in case of need.
TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition review – Conclusion
If you’re a BMW fan, or just a top quality fan of selfies, this is THE selfie phone for you. The TECNO Spark 9 Pro Sport Edition can easily cover your needs in terms of social media photography. Main camera setup has good performance, but the lack of electronic image stabilization and sound of the video recording hurts.
The SoC is energy efficient and stable and cool but 3D gaming or multitasking is a hassle. Software is rich but needs polishing to remove some of the bloatware. There is a 5000 mAh battery with top standby times, and the charging speed is adequate with a 18W charger. BMW’s DesignWorks did miracles and the addition of case / earphones in the box is a plus.
- 50MP camera
- 32MP Front Camera
- Impressive talisman-like design
- 5000 mAh Battery with 18W Flash Charger
- OTA update on Android 12
- No stabilization in video
- Poor sound recording