Tecno Camon 18 review: a mixed bag

The Tecno Camon 18 is priced at Rs 14,999 but does it deliver as much as it should? Find out in this review.

Review Summary

Expert Rating3/5

Design
★★★★★
★★★★★
Display
★★★★★
★★★★★
Software
★★★★★
★★★★★
Camera
★★★★★
★★★★★
Performance
★★★★★
★★★★★
Battery
★★★★★
★★★★★

Pros

  • Good cameras
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Software experience could be better
  • Could use a higher refresh rate display
  • Priced on the higher side

Tecno has just announced a new smartphone in the form of the Tecno Camon 18, priced at Rs 14,999. This particular segment is already packed with some compelling options from the likes of POCO, Xiaomi, and Realme. On paper, the Camon 18 does seem to have a few things missing, or at least that is my initial assessment looking at the device’s display specs and processing details. In this review let’s try and figure out where the Tecno Camon 18 stands in the face of competition from its rivals.

Verdict

The Tecno Camon 18 has a few things going for it, such as a set of decent cameras and satisfactory battery life. However, putting those things aside, the device is unremarkable and underdelivers with respect to its price tag. I would have to recommend that most people skip this smartphone unless they have been using previous Tecno smartphones and are accustomed to its cluttered UI.

The lowdown

  • I feel that the Camon 18 has a generic budget look on its exterior and I would’ve really loved a matte finish rather than the phone’s current glossy look. The device is slightly on the thicker side but the curved edges provide a firm grip. The triple cameras are arranged in a very OPPO-seque manner vertically while the USB C, speaker grille, and 3.5mm headphone jack are placed on the bottom. A fingerprint sensor is integrated with the power button on the side, above which is a tactile volume rocker key. Nothing stands out in particular about the Camon 18’s design nor does it exude a quality build.

  • As far as the display is concerned the phone comes with a 6.8-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display with a disappointing 60Hz refresh rate. I say disappointing because several handsets under the Rs 15,000 bracket offer at least a 90Hz refresh rate on their displays. There’s some backlight bleeding visible around the punch-hole camera and is quite disconcerting. In terms of brightness levels, I had no problems using the device in harsh sunlight. However, the colours were rather dull and there is no option to change the colour profile of the display. There is also no WideVine L1 certification present for viewing OTT content in HD resolution. These drawbacks give the Camon 18 a rather poor visual experience even for an affordable smartphone.
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  • In terms of photography, the Camon 18 managed to impress me with its more than decent ability to capture good details in low light. With good lighting conditions, the 48MP primary sensor on the Camon 18 brings in a lot of details and a very healthy amount of dynamic range. Depth detection provides for a decent blur in the background and a veritable subject separation in the foreground. During the night, the primary shooter is quite efficient with detail across the areas where a lot of shadows are present. Colour accuracy can be up for debate but at least the focus across the plane remains quite sharp. The AI camera, which is the third lens apart from the 2MP depth sensor, amplifies the saturation levels depending on the scene, but does a less than acceptable job of it. Lastly, the phone has a 48MP selfie camera as well which, in principle churns out pixel-binned 12MP shots that pack in a lot of facial detail but get hung up on the exposure behind my face.
  • In the processing department, the Camon 18 utilises the tried-and-tested MediaTek Helio G85 SoC. The phone packs in 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage as well. I ran the usual set of benchmarks on the device and the results were not surprising. Tecno’s Camon 18 is not a very proficient device for anything more than doing moderate tasks. Casual usage was not a problem for day-to-day activities but opening a few heavy apps together caused sporadic freezing of the UI. BGMI runs at low graphics and 30fps for about an hour before the device starts overheating. The fingerprint sensor is quite snappy while the facial recognition is barely passable. I would’ve loved a stereo output from the device but the bottom-firing speaker offers a decent audio experience. I tested the device on Noida’s Jio network with no problems relating to call drop or 4G LTE.
  • The phone runs a cluttered skin over Android 11 called HiOS, and it seems quite similar to Infinix’s XOS. IIt’s ridden with bloatware and possibly results in unnecessary stressing of the CPU, just like on the Infinix Note 11 (review). I think a lot of the problems on the device’s software side are of Tecno’s own making and perhaps a shift to a more stock Android skin should smoothen the approach.

  • As for the battery, the Camon 18 has a 5,000mAh cell which supports 18W fast charging. My day is typically akin to that of a power user which involves a lot of social media and OTT content combined with the occasional gaming session. The device lasted me till the end of the day with about 30 percent left in the tank which is pretty decent. On PC Mark’s Battery 3.0 test the phone got a score of 14 hours and 37 minutes. It takes about 100 minutes to completely juice up the device.

Final verdict

The Tecno Camon 18 feels overpriced and delivers only on its cameras. The average performance not at par with competing smartphones along with a slower 60Hz panel has played to the detriment of the device. Even the design is unremarkable and doesn’t leave a lasting impression like say the POCO M3 Pro (review). If you are after performance on a budget then the Redmi Note 10T (review) can serve you quite well. The Moto G40 Fusion (review) offers the cleanest software in the segment while the Samsung Galaxy M32 (review) provides a spectacular Super AMOLED panel that refreshes at 90Hz. Tecno will need to improve on a lot of fronts if it has any hopes of challenging the current heavyweights in the industry.

Editor’s rating: 3 / 5

Pros

  • Good cameras
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Software experience could be better
  • Could use a higher refresh rate display
  • Priced on the higher side

Key Specs

Tecno Camon 18
RAM4 GB
ProcessorMediaTek Helio G85
Rear Camera48 MP + 2 MP
Front Camera48 MP
Battery5000 mAh
Display6.8 inches
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Tecno Camon 18 Price
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Rs. 14,990.00
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Rs. 14,868.00
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