Phantom, a sub-brand of Chinese smartphone maker Tecno, released the X2, an update to its premium phone series, on Wednesday at a release event held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tecno operates and serves in over 70 global markets. Transsion, Tecno’s parent firm, accounted for 48% of the African smartphone market in the second quarter of 2022, according to IDC, with Tecno alone taking 9.81% of the African smartphone market as of November.

Last year, Tecno relaunched its Phantom brand with a focus on the premium smartphone market amid an ambitious global expansion plan. The annual flagship, Phantom X2 5G, is the second generation of this brand and priced at 2,699 in South African Rands ($718) for all the first batches of available regions, including India, Nigeria, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Turkey, and the Philippines.

The phone has a decent body design and operating system, as well as long battery life. The device’s occasional inconsistent camera performance might undermine its ambition to compete with rivals’ high-spec flagship models. 

An impressive design

The Phantom X2 5G adopts a dual-curved body design. The rounded edges and glass back make it a comfortable device to hold. The “Stardust Grey” color – a lightly shiny graphite shade – gives it a smart, low-key business look. 

A closer look at Phantom X2’s curved-frame design. Credit: TechNode/Li Yang

The frame on top has a mirror-like surface, while other parts are dull-polished to match the back case. The 6.8-inch punch-hole display looks frameless and is easy to control with one hand, considering its narrow width. And for a phone of this size, the X2 5 G’s weight is also acceptable – at 210.3 grams, slightly heavier than an iPhone 14 Pro.

A photo of Phantom X2’s back case and camera module. Credit: TechNode/Li Yang

The display performs well most of the time but can struggle when outdoors. Its peak brightness of 700 nits is not enough to see content in bright sunlight. There is an option in the settings that offer higher display brightness, but it consumes more power, and the phone might experience overheating.

Responsive OS 

The phone comes with the Android 12-based HiOS. The system runs smoothly and exceeds regular Android OS with rich built-in features and redesigned user interface.

The interface has a friendly color scheme and feels intuitive and accessible. The system provides a guide to help new users get familiar with the core features and system navigations.

There are also some well-designed widgets like Weather and To-dos. The negative home screen is replaced with a collection of widgets. 

Another highlight is one can access Tecno’s purpose-built sidebar using the “back” swipe. It’s useful for accessing common functions and apps quickly, even if the default trigger is a bit too sensitive at times.

Solid core performance 

Built with MediaTek’s 2021-launched flagship chipset Dimensity 9000, the phone can cope easily with daily use and is well-equipped for most heavy workloads. We tested it with top gaming titles from Google Play, such as Apex Mobile, Asphalt 9, and Genshin Impact. Apex Mobile and Asphalt ran smoothly, but when we pushed it further by running demanding games like Genshin Impact, the phone experienced frame drops and overheating.

The phone offers only 8GB RAM, but what surprised us is that, even while playing games, the system manages to keep previously-opened apps running in the background. 

For battery life and charging speed, the Phantom X2 5G is equipped with a large 5,160 mAh battery, meaning it can last all day with normal usage. But its 45-wattage charging speed falls well short of its premium market rivals, with other brands offering at least 60 W or even 200 W charging. With the charger coming in the box, it takes 90 minutes to fully charge from 20%. The phone also appears to use a private charging protocol, so when we connect it with a Power Delivery (PD) charger, the charging wattage is even lower.

The under-screen fingerprint recognition solution is appealing and easy to use, but it doesn’t always respond as quickly as expected, frustrating at times.

Mixed camera performance 

The Phantom X2 5G has a mixed camera performance. In some shooting scenarios, especially portrait mode, the results are stunning; yet the camera underperforms in full resolution mode, night mode, and can have some issues in color rendering.

A close-up shot by AI mode. Credit: TechNode/Ward Zhou

The device has a triple camera system, with the main lens supporting a resolution of 64 million pixels. In regular mode, it can capture nice shots, but the full resolution – 64MP mode – is less ideal and pictures shot with this option can come out worse than ones taken in regular mode. The images do look larger than the low-resolution versions, but they would lack details.

A sample in daylight. Credit: TechNode/Ward Zhou

The AI camera can recognize different scenarios most of the time, optimizing the images automatically. It can also combine different modes, for example, portraits with night or street view and HDR (high-dynamic range). 

A sample using the telephoto lens. Credit: TechNode/Ward Zhou

The night mode is a bit disappointing, with a long wait (around six seconds) and often a worse image result than the normal mode.

A sample shot in low light with the ultra-wide lens. Credit: TechNode/Ward Zhou

The camera also occasionally captures images with some color issues. Highlights and shadows sometimes come with color aberration. The issue saw a slight improvement after a system update.

A sample shot in morning light that saw some color aberration. Credit: TechNode/Ward Zhou

Conclusion

The Phantom X2 5G is pricier than other mid-end phones. The nice design in the back case and frameless display make a great first impression. Its front camera, system UI, system optimization, and battery life all perform well, but its back cameras and charging speed could use some improvements.

Here are our major takeaways on the Phantom X2 5G:

Pros

  • A premium body design
  • Satisfying selfie experience
  • Well-optimized system
  • Large battery

Cons

  • Unstable image quality with back cameras
  • Slow charging speed
  • A display with low peak brightness and refresh rate

Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a]technode.com or Twitter @zhounanyu.