Tecno Spark Go review: an overhyped budget phone

Tecno is here for quite some time, but for the first time in recent years, the Chinese phone maker has come with a bang. It’s not a flagship or a mid-range phone we are talking about but a small entry-level device that has become the talk of the town. 

Tecno Spark Go is a feature stuffed device that launched in Pakistan with a price tag of PKR 13,000. It offers a plethora of features that every person today go after; AI-supported camera, big display with a waterdrop notch, face unlock, and above all, the gaming mode. 

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This all in one device could be the first smartphone for some people who are tired of slower data on their feature phones, and even for those, who need a bigger screen, the basic power of Android for their day to day WhatsApp needs on a 4G speed.

How well Tecno Spark Go justifies the price tag, let’s check out our in-depth review.

Brief Specs of Tecno Spark Go

  • Display: 6.1 inches IPS LCD
  • OS: Android 9.0; HiOS 5.02
  • Chipset: Helio A22
  • RAM/ROM: 2GB/16GB
  • Camera (rear): 8MP
  • Camera (front): 5MP
  • Battery: 3000 mAh
  • Full Specs

Design and Display

Tecno Spark Go Design

The phone is a plastic body that struggles to keep its weight on the lower side. It inherits the design language from the Tecno Camon i4 to some extent on the rear and entirely on the front side. Camon i4 had a different camera setup and a fingerprint scanner on the back which is absent in this Spark Go. The back panel of the phone is removable to access the SIMs and memory slots which are placed in the top compartment whereas the lower part is dedicated for the removable battery.

waterdrop notch

The front is all dark where a huge waterdrop notch is visible at the top edge, placed inside a black panel that circumvents the entire display with bigger than required bezels. If you are not a fan of the notch, it can be hidden from the setting area but would further minimize the display by a few millimeters.

The phone gives a 6.1 inches IPS LCD of 720 x 1560 resolution, which is quite good indoors but struggles under the sunlight. However, it can be viewed easily from the steep angles. The display can be tweaked further from the setting area where Tecno has provided some interesting options.

Performance

Tecno Spark Go is the latest phone from Tecno launched both in Pakistan and India. The phone comes with MediaTek Helio A22 Quad-Core chipset that belongs to 2018 and only dedicated for entry-level smartphones.

The chipset support AI and up to 6GB of RAM but Spark Go comes only with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal memory and the reasons are obvious, to capture the lower-end segment of the smartphones which is still untapped mostly by android phone makers. 

Other than the QMobile, which is a thing of the past, No other major Chinese manufacturer has dared to bring down the price to the extent Tecno has done.

Even Nokia’s cheapest smartphone, Nokia 3.1, is priced at PKR 19,899 that features 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM and a much older chipset (MediaTek MT6750) that debuted in 2016.

Tecno Spark Go’s chipset has builtin GPU PowerVR Rogue GE8300 which should run the typical games without a problem, however, in our real-life test, it was a hit and trial for many of the games. 

The phone behaves strangely by not playing some games even they are lightweight. One of the games was Police Chase from its own gaming repository which never functioned despite many attempts. 

Game Mode
Game Mode (1), Police Chase (2), Asphalt compatibility issue (3)

On the other hands, PUBG, both lite and standard version, RealRacing 3, and a few more worked fine on this phone. We happened to experience missing frames and stuttering quite often, but the games kept running, which is a good sign for Tecno Spark Go. Thanks to a dedicated gaming mode, which is a part of this little device.

The internal memory runs out very quickly after installing a few usual social media apps and a few games from the play store. MTKLogger is also a culprit that keeps eating precious internal memory. It’s a feature to create and save the log of all activities of a user and app-to-app communication which is very harsh on 16GB RAM. All in all, the memory card is a must thing for this phone.

Multitasking is not an area Tecno Spark Go is best at, but for an entry-level phone, what it does is a lot. It shows a considerable lag while switching between apps or tapping the home key while a few apps are running. Those who are coming from a feature phone may find it acceptable, rather, its a relief to see this phone playing movies, songs, games. 

App Freezer
Freezer (1), Phone Master (2), Clean (3)

Tecno Spark Go comes with multiple optimization tools to keep limited RAM and internal memory going smoothly. ‘Quick Accelerate’, ‘Clean’ and ‘Phone Manager’ are here to help, but ‘Freezer’ app leave all of them behind. It’s a place to disable any number of third party application without uninstalling them but keeping them installed and alive. The only difference is that no app in the freezer eats a portion of memory.

Benchmarks
Antutu (1), Geekbench (2)

Spark Go doesn’t run all the benchmarking apps; Geekbench doesn’t work on this phone; however, Antutu showed 63,827. 

Tecno Spark Go does the primary job very well. Calling and texting are no problem for this phone. The sound coming through the speaker is decent and varies app to app. The downside of the speaker grille is its placement, which is on the back of the phone. The sound gets muffled when the phone is placed flat on the surface on its back, so it has to be put otherwise.

Battery

Tecno is marketing the phone as the perfect device for making Tiktok video. So far, the campaign has produced expected results.

Unfortunately, the maker hasn’t done much in optimizing one of the most integral parts of the phone, battery. 3000 mAh battery doesn’t last long. In our back to back video draining test, the phone could only survive 6 hours and 40 minutes, which is far behind the least performing phones we tested in 2019.

Our second test gives a little more horrible result. It lost 87% battery in just 3.5 hours on mobile data. The phone consumed15% battery in only 30 minutes running Tiktok, and a 30 minutes WhatsApp video call ate away 19% of the power. 

Here is the summary of battery consumption;

Tecno Spark Go Battery Test Graph
Battery consumption test

Camera

Tecno Spark Go Back Camera

Tecno Spark Go is among the few phones that give almost every popular feature for a small price. The phone features an 8MP lens on the backside and 5MP lens on the front for selfies. The default app is loaded with AI CAM, Beauty, Bokeh, and AR shot. The quality of photos and videos is not ideal, but for an entry-level, we can’t complain much for the noise that creeps in almost every picture. 

Balls Picture with tecno Spark Go Auto Focus
Standard Mode (Overexposed)

Picture by tapping on Balls with tecno spark Go
Original Colors in Standard Mode (after tapping the subject)

Autofocus and AI don’t work accurately in Spark Go camera, photos are oversaturated, and with HDR turned on the exposure level increases. On very few occasions, the internal algorithm worked perfectly fine to produce some decent shots. The rear lens can face the light source much better than the front camera, which blows away the details. 

Image Aganist sun with Auto Mode on Tecno Spark Go
Standard Mode (HDR Off)

Image Aganist sun using HDR Mode on Tecno Spark Go
Standard Mode (HDR On)

Note: For taking some good shots, the lighting has to be balanced.

Picture at day with auto mode on Tecno Spark Go
Standard Mode

Picture with 4x Zoom on Tecno Spark Go
4x Zoom

Tecno Spark Go provides up to 4x digital zoom that, apart from going nearer to the subject, gathers a lot of noise. At night, it takes almost 3 to 4 seconds for autofocusing, which is really not good at all. It’s better to tap the subject. 

Picture with tecno Spark Go Auto Focus
Standard Mode

Picture by tapping on mosque with tecno spark Go
Standard Mode (after tapping the subject)

Dancing Fountain Picture at night with auto mode on Tecno Spark Go
Standard Mode

Portrait Mode On Tecno Spark Go
Portrait Mode (Auto Focus)

The front camera can capture more details than portraits from the rear cam despite AI and Beauty modes; however, at night, the selfies are useless, even the flash doesn’t do the trick.

Selfie at Day with Tecno Spark Go
Selfie with Standard Mode (Left), Selfie with Bokeh Mode (Right)

Wide Angle Selfie on Tecno Spark Go
Wide Angle Selfie

Selfie with AR Lens on Tenco Spark Go
Selfie with AR Stickers

Selfie at night with Tecno Spark Go
Selfie at Night without flash (Left), Selfie at Night with flash (Right)

AI in this phone is a bad example that fails to recognize scenes in most of the cases. 

Tecno Spark Go AI scene recognizer
In all Scenarios, AI Shows Running Subject

Spark Go can shoot up to 1080p videos, and although it doesn’t or rather can not offer stabilization in this price range, a post-shoot stabilization option is available in the editing mode that does the job well. 

Verdict

Tecno Spark Go is an overhyped feature-rich phone that falls short in many ways but here are good things to consider first. As the first Android phone, it gives decent performance. The lags can be seen but entry-level phones behave similarly. The big screen and ability to run PUBG is another positive. Battery is where it disappoints. If you are comfortable with charing your battery twice a day, battery shouldn’t bother you much.

However, the phone is a good deal for first-timers who are looking for a device having a big display, and that can play games and movies without a major let down.

If you are not the kind of smartphone user who demands a perfect phone, Tecno Spark Go could be your first choice.

Design
7
Display
7
Performance
7
Battery
5
Camera
7

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