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TECNO Spark 9 Pro Review: A budget champ


The TECNO Spark 9 Pro has been with us for about a month now. The series was launched alongside the Camon 19 back in June

Having used all the phones in the Spark series from TECNO, the Spark 9 Pro is definitely my favourite and comes with lots of new and upgraded features. This series is meant for price-conscious consumers looking for a budget phone and still want to enjoy all their favourite smartphone features. 

TECNO is selling the Spark 9 Pro at Ksh. 20,899. At the price, you get to enjoy a 6.6-inch full-HD+ (1,080×2,460 pixels) display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The smartphone is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio G85 SoC, coupled with Mali-G52 GPU and up to 6GB of RAM. It runs on Android 12-based HiOS 8.6 and packs 128GB of onboard storage among other features which we will be talking about in this article.

We already did the unboxing video so in case you missed it you can check it below. 

TECNO Spark 9 Pro Design and Display

TECNO Spark 9 Pro back

Tecno did a very good job with the design here. This is actually one of the best-looking smartphones I have seen in this price category even from best sellers like Redmi. The 6.6-inch display features very slim bezels with a waterdrop notch for housing the 32MP selfie camera on the top of the display. The chin is a bit bigger but we love the not-so-massive sharp and colourful display Tecno is offering us with this device. 

The front is built of glass, a plastic frame and a plastic back. As I mentioned, the smartphone is not really that big so it feels really compact to hold and easy to operate with just one hand. 

TECNO Spark 9 Pro display

On the right-hand side, you have the volume rocker and the power button which also serves as the fingerprint print scanner.  On the bottom, is where you will find the speaker, USB Type-C port, microphone, and 3.5mm headphone jack.

We have most of these highlighted in our unboxing video which you can watch above. 

TECNO Spark 9 Pro Performance, Software and Battery Life

Powering the Spark 9 Pro is the MediaTek Helio G85,  a 4G chipset built on 12nm process technology. Tecno also added the Arm Mali-G52 MC2 GPU for gaming and graphic work. This is a decent-performing chipset for this device that handles everything just fine. You can still play your favourite games but of course not in a high graphics setting.

For a phone priced at Ksh.20, 899, the performance is actually really impressive, especially under normal performance. When pushed with heavy and graphics-intensive tasks, the performance however drops.

The phone comes with 4GB RAM with support for memory fusion (virtual memory extension) of up to 2GB. It comes with 128GB of internal storage with a storage expansion option via a MicroSD card slot.

For the software, the Spark 9 Pro we are getting Tecno’s HIOS 8.6 based on Android 12 out of the box. This is also probably one of the few devices at this price point to come with Android 12 out of the box, an amazing offer if you ask me. HIOS is still giving us the usual experience –  basic and we’re still getting lots of bloatware and ads.  I still think HIOS needs some little polishing to compete with other skins. 

The customization is however rich with so many interesting features, dark mode and even a theme shop.

If you’re looking for a smartphone with a good battery on a budget, the Spark 9 Pro is a good phone to consider. TECNO added a 5,000mAh battery with support for an 18W fast charge on this phone.  At full charge, the phone should be able to last you close to 16 hours on normal use. Under heavy usage, we were able to get around 10 hours.

You can also charge the phone from 0 to 100% in about 120 minutes.  

TECNO Spark 9 Pro Cameras

For the optics, there’s 50MP primary camera, a 2MP depth sensor, an AI lens, and a 32MP front camera for selfies on the Spark 9. The selfie camera is actually one of the best on this phone supported by a dual-LED flash. 

The main camera also does a good job and produces some really decent, colourful and sharp photos even under low light. 

You also get a number of camera modes to play around with including Portrait, AI, beauty, and Super Night, among others. We loved the portrait mode although it does a poor job at blurring the background. 

For videos, both the front and back cameras can shoot videos in 2K resolution. There is no Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)  so you need to make sure your hands are steady if you want to get really good video shots.

Check sample shots below:

Should you buy the Spark 9 Pro?

TECNO Spark 9 Pro Unboxing
TECNO Spark 9 Pro [Photo Credits: TechTrendsKE]
Definitely, that’s a yes. The Spark 9 Pro is a good budget phone for anyone looking for a stylish phone at an affordable price that offers a good camera and decent performance.

The SoC is energy efficient and just as we noted in this review article, the software needs some little polishing. TECNO says this phone is targeted at Gen Z and I think that’s indeed the right target audience for this device.

TECNO has today taken a bet with Octopizzo as its Brand Ambassador for the device. Octopizzo is an award-winning, recording and performing artist, humanitarian and entrepreneur who has won several awards and has twice been considered for the Grammy. 

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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