Transsion, the company behind brands like Itel, Infinix and Tecno, claimed the largest share of the African smartphone market in the first quarter of 2022 according to an IDC report.
While very well known across many parts of the continent, Tecno is not as well known in South Africa.
Having not had as much experience with devices from Tecno as I have with the likes of OPPO, Samsung and Xiaomi, I was very keen to see what the Tecno Spark 8C would deliver.
The Tecno Spark 8C is designed to standout, and you’ll definitely notice the large square camera bump (which also houses the fingerprint scanner) that dominates the back of the device as well as the rigged lines running along the right hand side of the device housing the Tecno Spark branding and the words “Stop At Nothing”.
The front of the device is far more subtle sporting a waterdrop notch cut into the flat 6.6-inch LCD display.
Available in a range of colurs including Magnet Black, Iris Purple and Diamond Grey (region dependant), it’s the Turquoise Cyan that’s the must have colour.
The 6.6-inch HD+ LCD display has a 90Hz refresh rate and 720×1612 resolution. While it’s a decent screen for video consumption, it very quickly shows its limitations when it comes to watching anything with dark patches of colour. The 90Hz refresh rate means that swiping and zooming around on the display feels snappy, smooth and fairly responsive.
Thankfully the display gets bright enough that I never found myself struggling to see anything on it when outdoors in bright sunlight.
Packing a 5000mAh battery, the Spark 8C was more than adequate to last me an entire day on a single charge. Charging it is less than ideal because of Transsion’s decision to fit the device with a micro-usb charging port instead of a USB-C one (something that can be found in Samsung’s R2999 Galaxy A13 and Xiaomi’s R3299 Redmi 10C).
Packing a camera setup with dual 13 MP, f/1.8 sensor, the Spark 8C, unfortunately, did not perform to expectations. It struggles with varying lighting conditions and even with HDR turned on, you’ll most likely end up with some overblown portions of your photos and a loss of detail in darker portions of your images. It’s a passable camera but definitely not one for content creators looking to post their pictures online.
Tecno Spark 8C camera samples
Priced at R3299, the Spark 8C is a mixed bag of a device.
It has an eye-catching design that feels distinctly plasticky in hand. The display is good but not great, audio is tinny thanks to the single downward facing speaker, the micro-usb charging port is a letdown and the camera is inconsistent. The other major letdown is the spotty software support. My review unit is running Android 11 with the January 2022 security update being the most recent one available (in July 2022 I’m still not able to get a more recent Android security update). The device also comes with a lot of unnecessary pre-installed apps (not all of which can be uninstalled).
Having said that, the display is fast and responsive, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the device ships with an included charging cable + charging brick + clear TPU case. It also sports some unique features including Memory Fusion technology which expands the 4GB RAM to 7GB, Peek Proof which lets you hide sensitive information on your screen so that no-one looking over you shoulder can see as well as a Kid’s Mode and a Bike Mode.
At R3299 the Tecno Spark 8C is a decent but not great phone. While it could be a good option as a starter phone for teens or anyone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune for a phone, it faces stiff competition from the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi and OPPO. With more brands launching in South Africa in the next few months, Tecno and Transsion need to relook at their entry-level offerings and offer more comprehensive, up to date devices.