Tecno Camon 30 Pro

Tecno Camon 30 Pro review: Close to flagship, half the price

This affordable mid-range phone performs well enough to compete with flagships

Tecno Camon 30 Pro
Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G Review
Bottom Line
This affordable mid-range phone performs well enough to compete with flagships.
Pros
Excellent battery life, charges quickly
Flagship-like performance
Great display and stereo speakers make it a strong entertainment device
Comes with a set of true wireless earbuds
Great value for the price
Cons
Would like to see more durability features
HiOS doesn't improve on Android
AI camera features are underwhelming
Build doesn't feel as luxurious as it sounds like it was meant to
4.5

Tecno has become one of the fastest growing names in the global smartphone market – particularly in Africa, where so far in 2024, they’ve been neck-and-neck with Apple for the second spot behind Samsung. In part, that’s from a series of upper mid-range phones that nail down performance while keeping the price tag well under flagship prices from Samsung and Apple. Announced at Mobile World Congress a few months ago, the Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G is another one of those phones – it’s the upper mid-range phone in the Camon 30 series, which also includes the Camon 30, Camon 30 5G, and the flagship Camon 30 Pro 5G Premier.

As you’ll see in our Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G review, there’s a lot to like here on top of what we’d expect from the spec sheet. The phone has launched in Africa, but folks in Latin America and Asia should take note, too, because the Camon 30 Pro should be coming to other Tecno markets over the course of the year.

Tecno Camon 30 Pro performance

The Tecno Camon 30 Pro is taking a noticeable leap forward from last year’s Camon 20 Pro. The upgrade from a MediaTek Helio G99 chipset to the MediaTek Dimensity 8200 Ultra chipset is a big one, taking the phone from decidedly mid-range to just below flagship in terms of performance. In addition to moving from a 6nm to a 4nm process, the Dimensity 8200 Ultra is also what gives this phone 5G connectivity.

The bump to performance and efficiency is most obvious during gaming. As usual with Tecno phones, there’s a pull-out menu from the left that allows you to optimize for performance or efficiency, track frame rate, turn on brightness locking, choose to hide notifications, and so on. I optimized for performance to play Genshin Impact at highest settings and on 60 fps. I figured that’d be pushing it, but the Camon 30 Pro handled it really well – gameplay was smooth, with no hitches, even on 60 fps. The phone got warm pretty quickly, but never uncomfortably so. That might be thanks to the liquid cooling system Tecno managed to fit into the phone.

So, it’s a really, really good gaming phone – good enough to where you don’t need to upgrade to a pricey flagship phone for that purpose. It’s also got an on-screen fingerprint reader and facial recognition for security, both of which work quickly and consistently. And, you can configure it with plenty of storage, at 512GB, and the 12GB of RAM gives you plenty of headroom to keep the phone running smoothly with multiple apps running. Didn’t have any issues with 5G connectivity, either.

Only head-scratcher for me was that Wi-Fi 6 connectivity didn’t seem to be on the phone – usually if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi 6-enabled network, there will be a different Wi-Fi icon with a 6 on the status bar. I didn’t get that, despite the Dimensity 8200 Ultimate being a Wi-Fi 6-compatible chipset. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but something to know if you saw Dimensity 8200 Ultimate and expected Wi-Fi 6.

Tecno Camon 30 Pro display and audio

Tecno Camon 30 Pro display
The Tecno Camon 30 Pro features a 6.78-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate and a peak 1,300 nits of brightness

Display and audio both come off as premium, too, making the Camon 30 Pro a terrific entertainment device. The phone has a 6.78-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate and a peak 1,300 nits of brightness. That’s pretty close to what was on the Camon 20 Pro, but with a small bump in max refresh rate, and one I don’t think makes a noticeable difference compared to last year’s device. It’s worth noting that the flagship Camon 30 Pro 5G Premier has an LTPO display, one of a handful of premium features you’ll miss out on with this phone.

But, even without the LTPO display, the Camon 30 Pro 5G looks sharp. The max 1,300 nits of brightness is great for high-contrast videos and for use in full sunlight, and colors look sharp without being oversaturated. It’s a really, really good display for the price – I didn’t feel like I was missing much by not using a more expensive phone.

That display pairs well with the dual stereo speakers, backed by Dolby Atmos audio processing. The speakers get very loud, but unlike other Tecno phones we’ve tested like the Pova 6 Pro, they continue to perform well at max volume without the audio getting tinny or distorted.

If you’re using headphones, you’ll want to note that the 3.5mm headphone port has disappeared – it was on the Camon 20 Pro, but it’s been axed here. Tecno still committed to including headphones in the box – instead of wired earbuds, they supplied a set of wireless ear buds and a charging case. They automatically connect to the phone when you remove them from the charging case, as long as Bluetooth is turned on (it wasn’t by default). I found the buds to be tuned a little aggressively for bass, with mids sounding a little sharp, but for the size and considering they’re included-in-the-box buds, I thought they weren’t bad.

One last neat thing on the display – Tecno included wet finger operation, which promises to make the display usable even in heavy rain, or when your fingers are wet (relevant for all the home chefs with recipes pulled up on their phones). I was a little surprised to find it worked really well! Swiping and pinch to zoom worked with no issue, even when the display and my fingers were covered in water. The fingerprint sensor even worked! I tried the same test on my regular phone and noticed a huge difference, so whatever Tecno has done here, it’s solved one of the more persistent and annoying smartphone problems.

Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G battery life

The Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G includes a 5,000 mAh battery, which stacks up well with what we’d find in similar phones. As expected for a mid-range phone (even one on the upper end of that range), I got more than a day’s worth of power on a single charge. Firing up video or gaming at max brightness and max performance (for games) does drain the battery a little quicker than other mid-rangers, as we’d expect.

Watching video at full brightness for an hour took 9% of battery life, which isn’t bad, but gaming really taxed the phone. At full brightness, max settings, and 60 fps, an hour of Genshin Impact took down 24% of battery life. You can probably save some power by turning the settings down a little, but I do think taking advantage of the power to turn on 60 fps is worth it for faster, more responsive gameplay.

Included in the box is a 70W charging brick, which charged the phone from 10% to full in under an hour. Just 10 minutes of charging gave me 28% of battery capacity back, so it’s worthwhile to keep that charging brick with you in case you need some emergency juice somewhere. No wireless charging, so any charging mats you find on the go won’t help you.

The included wireless earbuds charge quickly in their case, too – I got a full charge in just one hour, and they lasted about five hours playing continuous music on one charge.

Tecno Camon 30 Pro design and build

It’s a 6.78-inch phone! A phone that big is not unusual these days, but you know the drill – it’s not the easiest form factor to use with one hand, especially if you have smaller hands. But, weighing only 188 grams makes the Camon 30 Pro one of the lighter phones at this size, so holding it for long periods of time while gaming or watching videos proved more comfortable compared to other large phones.

The phone has a glass front, but not protective glass, so avoid dropping it (a protective plastic case is included in the box). The back of the phone is made from a silicone polymer – they’re calling it eco-leather, but I think invoking leather’s name here is a stretch. It doesn’t have a luxury feel – it’s more like a textured plastic, which isn’t bad, but I thought the feel of the phone was a little oversold.

As we mentioned before, gone is the 3.5mm headphone port this year – the MicroSD card storage slot has also been taken out. There is still FM radio on the device, and Tecno has added an IR blaster if you want to use your phone as a remote control. However, the FM radio only works if you plug a set of wired headphones into the USB port, and there’s not a whole lot of USB headphones in use out there. Realistically, this phone isn’t going to have a usable FM radio for most people.

The phone is rated IP54, so there’s some protection from light splashes and rain, and a little dust, but it’s not going to survive a dunk in water or the beach. That wouldn’t be as big of a knock if the phone still had a 3.5mm headphone port, but without it, we’d like to see better protection from water.

The Camon 30 Pro comes in Icelandic Basaltic Dark (black) and Alps Snowy Silver (light grey).

Tecno Camon 30 Pro camera

The Camon 30 Pro has a large, round rear camera module with three sensors – a 50MP wide-angle camera (the Sony IMX890 sensor) using a f/1.9 lens with phase-detect autofocus and optical image stabilization, a 50MP ultrawide camera with phase-detect autofocus, and a 2MP camera used for depth sensing in portrait mode. The camera module also includes dual-LED flash and a small red light that can signal the phone is recording and function as a countdown timer. Along with the LTPO display, a dedicated zoom camera is on the list of features only found on the more expensive flagship Camon 30 Pro 5G Premier.

The photos from the wide-angle and extra wide cameras were good. They don’t stack up to premium options, but that’s to be expected. I was just happy that Tecno didn’t get tripped up by the usual pitfalls – colors are sharp without being too saturated and the sky isn’t overexposed (the camera takes HDR photos, which helps). The finer details aren’t particularly sharp, and while there is a 100MP mode that I suppose uses pixel binning, I didn’t find that it made a significant difference. Even zooming in on the photo quite a bit, it was a real stretch to convince myself the 100MP mode photos were sharper.

Photos taken in portrait mode came out nicely, and while I was worried when setting up the shots that the background blur was going to look artificial, that didn’t end up being the case. I took close-up shots in both regular and portrait mode, and ended up preferring the latter.

Low light photo taken in Super Night mode 50MP wide, 1x
Low light photo taken in Super Night mode 50MP wide, 1x

Low-light shots also came out nice – didn’t notice any glaring artifacts, although there were some bits out of focus. Again, not the best, but it’ll do in a pinch – and if you really want to get into it, there’s a pro mode where you can adjust settings to your liking, anyway.

Video recording is solid – both the wide-angle and extra wide cameras can take 4K video at 60fps. You can also record video in HDR, which, like stills, look terrific on this display and with the on-device speakers.

On the front, you’ll find a 50MP selfie camera with autofocus and eye tracking, which works well for video calls and streaming. However, for selfies, there are some AI beauty effects that are turned on by default – you may or may not want to use those, depending on your opinions on automated beauty effects. I found them a little distracting.

More off-putting was the AIGC portrait feature, which – I get that we’re all trying to figure out uses for AI together, but I couldn’t get my head around this one. You take four successive selfies, and the phone will generate an AI image based on your face. I think the idea was to generate someone that looks kinda like you, but in different contexts? I don’t know, I took a bunch of selfies in a beanie and a workout shirt and got some real generic-looking dudes lounging around in scarves and suits and ties with hair they clearly spent time on. It looked like Shutterstock town. Maybe the phone is telling me to get my act together? Good luck with that, phone.

There is an option in AIGC called 3D Doll – it’s basically an AI avatar generator based on your selfies – that I liked a little more. The more realistic AI generated photos, I’m not sure what the use case is aside from lying on dating apps, but everyone loves a good avatar. Ultimately, it’s all a far cry from the kinds of AI tricks you’d find on the Google Pixel 8.

AIGC 3D Doll avatar from the Tecno Camon 30 Pro 
AIGC 3D Doll avatar from the Tecno Camon 30 Pro

Tecno Camon 30 Pro software

The Camon 30 Pro runs Android 14 with HiOS 14 on top. HiOS is OK as Android overlays go, but I still don’t like the default setting of separating out the notification bar and quick settings – swiping down from the left side of the phone for the former, right side for the latter. HiOS 14 also adds Ella, which Tecno is building into their AI/voice/everything assistant – it can currently serve as a voice assistant and has a useful in-conversation translation tool for chat apps. I don’t know that there’s a strong reason to use it over the Google Assistant/Gemini.

HiOS also adds a bunch of system apps and alternate gaming apps and app stores – it’s not the worst when it comes to bloatware, but it’s something we tend to forgive more on cheaper phones. The Camon 30 Pro 5G isn’t cheap, and that’s when we start wishing for stock Android a little more.

As usual with overlays, HiOS 14 tries to do too much and gets in its own way. A suggested actions bar but can be expanded out from the camera notch, which looks slick, but ends up in the way more than being useful. It’s not solving a user need.

The addition of an always-on display, though, is welcome. Another welcome software addition is unlock capture, a security feature that captures a photo anytime someone tries and fails to unlock the phone. Useful if you suspect a phone thievery attempt, but you also might want to be familiar with local laws and taking someone’s photo surreptitiously before taking advantage of that feature.

Tecno Camon 30 Pro sustainability

Tecno is still getting their bearings in the smartphone market, and it doesn’t seem like sustainability is a priority yet. It’s hard to say how long you’re going to be getting security upgrades and software updates. The Camon line seems pretty well established, so we’re optimistic we’ll get a few years of updates, but it’s a far cry from the seven years we’re seeing from the likes of Samsung at the high end.

There’s also a lot of plastic in use here, and not much to be said about recycled materials.

The IP54 rating and the lack of high-end protective glass means that this won’t be the most durable phone, either, so it’s not impossible, but unlikely that this is a phone you’ll be using for more than two or three years, tops.

Tecno Camon 30 Pro pricing and availability

The Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G launched in April across Africa, and should come to countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia over the course of 2024. Price will vary by market, but we’re generally seeing prices that come out to around $400 for the 512GB storage and 12GB RAM configuration – a configuration with 256GB of storage is also available.

Should you buy the Tecno Camon 30 Pro?

The Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G is mostly competing with midrange Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy A55, more expensive options from Apple, and less expensive but lower-specced options from Infinix. For near $400, I think the Camon 30 Pro is pretty good value. You’re getting comparable performance with more storage when compared to the Galaxy A55, with performance that really does push into flagship territory and a high-quality display that works well with this chipset and at this price point. Not skimping on small but important features like audio quality helps, too.

The only sacrifice you’re making is to the camera quality – both in general, and for anyone who uses dedicated zoom cameras a lot. But, camera quality is almost always going to be the premium feature that takes a hit when you get a mid-range smartphone, and I thought the photos I got from the Camon 30 Pro were great when used as a point-and-shoot. I wasn’t impressed with the scattershot AI features, though.

I think as long as you can live without a dedicated zoom camera, the Tecno Camon 30 Pro 5G is a strong option for folks who don’t mind spending a little more for performance, without getting up into $600+ territory. If it’s coming to your country, check it out!

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