Tecno’s Phantom V Fold is the easiest and most affordable way to transition to your first foldable.
Closed, you have a large 6.42″ Android phone that works just like your smartphone (and maybe better). Opened, you have a large 7.85″ tablet that’s twice the size of the front screen.
Phantom V Fold isn’t all screen either; it sports premium specs that compete well with the 2023 flagships. While its design is very similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, it costs many hundreds less. So bring on the competition! If you can get over the extra heft and thickness, the Phantom V Fold is a beautiful and highly usable foldable smartphone that unlocks a lot of optionalities.
Stick around as we take a deep dive into Tecno’s first-ever foldable phone in this Tecno Phantom V Fold review.
Tecno Phantom V Fold design and usability
The design is basically two ultra-sleek smartphones stacked on top of one another with a surprisingly premium quality build. The aluminum hinge is tough and durable. Nothing about the phone feels fragile or cheap.
The front screen is a standard 6.42″ and broader than the Galaxy Fold. You can use this screen 100% of the time since it’s a normal-sized smartphone screen. You only need to unfold this phone when you want to take advantage of the much larger screen. The phone transitions from phone to tablet without skipping a beat, and the OS also has some built-in features to help you take advantage of the two screens.
It doesn’t take long to discover the benefits and joy of always having such a large screen on you. Since you never actually need to unfold the phone, the larger screen is entirely a bonus – it is useful when you’re on the move and need to whip out your phone for any quick one-handed operation.
If you choose to open the phone, it actually feels better and more balanced in hand. It’s comfortable for reading and watching videos. Since the folding screen is so big, you don’t need to worry about covering it with your grip.
You’ll likely need both hands if you want to work in tablet mode, and it still feels natural and easy to type. The larger screen’s aspect ratio is a little more rectangle than a square, but most content won’t fill the screen like in regular phones. But it is easy to get used to, and there’s the fact that you can force apps to use different aspect ratios. The deep blacks of the OLED help you ignore any black borders on the sides of your content.
We love the larger screen for reviewing the photos that we took. You will immediately appreciate how much nicer it is watching or reading anything on a foldable. Even better is being able to enjoy pictures (or anything) with the people around you on such a huge screen.
Also, we found a reason to split-screen apps for the first time on an Android phone – it is helpful in composing emails and referencing web pages. This functionality easily removes the need to travel with a tablet; soon enough, you won’t need to travel with a laptop.
Tecno was gracious enough to include a charger and a great carbon fiber case that covers the back half of the phone and adds a kickstand. The kickstand elevates the usability of the tablet. Included cases aren’t usually so great, but we dig the carbon fiber finish and lightweight design.
Tecno Phantom V Fold review: Optionality
Falling in love with the Phantom V Fold’s optionality takes no time at all. You can get used to it if you really want a foldable. But, of course, it comes with its share of gotchas and quirks. The obvious tradeoff is the size and weight. Both are noticeable, and even your pocket will feel the difference.
It’s lighter than two phones, at 299g or 319g with the case. We usually whip two phones out of our pockets to snap some camera comparisons, but this was a more challenging exercise with the weight of the Phantom. Quick actions require extra attention and coordination to do safely.
Native apps do a pretty good job adapting when the phone is folded/unfolded, but you’ll get mixed results with downloaded apps like TikTok or Instagram. Sometimes the aspect ratio won’t resize, or other times your content may just disappear.
The camera has cool features when unfolded to use the front screen, but sometimes these buttons are missing. The auto brightness is slow and occasionally buggy.
Our biggest frustration is how often face and touch unlock fail. The lock button, which also serves as the fingerprint reader, is located directly beneath the volume rocker. The reader is quite fast, so a few quick finger taps usually unlock the phone. Besides getting these buttons confused, our fingerprint fails more than it succeeds.
Unlocking is the most annoying gotcha, but still tolerable. Anytime your finger or body part grazes the lock button, it will vibrate, alerting you that it failed to unlock — this gets annoying very quickly. Face unlock is also very fast, but sometimes chooses not to work at all.
Tecno Phantom V Fold Software
Software is Phantom V Fold’s weak point. Based on Android 13, HiOS 13 offers everything you’d expect, especially with taking advantage of two screens. The only thing it’s missing is attention to detail, plus its light on personalization. The phone is very well-powered, so the bugs, glitches, and shortcomings are tolerable and don’t slow us down much.
There’s an always-on display, but you can’t actually set it to be “always-on” because it shuts off when the phone is idle. You can personalize this screen to a degree.
We’re used to having more personalization options on Android, like adjusting what icons look like or having a plethora of native widgets available. There are a bunch of HiOS applications and features, but many of us would be better off using the native Android alternatives. You can mostly ignore or remove the extra HiOS stuff, but there were a few things we liked.
The split screen and multi-window options work well and are quite useful on the larger screen. There are even a few nice multi-screen features: you can use both screens while on Whatsapp or in the camera. There are also some decent optimization features like a button to free RAM, a freezer to keep apps from running in the background, a power booster, a performance mode, and a game mode.
Tecno Phantom V Fold performance and specs
The specs and performance are about as good as they get in 2023. The processor is a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ with eight cores up to 3.2ghz. There’s 12GB of RAM which you can extend with virtual RAM up to 21GB. There are 256GB and 512GB storage capacities with no expandable storage available.
For actual usage, this phone can undoubtedly keep up with us. Performance is always quite smooth and responsive – even with floating windows, lots of tabs, and some gaming. The benchmarks outperformed phones with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and got beaten only by the 2023 phones with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
The phone supports 5G cellular and all the typical bands. There’s WIFI 6 support and Bluetooth 5.3. There’s a two-sided SIM tray included, but sadly there’s no eSIM support which is a bummer.
Tecno Phantom V Fold battery
The battery is 5,000 mAh and supports 45W fast charging. It even comes with a 45W charger. Our tests charged the phone fully in around 60 minutes, and we observed charging around 36W. 30 minutes took us from 0 to 65%. Interestingly, our 65W PD chargers seem to charge the phone at a significantly slower rate, averaging under 15W for some reason.
The battery life is mostly great for us. We easily got a full day, even using the large unfolded screen. With light usage, you can get two days of use. Since it’s tempting to use in tablet mode for many hours, your mileage may vary. There are multiple HiOS features to conserve battery, so it shouldn’t be hard to get a full day even with a lot of use. There’s, unfortunately, no wireless charging, though.
Tecno Phantom V Fold display
The displays on the Tecno Phantom V Fold are both stunning, with ultra-rich colors and contrast. The front display looks so good you’ll almost forget it gets better. Both screens are AMOLED with LTPO refresh rates that go down to 10Hz and up to 120hz for silky smooth transitions. At 1100 nit peak brightness, they’re plenty bright inside, but outside, they leave you wanting more.
The resolutions are high, with FHD+ 1080×2250 and 388ppi on the front and 2K+ 2296×2000 433ppi on the large, unfolded screen. Ultra-thin foldable glass covers the foldable screen, which sits just below a thin plastic bezel and will help protect the device. Gorilla Glass Victus covers the outer display.
The fold is mostly invisible, especially if you’re the one looking at it. You only really see the crease at an angle, like if someone is using your phone. We found it stands out even less than the hole punch camera. It’s one of those design elements that you stop noticing early on. Folding and unfolding feel premium and solid.
The spring action helps unfold the phone once you get it started. People are surprised by how much force it requires to open it, and strangely there’s no ingress or notch to make this easier. You get used to it quickly, though.
Tecno Phantom V Fold camera and sample photos
The Phantom Fold V doesn’t have 3+1 cameras; it has 3+2 since it effectively has two “front” cameras. The main tablet screen is 16MP, and the smaller screen is 32MP. A 50MP main camera, a 2X zoom telephoto, and a 120-degree wide-angle lens are on the back. There’s also a selfie camera on each screen.
The camera system is reasonably good, but it won’t be winning any awards. It doesn’t compete with the iPhone 14 Pro or any recent flagships, but you can still take some nice shots. The exposure is a mixed bag; two subsequent photos can look completely different.
Images generally get saturated with colors that always pop. The high saturation produced many vibrant photos that initially looked better than iPhone until you inspect them more closely. iPhone picks up much more detail with clearer corners. iPhone also has better zoom and macro shots and is more consistent.
Phantom doesn’t have a competitive camera, but it still holds up with phones produced in the last few years and can take quick and pleasing photos and videos. We like the camera app and all of the features and options it comes with.
We also like how Tecno allows you to use both screens with the cameras. When you unfold the phone, your subjects can see themselves on one screen while you take the photo from the other screen. People love this. You can also get in on the fun and use the main camera to take a selfie, transferring all camera controls to the front screen. These main-camera selfies come out noticeably better than any other selfie camera.
Granted that the Phantom V FoldUI is not the most polished, and the device is light on personalization, but it is still powerful and truly an incredible piece of hardware at its price point. The most real frustration for us is unlocking the phone, which fails more often than it succeeds.
Aside from those gripes, if you can get your hands on it, the Phantom V Fold is one of the best and most affordable foldable phones out there, it certainly makes for an excellent budget-friendly alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Fold4.
Tecno Phantom V Fold release, price, and availability in the US
The manufacturer, Tecno, is based in China and has been in business since 2006. It primarily serves markets in India, Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The Phantom V Fold was released on April 28th on Amazon India for ₹88,888 for the 256GB model.
That’s roughly $1,083 versus Samsung’s $1,799. The Phantom and Fold 4 are pretty similar on paper, though Samsung probably has a small edge in many categories like water resistance and the software fit-and-finish. Still, a $700 savings is huge. Sadly, we probably won’t be seeing a Tecno Phantom V Fold release in the USA, and there’s no word yet on a broader release.
Update 11/29/2023: Check out our review of Tecno’s first clamshell foldable, the Tecno Phantom V Flip.