Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G Review: A great budget gaming phone with a light show thrown in

The Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G offers solid gaming performance and a truly unique design

Tecno Prova 6 Pro dynamic lights
The Tecno Pova 6 Pro sports a dynamic light on the back, which snakes around the camera array and pulses when you get notifications.
Tecno Prova 6 Pro dynamic lights
Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G Review
Bottom Line
If mobile gaming is your top priority, the Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G handles higher settings surprisingly well, making it a terrific value at its price.
Great gaming performance for the price
Distinctive design with neat light show
Excellent battery life
Has a 3.5mm headphone port
Not the most durable smartphone
Camera array is lacking, even at this price
On-device dual speakers are muddy and tinny

One longstanding issue in gaming: one price doesn’t fit all markets. Some great games go unplayed because retail price exceeds what’s reasonable in many markets. Well, the same goes for the hardware – there are a lot of beautiful mobile games out there right now, but if the hardware needed to run them exceeds what a lot of folks can afford, that’s no good.

Announced at Mobile World Congress 2024 in February, the Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G seeks to solve that issue by maximizing the performance of modest hardware with some well-crafted gaming features, and it’s been successful. This is an Android smartphone that can handle – if barely – mobile games running at high settings, at an affordable price point that sits under $300 USD. As well break down in our Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G review, there are some sacrifices made that you’ll need to know about, but if gaming and price point are your top priorities, we think they’re worth making.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G performance

The Pova 6 Pro uses the Mediatek Dimensity 6080 6 nm chipset (2×2.4 GHz Cortex-A76 performance cores, 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55 efficiency cores, and a Mali-G57 mc2 GPU), a mid-range option from Mediatek. The 6080 has kind of been around for a while – it’s a modestly upgraded Dimensity 810 (released a couple years ago) with the same octa-core CPU configuration, but it’s remained a solid choice for its mix of power and efficiency. It’s also the same hardware that was in last year’s Tecno Pova 5 Pro, so I can’t say there’s much reason to upgrade if you’ve got that handset.

Fortunately, the years have been kind to the 6080. While playing Genshin Impact, the phone defaults to the lowest graphics settings, and you do get warnings that you might get suboptimal gaming performance at medium and above. But, I played for about an hour on the highest settings and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t notice any hitches, and gameplay remained smooth even during combat, or when there was a lot of movement on screen. Temperatures weren’t bad, either, as the phone never got uncomfortably hot. The frame rate was a little lower than I might have liked, but it did seem to be consistent, at least. It’s not a bad mobile gaming phone at all!

There’s also a dedicated gaming app called Game Space 4.0 you can use to adjust other settings. You can use this to balance performance and efficiency settings, and create preset game mode settings, then designate which apps should automatically run in game mode. It’s presented in an easy-to-understand way, asking if you want to emphasize battery life or fineness of detail, instead of relying on jargon.

Outside of gaming, the phone handled well during everyday use. I thought the on-screen fingerprint sensor wasn’t the fastest or most consistent, but the facial recognition for phone unlock worked well. Despite its age, the Mediatek Dimensity 6080 chipset does support 5G, which is nice to have if you’re in range of a 5G network. It has space for two nano SIM cards, but no eSIM. Our review model has 12GB of RAM, but there is an 8GB configuration. If you want to push the phone and use those higher settings, you’ll probably want to spring for 12GB.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G display and audio

It may be a mid-range smartphone, but the Pova 6 Pro is as big as any flagship! It’s got a 6.78-inch 1080p AMOLED display, with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a max 1,300 nits of brightness. I thought the display hit the sweet spot considering the rest of the hardware included here. A higher resolution than 1080p probably wouldn’t be a good match with the mid-range chipset, and the 120Hz refresh rate helps keep gaming smooth at lower settings where the frame rate can push a little higher. 1,300 nits is substantially dimmer than what you’d find on a flagship, but I think that’s OK here. There’s no HDR support anyway, so you’re not missing out on otherwise necessary contrast levels. No HDR support seems appropriate for the price and for the chipset in use – sometimes with mid-range phones, the premium features that get implemented don’t always mesh well with sacrifices in other places, so it’s good to see that Tecno understood what they were putting together with the Pova 6 Pro.

Audio is more of a mixed bag. There is Dolby Atmos support, known for creating a sort of virtual surround sound effect. And that’s great, but you’ll want to take advantage of it with headphones. The dual speakers on the phone are pretty rough – beyond half volume, the audio quality is very muddled and tinny. Fortunately, you can use whatever headphones you want! The Pova 6 Pro still has a 3.5mm headphone port, a rare sight these days. It even comes with a pair of wired earphones in the box, which was a real blast from the past. You can do better than those, but if you’re in need of some earphones and don’t want to buy them separately, that’s a nice bonus.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro battery life

Performance matters, but if it’s a gaming phone, it’s got to have great battery life and charging – especially at high settings, gaming can run through a battery fast. Appropriately enough, Tecno went all out with a 6,000 mAh battery (up from 5,000 mAh in the Tecno Pova 5 Pro), which is even bigger than we’ve been seeing in most flagship phones this year. Combine that with the more efficient processor in use here, and you get a phone that lasts a long time on one charge.

It barely uses power while idle – after 12 hours, the phone had only used 6% of its capacity. An hour of Genshin Impact on the highest settings, set to optimize for performance over efficiency, and at full brightness, used 17% of its capacity, while an hour of watching video at full brightness only used 6% of capacity. That’s some of the best battery performance I’ve gotten from a smartphone – if a charger isn’t always available to you, it’s a phone you’ll be able to use for up to a couple days at a time, as long as you don’t use it too heavily.

The Tecno Pova 6 Pro only supports up to 70W fast charging, so it won’t get back up to capacity the fastest, but these days not the fastest is still awfully fast. If you use the 70W charging adapter that comes in the box, Tecno says you should get back to 100% in 50 minutes. Even without it, I was able to get there in a couple hours. You can also put that big 6,000 mAh battery to work by charging other devices, thanks to the phone’s reverse wired charging feature.

No wireless charging support on the Tecno Pova 6 Pro, which is fine at this price point. Still, if you’ve invested in wireless charging gear already, that’s worth keeping in mind!

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G design and build

The price-to-performance ratio is still the best reason to get the Tecno Pova 6 Pro, but it sure helps that it looks distinctive! The back of the phone has a sort of mecha vibe to it – and, I’m sure some might argue, some similarities to the Nothing Phone 2. Whether that’s a good thing is up to you – I think the phone looks cool! I think more than anything, I appreciated that it’s not a featureless, monochrome rectangle. It’s got a meteorite grey color option if you don’t want to stand out too much, but if you’re going to embrace the unusual look, comet green seems like the way to go. One other little design touch is the dynamic light on the back, which snakes around the camera array and pulses when you get notifications.

You’ll want to take care of this phone, though (a silicone case is included in the box). There’s no particularly scratch- or shatter-resistant glass protecting the display, the body and frame are plastic, and it’s rated IP53, so while it’s splash- and dust-resistant, it’s by no means waterproof. At this price point, it’s not a huge knock, but then again, a cheap phone isn’t a cheap phone if you have to replace it often.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G camera

The camera array on the Tecno Pova 6 Pro is the biggest sacrifice made on this mid-ranger. Flip it over and you’ll see three cameras, but this isn’t quite the same three-sensor array you’re used to seeing. It’s really just one camera – there’s a 108MP sensor with a f/1.9 24mm lens and phase-detect auto-focus, supported by a 2MP depth-sensing camera and a tiny .08MP sensor that is only there to help collect more light. No dedicated wide-angle camera, and no zoom cameras here. The main camera supports up to 3x optical zoom, with up to 10x digital zoom.

That limits what you can do creatively with landscape shots and close-up shots – there are a few settings you can tweak, but I found this phone to mostly be a point-and-shoot device. Still, it performed well in certain conditions – the Pova 6 Pro 5G takes close-up shots that come out nicely, with near field objects coming into focus with a nice, natural bokeh effect that looked pleasantly unprocessed. The colors don’t pop as much as they would on better hardware, and low-light shots come out grainy, but it’s not bad if you just need to take some quick pictures every now and again.

That main camera is also one of the major upgrades over the Tecno Pova 5 Pro, which had a 50MP main sensor. Given that this is a gaming-first phone and has the same chipset, I don’t think the upgraded camera is a reason to make the year-on-year upgrade.

On the front, the phone comes with a 32 MP selfie camera with a f/2.2 22mm lens and dual-tone flash. Again, it’s perfectly passable at this price point.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G software

The Tecno Pova 6 Pro runs Android 14 with Tecno’s HIOS 14 overlay. Android overlays are always an adventure, and HIOS 14 is no different. The Zero Screen – swipe right from home – is a configurable space including your most used apps, plus some widgets for health tracking, CPU performance, and app usage. I didn’t find it particularly useful.

The only change from stock Android I didn’t like was that swiping down from the right half of the top brings down phone settings, while swiping down from the left side brings down notifications. I prefer one swipe to bring both down, and another to expand settings, rather than having to be precise about where my swiping finger goes, but that’s just me.

As usual for a budget phone running an Android overlay, there is bloatware. That said, I was alright with what I saw here – there are a handful of redundant system apps, along with alternate region-specific app stores and video players, but that was it. There aren’t very many of those preloaded apps, fewer than I’ve seen on much more expensive phones. There were also no folders filled with app icons indicating suggested downloads, which is never fun. So, credit to Tecno for keeping this phone light on the bloatware at this price!

One more thing that might get lost – the Pova 6 Pro does have an always-on display that you can turn on and configure – it’s off by default and it’s hidden away in settings a little, but if you do a system search for it, you’ll find it.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G sustainability

Not much to report here. It’s heavy on the use of plastic, and it’s not built with durability in mind, so there’s the risk that this phone is going to need replacing sooner than you’d like. There are also no security or OS update guarantees that we know of, and while that doesn’t mean they won’t happen, it’s also unlikely that this phone is still going to be supported five to seven years from now. Even at this price point, that’s something we’d like to see from Tecno in the future.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G price and availability

The Tecno Pova 6 Pro comes in two configurations – 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Two colors – comet green and meteorite grey – are available. The phone is being released in India, along with a handful of other countries, with the 8GB configuration retailing for ₹21,999 (around $265) and the 12GB configuration retailing for ₹23,999 (around $280). The Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G comes with a 70W charging brick, a silicone case, a USB-C charging cable, and a pair of wired earphones in the box.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G Review: Should you buy the Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G?

It’s all about price – if you’re not looking to spend much on a smartphone, the Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G should be pretty high on your shopping list. And this price makes a lot more sense for most folks in the markets where this phone is being released, making it a good way to enjoy high-quality mobile gaming without having to pay a premium for a flagship phone.

The hits to display and camera quality are reasonable at this price, too – I was only let down by the less durable build and the poor performance from the speakers, which would have been a great complement to an otherwise solid gaming phone.

However, if you’ve already got the Tecno Pova 5 Pro from last year, or a similar phone that gives you fairly good gaming performance, there’s no need to jump into this upgrade. I’d only consider it if you haven’t had a new phone in at least three or four years.

But, if you’re in the market for a new gaming smartphone and you have a budget of under $300 USD, the Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G probably doesn’t have much serious competition and it makes for a killer budget gaming phone.

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