If you’re a fan of the foldable space, we’re entering a new and exciting era — the midrange foldable. In the past few months, we’ve seen the release of two foldable in the midrange space. The most recent is in the Moto Razr, but beating it to the punch by a few weeks is the Tecno Phantom V Flip. This midrange foldable, recently arriving in the Indian market, is the first of hopefully many foldables accessible to those shopping in the sub-$1,000 space.
The Tecno flip isn’t an outstanding foldable by any stretch of the imagination. The corners cut to keep costs down are evident and unsurprising, but that’s not the point. The point is to offer an affordable foldable to anyone who wants one. All the same, the Tecno Phantom V Flip has some neat features that it brings to the table, including a fun cover display to rival the best flip phones, some quirky camera filters, and decent performance. So, if you’re interested in getting a foldable device but don’t want to break the bank, this might be a good pick.
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- Bold and comfortable design
Price and availability
Pricing on the Tecno Phantom V Flip starts at Rs. 49,999, the equivalent of just over $600, which is a real win. The Tecno V Flip launched first in India, with the brand planning on bringing it to other regions before long. It won’t come to the U.S., however, which is unfortunate because the Moto Razr could use some competition. But as it stands, this price point is a great start.
Of course, local offers may differ. You might find promotions or carrier offers that can bring the price down, which makes this phone even more of a bargain, but you’ll want to be careful not to get locked into any kind of contract. This device is still a Gen 1 product for Tecno, so you don’t necessarily want to be stuck with it for years and years, especially since foldables are still relatively delicate, and there’s no history of support for Tecno devices at the time of writing.
The Tecno V Flip has features that put it squarely in the midrange camp, starting with a Mediatek Dimensity 8050 processor that will not set any speed records. That chipset arrives alongside 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The exterior display is round, offering a differentiator to other flip phones, but it only refreshes at 60Hz, while the inner 6.9″ AMOLED display refreshes at up to 120Hz.
There’s a 4,000 mAh battery that supports 45W fast charging. The cameras include a 64-megapixel main camera with a 13 MP ultrawide camera, complemented by a 32 MP selfie camera in a punch hole in the inner display. There is no wireless charging or IP water resistance rating, which is not surprising given its midrange nature, though it is slightly disappointing.
The phone runs on HiOS, which uses Android 13 as its basis. The skin is relatively customizable with a full app launcher, which is always welcome. Additionally, instead of the Google Feed on the leftmost screen, you get a Zero Screen, giving you a selection of suggested apps, your RAM status, important day countdowns, and more. I’ll take the Google Feed but to each their own.
Meanwhile, the cover screen features a variety of widgets that Tecno has built. I ultimately settled on a playful animated husky to adorn my cover screen for no better reason than it was adorable. The cover screen has a few widgets you can enable, including weather, a sound recorder, timers, a calendar, and a widget for taking photos with the primary camera.
Finally, the most notable feature of the Tecno Phantom V Flip is its onboard ChatGPT-powered assistant named Ella. Ella has all the capabilities (and limitations) of OpenAI’s free version of ChatGPT, including its September 2021 cutoff date and inability to describe anything morally dubious — I tested this by asking it the best way to prepare a live turkey for Thanksgiving. Ella takes the place of Google Assistant with the swipe up from the corner gesture and “Hi Ella” command rather than the “OK Google” command. Overall, I liked working with Ella, even if the trigger phrase only had a success rate of around 60%.
The Tecno V Flip comes in Iconic Black and Mystic Dawn vegan leather on the front and back. It is a delight to hold. On the back of the body is an accent circle with a “V” in the center of it that adds a nice little touch of flair to the design. The phone has metal side rails and a power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor with a volume rocker on the right side.
On the face of the Tecno Phantom V Flip, you have a gigantic circular camera and cover screen housing. Looking at the cover screen like a clock face, around the circumference, you have two camera modules at 9:00 and 10:30 with a flash at 12:00. I’m into this design, but I’d like to see more symmetry between the clock — for example, moving the second camera to the 1:30 position.
It would probably be better to move both of the cameras to the other side of the clock face because in their current position when you hold the closed phone with the fingerprint sensor on the right and activate the camera, your thumb obscures the lens when you try to take a photo. To remedy this, you can flip the phone 180 degrees and flip the display or simply press the volume rocker to snap a photo. Both of those feel a little like workarounds, though. I’d prefer to use the shutter button provided in the viewfinder. Still, this is subjective, and there are some fans of the placement out there.
As a foldable, the Tecno Phantom V Flip comes with two displays. The cover screen is circular, a novel approach for a foldable. While the screen is AMOLED with up to 800 nits of brightness, it looks almost cheap, for lack of a better word. The screen isn’t dim, and it has decent pixel density at ~352 ppi. There’s nothing I can point to to say, “Oh yes, that’s why it feels cheap,” but the fact remains that when I look at the cover screen, I can’t help but think about it. If someone had told me it was an LCD panel, I would have believed them.
Meanwhile, the inner display is a 6.9-inch LTPO AMOLED panel with a 120 Hz refresh rate, 1000 nits of peak brightness, and a noticeable gutter-like crease in the middle. It’s plenty bright, offering great detail. It’s an FHD panel at 1,080 x 2,640 pixels for a ~413 ppi density. It’s the polar opposite of the cover screen. It’s great for playing games and watching movies, and it is bright enough to read in full daylight.
I found the inner screen lacking in terms of touch sensitivity, though the hesitation I detected might have been a bit of stutter or lag stemming from the processor. Aside from that, I have no complaints about the inner display. The cover screen, too, despite its cheap appearance, is responsive and gets its message across effectively.
Battery life on the phone is substantial. The Phantom V Flip comes with a 4,000 mAh power pack, a pretty decent size for a flip-style foldable. While the cover screen isn’t as feature-heavy as that found on most other flip-style foldables, it’s capable of showing me notifications and handling shorter interactions like checking the weather. That means you don’t have to open the phone as much, helping to conserve battery.
I averaged more than a day with this phone. Typically, I would leave it on overnight without plugging it in and get a few hours into the next day before I had to connect the charger. That charger, which Tenco includes in the box, charges at 45W, offering a 50% charge in roughly 15 minutes, while a full juicing takes less than an hour.
That’s the power (no pun intended) of having a foldable with fast charging. These smaller battery packs take less time to charge, meaning even if you’re pushing your phone hard, you can top it off in minutes and get through a night out with no problem. That makes up for the lack of wireless charging, which would be a bonus at this price point but is certainly not required.
When it comes to gaming, the Tecno Phantom V flip should not be your first choice. This phone utilizes 8GB of LDDR4X RAM and a MediaTek Dimensity 8050 processor. Both are fine, but few consider either as top of the class. The phone behaves well under normal circumstances, but initially launching an app can cause a bit of a hangup; snapping photos and switching between lenses can also be bothersome, though it’s hard to tell if that’s the processor lagging or a touch sensitivity issue. Put simply, there are times that you tap a UI button, and nothing happens until you tap it a second or third time.
Gaming is possible on the V Flip, though. Call of Duty: Mobile” runs okay but can be prone to lag and stutter, especially when interacting with (read: shooting at) other online players. Other games like Genshin Impact are also average performers with Medium graphic settings. You get dropped frames, especially with a lot happening on screen, but it’s still playable.
On Geekbench, the V Flip racks up 1,081/3,264 Single/multi-core scores, putting the phone on par with the Samsung Galaxy S21 family of devices from 2021. That’s roughly in line with today’s midrange phones and is where this device should be.
The camera on the Tecno Phantom isn’t awful but isn’t impressive either. You can take some good shots with the phone but don’t plan on doing anything with them other than sharing them on social media. First and foremost, there is a definite color grading difference between the ultrawide camera and the main camera. You see this in many midrange cameras, so it’s no surprise to see here. Mostly, you see the differences in the green and red tones of your shots. It’s not vastly different, but it’s noticeable.
Speaking of noticeable, your photos fall apart quickly when you blow them up to full resolution. Waves in the water and leaves lose definition and depth. It’s not hard to take a great photo in Hawaii (where many of the photo samples come from), but if you’re planning on putting it anywhere but on Instagram, it isn’t going to look amazing. Dark areas have some grain, and objects in the distance start to look like they would in a watercolor painting.
At night, it’s a similar story, but in a good way. Fortunately, you can take some decent, social-media-sharable photos. The ultrawide camera especially suffers in low light. There’s a lot of grain, even when not blown up, but all told, you can manage some decent shots at night, which is more than you can say for multiple phones in the mid-range.
The selfie camera is less than impressive. It produces consistently hazy shots that I find washed out and gross. Fortunately, you’ll rarely have to use it thanks to the cover screen and its ability to preview the main camera for centering your shot. It’s safer to forget the selfie camera exists and take selfies with the phone closed.
The Phantom V Flip comes with some fun filters that you can play with. Curiously, Tecno lists the main camera as “AI Cam” in the software. You can find the filters under portrait mode. These include face slimming, smooth skin, and hilariously a “plum butt” mode. You can also substitute the sky with your choice of a variety of different options. There’s also an AR Shot option to superimpose an avatar over your face. I’m sure these are fun, but I’m probably too old to appreciate them. Overall, the camera could be better, but it could also be a lot worse.
Should you buy the Tecno Phantom V Flip?
If my point isn’t clear by now, I’ll reiterate it here: the most exciting part about the Tecno Phantom V Flip is its price. This device is a sub-$650 offering that you can fold in half. That alone is worth celebrating. But there are sacrifices made to get there. Some of them are acceptable losses; others are not. You can live without wireless charging and a camera that you can chain to social media sharing simply to own a foldable that doesn’t hurt your wallet.
The V Flip isn’t a bad phone. Its design has a certain panache, particularly with the cover screen. It’s a little like a smartwatch bolted onto the back of your folding phone. It’s in your face and bold, and I’m here for it. The vegan leather feels luxurious and is delightful to hold. The performance is just okay, but unless you’re a hard-core gamer, you can get through most tasks. So, who should buy this phone?
That’s not a straightforward question. If you’re curious about foldables, this is a solid entry point to make sure you enjoy the form factor, but there are better choices out there. The Moto Razr comes to mind if you can go for a phone with a worse camera. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Oppo Find N3 are also options if you have a higher budget. Still, if you had a higher budget, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
If our Tecno Phantom V Flip review has you less than impressed, check out some of the alternatives below.
The obvious alternative to this phone is the Motorola Razr, which is the other $600 foldable you can buy these days. For that price, you get a better processor (Snapdragon 7 Gen 1) but a worse camera setup (it’s not even close). A lot of the rest of the phone is similar. Motorola’s phone gives you the chop-chop gesture to turn on the flashlight and the wrist twist to launch the camera, but both are super-intuitive and easy to use.
But the cameras on the Motorola phone are pretty terrible across the board. In good light, you get good photos, but that’s the end of the compliment. You also get a slightly bigger battery but a smaller cover screen with less utility. The phone charges more slowly, too. But both of these phones have that super-cheap price point going for them. Given a choice, I’d go with the Tecno phone.
Oppo Find N3 Flip
The budget for this phone is much bigger, but every part of the phone is better. The cover screen is better, the processor is faster, and the cameras are glorious. You can run some apps entirely on the cover screen, though you’re limited in choice.
Circling back to the cameras, that’s where the Oppo Find N3 shines. It has the same triple-camera setup as the OnePlus 11, including that telephoto camera. The image quality is exceptional, as it was on the OnePlus phone. Combine that with the cover screen, and this is the vastly superior phone, but it’s also almost twice the price of the Tecno. For more on this alternative, see our Oppo Find N3 Flip review.
The Tecno Phantom V Flip is a great first effort by the budget phone maker that makes some compromises to deliver a midrange foldable at midrange prices. It beats out its only real competition from Motorola handily and has a lot of fun tricks that add to the overall experience. But at the end of the day, it’s still a midrange phone.