The TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+ is a mid-range phone for a budget price in almost all regards. The build is stylish but durable, the performance is smooth, and the display is sharp at all times and in all settings. The one issue I have is the disappointing IP53 water and dustproof rating. Otherwise, I can’t recommend it enough.
- Great display and performance
- Simple but effective camera setup
- Comes with free accessories
- Only IP53 rated
- Curved screens aren’t for everyone
Few brands release just a single phone these days, with most opting to put out a series of devices. This much is true of the new TECNO SPARK 20 range, and we’ve got our hands on the premium handset of the trio, the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+. It’s an elegant piece of kit with a curved screen, a lightweight build, and an impressive list of specs to boot.
Still, if one thing stands out about the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+, it’s the affordability. The sub $200 asking price puts this device in the middle of the budget phone ballpark, but it often doesn’t feel like that when using it. There were multiple points during this review where I had to remind myself that I wasn’t dealing with a mid-ranger but something much more moderately priced. However, that isn’t the whole experience, with some features faring better than others during testing. That’s enough pre-amble for now, though. Let’s dig into the details.
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Price and availability
The TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+ sits at a very friendly budget price point of around $180. However, it might be a struggle to get your hands on one of these handsets if you’re reading this from the US or Europe, with the device currently only available in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia. With that in mind, you may have to look at importing one and potentially pay a slightly higher cost.
In terms of colorways, you can pick up the 20 Pro+ in Temporal Orbit, Lunar Frost, Radiant Starstream, and Magic Skin 2.0 Green. I’ve got the green version with its silicon leather back, and it feels very luxurious for such a low-price phone. It’s worth checking out all the alternatives so you can pick the design that suits you best.
Unlike the other phones from the SPARK 20 range, the Pro+ has Android 14 pre-installed. This upgrade means you have access to a slew of fantastic features, including AI wallpapers, plus improvements to security and accessibility. The user experience is slightly different from other Android 14 devices due to TECNO’s own HiOS UI skin. It’s not worlds apart, but it’s a little cleaner than your basic Android skin.
The audio capabilities of the 20 Pro+ are another highlight, with the device offering DTS-enhanced stereo sound with dual speakers. This addition means music and video are better quality and louder than budget alternatives. It’s just another of the many features that make it feel like you’re using a mid-range smartphone rather than one that’s five times cheaper than the latest iPhone base model. If you want to listen privately, you can always pop in the USB-C earphones you get with the device.
While it’s not a software feature, another selling point of the SPARK 20 Pro+ is what comes in the box. With the 20 Pro+, you get a charging cable, a USB-C plug, a plastic shell case, a glass screen protector, and those USB-C earphones. Yes. All of that. It’s almost like buying an iPhone back in 2008.
The best way to describe the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+’s design is with one word: sleek. Of course, I’ll use other words, as that’s my job, but it really is the dictionary definition of sleek. It’s thinner and lighter than any other phone I can remember reviewing, which, while making it feel a bit fragile, certainly adds to the all-round futuristic feel. Considering that brands often release low-cost devices with bulky builds and few design frills, it doesn’t feel or look budget either, and that is one of the many ways that TECNO separates this phone from the competition.
Despite saying that this smartphone feels a bit fragile, that’s potentially a bit deceiving. It feels fragile, but it isn’t. It’s not a rugged phone, sure, but pop on the plastic case and screen protector that comes with the SPARK 20 Pro+, and you’re not going to have to worry about any breakages if it slips out your hand – though the likelihood of this happening is pretty low, especially with the case on.
There is one caveat to the stylish build of the SPARK 20 Pro+, though. It’s only IP53-rated. This rating means it’s not entirely dustproof, though it’s just one grade down from top marks. However, waterproofing is more of an issue. At this rating, the 20 Pro+ has about as much chance of surviving any kind of submersion as a paper towel. Of course, I’m not about to go dunking my review unit in the bath to test this out, but it’s worth pointing out.
The curved AMOLED display of the 20 Pro+ is more than capable of streaming video content with YouTube or Netflix and does an admirable job, considering the low price point, with high-quality mobile games. It’s quite a large display, too, with a 6.78-inch screen employing an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz. From my experience, it’s well worth sticking with the default ‘auto-switch refresh rate’ option in the settings, as while it can handle most things at 120Hz, some more demanding games feel better at 60. More on that later.
My one note on the display is that you should turn off adaptive brightness as soon as you finish the start-up sequence. This isn’t an issue exclusive to the 20 Pro+, though. I find that most adaptive brightness features tend to struggle to get it right, even on flagship devices from other brands. Once you turn this option off, you can set your brightness manually, and while a peak of 1,000 nits isn’t that much compared to some other devices, you shouldn’t notice it. I tested the scope of brightness in different environments, outside with the sun shining and at night with the lights turned out, and managed to find a comfortable setting for both.
In the world of modern smartphones, it’s pretty rare for a brand to release a new device with a single camera on the back and a single camera on the front. Still, that’s what you’ve got with the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+. There’s a 108MP shooter on the front, featuring 10x digital zoom and 3x lossless zoom, and a 32 MP selfie camera. Yes, that sounds pretty simple, but do you know what? Sometimes, simple is better.
As is my tradition for reviewing the camera of a new phone, I got a few shots of my model – my dog, Floyd – to check out the quality and compare it to other devices. The results are impressive, both in optimal conditions for photography and low light, with my fluffy little pal looking just as distinguished as he does in real life and all the intricacies of his fur intact. The results of your photography look even better when you send them over to your PC. I wasn’t that taken by the camera at first glance, but the results are fantastic when you see the images scaled up.
The front camera is also pretty solid. However, it perhaps lacks some definition with skin tone in the snaps I’ve taken – though it’s worth saying I’m pretty pale as it is, so that might be slightly unfair. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, and it’s definitely capable of taking shots for your Instagram page, but it doesn’t impress me quite as much as the primary camera, even with the various dynamic modes. Weirdly, it’s almost better in low light, with the Super Flash Light feature offering better nighttime selfies than much more expensive smartphones from other brands.
It wouldn’t be right to compare the performance of a sub $200 device with that of the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy flagship, so instead, we need to look at how the TECNO SPARK 20+ compares to similar devices at the budget level, like the Samsung A14. For me, the TECNO is the winner of the two, even if it’s by some pretty slim margins.
The MediaTek Helio G99 Ultimate chipset powers the performance of this phone, and it’s a processor we’ve seen other budget devices utilize well. Combined with the generous 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM – you can up the virtual RAM by a further 8GB using the internal storage, though we didn’t notice much difference doing so – it’s a solid performer, with no problem at all facing the day-to-day usage like internet browsing, streaming video, and taking pictures.
As I do with most phones, I tested the 20 Pro+ with Honkai Star Rail and Candy Crush Soda Saga. As you would expect from a phone in 2024, it has no problems at all with Candy Crush, offering as smooth an experience as my iPhone 13. However, it struggles a little with Honkai Star Rail, especially with animations. When you break into a battle in HSR, the screen fills with a shattering animation that should flow seamlessly into the battle. With this device, it’s not quite as fluid,
That isn’t to say that demanding games like HSR are unplayable on the SPARK 20+, but there is a caveat. Remember when I mentioned the adaptive refresh rate earlier? For games like Honkai Star Rail and other demanding titles, make sure that’s active. While this phone can manage a fair amount at 120Hz, it falters when playing something the developers intended for devices with higher processing power. I tried HSR at the set 120Hz refresh rate, and it became much laggier, with noticeable frame drops just from the basic walking animation. So, if you’re considering picking up this latest TECNO offering, keep that in mind.
The 5,000mAh battery in the 20 Pro+ is first-rate for a budget phone. According to my testing, it tends to lose something between 10-15% an hour when gaming or streaming and much less with occasional use for messaging, short calls, and emails. So, if you’re using it extensively, you can rely on at least a full day of charge before juicing it back up overnight. If you’re using it less frequently, you can expect just under two full days of juice, if not more.
Recharging is rapid if you use the official 33W Super Charger and plug that ships with the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+. The device I’m using went from 33% back up to 82% in under exactly half an hour, so you’re probably looking at just over 60 minutes for a full charge from flat. Wireless charging would be a welcome addition, but let’s be fair, you can’t expect the world for under $200. In every other regard, the SPARK 20 Pro+ gets a big double thumbs up from me in the battery department.
Should you buy the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+?
All-in-all, it’s almost unbelievable that the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+ is a budget phone. The build is stylish and durable, the performance competes with many mid-range devices I’ve tested in my time, and the simplified camera setup is capable of great shots no matter the lighting. It’s a standout device for its price range and a statement of intent from a manufacturer who might be less known than some of the big players in the Android marketplace. Put simply: if you want to pay budget prices for a phone that feels mid-range in almost every regard, I can’t recommend the SPARK 20 Pro+ highly enough.
However, there are a couple of caveats. If you’re as accident-prone as I am, you might want to think twice about picking up the SPARK 20 Pro+ due to its slightly disappointing IP53 rating. The curved screen isn’t exactly discrete, so if you’re not a fan of that type of form factor, that’s another reason you might want to look elsewhere. Finally, it’s worth reiterating that the 20 Pro+ isn’t the easiest device to get your hands on in Europe or the US, but whether you think the import tax is worth it is up to you.
If our TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+ hasn’t convinced you, check out some of the possible alternatives below.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
The most obvious alternative to the TECNO SPARK 20 Pro+ at this price point is the Samsung A14. In our experience, the UI experience is slightly better with the A14 and Samsung’s ONE UI, but the 20 Pro+ takes the cake for charging speed, storage, and overall performance. Whichever you want to go for depends on your preference of those factors, but if you want to know more, you can check out our Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review.
iPhone SE (2020)
If you prefer the iOS user experience, the obvious alternative is the iPhone SE. It’s more of a mid-ranger than a budget device, but it’s the closest we’re getting from Apple, and it’s now over three years old. From my experience, the battery life with the 20 Pro+ is much more reliable, but you don’t get some of the iPhone perks like Apple Arcade, so it’s down to you on which you value more and your stance in the iPhone vs Android argument.