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TECNO Phantom V Fold
What we like
What we don't like
TECNO Phantom V Fold
TECNO isn’t a new brand face in the Android phone landscape by any measure, selling low-cost smartphones in Africa and several other emerging markets for roughly a decade now. The Chinese company has been trying to break into higher price bands for the last few years, and now the firm is aiming as high as possible with its first foldable phone. But is this proof that TECNO can hang with big-name manufacturers? Let’s find out in our TECNO Phantom V Fold review.
What you need to know about the TECNO Phantom V Fold
- TECNO Phantom V Fold (12GB/256GB): Rs. 89,999 (~$1,093)
The TECNO Phantom V Fold is right up there as the company’s most advanced smartphone yet, while also being the firm’s first foldable phone. In fact, the spec sheet is very compelling for a foldable in general.
It’s running 2022’s still-powerful Dimensity 9000 Plus processor, with two 120Hz LTPO screens (the smartphone display and folding screen), and a 5,000mAh battery with 45W wired charging.
The Phantom V Fold will launch in India at an early bird price of Rs 79,999 (~$979) for the 12GB/256GB variant. Expect to pay a normal price of Rs 89,999 (~$1,099) otherwise.
TECNO says the phone will go on sale in other markets at a yet-to-be-determined time, though you shouldn’t expect to see a US launch. The TECNO Phantom V Fold is available in Black or White with pleather backs.
Perhaps the best thing about the Phantom V Fold is the internal folding display, punctuated with a punch-hole camera on the right-hand side. You’re looking at a 7.85-inch 120Hz LTPO screen (OLED, 8:7), but the kicker is that you’ve got a minimal crease here.
I found that the finger-wide crease was still visible when looking at the screen from an angle, and I could still feel it when interacting with the middle of the screen. Nevertheless, it’s a major improvement over the Galaxy Z Fold 4‘s valley.
This panel is quite bright and vivid too, although we would’ve loved to see an anti-reflective coating here. Much like the Galaxy Z Fold series, it’s hard not to notice glare at times. At least you’ve also got ultra-thin glass here for added durability. Speaking of durability, TECNO says the display is rated for 200,000 folds, which is in line with Samsung’s best. Some brands like HONOR claim that their hinges are rated for 400,000 folds but haven’t disclosed the relevant figure for their folding screens.
The Phantom V Fold’s minimized crease is made possible thanks to a so-called drop-shaped hinge. It’s not the thinnest hinge we’ve ever seen, though. I also noticed a bit of movement when squeezing the folded device at the hinge and on the right-hand side, but the phone still felt sturdy in general. This is effectively a zero-gap hinge design, although you can actually see an extremely tiny gap if you put your eye to the hinge. Nevertheless, this is a major improvement over even some of the top foldable phones available globally.
Close the TECNO Phantom V Fold and you’ve got a 6.42-inch FHD+ smartphone screen, complete with Gorilla Glass Victus protection and a gentle curve on the right-hand side. Thankfully, this is a 120Hz LTPO screen too, matching the variable refresh rate of the larger panel.
I generally found this display to get bright enough outdoors (when auto-brightness works — more on that later), maxing at 1,100 nits, much like the main panel. The 21:9 aspect ratio isn’t as tall as the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s mobile screen but still makes the device comfortable to hold. This does make it awkward to reach the notification shade, but you can tweak the settings so a downward swipe anywhere opens the shade.
That curve on the smartphone display feels pleasant when using back gestures too, although I found that it didn’t do a great job of rejecting erroneous input when using the camera app. I specifically found that I couldn’t switch cameras at times because the phone was detecting my index finger resting on the curve. It’s mildly annoying but nothing game-breaking.
The Phantom V Fold's smartphone screen makes more sense than the Galaxy Z Fold line's extremely tall aspect ratio.
In any case, TECNO delivers a decent amount of options for both panels. You’ve got a blue light filter, your choice of two color profiles, a color temperature slider, and four refresh rate options (120Hz, 90Hz, 60Hz, and auto-switch). Use the auto-switch option and you’ll notice that the phone’s screens drop down to as low as 10Hz in some cases (e.g. reading ebooks or viewing images). Unsurprising but sensible, and we’re really just happy to see a 90Hz option joining the usual refresh rate modes for those that want a middle-ground.
High refresh rate screens need a healthy level of performance for a smooth experience, and the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Plus chipset brings the goods. It’s not the latest flagship silicon, but it’s still a very powerful processor on paper and a fair fit for a tablet-phone-hybrid foldable that attempts to cut sensible corners to hit a semi-affordable price.
Benchmark tests put the phone on par with the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC when it comes to CPU tests, but it predictably falls behind the Dimensity 9200 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. GPU tests also put the phone in the same territory as the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. However, it’s some way off 2023’s silicon in this category.
It’s worth noting that the phone delivers a respectable 89.8% stability in the 3DMark Wild Life GPU stress test, dropping to 6,908 points. For comparison, that’s still higher than the final scores we observed for the Galaxy S22 series. That said, the phone does get very hot during this test, particularly along the hinge and at the top.
Thankfully, the synthetic performance bears out in terms of real-world tasks. All the daily tasks I threw at it, such as scrolling through feeds, launching apps, and general web browsing, generally ran at a smooth pace bar a few odd exceptions (more on that later). I also booted up a few power-hungry games like Genshin Impact which ran at a mostly fluid pace at medium graphics and with a 60fps frame cap, with just a few bouts of judder. GameCube emulation was also very playable, although I definitely saw some bouts of slowdown in more demanding titles. We can chalk this up to app developers primarily focusing on Snapdragon silicon, but this is a niche use case anyway.
Some foldable phones compromise when it comes to battery life, but this isn’t the case for the Phantom V Fold. The phone houses a 5,000mAh battery, and I was able to get almost nine hours of screen-on time with light usage when mostly using the small screen (watching/listening to YouTube and browsing Reddit). Otherwise, I was able to eke out almost seven hours of screen-on time, mostly using the big screen (browsing Reddit, watching YouTube, and playing games).
TECNO’s foldable doesn’t have the fastest proprietary charging solution on the market, but it still hits a respectable 45W of power. A full charge took just under 55 minutes in my tests, which is in line with the brand’s claims. There’s no wireless charging support, unfortunately, but at least the phone is bundled with a 45W plug as standard, plus a kickstand-equipped case.
The Phantom V Fold offers dual stereo speakers, which I found to be a little louder than my Pixel 7 Pro (so not very loud) but reasonably balanced. The handset is equipped with a relatively speedy and accurate side fingerprint scanner too. I did find it a little difficult at times to tell where the scanner/power button was (particularly when folded), and I also found it tough to unfold the handset on occasion. But again, these were minor annoyances rather than dealbreakers.
Finally, the foldable also brings Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6 support. This is about the bare minimum you’d expect on a ~$1,000 phone, and I didn’t notice any connectivity issues in this regard.
What’s not so good?
Our biggest problem with the TECNO Phantom V Fold hardware is that the hinge is not of the free-stop variety. That is, the phone is either fully open or fully closed.
The hinge will sometimes hold its angle for a spell (particularly at ~30 to 70~ degrees), but it’ll often fully close or open after a while. This is a real shame when Samsung and HONOR’s foldables, to take two more widely available examples, both offer a free-stop hinge with a “Flex Mode,” that adjusts the UI and some apps for a half-open screen position. Rubbing salt in the wound is the fact that apps like YouTube and the camera app do actually adopt a Flex Mode-style UI when trying to partially fold the device.
The Phantom V Fold either opens fully or closes completely, with no support for partially opening the device.
The TECNO Phantom V Fold also lacks an official IP rating, unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and its IPX8 rating for water resistance. Instead, TECNO told us that the phone has a splash-proof nano-coating. This lack of an official IP rating is presumably due to the type of hinge being used, but it’s still disappointing it hasn’t been tested to the de facto standards. It doesn’t help that the handset weighs in at 299g, which is noticeably heavier than rival foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (263g) and HONOR Magic Vs (267g) when held.
However, the biggest downside to the TECNO Phantom V Fold is the software, and there are a few areas where the brand’s Android 13-based HiOS Fold skin and its entire software strategy fall painfully short.
The first issue is that there’s a variety of bloatware out of the box. It’s not the sheer number of apps so much as the fact that you won’t have heard of any of them before (e.g. Visha Player, Welife, BoomPlay). TECNO really needs to focus on quality control, as the company’s TECNO Spot forum app features NSFW images without any warning and seems entirely unmoderated. If that’s not enough, the foldable will even prompt you to install several more apps during use (see the third image above).
The Phantom V Fold software also seems to suffer from an overall lack of optimization. Perhaps the most noteworthy example is the fact that opening the notification shade immediately after unlocking the device consistently results in a delay of roughly two seconds before the shade opens. I also saw a delay of about a second when switching between cameras at first. This isn’t a huge deal, but most modern Android phones are noticeably quicker to switch lenses.
Another big annoyance I had with the Phantom V Fold is that auto-brightness was broken on the smartphone display. It would randomly drop the brightness to the absolute minimum, making for an incredibly frustrating experience.
The foldable also doesn’t seem to work with Google Wallet, as trying to link my bank card simply results in an error message. “This phone can’t be set up to tap to pay,” reads the message, adding that the device doesn’t meet security requirements for contactless payments. Netflix also isn’t available to download via the Play Store, but works just fine when sideloaded. We’ve asked TECNO about the banking issue in particular and it confirmed that our unit was running a pre-release version of the software without proper Google support. But the company added that commercial devices indeed have Google support.
TECNO's HiOS is more like ByeOS owing to bloatware, a lack of polish, and a disappointing update pledge.
Adding fuel to the poor software fire is the fact that the Phantom V Fold comes with a poor update policy. A company representative confirmed that the phone will receive two major OS upgrades (TECNO didn’t reveal a security update pledge). That’s the absolute bare minimum, making it hard to recommend over competing foldables from HONOR (three major OS updates) and Samsung (four major OS updates). TECNO also didn’t specify the cadence of these updates. That’s another concern considering our Phantom V Fold was still running the December 2022 security patch at the time of writing this review, although this could be related to the pre-release nature of the firmware.
It’s not all bad; the phone’s HiOS Fold skin atop Android 13 still brings plenty of features. You’ve got foldable-minded options like app pairs, an intuitive gesture to run two apps side-by-side, window support, and customization for what happens when you close the foldable. These foldable-specific features are in addition to more general additions like dual apps support, a privacy shade feature, PC integration (albeit only supported by TECNO laptops), the ability to draw letters on the locked screen to launch apps, and more. But all of these positives pale against the negatives for a phone with a ~$1,000 asking price. It’s clear that the company really needs to up its software game if it wants to be a big-time player on the global stage.
Finally, one feature that you won’t find on the TECNO Phantom V Fold is eSIM support. This isn’t a big deal if you don’t travel, but it might be a dealbreaker if you’re on a plane several times a year. At least there’s dual-SIM support, though.
TECNO Phantom V Fold camera review
The TECNO Phantom V Fold is equipped with a pretty solid camera system on paper. The rear camera setup consists of a 50MP main shooter, a 50MP 2x telephoto lens, and a 13MP ultrawide shooter. A 32MP selfie camera is available on the front display, while a 16MP sensor is on-tap when using the folding screen.
The Phantom V Fold’s 50MP primary camera delivers a respectable level of detail during the day and a realistic enough color profile. The phone beautifies subjects by default, so this is certainly something you’ll want to disable unless you want your subjects to look like waxwork models. The main camera is capable of some bright, good-looking low-light shots too, but a major issue in these situations is the lack of consistency. Some low-light snaps suffer from inconsistent handling of noise, and it’s not unheard of to find both heavy-handed noise reduction and a ton of noise in different parts of the same picture.
Shutter lag is an even bigger problem with this camera in general, especially in mixed lighting. I’ve often taken a shot, held the phone steady for a second or two, and put the phone down, only to get a blurry snap or a shot of the ground.
Need to get a little closer to the action? Then the 2x 50MP telephoto camera is on-hand. Images taken with this sensor pack a solid amount of detail but usually offer a noticeably different color profile and sometimes offer blown highlights compared to the main shooter. Punch in beyond the optical limit to 3x or higher, though, and you’ll notice severe ghosting and motion blur in some scenes. It’s almost as if multi-frame image processing is running too slowly for digital zoom snaps.
We’ve also got a 13MP ultrawide camera if you want a more expansive perspective. Sadly, this shooter has all the familiar drawbacks of a budget-tier ultrawide sensor, including extremely smudged corners and plenty of noise. The camera also suffers from occasional ghosting too, as evidenced by the departing plane in the background of my beer shot. At least it has autofocus so you can take macro snaps.
It’s worth noting that TECNO doesn’t list optical image stabilization (OIS) on its website for any of its rear cameras. This absence could go some way to explaining some blurry shots and ghosting across these shooters. This omission would nevertheless be a major downer given the handset’s price.
At least you’ve got a few options for selfies on the TECNO Phantom V Fold. The 32MP shooter on the smartphone display is the most obvious option, but you’ve also got a 16MP selfie camera in a punch-hole cutout on the folding screen. Both cameras are prone to washing out your face, although the 16MP camera seems to take this to the next level while also blowing out highlights. And unfortunately, we see frequent ghosting here too. Some shots look straight out of the 2010 smartphone camera playbook.
How appropriate yet disappointing is it that a phone called the Phantom V Fold suffers from ghosting in photos?
TECNO’s foldable doesn’t have the most camera options around, but what’s here is good. There’s a portrait mode (including a plump butt beauty filter), 50MP full-resolution option, short film mode (recording short clips in a chosen style), a super night mode, and the ability to use the cover screen as a mirror screen for your subjects.
The phone also serves up a decent list of video options, topping out at 4K/60fps while also offering an ultra steady mode, bokeh video feature, and an “ultimate video enhancement” mode that presumably adjusts quality for night scenes.
It goes without saying then that you shouldn’t buy the Phantom V Fold if you want a consistently good or great photography experience. That main camera is the most capable of the lot and can sometimes deliver some good-quality snaps, but shutter lag in mixed-lighting, ghosting with the secondary cameras, and overall inconsistency keep it well out of contention with the best camera phones. And even in the foldable space, there are better, more reliable camera systems around from Samsung and HONOR.
TECNO Phantom V Fold specs
|TECNO Phantom V Fold specs|
- 6.42-inch OLED
- 120Hz refresh rate
- 2,550 x 1,080 resolution
- 21:9 aspect ratio
- Gorilla Glass Victus
- 7.85-inch OLED
- 120Hz refresh rate
- 2,296 x 2,000 resolution
- 8:7 aspect ratio
- Ultra-thin glass protection
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Plus
45W wired charging
No wireless charging
Charger in box
- 50MP main, ƒ/1.85
- 13MP ultra-wide, ƒ/2.2
- 50MP telephoto, 2x zoom, ƒ/1.98
- 32MP ƒ/2.4
- 16MP, ƒ/2.4
No 3.5mm port
Dual nano-SIM tray
No eSIM support
Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
Camera-based face unlock (insecure)
Dimensions and weight
- 159.4 x 72 x 14.5mm (measured at hinge)
- 159.4 x 140.4 x 6.8mm
TECNO Phantom V Fold review: The verdict
TECNO’s first foldable phone is a landmark achievement in the segment purely for its pricing alone. At a regular price of Rs 90,000 (~$1,099), it’s the cheapest book-style foldable phone you can get at the time of this writing — and the early bird pricing of Rs 79,999 (~$979) makes for an even more impressive price tag. But there’s more to the Phantom V Fold than an attractive price, as you’re getting two great screens, a healthy level of performance, and a big battery.
Unfortunately, software is TECNO’s biggest downfall here, as the lack of polish, poor update policy, and questionable bloatware bring things down in a big way. The lack of a free-stop hinge and ho-hum cameras further punctuate what could’ve been a no-brainer purchase for anyone looking to buy a “flagship killer” foldable.
The TECNO Phantom V Fold brings solid hardware and a very aggressive price tag, but its software and cameras are in dire need of an exorcism.
The Phantom V Fold is entering a growing foldable phone market, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 ($1180.25 at Amazon) is the runaway leader of the pack. Samsung’s phone ups the ante over the TECNO handset with features like water resistance, wireless charging, a lengthy update pledge, great cameras, and Flex Mode. You do have to put up with a much higher price, smaller battery with slower wired charging, a relatively deep crease, and an awkwardly tall aspect ratio for the smartphone screen, but the overall polish is second-to-none.
It also launches hot on the heels of the HONOR Magic Vs ($1458.22 at eBay). A slick free-stop hinge, Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC, eSIM support, and better cameras all make it stand out from the Phantom V Fold.
Fans of pocket-friendly foldables should also consider the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 ($944.45 at Amazon) and OPPO Find N2 Flip ($1029 at Giztop). Both phones offer clamshell form factors with last year’s top-flight silicon and lengthy update pledges. Samsung’s phone also offers water resistance and wireless charging, while OPPO’s phone brings a larger cover display and effectively no display crease on the folding screen.
Top TECNO Phantom V Fold questions and answers
No, the Phantom V Fold doesn’t have an IP rating.
The Phantom V Fold supports sub-6GHz 5G, but not mmWave 5G due to the lack of US availability.
No, the Phantom V Fold doesn’t have a microSD slot. But it offers at least 256GB of fixed storage.
Yes, the Phantom V Fold’s folding screen has a layer of ultra-thin glass underneath the top plastic layer.
Yes, the Phantom V Fold offers Google integration. It comes with apps like the Play Store, Google Maps, and other Google services.
No, the Phantom V Fold isn’t available in the USA. None of the firm’s previous phones made it to the market, either.