An affordable flagship from Africa’s best phone brand


Shenzhen-based phone maker Tecno has grown into Africa’s number one phone brand over the years by launching affordable smartphones, some of which are assembled on the continent, with a focus on selfie cameras and large screens. The company’s latest addition, the Camon 17 Pro, follows the same path.

For around the equivalent of $ 280, the Camon 17 Pro offers a 6.8-inch 1080p 90Hz LCD display, 64-megapixel main camera and 48-megapixel selfie camera, as well as a Helio G95 chip from MediaTek and 258 GB of internal storage. While these specs aren’t going to impress Western readers, they’re pretty good for a $ 280 device in markets like Nigeria or Ethiopia. Having 258 GB of storage at this price is particularly unheard of.

I’ve been testing a unit for a week and it’s hard to complain too much at this price. The phone is solidly built – its plastic back has a frosted finish which gives it a more premium feel; the side-mounted fingerprint scanner is fast and responsive; the screen diffuses vivid colors with respectable brightness; and the main camera is surprisingly capable.

The MediaTek chip is not the most powerful processor, but I had no problem running the usual apps, as well as playing games like Real Racing 3.

Like many budget phones, Tecno provides everything you need out of the box, including a clear soft gel case, wired headphones (the phone has a headphone jack) and a 25W fast charging brick and a USB-C cable. The phone even has a plastic screen protector pre-applied.

Using the phone, I had no qualms other than a mediocre 8MP ultra-wide camera that suffers from lackluster dynamic range and soft detail around the edges. I am, as previously mentioned, happy with the main camera, a Samsung 1 / 1.72 “image sensor. It has a responsive shutter speed, handles HDR well, and produces muted but lifelike colors. Focus speed can be a bit slow, but that’s probably because I’m used to using phones that cost five times as much.

The most notable feature here is the 48-megapixel selfie camera, which uses an OmniVision sensor with an f / 2.2 aperture. It’s a fixed focal length lens, but the sharpness and detail are excellent. In the examples below, even when shooting against the backlight, the phone’s HDR produced a balanced shot, and the artificial bokeh in portrait mode also looks respectable.

The selfie camera can also record 4K / 30 footage, although stabilization takes a beating when shooting at this resolution.

The Tecno Camon 17 Pro runs Android 11, with the Tecno software skin on top. The software generally works fine, but some of the Android features like forced rotation orientation even when auto-rotate is off are missing here. The app drawer works differently, too: in virtually all other Android phones, you slide up to pull the drawer up and down to “close” it. Here on the Camon 17 Pro you still open the drawer by sliding up, but after which swiping down doesn’t close the drawer. Instead, you need to activate the phone’s rear control, which is either an on-screen button or a side swipe. This is a minor change, but it fundamentally changes the way you navigate Android. I do not like it.

Elsewhere, the 5,000mAh battery is huge for a phone with these specs, and even for my heavy use, the Camon 17 Pro can easily last 13 hours outdoors.

The phone also has stereo speakers – something you typically don’t see in this price range – and the speaker quality is above average.

Overall, at this sub $ 300 price bracket, the Tecno Camon 17 Pro offers a lot to like. It performs well as a media consuming device thanks to the large screen, stereo speakers, long battery life and large amount of storage. If I compare this phone to similarly priced phones from Xiaomi or Realme, I would still prefer the latter two brands because they have more sophisticated software, but for its target market, the Camon 17 Pro should be another hit.