Welcome everyone to the Tecno Spark 7. It’s the most affordable smartphone in Tecno’s latest lineup. There are a couple of changes they made from the Spark 5 Pro I last reviewed so let’s get into them. You can enjoy the video below as well.
The body is plastic and the back is textured. No gradient finish this time but the colour name is epic. This one I have is called Morpheus blue. The rear has a dual camera setup with a 16MP main and 2MP depth camera plus a quad LED flash.
Towards the top centre is the fingerprint scanner and the bottom left quarter is the Tecno Spark branding embossed into the back. To the right edge are the usual volume and power buttons in a comfortable position for my right thumb.
To the left we have my favourite kind of a sim tray. It’s got triple slots with 2 of them belonging to SIM cards and another to a memory card. They also put a red rubber ring on the sim tray for added protection against liquids. It’s not a waterproof phone so don’t go using it in the rain but it’s nice to know it can handle some minor accidents.
The bottom edge has a micro USB port for charging and data transfer. I was hoping by now all phones come with USB-C but it looks like that’s not the case here. Anyway we still have a headphone jack which is becoming more and more rare these days and the primary mic.
There is no loudspeaker grill on this phone. Or at least it’s not where you’d expect to find it. The earpiece for calls is the one that actually doubles as the loudspeaker. And as a result it really is not as loud nor as detailed when it is being used as a loudspeaker.
Whilst we are at the front, there are 2 LEDs on either side of the earpiece/loud speaker combo which act as the selfie flash when using the camera. The left one also serves as a charge indicator when the phone is charging.
The display is a 6.5 inch HD+ LCD unit with a notch up top housing the 8MP selfie camera. Now let’s check out software.
Software & UI
The Spark 7 runs on Hios version 7.5 on top of Android 11 and for the most part it does a decent job of keeping things running smoothly. Again I will emphasize for the most part. When you catch the phone off guard it may lag a bit opening an app or summoning the keyboard. The frequency of this was not bad or nearly bad enough to get me pulling my hair out but it’s there.
There are also a couple of overenthusiastic apps which quickly fill up the notification bar with stuff. Most of these notifications can be dismissed by just swiping them away but with some you may have to get into the app settings and disable them.
There are 2 nice features that come with HiOS. The first one is automatic sorting of apps into folders on the homescreen. I only noticed this with games where if you download or install a new game, it’s automatically placed into a gaming folder.
The second one is a hardware status window when playing a game. It has some shortcuts for screen recording, screenshots and apps that you can use in picture in picture mode while you play your game. It also shows how much of the CPU and GPU is being used which I loved a lot.
You also have the usual app shortcut menu that you can launch by swiping and holding from the left or right edges. Swiping down with 2 fingers launches google voice search for scenarios where you cannot type out what you need to search. I mean. Sometimes I know how to say it and not how to spell it. I know I’m not alone.
Performance & Battery Life
The particular model I have right now is the 3GB RAM and 64GB internal version with the full fat Android 11. The 2GB RAM version is running Android 11 go edition which is a lighter version of Android meant to run on less powerful hardware. There is also a Spark 7P with even beefier specs that I’ll be reviewing soon so make sure you subscribe to Techzim. After all, it’s free on Econet.
HiOS 7.5 UI
|CPU||Mediatek Helio P22
1.8GHz octa core
|GPU||PowerVR Rogue GE8320|
|Display||6.52" 1600 x 720 pixels HD IPS LCD
1080p Video recording
AI scene recognition
|Secondary Camera||8MP camera|
MicroSD up to 128GB
4G, 3G, 2G
32% battery drain after 3 hour endurance test
Battery life is very good. Not as amazing as the Spark 5 Pro I reviewed a little while back but even with that, the Spark 7 is an easy 2 day battery phone. In our endurance test it faced a 32% power drain after an hour each of video recording, gaming and video streaming.
Let’s talk cameras. We have a 16 MP rear snapper plus a 2MP depth camera for better portrait photos. In broad daylight with good lighting the Spark 7 takes some pleasing photos. The detail is spot on. Dynamic range does a good job keeping up with challenging scenes and I appreciate the low noise in the shadows.
In low light the image quality drops but not by much. What suffers the most are colours which get less vibrant compared to the outdoor shots in good lighting. There is a bit more noise in the darker areas of photos but in this price range the camera does a commendable job. A lot of improvement from the camera in the Spark 5 Pro.
In a nutshell
So the Spark 7. Where does it fall short?
-It’s a bit sluggish in it’s operation. It has moments where it just lags unexpectedly.
-Some of the preloaded apps just send too many notifications
-one would assume in 2021 every smartphone now uses a USB type C port but that’s not the case on the Spark 7
The spark 7 also has some bits it got right
+Some of the software features are pretty handy like the in game control centre and the automatic sorting of apps to folders.
+the camera is definitely a big step up from the Spark 5 Pro
+Battery life is definitely still strong and good for 2 days of regular usage.
+It’s reasonable hardware for about 145 USD
Who should buy this?
It’s fair to also note that the unit I was given is a pre production unit meant for testing so some of the lags I was facing might be ironed out in the retail versions.
The Spark 7 is an entry level smartphone and is perfect for someone looking for a no frills phone that can do the essentials well with a solid battery life.
Let me know what you think of this phone in the comments. There is a bunch more Tecno content coming up as well as some Itel content. We need to address those memes.