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Tecno Pova 5G review. Flying too close to the sun?

Just a few months ago I reviewed the Tecno Pova 2 and concluded that it was the undisputed battery champ. It outlasted everything Techzim has ever reviewed. Today I have the sequel. The Pova 5G. Let’s talk about it.

Design

There isn’t a lot that’s different on the Pova 5G compared to the Pova 2. In terms of design it is still a glossy plastic back with a different style carbon fiber pattern and a Manchester City logo printed proudly towards the bottom. If you didn’t know, Tecno has been a sponsor of that football club for a couple of years now.

There is a very subtle redesign on the camera cluster and as you can tell from the label, the camera has been upgraded from a 48MP unit on the Pova 2 to a 50MP here on the Pova 5G.

The display is still a 6.9 inch plot however the refresh rate has been doubled to 120Hz. And as a bonus as well this time it supports HDR 10 for some richer more vibrant colour.

So at 1st glance it’s still pretty much the same phone. Until you get under the hood. Yeah they made a couple of design changes in there.

Software & Performance

It’s got Android 11 running the latest HiOS 8.0 that we saw on the Camon 18 premier.

There is also a Panther game engine which curates your local gaming library and can knock off some background apps to ensure you get maximum performance when gaming. Speaking of performance, we have 8GB of some really fast LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB of  also really fast UFS 3.1 storage.

OSAndroid 11
HiOS 8.0
CPUMediatek Dimensity 900
Octa Core
GPUMali-G68 MC4
Display6.9" 2400x1080 pixels
FHD+ IPS LCD
120Hz refresh rate
Rear Camera50MP main camera
4K video recording
Front Camera16MP
Eye tracking auto focus
Storage8GB RAM+3GB MemoryFusion
128GB Internal
ConnectivityDual Sim
2G, 3G, 4G, 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
SensorsAccelerometer
Ambient light
Step counter
Battery6000mAh
18W Fast Charge
29% power drain after 3 hour endurance test
PriceUS$300

Thanks to this rapid storage, Tecno was able to implement MemoryFusion which essentially uses some of the internal storage for RAM when very demanding tasks are being run. This Pova 5G can conjure 3GB extra RAM from the internal storage if the need arises, giving it a total of 11GB of RAM.

It’s really cool and a first for Tecno but the tech itself has been around for close to a year now with ZTE and Xiaomi being some of the 1st to give it a go. That said, I am loving how progressive Tecno is being with their products.

The battery situation worried me a bit because it’s down in capacity from the 7000mAh we had in the Pova 2 to the 6000mAh in the Pova 5G. After running the endurance test my mind was blown away. Not only did it perform very well, it dethroned the Pova 2 to become the battery champ of all the smartphones Techzim has tested. I mean it beat the Pova 2 by literally 1% but as a famous street racer once said. It doesn’t matter whether you win by an inch or a mile. Winning is winning.

The Pova 5G only suffered a 29% power drain after a 3 hour torture test comprising of gaming, video streaming and video recording. All at 100% screen brightness and refresh rate set to Auto meaning depending on what’s happening on the display it was switching between 60Hz and 120Hz for the best balance between battery life and user experience. Oh and the display is an LCD panel which did not feel very bright. Sunlight legibility was on the poor side of things.

Back to performance. The reason behind this very impressive battery life lies within the processor. The Mediatek Dimensity 900. For the uninitiated, the Dimensity 900 is built on a 6nm process which makes it very power efficient but also providing bags of performance.

From the Geekbench scores you can see that the Dimensity 900 outclasses the Kirin 980 on single core performance with the Kirin 980 in the Huawei P30 Pro getting 683 ponts vs the 704 that the Pova 5G got thanks to that 6nm process. Oh, by the way. Mediatek’s Dimensity line of CPUs come with 5G built-in.

Which addresses the 5G in the name of the Pova. So Unfortunately at the time of making this review, Zimbabwe does not have 5G yet and so I could not test how that would feel on the Pova 5G. But I love the thinking that Tecno has.

Thoughts

The Pova is a performance smartphone. Primarily being marketed as a gaming smartphone. Because of the performance demands of gaming smartphones, the Pova ends up getting most of the good stuff. The biggest battery because gaming drinks a lot of power. The biggest display for more immersive gaming. The best touch response and smoothest display. In fact if you look closely. The Pova 5G is getting the most powerful CPU of all the Tecno smartphones right now.

The Phantom X from last year used a Mediatek Helio G95. The Camon 18 Premier used a Helio G96 and now the Pova 5G goes a whole level up with the Dimensity 900.

If you are not worried about glass and metal finishes, weight, size and cameras, This phone is actually a very good buy. Speaking of cameras.

Camera

The 50MP camera does a decent job. Pretty similar to what the Pova 2 was delivering. Good dynamic range in the photos. They are not too saturated like on the Camon 18 Premier which I personally prefer. The autofocus is quick and locks on well. I was taking some of the photos in windy conditions with no problems. It’s a very usable camera.

I have a major bone to pick with Tecno on this camera system. On the box and on the phone it says triple camera. The assumption is you need multiple cameras for different focal lengths. So one camera will be a normal or main one, often given the most megapixels. Another will be a wide angle and another will be a telephoto zoom. Maybe 2x or 3x zoom. 

The Pova 5G has none of those anywhere in the camera options or settings and trust me I looked. So apart from the 50MP main sensor I don’t think there is anything being done by the other 2 sensors.

It’s not like Tecno does not know this. They did a perfect job with the Phantom X and the Camon 18 Premier. Both these Tecnos have 3 working, functional and useful cameras. It’s when they go to the Pova ,Spark and Pop series that they start these marketing stunts.

The tough talk on price

Rant aside, the Pova 5G is awesome. It’s got a huge presence thanks to its sheer size. Bags and bags of performance thanks to that Dimensity 900 CPU paired with the superfast RAM and internal storage and even though the battery is smaller than it’s predecessor’s, it’s going to outlast almost anything on the market right now.

What’s interesting is the pricing. It will be retailing between US$300 and US$320 in Zimbabwe which is very very close to the Camon 18 Premier. And the Camon 18 Premier looks a lot better, feels a lot better in the hand too because of the metal and glass finish and also the more compact and pockatable size. And even though the battery is smaller, it charges almost 2x faster. Not forgetting it has 3 real and useful cameras and the same 120Hz refresh rate but on an OLED. All for 350 bucks.

It’s a tough choice and a weird place to be for the Pova 5G. Worse still the 5G is not yet available in Zim so that’s not even a selling point in these parts. I don’t know. Let me know in the comments which one you would go for and why.


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25 thoughts on “Tecno Pova 5G review. Flying too close to the sun?

  1. The only thing missing from this is an amoled panel. Once your eyes fixate on vibrancy of an Amoled display you won’t want to go back to the blandness of LCD

    1. Until 5G becomes available in Zimbabwe on wider scale it’s not worth considering a 5G capable phone. Not to mention the fact that since it’s still a relatively new technology even in developed countries there is still a price premium to be paid for such phones.
      And in order for manufacturers to hit certain price points they have to cut corners nd depending on how much they cut you can end up with a phone with a fancy 5G attached to it but with worse performance than a normal 4G phone.

      1. Am interested in a Pova 2 since 5G is not yet available in Zimbabwe and I like this phone because of the battery size it’s good and workable can you give me directions where I can get this original phone here in Harare Zimbabwe

    2. AMOLED or LCD tech its just a personal level cos with the 120htz refresh rate its still a good deal and the latest processor i will try it on but at the end i will not take it as these phones are full of bloatware.

  2. Design design design – as you get closer to the big boys, you need to also tone done the wild Christmas tree designs – let the internals do the talking – that device is entirely too ugly!

  3. I have always wondered. What type of person doesn’t put a case nd screen protector on their phone?!
    All this talk about how it feels in hand etc etc has always been a bit of nonsense to me. Yes it will feel nice when I take it out of the box for the first time, but 10 minutes later it’s in a case.
    For me what I require from a phone is
    Excellent screen quality(there is nothing sadder than an expensive with a poor quality display… oh the humanity!)
    Plenty of internal memory and expandability is must (online storage is just a nice way to bleed money imo)
    Enough RAM to really push it when necessary for top tier games or heavy use (it will will also help when the phone gets older by helping it not slow down too much)
    A good camera system (I don’t use it that much but when I do, l like to know that I will get quality photos)
    A record of having a good OS and security update policy (buying a new phone that will never get updated is so 1990’s 🤭)
    People will ask what about screen size, 4G for ZOL?! All I can say is “My dear that’s like asking if the new car comes with an engine if you have ask about such basic things. Then you have already made a mistake on the type of phone you want to buy” 😏
    The speaker quality never really mattered to me nd I have always wondered about people who like to play music or receive calls using the speakers…. It’s like they don’t know that earphones where invented. So we now know about the goats that ate someone’s maize and their poor taste in music. Bluetooth earphones are available at almost every price point! (R.I.P headphone jack 😔)
    About this high refresh rate business I have not tried it out myself but I hear it’s quite amazing.

  4. “What type of person doesn’t put a case nd screen protector on their phone?!”
    A careful one, a utilitarian one or a masochistic one. Personally I think I’m a mix of all that with a sprinkling of being a sucker for clean aesthetics 😅
    My Nokia 6 has been a nudist since the day I got it, and in all that time, it’s only had minimal micro scratches on the screen and a nick in the frame from the one bad drop it’s had. Besides, I truly appreciate the ‘feel’ and ergonomics of it as designed. Got a case for my new phone though, but only because (at the time) to remain a slave to the brand, I’d have to accept a glass back.
    Great speakers are nice for notifications. Missed enough calls in moderately noisy places or when the phone was in my bag. Besides that, having music play out loud is handy in some situations, ie when I don’t want to drop my earphones into the tub while doing laundry 😂

    1. Yah good speakers are good. I am just irritated by those people who feel they have to play their music on loud in public or have their phone conversations on loud speaker in public

  5. AMOLED or LCD tech its just a personal level cos with the 120htz refresh rate its still a good deal and the latest processor i will try it on but at the end i will not take it as these phones are full of bloatware, as these companies make money by selling you infromation to companies.
    Yes Google does.it so is Apple.but these Chinese companies are worse i heard a friend that when you have data bundles it will quickly finish and not because Econet steals from people.but the phone will start to download games.on its own.

    As for screen protector i used to put it on long ago and right now its been 8 year when i stopped.and the feel and use of the my phone have been marvelous. 5G its still not a selling point in Zimbabwe. But having a good battery its still a good selling point.
    I hate that the OS will not update when you buy it on Android 11 its what you will get. And the skin that they use its not that good i hate it .
    Bvongie out.

  6. To all those who don’t put cases/screen protectors on their phones.
    I salute your bravery!
    Micro scratches on the screen! Dents on the back! Not on my phone! I like to keep my phone in prestine condition (it also helps maintain its resell value if it’s in neat condition 😉)
    Personally I am more about what phone can do and less about how it looks.
    Function over Form anytime everyday
    Performance is a must, looks are a nice to have extra. Meaning I will take a plastic backed workhorse over a glass piece of eye candy. Nd in my opinion if you spend a lot of time admiring the way the phone looks instead of enjoying using it, then you either bought a bad phone and are trying to find some redeeming features or you have run out data 🤭
    Amoled all the way! Down with LCD!
    In the end if you really have no other option but to buy a Techno phone the better choice would be the Camon 18 premier over the pova 5G
    The difference of $30 in price is covered by getting
    a better screen,
    more cameras
    faster charging.
    And apparently it looks nd feels expensive
    You can’t even humble brag about it being a 5G phone cos people who know what that means will start thinking about the adage that talks of a fool and his money. Since 5G services are almost non existant in Zimbabwe. It’s like having a car that can turn into a boat whilst you live in the driest area of the Sahara desert it’s useless.

  7. i am sceptical about this Mediatek Dimensity 900 CPU .. as far as i know, Mediatek chips are low powered processors used in low end mobile phones (i.e itel, gtel, tecno), and sometimes medium range phones .. and because they are low power chips they have low energy consumption requirements hence why the phones equipped with such have long batteries lives .. the latest and greatest Mediatek CPU from 2022 could have similar benchmark perfomance with the best Snapdragon CPU from 2017, that’s how mediocre it truly is.

  8. I see people talk about how reliable the processor is and i chuckle. Gone are the days we tag mediatek chips as low end. Even the so called high end phones are embracing them now. No doubt it will serve well on this phone

  9. Would have preferred an amoled display on this beast to be honest but it does not take anything away from it still.

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