We all know the Spark series. It’s Tecno’s best-selling smartphone and thanks to that we have this Spark 9T coming in with a couple of cool nice-to-haves for the price. It also falls between the Spark 9 and the Spark 9 Pro making it the middle child.
The body is plastic but the glossy kind which I don’t like so much because of how prone it is to fingerprints and scratches. And Tecno knows this so they included a clear silicone case in the box with Spark lettering all over it.
It also has the flat edges that we saw on the Camon 19 pro 5G and because it’s plastic you will not see any interruptions in the design from antenna band cutouts. Something we often see on phones with metal frames and glass backs.
On the right edge are all the buttons. The volume buttons and the power button below them, which also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. Definitely, the more logical choice for me since the power button is usually used to unlock the device.
On the left edge are the sim and micro SD combo slot which will gladly accept 2 sims and an SDcard. On the bottom edge is where you’ll get the headphone jack, the primary microphone, the USB-C port, and the loudspeaker
The back shares the same camera circles with the Camon 19 pro 5G but is just a bit smaller on the Spark 9T. The top one houses the 13MP main camera and the bottom one is of course decoration.
There is also a quad-LED flash right next to these circles and the Tecno Spark branding on the right edge. On the bottom left corner is the Spark slogan “Stop at nothing”
On the front, there is a 6.6-inch display with a water drop notch for the 32 MP camera up top. Above the camera is the speaker grill for the earpiece. All fun stuff. But let’s check out what’s on the inside.
Software and UI
Running things inside the Spark 9T is Android 12 with HiOS 8.6 on top. Their skin comes with some really interesting software features and even though the list is not as extensive as the one on the Camon 19 Pro 5G it’s still packed.
There is a pre-installed music composing app called Soplay that you can use to make some beats on the fly. It has a bunch of presets for beats, instruments, and even some vocal effects. It’s really great fun if you are feeling musically creative.
You can make something half-decent with it. The variety of options on instruments is a bit limited but I think only a pro beats producer would feel that way. A casual user will enjoy pushing those buttons and it’s quite intuitive. Far much easier to use than let’s say FL Studio for my homies that make beats but like I said, a lot less variety as a result.
You also get WowFM which was on the Camon 19 as well. It’s pretty much an online radio streaming app with built-in FM radio. Basically, it shows you the future that is streaming radio but without leaving behind the majority of their client base that still relies on offline broadcast radio in places where connectivity is a challenge or there exists a lack of capacity to afford data to just stream radio.
There is also a notification dot on the extreme right top corner that lights up green whenever there is an app using the microphone or the camera and if you tap on the button in the drop-down curtain it will also show you the specific app using the mic or camera or both.
An interesting observation I made is that the Spark 9T has Tecno’s virtual assistant, Ella, and yet the same virtual assistant is not available on the more premium Camon 19 Pro 5G. Maybe this is Tecno looking out for the customer base that’s paying the bills.
However unfortunately it seems the Spark 9T is plagued by the same software optimization issues that I faced with the Camon 19 Pro 5G. There is a hesitation when jumping in and out of apps and also when generally navigating the UI.
The Spark 9T supports a 90Hz refresh rate but because of this slight stutter when scrolling or navigating the UI, the smooth refresh rate then doesn’t shine. Also, the 90Hz is not quality enough here.
Just as it was on the Camon 19 Pro 5G, there is a fair loss of sharpness and ghosting when scrolling and it gets worse the faster you scroll. It’s almost as if the pixels on the display cannot adapt fast enough to the signal they are getting. It’s not a deal breaker though considering the price point of this smartphone.
The Spark 9T comes with 4GB of RAM that can be bumped up to 6GB with some witchcraft they call memory fusion and also 128GB of internal storage that is expandable by up to 256GB with an SD card.
Performance is reasonable for a smartphone in this price range. It might stutter slightly with animations and transitions but that does not affect how it performs when it comes to running apps, multitasking and gaming.
|CPU||Mediatek Helio G37
|Display||6.6 Inch HD+ IPS LCD
90Hz refresh rate
|Rear Camera||13MP main camera
Quad LED flash
|Front Camera||32MP camera
Dual LED selfie flash
|Storage||4GB RAM + 2GB (Memory Fusion)
128GB internal storage
up to 256GB SDcard
2G, 3G, 4G
18W fast charge
21% power drain after 3 hour endurance test
Battery performance is what we are used to in a Spark. In our endurance test, it lost just 21% of juice after 3 hours of video recording, video streaming, and gaming.
It’s pretty much a Tecno shattering the endurance record of another Tecno and by a good distance. The Spark 9T outlasts the Pova 5G which comes with a 6000mAh battery. What helps it is pretty much a power-efficient chipset, a low-resolution display and that the endurance test was run with the display’s refresh rate on auto.
All this contributed to the Spark 9T being the battery champ. It’s a comfortable 2-day battery and if you are buying this for your granny it’s probably a 3 to 4-day battery.
The camera situation is a 13MP rear camera and a 32MP selfie camera. There is obviously a bit more emphasis on the selfie camera because the data they have might suggest the majority of the Spark series customers are big on selfies.
It does show. The selfie camera has had some excellent work put into it and takes some pretty decent photos. I was actually impressed with how it exposed my face very well whilst keeping details in the sky in the background. For a phone of this price again this selfie camera is punching above its weight.
The rear camera is not bad as well. It offers good detail and sharpness in images and also does a fair job with color reproduction. Photos were taken on an overcast day and usually if the sun is not present some cameras struggle with colors but the Spark 9T pulled through.
What I did notice is it does do a fair bit of focus hunting if the subject you wish to take a photo of is a small proportion to the rest of the frame. At times I needed to tap the focus point in the viewfinder to get it to focus which was also hit or miss. Manual focus could have done the trick.
Video is capped at 1080p and it does get a bit shaky because of no stabilization but it’s not too bad. Something phones of this price bracket struggle with.
For the price, this is quite a solid camera. Just ensure it’s in well-lit environments. And if not then selfies are the place to be. The dual selfie flash is definitely bright enough to illuminate any face even in pitch black darkness.
The Spark 9T delivers. Yeah, it has a few software optimization issues it needs to be sorted but after that, it’s a worthy update to the previous Spark.
It is a more mature and elegant design. Taking notes from its more premium sibling, the Camon 19 but just shinier. Performance is sufficient, the battery life is record-breaking, the cameras are competent, and all this for US$175. I think this one will be a popular one.