TECNO PHANTOM V Fold Review: A Flagship Foldable that Exceeds All Expectations
Foreword: Under the name of PHANTOM, TECNO takes high-end premium products to a new level
In many countries and regions, TECNO offers consumers a new way to enjoy their digital mobile lives at their fingertips, but that doesn't mean that this technology brand is focused on just one area. Since 2021, TECNO has launched a series of models with stylish looks, high-end features, and flagship imaging configurations, starting with the pivotal PHANTOM X.
Since then, "PHANTOM" has become more and more visible as a banner for TECNO's high-end market. Following the global launch of the PHANTOM X2 Pro, the world's first mass-produced multi-camera model with a retractable portrait lens, TECNO brought their first flagship large-screen foldable smartphone, the PHANTOM V Fold, to MWC 2023.
Appearance: curved 21:9 Sub screen, more interactive cover material
While TECNO is not the first brand to release a foldable smartphone, this also means that they had plenty of opportunities to evaluate and assess the various shortcomings of this type of product, allowing them to design their first foldable smartphone to be the best it can be.
The effort that was put into the craftsmanship radiate throughout the phone's sleek design.
First of all, the PHANTOM V Fold has a 6.42-inch curved sub screen. It's made with flexible OLED material, where the edge appears to have a "single-curve" design.
As a result, the PHANTOM V Fold's unique shape and extremely narrow screen bezel provide an excellent one-handed control experience. According to TECNO, when deciding on the size of the sub screen, they examined hundreds of users' palm data from different countries and ethnicities in order to create the perfect screen that fits everyone's needs. Having taken into account various measurements like palm widths, thumb sizes, and finger lengths, the PHANTOM V Fold is deliberately limited to 71.95mm in width after folding, which is basically the same as the mainstream flat-screen phones.
Compared to similar products, PHANTOM V Fold's sub screen ratio is a fitting 21:9 and the resolution reaches 2550*1080, while also supporting an LTPO self-adapted refresh rate of up to 120Hz, as well as up to 800nit HBM brightness (1100-nit local peak brightness) and 100% P3 color gamut.
This means that the PHANTOM V Fold's sub screen offers much better app compatibility. And in video and gaming scenarios, the quality of this sub screen is good enough to rival most flat-screen flagship models.
The back of the PHANTOM V Fold is clearly more recognizable than the "single curved" shape of the sub screen. PHANTOM V Fold is available in two different colors and materials, with the white model using organic silicone leather and the black version using classic leather.
PHANTOM V Fold's back cover has a higher friction, allowing for a more solid grip. The unique elasticity and light weight of this material also provides drop resistance that traditional glass back covers do not have.
Appearance: large flexible main screen, self-developed hinge offers strong durability
After talking so much about the exterior design of the PHANTOM V Fold, let's unfold its inner screen to see the "inside" of this model.
First of all, in terms of basic specs, the PHANTOM V Fold has a 7.85-inch main screen with a resolution of 2296*2000, which has the same 100% P3 color gamut as the sub screen, 800nit HBM brightness (with a local peak brightness of 1100nit), and can support an LTPO self-adapted refresh rate of 10-120Hz.
Secondly, in terms of visual perception, the main screen of PHANTOM V Fold does a pretty good job in minimizing the crease. Of course, this is largely due to its use of the proven UTG glass.
More importantly, it also helps that the PHANTOM V Fold uses an innovative drop-shaped hinge developed by TECNO themselves. It is reported that this hinge is internally made of aerospace-grade high-performance materials unlike anything else on the market. Meanwhile, the structure design aims to tackle the shortcomings of other similar products, specifically made to improve the screen sliding space and fall protection.
Of course, the PHANTOM V Fold's self-developed hinge is not without a disadvantage. As some of you may have noticed, we did not show the PHANTOM V Fold's hovering state. This is because its hinge is set up with a strong boost, whether opening or closing the screen, the hinge will automatically push to "complete" the rest of the action.
When the phone is new, the screen crease measures just 0.11mm, and the device is capable of 200,000 folds. Moreover, foldable phones are still most commonly used either completely open or closed and the half-open hovering "mode" is not frequently used.
Camera: a rare CMOS configuration for a model in its class, the AI function is immaculate
Next, let's talk about PHANTOM V Fold's performance in terms of video.
For the hardware configuration, the PHANTOM V Fold is equipped with five cameras, a 32MP front camera on the sub screen, a 16MP front camera on the main screen, and three rear cameras located on the back. Obviously, if you valued selfie experience a lot, PHANTOM V with its outsole sub screen camera, will be a good choice for you among the available foldable smartphone in the marketplace.
Unlike most foldable phones, the PHANTOM V Fold does not deliberately use a lower rear camera configuration than its flat-screen contemporaries because of its thick body. In fact, it is equipped with a "outsole" CMOS, a surprising addition to foldable smartphones.
The PHANTOM V Fold's rear triple camera module consists of a 1/1.3-inch, 50MP, f1.85 wide-angle main camera, a 50MP, f1.98 2x optical zoom telephoto sub camera, and a 13MP, f2.2 120° ultra-wide angle sub camera. All three rear cameras support autofocus, and both the main camera and telephoto support electronic stabilization. Paired with its foldable design and the sub screen, the PHANTOM V Fold allows the user to even take selfies with the powerful rear cameras, making picture-taking all the more exciting and fun.
Sample Image: Cake ISO284 f1.85 0.01s
To be fair, in today's foldable phones, 1/1.56 inches is a common specification for the main camera on the back, while 1/1.3 inches is relatively rare. An outsole CMOS means more light intake, but it also places a higher demand on the design of the mirror and focus mechanism. As a result, the closest focusing distance of the PHANTOM V Fold's main camera, although not "macro", seems to be better than some flagship flat-screen models equipped with the 1/1.3-inch super outsole.
Sample: Light (ultra wide angle) ISO561 f2.2 0.03s
Sample Image: Light (wide angle) ISO329 f1.85 0.02s
Sample photo: Light (telephoto) ISO738 f1.98 0.03s
And from the picture samples that were taken indoor, it is clear that TECNO has carefully analyzed the differences in sensor size and light sensitivity between different cameras and tried to adjust their white balance to be as accurate as possible, as if they were really using the phone to achieve "zoom".
Sample picture: Train station ISO51 f1.85 0.0003s
Sample: Train station (2x zoom) ISO50 f1.98 0.0009s
Sample photo: Train station (4x zoom) ISO50 f1.98 0.0008s
Sample photo: Train station (10x zoom) ISO50 f1.98 0.0018s
Speaking of zooms, the PHANTOM V Fold also has a digital zoom magnification of up to 20x this time. From the EXIF information, although more than 2 times the focal length makes it shoot with the telephoto camera, the official site mentioned that this model uses "multi-camera fusion" technology, meaning the 1/1.3-inch super outsole CMOS may also be involved in imaging at this time. Considering that the telephoto camera does not have optical stabilization, it's not easy to achieve such image quality at 10x magnification.
In a dimly lit environment, we noticed that the PHANTOM V Fold automatically activated the night mode with little delay, and the image displayed in the viewfinder was already significantly brighter than the environment seen by the naked eye. In other words, once activated, the night mode works continuously and automatically, not only after the shutter is pressed, but also after the multi-frame calculation.
Sample photo: Dark indoor ISO3852 f1.85 0.06s
Judging from the results, the PHANTOM V Fold has pretty good noise control, and the colors don't appear to look different, either. Although the lack of optical stabilization makes it necessary to use a very high ISO and a short shutter to ensure the brightness of the picture, the overall style is still up to the standard expected of a high-end model.
Sample photo: City night view ISO1176 f1.85 0.04s
In the common city nighttime neon scenes, the PHANTOM V Fold's large base 50MP main camera demonstrated a wonderful level of noise control. We also noticed that it does not have a strong suppression of city lights. Although some of you may not like this style, in our opinion, it is actually better to present the atmosphere of the night lights, which is quite a "smart" move by the AI algorithm.
Finally, the PHANTOM V Fold, like most foldable smartphones with dual internal and external screens, supports the experience of taking selfies with the sub screen + rear main camera when fully unfolding the body. In this mode, the large rear main camera obviously benefits in taking better and clearer selfies than ordinary smartphone front cameras, and is regarded as one of the most compelling reasons why consumers adore foldable smartphones.
Performance: Customized MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chipset, remarkable technical specifications
In 2022, MediaTek has earned an amazing reputation among consumers with their MediaTek Dimensity 9000 series SoC against numerous competitors. But if you go back and look at many of the models with Dimensity 9000 processor to date you will see that they are often not configured to meet the limits of this SoC.
Because these products are limited by cost, many are not able to use the highest memory and flash memory specifications that the Dimensity 9000 can support, which makes the whole machine in storage, computing, and even 3D performance, more or less constrained.
However, for PHANTOM V Fold, there is no need to worry about this, because it is equipped with MediaTek's Dimensity 9000+ processor.
Compared to the Dimensity 9000, the Dimensity 9000+ processor has a higher main frequency with its Cortex-X2 mega-core reaching 3.2GHz, along with three 2.85GHz Cortex-A710 cores and four 1.8GHz Cortex-A510 cores. In addition, the Dimensity 9000+ is equipped with Mali-G710MC10 GPU, which provides 12.6% higher in frequency than the Dimensity 9000 does, delivering an additional 3D performance boost.
On the other hand, the PHANTOM V Fold is also equipped with the fastest 12GB of memory that the Dimensity 9000+ can support, which is equivalent to 7,500MHz of LPDDR5X, and this model also features the popular memory fusion technology, which can add up to an additional 9GB of application cache.
According to the actual test results, the PHANTOM V Fold's flash memory random read and write speeds are over 300MB/s. This indicates that its UFS3.1 flash memory is a relatively late model in the industry, i.e. a high-performance version with writing enhancement and overclocking controls. This is the best possible flash spec it can get since the Dimensity 9000+ does not support UFS4.0.
Moving on to the AITuTu test, the PHANTOM V Fold scored 1,471,522 points, which is almost 20,000 points higher than the average score of the other Dimensity 9000+ models on the list. Although the lead is not overwhelming, it does show that the configuration of the "full-blooded" version of TECNO's PHANTOM V Fold equipped with MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ significantly raises the computing power of the SoC to above-average level.
In the end, the 512GB PHANTOM V Fold scored 1,080,856 points in the AnTuTu test, which is close to the performance of a "hardcore gaming phone" on the Dimensity 9000+ platform. Considering the difficulty of foldable phone models in terms of heat dissipation design, it's more than commendable that TECNO managed to achieve this feat.
System: designed specifically for foldable smartphones, all the features it should have are there
For foldable phones, the optimization of system functions is a massively important factor in determining the user experience aside from the hardware design.
The operating system used by PHANTOM V Fold is TECNO's "HiOS13 Fold", which is based on Android 13. From the name, it is easy to see that this is a system optimized for foldable smartphone devices. So, what are its unique features?
Sub Screen (Vertical mode)
Sub Screen (Horizontal mode)
First of all, HiOS13 Fold offers four different options of launcher interface for each of the horizontal mode and vertical mode of the outer and main screens.
Main screen vertical mode
Main screen horizontal mode
As you can see, the launcher in the main screen carries a tablet-like multitasking bar at the bottom in both horizontal and vertical modes. The most interesting thing about PHANTOM V Fold's sub screen is that it will automatically switch to a full-scale search interface when the body is turned sideways.
Sub screen setting interface
Main screen setting interface
Sub Screen Calendar
Main Screen Calendar
Secondly, for two screens with different resolutions, the PHANTOM V Fold's system creates two different interfaces that fits each of them marvelously. After opening up the foldable screen, you can immediately feel the convenience of operation and the improvement in the efficiency of content display.
Of course, speaking of efficiency, PHANTOM V Fold is also appropriately adapted for the expanded main screen with a rich multitasking experience. For example, when there is an app running in the background, the last three empty spaces in the bottom bar will automatically display the thumbnail of the app instead of just the icon. This allows the user to see at a glance that it is not just a "shortcut", which is a surprisingly practical design.
In addition, the PHANTOM V Fold supports multi-application split-screen operation, and also supports drag-and-drop copying of content between applications when in said split-screen mode.
It also has the floating application feature that is typically available on high-performance, high-memory models, and can even run multiple floating windows at the same time.
So does PHANTOM V Fold work with both split screen and floating windows? The answer is yes. In this case, it can multitask up to four apps, and given its incredible SoC and memory specifications, this doesn't actually drain the device of its performance power at all. In fact, no matter what mode it's in, whether it be the split-screen mode or multitasking mode, horizontal or vertical, the PHANTOM V Fold always delivers an incredibly fast and seamless experience for the user.
Summary: TECNO's debut foldable smartphone is already quite a marvelous display of perfect craftsmanship
Overall, as TECNO's first model for the foldable smartphone market, the PHANTOM V Fold is undoubtedly a fitting product for the brand's commitment to exceed expectations and garner the support from consumers in the premium market.
Judging from its actual performance, we think TECNO is certainly wise to release this model in early 2023. Due to having plenty of time to research and polish the final product, the PHANTOM V Fold perfectly avoids the typical shortcomings of foldable smartphones. It also offers a high level of durability and practicality with its innovative form and sleek design.
Powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ SoC and the high storage combination, the PHANTOM V Fold not only delivers outstanding performance, but it also provides the large inner screen a delightfully strong capabilities, which is no doubt attractive for consumers who value multitasking experience or even those who want to take full advantage of productivity on a foldable phone.
Of course, we are also glad to see that the PHANTOM V Fold has fully inherited the high-end imaging capability of the PHANTOM series, with a larger base main camera CMOS than most foldable models, and a highly practical hardware configuration. For TECNO, this means that when developing the foldable model, they don't have to discard their original product strengths, but rather blend the new technology with their own unique qualities. Simply looking at the result, it's clear that TECNO has once again broken new grounds with this highly competitive product, and we can't wait to see what other innovative feats they will accomplish next.