• Home
  • Blog
  • Review of budget smartphone Tecno Spark 20

Review of budget smartphone Tecno Spark 20

01.02.2024 10:11

Tecno Spark 20 is the central model of the brand's new series of smartphones. The Spark series belongs to Tecno's most affordable segment; there is no point in waiting for breakthroughs in it, but the smartphone is also very inexpensive.

Key Features of Tecno Spark 20 (Model KJ5)

  • SoC Mediatek MT6769Z Helio G85, 8 processor cores (2×Cortex-A75 @2.0 GHz + 6×Cortex-A55 @1.8 GHz)
  • GPU Mali-G52 MC2
  • Operating system Android 13, HiOS 13.5
  • Touch display IPS, 6.6″, 720×1612, 90 Hz, 20:9, 267 ppi
  • RAM 8 GB, internal memory 128/256 GB
  • microSD support (independent slot)
  • Nano-SIM support (2 pcs.)
  • Networks 2G GSM, 3G WCDMA, 4G
  • GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BDS
  • Wi-Fi 5 (2.4/5 GHz)
  • Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • NFC
  • USB 2.0 Type-C, USB OTG
  • 3.5mm headphone audio output
  • Camera 50 MP + 0.08 MP, video 1440p@30 fps
  • Front camera 32 MP
  • Proximity and lighting sensors, magnetic field, accelerometer, gyroscope
  • Fingerprint scanner (side-mounted)
  • Battery 5000 mAh, charging 18 W
  • Dimensions 164×76×8.5 mm
  • Weight 193 g

Appearance and ease of use

Tecno Spark 20 comes in a cardboard box with a standard set of accessories.

The smartphone comes with a charger with a maximum output power of 18 W, a connection cable and a protective case.

Tecno Spark 20 is a stylish and modern device. Its design is on-trend, with wide, flat sides and flat front and rear surfaces, creating an appearance without narrow sides or curved glass. Unlike devices with curved edges, the smartphone may not be as refined, but it does feel securely in your hand.

The body is made of plastic, but it looks more expensive than its price. The back wall has a matte surface on which fingerprints are not visible, so the body as a whole is practical and not easily soiled.

The smartphone is absolutely standard in size, which is typical for most mid-level devices. However, its weight does not exceed a significant 200 grams, which is a fairly convenient indicator. The corner transitions are not too sharp, and the edge fits into the palm without causing discomfort.

The included silicone case is transparent and flexible, with high “growths” around particularly vulnerable areas of the smartphone (cameras, connectors).

The cameras themselves are designed stylishly and symmetrically, similar to those very “burners” that were given a start in life by the Apple iPhone. Another thing is that just one round piece of glass hides a full-fledged camera, but everything together looks solid.

The side buttons are conveniently located: both are on the right side, both are wide and easy to touch. The fingerprint scanner in the power and lock button works flawlessly.

The front camera is single, it is installed behind a round cutout in the screen matrix at the top center.

The slot on the side can accommodate three cards at once: two Nano-SIM and a microSD memory card.

At the bottom end there is a speaker, a microphone, a USB Type-C connector and a 3.5 mm audio output.

There is nothing on the top end except the holes for the second speaker.

The Tecno Spark 20 smartphone is not fully protected from moisture and dust, but its body is equipped with light splash protection according to the IP53 standard. Several color options are available: blue, black, white, gold. Depending on the color, the texture of the back cover may vary slightly; for example, the blue version may have a finish that imitates eco-leather.

Screen

The Tecno Spark 20 smartphone features a 6.66-inch IPS display with a resolution of 720×1612 pixels protected by flat glass. The pixel density is 267 ppi, the aspect ratio is 20:9. The physical dimensions of the screen are 68×153 mm. The thin frames on the sides are 3.5 mm, on the top – 4 mm, and on the bottom – 7 mm. The screen supports a 90Hz refresh rate and five-point multi-touch.

The front surface of the Tecno Spark 20 display is made in the form of a mirror-smooth glass plate that is scratch-resistant. The screen's anti-glare properties are rated higher than those of the Google Nexus 7 (2013), making it more comfortable to use in bright light. The glass also has an effective grease-repellent coating, making fingerprints easier to clean.

The maximum screen brightness reaches 530 cd/m² with manual control and displaying the white field on the entire screen. This high value, together with excellent anti-glare properties, allows you to use the smartphone even in the sun outdoors. The minimum brightness is 5 cd/m², which ensures comfortable use in complete darkness. Automatic brightness adjustment based on the light sensor further facilitates adaptation to external conditions.

The screen operates at a 90Hz refresh rate for a smooth display. There is no backlight modulation at any brightness level, which eliminates screen flickering. The IPS matrix used ensures high image quality, as can be seen in the sub-pixel micrographs.

For a visual comparison, we will provide photographs showing the screens of a smartphone (above) and a second device (Nexus 7 — below) with the same images. At the time of shooting, the brightness of the screens was set to approximately 200 cd/m², and the color balance on the camera was set to 6500 K.

White field displayed perpendicular to the screens:

Note the good uniformity of brightness and color tone of the white field.

And a test picture:

The color reproduction on the smartphone screen provides close to natural saturation, while the color balance on the Nexus 7 screen is significantly different.

The smartphone screen demonstrates good viewing angles, without leading to significant color changes even with large viewing deviations from the perpendicular. However, with a diagonal deviation, the black field is greatly lightened and acquires a reddish tint.

When looking at a smartphone screen perpendicularly, the uniformity of the black field is assessed as average (the backlight brightness is set to maximum for clarity):

The contrast on the screen (approximately in the center) reaches a high value — about 1500:1. The response time from black to white and back is 25 ms (13 ms on + 12 ms off). The transition between halftones of gray at levels 25% and 75% (based on the numerical value of the color) in both directions takes a total of 45 ms.

The gamma curve, constructed from 32 points with equal intervals based on the numerical value of the gray shade, does not reveal blockages in light or dark areas. The exponent of the approximating power function is 2.43, which exceeds the standard value of 2.2. However, the actual gamma curve noticeably deviates from the power law:

This device uses dynamic adjustment of the backlight brightness, which reacts aggressively to the nature of the displayed image. In dark, medium-brightness images, the backlight is dimmed. This leads to the fact that the dependence of brightness on hue (gamma curve) does not correspond to the gamma curve of a static image, since the measurements were carried out with sequential output of shades of gray almost over the entire screen. For this reason, a number of tests, such as determining contrast, response time, and comparing black highlight at angles, were carried out using special patterns with a constant average brightness, rather than solid fields on the entire screen. Non-disabled brightness correction can thus cause discomfort, reduce the visibility of shadow gradations in dark images, and impair screen readability in bright light, since the backlight brightness changes significantly in less-than-light images of average brightness.

Screen color gamut is close to sRGB:

The spectra show that the matrix filters moderately mix the components with each other:

By default, the balance of shades on the gray scale is a compromise, since the color temperature is significantly higher than the standard 6500 K and is equal to 8000 K on a white background. This device has the ability to adjust the color balance using the hue adjustment:

However, even with maximum correction, the color temperature is still slightly higher than standard (6600 K), and the deviation from the blackbody spectrum (ΔE) becomes above 10 (namely 11). There is also a setting that allows you to reduce the intensity of the blue component.

In general, bright light can disrupt the circadian rhythm (see article on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro), but this can be addressed by reducing the brightness to a low but still comfortable level. There is no need to distort the color balance by reducing the contribution of blue, as this does not lead to any positive results in color balance correction. Even with minimal correction, the color temperature is below the standard 6500 K (approx. 6200 K), which reduces brightness. It is recommended to leave all settings at default to ensure maximum brightness. Despite the high color temperature, the blackbody deviation (ΔE) remains below 10, which is acceptable for a consumer device. In addition, color temperature and ΔE practically do not change from hue to hue, which has a beneficial effect on the visual assessment of color balance. (The darkest areas of the gray scale can be ignored, since color balance there is not very important, and the error in measuring color characteristics at low brightness is large.)

In the screen settings, you can enable a mode with an increased refresh rate of up to 90 Hz, which at least leads to an increase in the smoothness of scrolling lists in the menu.

This device may not support DisplayPort Alt Mode for USB Type-C, which means it will not be able to output video or sound to an external device when connected to a USB port. The screen has a high maximum brightness (530 cd/m²) and excellent anti-glare properties, allowing you to use the device even outdoors on a sunny day. In complete darkness, you can reduce the brightness to a comfortable level (up to 5 cd/m²). A mode with automatic brightness adjustment is acceptable, but does not give the user full control over the settings. The advantages of the screen include an effective oleophobic coating, no air gap in the layers of the screen, no visible flicker, high contrast (1500:1), a mode with an increased refresh rate of up to 90 Hz and a color gamut close to sRGB. Disadvantages include reduced resolution, low black stability when looking away, and aggressive dynamic brightness adjustment that cannot be turned off. In general, despite the importance of characteristics for this class of devices, the quality of the screen cannot be considered high.

Camera

At the back, the Tecno Spark 20 has three beautiful circles of the same size, but there is only one camera – with a 50 MP sensor and an f/1.6 lens. There is PDAF phase autofocus, but no stabilizer.

Standard options include pixel binning mode and full shooting resolution. While 50-megapixel photos technically retain more detail, upon closer inspection they may not look very nice, with color noise. Using images with such high resolution for processing in graphic editors is usually impractical.

12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP
12,5 MP
50MP

In terms of shooting quality, this is an average result at best, which, of course, is not a general observation, but for a smartphone costing 10 thousand rubles, this is an excellent choice! The camera reproduces details quite well in bright daylight, there is no obvious overexposure even in sunny landscapes, providing an acceptable dynamic range. Color rendition may seem a little unnatural, but this does not affect the overall appearance of the photos. The photographs have well-defined volume and contrast, as well as sufficient saturation and brightness. Although sharpness is not outstanding, noise does appear occasionally. However, only based on the results of night shooting (low detail, blur, unpleasant image when zoomed in) can we say that the camera corresponds to the budget class of smartphones.

Example of night shooting:

Digital zoom appears to be accomplished by digitally enlarging the central portion of the image at the appropriate resolution (instead of the traditional crop from a 50MP photo for a 12.5MP digital zoom). As a result, both options turn out to be poorly detailed and blurry. Such a zoom can only make sense when viewed on the screen of the smartphone itself. Strange choice.

digital zoom 2×, 12.5 MP
digital zoom 2×, 50 MP
digital zoom 2×, 12.5 MP
digital zoom 2×, 50 MP

The front camera produces a very decent image of the person being portrayed in the center, but it is not enough for the background, the result is simply ugly.

The smartphone can shoot video at a maximum resolution of 1440p@30 fps without stabilization. The image is sharp, bright and well detailed, but everything is spoiled by the complete lack of stabilization and image twitching. Static video recording is quite possible for unpretentious home needs. The sound is recorded more or less qualitatively.

Telephone and communications

The Tecno Spark 20 smartphone provides support for non-5G mobile networks. In the urban area of the Moscow region, the device demonstrates stable operation in wireless networks, does not lose connection and quickly restores it after a break.

The smartphone also has a wireless adapter that supports Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5 GHz) and Bluetooth 5.2, as well as NFC support.

The single-channel satellite navigation module works with GPS, Glonass, Galileo and BDS. During a cold start, the first satellites are not detected instantly, but the positioning accuracy is not satisfactory.

The voice of the interlocutor in the speaker is loud and intelligible. The vibration motor is conventional and of medium power. The built-in sensors, including the gyroscope, are all in place.

Software and multimedia

The Tecno Spark 20 smartphone runs on the Android 13 operating system, interacting with the HiOS 13.5 shell. The shell is stable, but not the fastest in terms of animation of transitions, sliding and opening applications. Otherwise, this is a normal interface with a good translation into Russian, pre-installed applications that can be removed, and no advertising. Through gradual updates, the interface has been adapted to the standards of the European market, leaving room to optimize shell performance.

The curtain is designed in such a way that it is divided into two parts depending on the angle of retraction. The Google App Store is officially accessible and in place. A notable feature is the Dynamic Port: a visual element with information around the front camera (inspired by the design of Apple smartphones).

The smartphone has stereo speakers, and they sound quite decent. The sound is more or less loud and rich. For wireless headphones, the aptX and aptX HD protocols are not supported — only LDAC and AAC. There is a 3.5 mm audio output for wired headphones.

Performance

Testing in comprehensive tests AnTuTu and GeekBench:

For convenience, we have compiled all the results we obtained when testing the smartphone in the latest versions of popular benchmarks into tables. The table usually adds several other devices from different segments, also tested on similar latest versions of benchmarks (this is done only for a visual assessment of the obtained dry figures). Unfortunately, within the framework of one comparison it is impossible to present the results from different versions of benchmarks, so many worthy and relevant models remain “behind the scenes” — due to the fact that they once passed the “obstacle course” on previous versions of test programs.

 Tecno Spark 20
(Mediatek Helio G85)
Tecno Camon 20 Premier 5G
(Mediatek Dimensity 8050)
Vivo V27
(Mediatek Dimensity 7200)
Poco X5 Pro 5G
(Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G)
Tecno Pova 5 Pro
(Mediatek Dimensity 6080)
AnTuTu (v9.x)
(bigger is better)
256902683485602528536193397188
GeekBench 6
(bigger is better)
420/13791097/30971198/2686941/2640759/2053

Testing the graphics subsystem in 3DMark and GFXBenchmark gaming tests:

 Tecno Spark 20
(Mediatek Helio G85)
Tecno Camon 20 Premier 5G
(Mediatek Dimensity 8050)
Vivo V27
(Mediatek Dimensity 7200)
Poco X5 Pro 5G
(Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G)
Tecno Pova 5 Pro
(Mediatek Dimensity 6080)
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Vulkan
(bigger is better)
19012931165687368
3DMark Wild Life Vulkan
(bigger is better)
7364505418624501327
GFXBenchmark Manhattan ES 3.1
(Onscreen, fps)
3178594924
GFXBenchmark Manhattan ES 3.1
(1080p Offscreen, fps)
1691685628
GFXBenchmark T-Rex
(Onscreen, fps)
6212011010959
GFXBenchmark T-Rex
(1080p Offscreen, fps)
4521216013269

Testing in browser cross-platform tests:

 Tecno Spark 20
(Mediatek Helio G85)
Tecno Camon 20 Premier 5G
(Mediatek Dimensity 8050)
Vivo V27
(Mediatek Dimensity 7200)
Poco X5 Pro 5G
(Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G)
Tecno Pova 5 Pro
(Mediatek Dimensity 6080)
Google Octane 2
(bigger is better)
1401527796293292707019194
JetStream
(bigger is better)
4360877350

AndroBench memory speed test results:

Heat

We test for performance degradation when heated using the Burnout Benchmark program, which allows you to load the CPU, GPU and NPU:

Stress onHeating performance as a percentage of maximum
CPU33%
GPU87%
NPU33%

Battery life

Tecno Spark 20 has a battery with a typical capacity today of 5000 mAh. The autonomy of the smartphone is also typical — not bad, but not record-breaking.

Testing has traditionally been carried out at the usual level of power consumption without using power saving functions, although the device has them. Test conditions: the minimum comfortable brightness level was set (approximately 100 cd/m²). Tests: continuous reading in the Moon+ Reader program (with a standard, light theme); continuous viewing of video in HD quality (720p) via your home Wi-Fi network; Injustice 2 game with automatic graphics settings.

 Battery capacityReading modeVideo mode3D Game Mode
Tecno Spark 205000 mAh19:0016:308:00 am
Tecno Pova 5 Free Fire6000 mAh22:3016:307:30 a.m.
Tecno Pova 5 Pro5000 mAh20:0013:307:00 am
Tecno Camon 20 Premier 5G5000 mAh25:0019:007:00 am
Vivo V274600 mAh25:0019:007:00 am
Poco X5 Pro 5G5000 mAh18:0020:007:00 am
Realme 10 Pro+ 5G5000 mAh19:0018:005:00 a.m.

All these are the maximum possible figures obtained under “ideal” conditions, including without installed SIM cards. Any changes in the operating scenario will most likely lead to worse results.

Using the included 18 W mains charger, the smartphone is fully charged within three hours. Wireless charging is not supported.

Bottom line

This affordable smartphone offers a lot of mid-range features, including ample storage, stereo sound, a decent IPS screen and a surprisingly decent camera. Despite the budget processor, the device is quite suitable for everyday tasks. Although it doesn't offer outstanding performance, it does justify its price by providing a fairly good set of features for its price segment.