Tecno's done it again - this time with the Spark 10 5G. It's got a frame that looks like it belongs in a museum, battery life that last's the whole day and performance to match. It's got its issues, but they aren't a big enough problem that you forget the R5,000 price tag.
When it comes to Tecno, you’re not supposed to expect anything more than a budget device. That way, you can act all surprised when it ends up being half-decent. That was the case for Tecno’s Spark 8C in 2022; it hasn’t changed for the Spark 10 5G.
It’s a budget device in every sense, immediately noticeable in its lightweight all-plastic construction. But when it’s light in your hand, there’s a good chance it’ll be light on your wallet too. Coming in at R5,000, the Spark 10 5G fits the bill. Here’s what you’re getting for your money.
Plastic (is) back, man
From a distance, you might mistake the Spark 10 5G for a higher-end model from a different brand, especially if you catch a glimpse of the camera array. Get closer and the craftsmanship of the R5,000 smartphone starts becoming a little more pronounced. Nowhere is it more prevalent than with the Spark 10 5G’s plastic rear panel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a world where fingerprints on glass reign supreme. And there is a budget to stick to, after all.
It certainly wasn’t an issue for us. We threw on the transparent cover that came in the box and went about our day. Much more interesting is the design on the back of the phone – as Tecno attempts to deliver something a little different. Colour-changing is a no-go, but the strangely abstract art-nouveau backing wouldn’t look out of place at the Guggenheim. Aside from the subtle Tecno branding that the company couldn’t help itself from displaying.
It’s got all the bits you’d expect from any smartphone. A USB-C charger, single loudspeaker, and headphone jack all line the bottom. The power button-fingerprint sensor combo lives on the right, along with the volume buttons. The left houses the SIM and microSD card trays.
It can be easy to get swept up in a phone’s pretty exterior and lose sight of what’s most important: performance. Fortunately, the Spark 10 5G’s performance kept pace with the pretty shell and then some. Still, it’s worth tempering those expectations. You won’t be getting stellar performance because you’re not paying top dollar.
You’ll find a MediaTek Dimensity 6020 chipset powering everything, 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. There are models out there that’ll offer more in the storage and memory departments, but they’ll set you back a bit more. Duh.
We didn’t mind that 4GB of RAM, though. It’ll get through smartphone duties without much complaint – unless that happens to be intense gaming. It’s fine for the occasional foray into Subway Surfers or Clash of Clans but don’t ask it to try and render your kill shots in PUBG. It’ll certainly try, but you won’t be doing much killing.
Gaming aside, the Spark 10 5G’s performance lived up to our expectations. It strolled through everyday use without breaking a sweat, managing to multitask quite well when gaming wasn’t involved. That’s partly due to the HiOS running on Android 13 and the 90Hz refresh rate Tecno’s treated us with here. Our only complaint here is the bloatware. Tecno’s not the only company guilty of this and it does kinda make sense on a budget device. We just wish it wasn’t so in your face about it.
Hey, at least it’s not 480p
We knew there had to be something. Something that would make us go ‘ah, that’s where money was saved’. That came in the form of the 6.6in IPS LCD display. It tries to redeem itself with a 90Hz refresh rate but a slick 720p resolution can only look so good. There’s also a bit of a chin under the display and some rather thick bezels taking up valuable screen real estate.
It’s not all bad news. You won’t have to go out looking for a screen protector – unless you happen to crack the one that’s pre-applied. If you’re facing a bout of load shedding, the colours are vibrant enough and the brightness faires well for a temporary YouTube or Netflix vessel in the dark.
Speaking of load shedding, Tecno’s stuck a 5,000mAh battery in here which accounts for most of the Spark 10 5G’s substantial weight. There’s even 18W ‘fast-charging’ that’ll go a long way. Considering the 720p display and conservative processor, the biggest smartphone battery drainers, it’ll get through a full day with enough juice leftover if Eskom suddenly changes load-shedding stages. That’s a win in our book.
As for snapping pics, we wouldn’t recommend the Spark 10 5G to be your first choice. Don’t get us wrong, it’s got all the makings of a half-decent camera – with a 50MP main sensor on the rear that’ll put a shift in when you need it to, coupled with the front-facing 8MP sensor that didn’t do much for our self-confidence.
You’ll still snap a good picture if you know what you’re doing, and the lighting is favourable – but whip this out at night and you’ll need a miracle to post something worthy of the Gram. Flip it around and you’ll meet the 8MP selfie sensor. Tecno’s AI ‘beautifier’ is doing its best to make up for the lack of nuanced image processing. If you don’t mind the heavily-processed look, then you won’t have a problem. But don’t expect to make a career out of photography here.
Tecno Spark 10 5G verdict
At the end of the day, R5,000 isn’t a whole lot to pay for what you’re getting here. The decent battery life, reduced screen resolution, and fast-enough processor will see you through the day. Oh, and there’s 5G. If you don’t have a big budget and need the increased 5G speeds, you could do worse than the Tecno Spark 10 5G.