Review: Tecno Boom J8 Just A Few Steps To Perfection

If there’s a universal first impression Tecno Boom J8 makes that everyone acknowledges, it’s the physical appearance which, in some ways, mimics the iPhone 6. It is a well-designed phone and undeniably beautiful. Although calling the phone Tecno’s best device till date is a disrespect to the Phantom 5, it’s safe to say it’s one of the best mid-range devices in the Nigerian market right now.

It’s indeed a great device that’s fun to use but not without its own flaws. Every phone has that and Tecno Boom J8 is not an exception, but it does excels, making up for the little shortcomings.

General Design & Display

With the screen turned off and looking at the phone from a distance, you might first assume the device has an almost edge-to-edge display given the thin bezel, but a closer look at the screen shows a black frame around the 5.5-inch display.



Tecno Boom J8 has the soft keys placed on-screen and despite the 720p resolution, the IPS LCD display is vivid. With auto-brightness enabled and given that you haven’t smeared the screen with fingerprints badly, legibility under the sun is good.

Below the screen is the LED notification light. This can be seen pulsating to the beat when the Boom Player is on.

At the bottom is the centered micro-USB port flanked on each sides by speaker grills. The impression this gives is that there are two speakers there but it can get irksome when you discover there’s only one speaker and the other one is actually for the microphone.

On the right side are the volume and power buttons with a shiny concentric pattern on them.

The device has the power and volume buttons on the right.

It has the earphone jack at the top and the back cover is removeable. The back cover is a removable plastic but the device has a solid metal frame. There are two SIM slots and a separate micro-SD card slot.

The back cover can be removed but not the 3000mAh battery.

Although you can yank the back-cover off, the battery is not meant to be removed by ordinary users. The top-left corner has the 13MP camera with f/2.0 aperture. The shooter is aided by a single LED flash.

Tecno Boom J8 has a 13MP camera at the back with LED flash.

At 7.53mm, the device is slim enough. The overall design looks great and we love it… except for the rather deceptive dual-speaker grills.

Software: HiOS

This is Tecno’s very first device to run HiOS and it’s a good step in the right direction. Unless you’re a Nexus guy who never appreciates custom UIs, it can clearly be seen that Tecno put a lot of work into the software design.

Tecno Book J8 has Android 5.1 Lollipop behind HiOS and one can’t help but wonder why the phone didn’t ship with Marshmallow since Android N is around the corner already.

Well, attention is paid to details, the UI looks clean and that cannot be denied. There are great tools here and there to help you better manage your device.


HiManager has some great tools every smartphone should have. Harassment blocklets you block phone numbers, Mobile Cleanup helps you get rid of thrash and free memory, Auto-start management lets you selectively choose apps and services that start up with your device. Hi Theme lets you change your device’s theme while Hi Font allows you to change your font.

Every part of the UI is customized. Again, if Vanilla Android is your thing, this may not work for you but there’s a chance HiOS will change your mind.

However, there are a few things on HiOS that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some parts of the UI still need translation as some letterings are in Chinese.



Considering this, one might assume the software was a bit rushed as things like this shouldn’t be left unchecked. Tecno targets Africa and most of the target market do not even understand Chinese. We only hope this will be fixed in the next HiOS update.

Battery

Since there’s no universal way to know every individual’s definition of normal usage, we can only say the 3,000mAh battery should get you through the day. However, the video loop test we did came out with an interesting result.

With the battery at 100%, the device set to airplane mode, MX Player set to 50% volume and 50% brightness, we were able to play videos for 12 hours and 29 minutes. That’s incredible for a 3,000mAh battery. However, we might have gotten less if the phone wasn’t in airplane mode.
Music

Tecno Boom J8 is a music phone. We praised the Boom J7 for this and might as well do the same thing for this rebirth. The accompanying Boom headphone makes the device looks like a worthy purchase.



Each Boom J8 purchase comes with a free Boom headphone.

No, I dare not compare this headphone with my Beats Pro, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t meet expectations. The headphone is pretty light and it sure produces decent sound. The Boom Player looks better than the first time we met. Music discovery is getting better and the Boom Maxx equalizer lets you get the best of your music.


There’s a feature that lets you adjust the sound based on the kind of headphone you’re using and I must confess it made a lot of difference with my Beats Pro headphones.


The presets are great and you can fine-tune the sound just the way you want it. The sound production through the mono speaker at the bottom is clean and sound elements come out good. It’s not the loudest though but then, quality over noise.

Camera

Tecno Boom J8 comes with a 13MP rear camera and it gives some decent pictures. In broad daylight, the images look great as seen in this sample image.

In low light (without flash), however, the grains make the produced image look not-so-good. But the flash is bright enough to take good shots even in total darkness. Here an image taken indoor in total darkness:

The camera isn’t one of the phone’s super-powers though but in the right lighting condition, it’s good. The gallery below contains more sample images. Click to enlarge:

There isa major issue with the camera though — it takes some time to switch between the rear and front camera. Again, this is an issue we hope the next HiOS update would fix.

Performance

Tecno Boom J8 comes with 2GB RAM and it seems Tecno listened to complaints on the Boom J7 and Camon C8. Multi-tasking works fine and lagging on the UI isn’t something you experience. For a mid-range device, the benchmark results too are not bad. A 32,oo2 score on Antutu is what we got.

Verdict

Pros: Tecno Boom J8 has a great design and the new HiOS makes it very efficient. It’s a well crafted device in and out. The music quality is good and the Boom headphone is a plus. It’s indeed a phone music lovers will appreciate.

Cons: As much as we love the Boom J8, HiOS still needs some touches. The deceptive dual speaker grills was disappointing. No part of the phone too should still be in Chinese. In the section where you can disable apps, a certain app named Commercial Bank of Ethiopia is still installed on the phone but left disabled.

At ₦41,000 retail price, it’s not a bad deal. Although we expected the phone to be around ₦35,000, the current free fall of the Nigeria might be the one to blame.
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