Having used the Camon 18 Premier for over three weeks, my conclusion is that this is my TECNO smartphone of the year. Why? It is a delicious combination of sleekness, beauty, performance, and software tweaks that take care of the niggles that I have had with HiOS. Come along for the details in my TECNO Camon 18 Premier review.

At first glance, the Camon 18 Premier grabs your attention. Perhaps it is the specific colour our review unit has (Polar Night, which is a shimmering greenish job); perhaps this applies across board. But taking out the phone from the box, it is love at first sight.

Camon 18 Premier review: phone in hand
Camon 18 Premier review. Credit: Yomi Adegboye aka Mister Mobility

Unlike the Phantom X, this model has a flat screen. No curved edges here. There is a centred dot camera at the top of the 6.7-inch AMOLED display. Flip the phone over and what you see actually reminds you of a certain iPhone model.

A distinctive touch, however, is the red accented middle camera, which features the ultra-steady Gimbal technology. It is an attention-grabber.

How do I describe the feel of the rear panel of the phone? There is a coating on the back panel that completely leaves out fingerprint smudges. It doesn’t matter for how long I use the phone, it leaves no smudges on the panel. I like that. In terms of aesthetics, this is a good and delightful smartphone to carry around.

Camon 18 Premier review: gimbal camera for ultra-steady videos

Here is our unboxing video for your delight:

TECNO is marketing the Camon 18 Premier with the Gimbal camera I mentioned earlier. “What is that?” you may ask. It is a technology that reduces shakes to the barest minimum when recording video footage. That’s why it is termed “ultra-steady”. It works well, and if you love to capture videos, you will love it. Here is a sample video we put together to demonstrate the ultra-steady feature.

But that isn’t all there is to the camera. Even if you aren’t excited about the gimbal feature, the front and rear cameras of the Camon 18 Premier are quite decent for selfies, portraits and all kinds of photography. It captures good images in natural lighting, and takes captivating photos at night as well, squeezing out as much light as possible. And it has x5 optical zoom that captures well detailed, zoomed-in shots.

Camon 18 Premier review: sample photos

CAMON 18 Premier review: Beauty, Performance and a Much Better Version of HiOS Makes this My TECNO Smartphone of the Year 1
Camon 18 Premier review: 5x optical zoom
CAMON 18 Premier review: Beauty, Performance and a Much Better Version of HiOS Makes this My TECNO Smartphone of the Year 2
Camon 18 Premier review: indoor natural lighting
CAMON 18 Premier review: Beauty, Performance and a Much Better Version of HiOS Makes this My TECNO Smartphone of the Year 3
Camon 18 Premier review: portrait selfie
tecno camon 18 premier review regular night shot versus super night mode
TECNO Camon 18 Premier review: regular night shot versus super night mode; no flash

There is 256GB of internal storage for your videos and photos and other files. If you somehow use up all of that space and need more, there is a microSD slot available so you can add a memory card for extra storage.

I like the side-mounted fingerprint scanner. Your finger is on the Power button many times, and it just feels natural that the unlocking of the screen happens there. And speaking of the screen…

6.7 inches diagonally. 120Hz refresh rate. AMOLED. The display is bright and clear and sharp. It is a delight to use. If you are not a fan of the high refresh rate, for any reason, there is an option in the phone settings to switch to regular 60Hz.

One of the reasons why anyone may want to keep the display at 60Hz is battery life. A higher refresh rate means the display does more work, and so consumes more power. Thankfully, the Camon 18 Premier’s battery life is solid. I got a full day of use out of it with the display at 120Hz. And charging is fast too: 33W quick charge gets you about 60% battery in 30 minutes.

I have left the operating system for last. TECNO Camon 18 Premier runs HiOS v8.0.0 based on Android 11, and my experience with it is that it is the best version of HiOS yet. The icons are better, and it generally looks more matured. HiOS v8 still has all the traditional TECNO bloatware – scores of pre-installed apps. Some can be deleted; some cannot be.

But, what is really exciting to me is that all those pesky notifications can be disabled easily now, as HIOS v8 has a notifications menu that lets you easily toggle off notifications for apps. Within a few moments, I had notifications for all the usual suspects turned off, and I lived happily ever after. Hallelujah!

HiOS has never been better. I cannot say that too much. This is perhaps the first implementation of HIOS that I really, really, really, love. It makes for such a pleasant experience.

Update: TECNO eventually released Android 12 for the Camon 18 Premier and this unit got the update.

As you can tell, I have been really impressed by the Camon 18 Premier. From looks and appearances, to actual performance, photography and videography, battery life, and user experience, this is easily my TECNO smartphone of the year.

For ₦182,000, you get a package that is complete and that delivers on its promises. The Camon 18 Premier.

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By Mister Mobility

Tech blogging since 2003, I have owned and reviewed hundreds of smartphones running EPOC, Symbian, Palm, PocketPC, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.

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