At first glance, one thing that stands out about the L9 plus is the size, coming in at a screen size of 6.0 inches this device is really big. Considering the size of the battery, it appears to be more of a compromise in order to get a slimmer device and an evenly distributed weight.
Our review unit comes in champagne gold with tiny polished bezels both in front and at the back which is reflective in certain angles. To the right side of the phone is the MicroSD card slot which can support up to 128gb and directly underneath that, is the volume rocker and the power button. I love the fact that the buttons are very clicky and tactile and you know that you’re actually clicking a button. On the left side is the dual sim tray slot and a small flat button aptly named the super button. The top of the phone houses only the 3.5 mm headphone jack, although I personally prefer the jack at the bottom but lets appreciate the fact that it’s there. The bottom of the phone has a Micro-USB port and a single bottom firing speaker.
The front of the device is a 6.0-inch IPS LCD display with a mediocre 720*1280 resolution. Above the display is a front facing LED flash, a speaker grill and a 5 MP camera. Below it lies non-illuminated capacitive buttons which can be rather tricky to use at night.
The back of the device features a 13 MP camera and directly beside it, a single tone LED flash. Below the camera is a fingerprint sensor and the TECNO branding. The back edges of the phone are slightly curved upwards to assist with the grip and it doesn’t feel like you’re holding a blunt knife.
The L9 plus is powered by a MediaTek Quad-core 1.3 GHz Processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. The internals of this device is pretty much mid-range unlike the Tecno Phantom series which packs much more powerful processors and more ram. If you’re looking for a power horse of a device then the Tecno L9 plus probably isn’t for you. Scrolling through Facebook or twitter without closing already opened apps can sometimes cause serious lag.
The L9 runs on the latest iteration of android — Android 7.0 Nougat and a custom skin called HiOS. I’m not a fan of custom skin on android and I’ve tried a lot, from the Gionee’s amigo OS to Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s sense, they didn’t check any boxes for me and I would honestly prefer stock android. That being said, HiOS does add a couple new features;
- Swiping to the extreme left opens up a home panel containing a search bar which allows you search for apps, contacts and messages. Underneath the search bar is a list of most used apps which is really accurate, below that we have “headlines” which honestly shows the weirdest and most irrelevant news topics although i believe this is a tiny glitch that could be fixed with a software update.
- App freezer which turns out to be a nice addition, rather than totally uninstalling an app you can just freeze it. Think of it as throwing a food item in the freezer and only picking it out when you need it, it is that easy.
Asides HiOS, a lot of Nougat features are present on this device such as split screen multitasking, bundled notifications, quick app switching. Notwithstanding the tiny quirks it offers a great software experience.
The display of this device is humongous, coming in at 6.0 inches it has willingly left the acceptable range for a mobile phone and would pass as a phablet. The device sports a 720p display which just a bit visually appealing especially when the size is taken into consideration. Being that the device’s priority is battery life, the display would reduce power consumptions considerably at the cost of a lower Pixel Per Inch (PPI). It should also be noted that the display is not really bright, this is very noticeable when under direct sunlight. Even at maximum brightness I still struggle to see what’s on the screen on a bright sunny day.
To say I was impressed with the sound of this device is an understatement. Despite having only a single downward firing speaker, the tecno L9 can get really loud although it gets a little distorted at the maximum volume. The sound is very crisp especially when listening to music, you can easily pick out the singer’s voice rather then getting drowned in a mirage of background sound.
Powered by a non-removable 5000maH battery, the battery life on this device is simply incredible. On medium/light usage using WiFi which involves emails, twitter, instagram, slack and snapchat, I was able to extract 2 full days of use from the L9 plus which is really impressive. If you’re a power user, the tecno L9 plus would last you the whole day with some juice to spare.
As expected, we have the ultra lower power mode which is used to extend battery life by disabling all other functions except Calls, SMS, Alarm, Sound Recording and Calculator. There is also a little background feature called “Heartbeat Sync” which prevents the phone from being randomly awoken by applications. This in turn is expected to squeeze out a little more battery life from the device.
The device comes with an OTG cable that allows you charge other phones. I couldn’t particularly enjoy this feature because anytime I try to charge my other phone, the battery remains at the same level, but it keeps the phone alive so I believe it’s a useful feature to have around.
Both the front and back cameras of this device sport a single tone LED flash with 5MP and 13MP respectively. The shutter speeds of both cameras are very impressive when not using HDR mode, shots are almost instant. The cameras do take “OK“ shots in the presence of very bright light but perform very poorly in low light. Even in a moderately lit room, the pictures come out grainy and distorted.
The flash does make up a bit for the distorted image. Overall, the camera is just average.
At the left side of this device lies a button aptly named the super button. It’s flat and not as tactile and “clicky” as other buttons on this phone. The super button is a wonderful little addition that can be mapped to do certain actions when pressed. The actions are limited to activate ultra power saving mode, activate camera, turn on/off torch and play/pause music. There is also an option to determine the trigger mode — either by a short press or a long press. By default, the power button is set to activate ultra power mode on a short press.
I find myself often activating ultra power mode when the phone is pocketed or just being held. I would advice to switch the trigger mode to long press in order to reduce accidental clicking.
The fingerprint scanner is located just below the camera which is really easy to reach. It’s extremely fast and can store multiple fingerprints. Asides from granting access to the phone, it can also be used to authorise app purchases and grant app access.
The Tecno L9 is definitely an improvement over the L8. Asides the tiny lags and a grainy camera is a good device for “battery-life enthusiasts”.
So if you are looking for a device whose juice won’t run out in the middle of the day, then this is your sure bet.
A slightly smaller screen, 3/4GB of RAM, a 1080p display and this would make for one of the best mid-range phones in Nigeria. I do hope Tecno builds on this in the next iteration (L10 or LX?).