It's been quite the year for foldable phones. Whether they flip or fold, they're well past their infancy and have been more than a proof of concept. Samsung started it, for all practical purposes, but several other companies including Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Google, Huawei and Xiaomi, have since come out with their own take on what a foldable smartphone looks like and how it works. But no one expected this otherwise expensive form factor to reach the ₹50,000 segment this soon.

The company that has brought a flippable phone to the mid-range segment is Shenzhen-based Tecno Mobiles. They, actually have both a flippable and a foldable but we look at the Tecno Phantom V Flip, launched at ₹49,999 and now just a little more at ₹54,999 after its introductory price. The handset is really quite attractive, works just fine, and is a great option for those who want to give a flip phone a try.

Neat package

Tecno's Phantom V Flip comes in quite elegant no-skimping packaging complete with charging paraphernalia and an interesting Samsung-like snap on case for both sides of the screen. It also has a ring on the top for a jaunty portability and even to grip it safely. The phone itself feels sturdy enough and no flimsier than other phones. Our review unit has a 'vegan' leather textured finish in a subtle and elegant shade of light grey. No need to worry over fingerprints though you do have to make sure your hands are not food-stained and, since there's no water and dust protection, that there are no spills and walks in the rain. At such a time, it would be best to tuck it into a pocket, where it will fit beautifully, being as compact as it is when flipped shut.

Outer view

On the outer or cover side of the phone is a big circular 1.3-inch window, which turns out to be both a screen and a place to put the cameras. It looks interesting, especially as other companies mostly stick with a rectangular screen. As you can guess, it's not possible to use a mini keyboard from this screen - but it does look very cool and some widgets do work from here. The clock, calendar, camera, physical activity circles (Apple style), alarms, weather, recorder, and timer/stopwatch can all be used. You also have some quick settings and can see notifications. Beyond this, you'll need un-flip or open the device to get to the main display. This is where the V Flip lags behind other devices in the category - with those you can read a lot more and even use messaging and WhatsApp. It's bound to be something users would miss. You even have to open the device to read notifications, which is a big miss.

The hinge used by Tecno feels in no way doubtful or inferior although there is a little bit of play in it when stopping at different angles. The phone snaps shut satisfactorily but let no one tell you that flip phones can be flipped open with a flick of the wrist. It's liable to be sent flying to its demise or at least to considerable injury since it would go far. You do actually need both hands to open it though you can just about prise it open by pushing in a thumb and then using a finger for leverage. Not an elegant action you'll want to use often specially as your nails could poke into the screen inside. The fingerprint sensor, if you care to use it, is on the power button.

Inner view

The inner display is LTPO FHD+ AMOLED 6.9 inch diagonally. Its refresh rate can adapt to what is being done on the screen. The screen is narrower than on other phones. That helps the grip, though it cramps the keyboard. One way around this is to use the swipe text input technique, which is both accurate and easier on one's fingers in the long run. ""

There is a definite crease visible on the V Flip, but it's really only visible when the screen is dark. In actual usage, it doesn't come in the way and you get accustomed to it, as on other flip phones. The interface that will greet you as you start to use the device is Tecno's HiOS on top of Android 13 out of the box. Two OS upgrades are promised. The HiOS skin is not as annoying as many others from China are but it does need to be more polished and intuitive. There are a few unsolicited apps, but most can be off-loaded if one so wishes. In future, perhaps there will be better features for the cover screen and the flip mode, but for now it's a bit minimal. ‘’

Performance is fine and enough for basic tasks. This device is, in any case, by no means meant to be a gamer’s tool or to be pushed into heavy processing. It’s a light usage phone, as flip phones are. There’s 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage in the single variant available. The chipset, MediaTek Dimensity 8050, and that’s what could have been better, although it neither heats nor lags on typical tasks. Intense gaming will see it warm up slightly.

The Phantom V Flip comes with a 4000mAh battery and 45W charging - not wireless, but that is no guarantee in mid-range priced phones. The phone charges in just over an hour. Battery life is passable for this phone. If you’re not a heavy user, you should get through the day. If you are, you probably need a regular smartphone.

The cameras on this flip phone include the 64MP RGBW primary lens and it performs nicely enough in good light. Low light sees aggressive correction and a loss of colours and details. There’s a 13MP Ultra-Wide Angle lens working with the primary. The front camera is a 32MP dual-flash autofocus. As with other flip and fold phones, the V Flip too has the advantage of being able to be placed on a surface with the top half, as it were, angled to take interesting shots.

While the V Flip may not be quite in the same league as Samsung’s flip phone, Tecno is to be commended for introducing the flip form into the mid-range segment. Or premium mid-range. It’s an attractive device and has a few compromises that are perfectly possible to live with.

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