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Gadget of the Week

Tecno goes for the hustle

As phones become less differentiated, their target markets become more important, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

What is it?

Tecno has been making inroads across the African continent for the past decade with affordable phones that still contain high-end specs. Now, that approach is standard among handset-makers targeting the youth of this continent, and the brand has had to up its game.

The new Tecno Spark 8C, launched in South Africa this month, spreads the target among three sets of consumers with diverse needs, but similar budgetary limitations: university-age youths, entry-level workers and budding entrepreneurs. The one thing they all have in common is youth, but the use case for the device is different for all three.

It is an entertainment-oriented device, with a large 6.6-inch display, and 90Hz screen refresh rate, along with a long-lasting 5000 mAh battery. This means that it is great for gaming as well as watching video, two of the most common mobile activities of young users.

For the entrepreneur, on the other hand, multitasking is given a boost with the device’s new Memory Fusion technology.  This is a technique to make use of unused read-only memory (ROM) and channel it for RAM operations. Allocating more storage to RAM enhances multi-tasking, by allowing for seamless switching between applications running concurrently in the background. This, in turn, makes for longer battery life. 

The Spark 8 is the first in the affordable Spark series to get the technology, which extends its 4GB RAM to 7GB RAM, in line with higher-cost mid-range phones.

It makes decent photos and videos, with an 8MP front camera with flash, and a 13 MP AI-enhanced dual camera on the back. Along with  AI Scene Recognition and HDR mode, it uses multiple algorithms to bring images up to the standard of phones double its price. That also translates, for young users, into opportunities for experimentation.

If it’s pure specs you want, the Samsung Galaxy A13 offers far more camera for a similar price. However, the Spark 8C offers double the storage and RAM, key elements of the broader needs of creators.

To support this positioning and the launch of the device, Tecno this month ran a Hustle Hub competition, in which young creatives and entrepreneurial South Africans competed to win R80,000 to kickstart their business. Entrants had to upload a video, picture, or written entry of their unique hustle, comprising anything from acting and photography to dancing and design. The winners are due to be announced at the end of this month, at an event where shortlisted “hustlers” will pitch their business ideas to the judges.

“The launch of the new Spark 8C will reinforce Tecno’s position as an enabler of opportunities and showcase our commitment to bringing young people’s hustles to life,” says Zikona Captain, Tecno’s public relations Manager.

“South Africa is brimming with rich and diverse talent just waiting to be discovered, and our goal is to create, build and nurture a platform where they can be recognised and celebrated for being their true, creative and authentic selves.”

What does it cost?

R3,299 at most retail outlets.

Why should you care?

The youth market is attractive to handset manufacturers not because of profit margins or revenue potential, but rather for attracting users to a brand at a stage when brand loyalty is in its greatest transition. By targeting a range of needs in that market, Tecno is likely to be introduced to a broader spread of this segment.

What are the biggest negatives?

Camera specs are well below those of similarly priced devices, although software options help bridge the gap.

What are the biggest positives?

  • Brings proximity and fingerprint sensors to the lower end of mid-range phones.
  • Great screen size, refresh rate and battery life for entertainment.
  • Memory Fusion means more RAM, better performance and excellent multi-tasking.

* Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee.

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