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Tecno Camon 30 Premier 5G is the most impressive smartphone you’ve never heard of

Published Feb 27th, 2024 11:00AM EST
Tecno Camon 30 Premier 5G flagship smartphone announced at MWC.
Image: Tecno

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Coming to MWC 2024, I already had an idea of the flagship smartphones that would be unveiled at the show. There’s the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, which Xiaomi unveiled in China a few days before MWC officially began, and the Honor Magic 6 Pro, which Honor kept teasing in the weeks leading up to the trade show.

What I didn’t expect was an impressive new flagship phone from a little-known Chinese electronics company called Tecno. And what I certainly didn’t expect was a Tecno flagship that would immediately challenge the Xiaomi 14 Ultra. But that’s what happened on Tuesday.

Tecno unveiled a new phone called Tecno Camon 30 Premier 5G. Yeah, that name gives me early 2010s vibes, though it’s meant to convey a clear message: This is a flagship 5G phone with one of the best cameras you can get.

Tecno held a press conference on the second day of MWC, where it unveiled its PolarAce Imaging System that will power the Camon 30 Premiere 5G. I swear that’s the last time you’ll see me use the phone’s entire name.

The PolarAce system features a Sony Imaging Chip (CXD5622GG) that Tecno says will enable “4K 30fps full-scene AI-NR HDR video for the first time in the industry.” That’s certainly a bold claim, and it’s the kind of marketing you’d expect from Xiaomi.

The PolarAce Imaging System.
The PolarAce Imaging System. Image source: Tecno

I did tell you a few days ago that I attended a briefing before the MWC where Xiaomi showcased the Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s video capabilities in the best possible way. The company hired cinematographers and actors to shoot scenes with the phone. That was a clear sign the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is going to be a camera phone before everything else.

Back to the Tecno phone, the PolarAce imaging system was the focus of Tecno’s event. Much like the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, the Camon 30 wants to offer the best possible camera experience.

The TECNO PolarAce Imaging System.
The TECNO PolarAce Imaging System. Image source: Tecno

Tecno said that its PolarAce system is possible thanks to four key advancements.

One is the Sony CXD5622GG chip with “industry-first end-side FP16 floating-point computing.” Then we get Sony Lytia camera components. Tecno’s Universal Tone multi-skin tone imaging technology is the third big innovation. And finally, we have Tecno’s AI algorithms.

The chip seems to be the special sauce of the PolarAce package. It’s a standalone chip that complements the phone’s main application processor, which would usually handle photography tasks. Tecno says the Polar Ace Image System chip can achieve 4.6TFLOPS@FP16 performance. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t know how that compares to the Xiaomi 14 Ultra and other 2024 camera phones.

The Camon 30's main camera sensor.
The Camon 30’s main camera sensor. Image source: Tecno

Tecno explained that the chip comes with four engines, each handling specific tasks:

  • NeuroNR Turbo – reduces noise in the RAW domain
  • NeuroColor Turbo – optimizes real color restoration
  • NeuroHDR Turbo – improves mobile videography quality
  • NeuroFPS Turbo – ensures the overall smoothness of videos

These technologies enable the 4K 30fps full-scene AI-NR HDR video shooting mode I mentioned earlier. They also bring 4K Ultra Night Vision support to the Camon 30.

When it comes to camera specs, the Camon 30 will feature a Sony IMX890 main camera, a 70mm periscope lens (up to 60x hybrid zoom), and a 50-megapixel front-facing camera with eye-tracking.

Tecno Camon 30 Premier 5G: Main specs and features.
Tecno Camon 30 Premier 5G: Main specs and features. Image source: Tecno

As for the AI features built into the phone, there’s one in particular that reminds me of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra again. That’s the built-in AIGC Portrait capture that’s similar to Xiaomi’s AI Portraits.

Tecno will use AI to apply all sorts of “disguises” to your portraits, without using a third-party app. Xiaomi does the same thing after the Xiaomi 14 Ultra creates a digital portrait for portrait photos you’d show it. After that, the digital portrait lets you generate backgrounds and outfits.

Other Camon 30 AI photo features include the AI One Click Erase feature that will let you eliminate objects from images. Just like Magic Editor already does on several Android phones.

Unlike the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, the Camon 30 isn’t going to be available soon. It launches at some point in the second quarter. But Tecno revealed some of the phone’s other specs that make it a flagship device.

We’re looking at a 1.5K OLED display with 1,400 nits brightness, MediaTek Dimensity 8200 processor, and 5G connectivity. On the back, the handset features an “Action Dot” that will light up when the phone is recording video. It also acts as an infrared sensor indicator, charging indicator, and activation light for voice assistants.

The specs are not quite on par with the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, and Tecno hasn’t even revealed everything about the handset. I’d also expect the handset to be more affordable than the €1,499 Xiaomi flagship. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that the Camon 30 is a pleasant surprise from this year’s MWC show.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.