You may not have heard of TCL earlier than, however you have in all probability come throughout their merchandise earlier than. The Chinese language tech behemoth does not promote a lot beneath its personal identify within the UK – TVs, principally – nevertheless it manufactures lots extra, together with Alcatel telephones and, till just lately, the previous few Blackberry mobiles.
This yr TCL has determined to place its identify on the market, beginning with the launch of three telephones within the West. The TCL 10 5G sits roughly in the course of this set, providing some strong specs – together with 5G assist, if the identify did not give it away – at a aggressive worth, with a subdued, skilled (boring?) aesthetic that nods to the corporate’s latest historical past with Blackberry.
Design and construct
It is in all probability truthful to say that no matter you concentrate on the TCL 10 5G, it isn’t going to show any heads. It is a telephone constructed from the ground-up to look purposeful somewhat than flashy, and it’s prone to attraction most to be used in an expert setting.
The boxy gadget feels strong within the hand, with a reassuring heft because of the glass and aluminium building, and at 9mm is thick sufficient to nonetheless slot in a headphone jack – at the price of any waterproofing score. The glass rear has a refined gradient end that on my mannequin goes between black and gray, although there’s a blue mannequin if you’d like one thing ever so barely extra flash.
The rear is dominated by the telephone’s quad digital camera setup – extra on that later – together with a dependable bodily fingerprint scanner in an oh-so-functional sq. form. Even the TCL emblem is boxy and to-the-point.
I do not wish to recommend that the TCL 10 5G is ugly, nevertheless it has a transparent aesthetic, and it is worlds away from the flashes finishes and reflective prospers of many different mid-range handsets. It is a telephone for individuals who wish to appear like they do not care how their telephone appears – and it appears fairly good for that.
Together with the headphone jack you get a USB-C port for charging and a mono speaker setup alongside the underside edge. Along with the standard quantity and energy buttons, you additionally get a devoted voice assistant button on the left edge – the telephone’s sole color contrasting notice, in a easy silver end.
On the entrance you get a 6.53in IPS show at HD decision (1080×2340) with a punch-hole selfie digital camera within the high left nook. The highest and aspect bezels are comparatively slim – although not fairly edge-to-edge – although you will discover a bit extra of a chin alongside the underside.
There’s nothing fallacious with the show, nevertheless it’s not main both. It is capped at 60Hz, at a time when 90 and even 120Hz panels are making their method into telephones cheaper than this, and even at max brightness it feels barely dim.
Colors are crisp although, and viewing angles wonderful, and I’ve actually had no points or critical complaints whereas utilizing it.
There’s assist for HDR10+, which is just a little uncommon at this worth, together with AI-driven software program dubbed NXTVISION that upscales pictures and movies to HDR on the fly – although I discovered it so aggressive that I most popular it off.
Provided that TCL is greatest identified for its TVs, it’s just a little shocking that it hasn’t leant extra into the show tech in its telephones and used this as a promoting level – particularly with a significantly better panel within the TCL 10 Professional. There’s nothing a lot fallacious with the display right here, however It is merely not particularly exceptional in any course.
Specs and efficiency
Specs are extra spectacular. This is likely one of the cheaper handsets to make use of Qualcomm’s wonderful Snapdragon 765G chipset, which delivers near-flagship efficiency together with 5G assist.
Paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable by as much as 1TB by way of microSD), the 10 5G saved tempo with different 765G handsets in our benchmarks, and in day-to-day use it is as nippy as you possibly can ask a telephone to be.
Sure, telephones with the flagship 865 chipset – and even the Realme X3 SuperZoom with final yr’s 855 – will look loads quicker in benchmarks, however until you play probably the most demanding cellular video games you are unlikely to note the distinction in real-world utilization, and this chip gives loads of efficiency for the typical telephone person.
If TCL is pushing any facet of the telephone hardest, it is in all probability the digital camera setup. With 5 lenses complete – 4 on the again, one on the entrance – you are actually getting plenty of choices for the value, and on paper the 64Mp foremost lens must also ship the products.
Pictures with the principle lens are by default taken at 16Mp, with four-to-one pixel binning, however there’s an choice to take excessive decision 64Mp photographs in case you favor. On the default setting the digital camera does an important job of capturing element, with crisp pictures filled with depth.
At first I believed the telephone was taking photographs that have been scandalously over-saturated, however finally I realised that this was merely the ‘NXTVISION’ show optimisation software program – switched on by default to ‘enhance’ photographs and movies you have a look at on the gadget. Change it off and your photographs will look extra true-to-life, and likewise regain a few of their dynamic vary – although that is admittedly already the digital camera’s weak level, usually the case with excessive Mp lenses if they do not use particularly massive sensors.
Portrait outcomes are first rate, and supported on the rear by a 2Mp depth sensor that helps the telephone do job of edge detection. Evening mode is just a little weaker – one in every of my check photographs got here out effectively, however the others lacked element and have been filled with noise and patches that remained inky black. Colors have been no less than true-to-life, not like on some telephones that make nighttime photographs appear like they have been taken throughout the day.
Video goes as much as 4K at 30fps, with digital picture stabilisation however no hardware-based optical stabilisation to talk of.
The principle lens is accompanied by an 8Mp ultra-wide, which is principally wonderful – it’s going to get the job performed, however the photographs aren’t something to jot down house about, with the restricted element made much more obvious by comparability to the principle shooter.
Then there is a macro, which is a frankly garbage filler lens, there to make up the numbers – a worrying latest development in mid-range and finances handsets. Colors are washed out and dreary, and with simply 5Mp there’s far much less element than the principle lens can provide. Any macro shot will look higher from the principle digital camera, and so the devoted lens feels fairly pointless.
As for the entrance, you get a 16Mp selfie lens that is higher than I anticipated, although the principle digital camera’s dynamic vary issues are exacerbated right here. There is a software-driven portrait mode, however with out the depth sensor edge detection is weaker than on the rear lenses, and it additionally launched a curious quantity of extra noise as regards to the picture.
The 64Mp foremost lens is what makes the TCL 10 5G really feel aggressive when it comes to images, besides I would hesitate to advocate anybody purchase this telephone primarily for the digital camera, because the likes of the Pixel 4a or OnePlus Nord will match or beat its efficiency for much less.
The 4,500 mAh battery within the 10 5G simply sees the telephone via a day’s use, and a day and a half appears to be an affordable expectation from the gadget, which is nothing to be sniffed at.
There is no wi-fi charging – hardly a shock at this worth actually – and the wired charging speeds goes as much as 18W – quick sufficient to provide 39% of the battery again in half an hour, which ought to be nippy sufficient for many.
The TCL 10 5G ships with Android 10 – the most recent model, on the time of writing – and contains TCL’s personal Android pores and skin on high, the merely named TCL UI.
Followers of inventory Android might be happy to notice that it is a comparatively unobtrusive software program layer, maintaining the system clear and straightforward to make use of.
There’s a little bloatware pre-installed – Netflix, Fb, and some devoted TCL apps like a efficiency optimiser and a assist centre app – and most egregiously these cannot truly be uninstalled. No, not even Netflix. Not less than for probably the most half the telephone sticks to Google’s personal apps for telephone calls and messages, and makes use of Chrome by default, so in utilizing the telephone you’ll be able to simply keep away from most of TCL’s inclusions.
Worth and availability
The TCL 10 5G is out there for £399 within the UK, the place you may get it from Three. The telephone is ready to launch within the US later this yr for $399, however no agency date has been set.
That worth units it proper within the aggressive mid-range market, which is the largest problem for the telephone. Trying on the UK, the £379 OnePlus Nord beats it on specs and show high quality, whereas the £349 Pixel 4a trumps on digital camera and software program – although admittedly lacks 5G. And that is not even referring to the cheaper Realme and Oppo telephones.
Take a look at the remainder of our mid-range telephone chart to see what else is out across the similar worth.
The TCL 10 5G is a good sufficient telephone that is hamstrung by the truth that it does not actually excel at something – and is up in opposition to stiff competitors that incessantly does.
Anybody on the lookout for a big telephone with good battery life, strong specs, and an aesthetic that screams ‘skilled’ might be pretty pleased with the 10 5G, however the common telephone purchaser will possible discover that rival gadgets provide extra when it comes to design, show, and digital camera efficiency – and infrequently value much less in addition.
TCL 10 5G: Specs
Android 10 with TCL UI
6.53in Full HD+ (1080×2340) IPS LCD, 19.5:9, 60Hz, HDR10+
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G octa-core processor
128GB inner storage
MicroSD as much as 1TB
64Mp f/1.9 foremost digital camera
8Mp f/2.2 ultrawide
5Mp f/2.2 macro
2Mp f/2.Four depth sensor
16Mp f/2.2 selfie digital camera
Fingerprint scanner (rear-mounted)
11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
4500mAh non-removable battery
18W wired charging
164 x 77 x 9mm