The Chinese are still coming! Time was — when your Huaweis, Lenovos, Haiers and Xaiomis were taking the battle to the Japanese and the Koreans — when you could say the Chinese were simply coming. But add in all the other brands that are still popping up from the Middle Kingdom, and the coming of the Chinese has continued pretty much unabated.
And now, you can add one more brand to that mix — TCL. But wait a minute, I hear you say, isn’t TCL already a household name in the UAE’s TV, soundbar and appliance markets? So they are — but now, based on the foundation of their success in these segments, they’re also leading a charge into the mobile phone market, joining their more established compatriots and breaking fresh ground for themselves with high-quality products. Told you, the Chinese are still coming!
Joining TCL’s family of products on the mobile phone side of the gadget spectrum is the TCL 20 5G, which has made its way to our shores after its launch worldwide last year. And, first up, let me tell you that with all the features and the quality it comes packed with, this phone is a steal at around Dh799.
The stand-out features of the TCL 20 5G are its screen, camera and battery life, which all punch above their weight class in terms of price. And, of course, the phone’s 5G capability. With 5G services now rolled out across UAE cities, this is a phone that allows you to access 5G services at a bargain-basement price.
Which is where the device’s excellent screen comes in. Now, TCL know a thing or two about making display screens — after all, they are one of the most popular TV brands out there and display screen suppliers to several top brands. No wonder then that the 20 5G’s 6.67-inch Dotch (camera whole punch) display with TCL’s proprietary NXTVISION 2.0 technology returns stunning resolution, clarity and vibrancy. Its SDR to HDR conversion increases picture quality further, whether you’re browsing the Internet or apps, or watching that Netflix flick on-the-go sitting in a Dubai Metro train.
What helps in this endeavour, apart from the screen quality itself, is the screen’s 20:9 aspect ratio backed up by the processing power of an 8nm octa-core Snapdragon 690 5G chipset and 6GB of RAM. There’s also 256GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot to expand it further, so you can carry your own film festival with you while you’re doing the Expo 2020 to Centre Point run.
To go with the screen quality, the TCL 20 5G also has Hi-Res audio playback and, in a nod to music lovers, it sports a headphone jack to widen your choice of head/earphones to pair it with while maintaining the audio quality with cables. Hi-Res audio is also available wireless, with Qualcomm’s aptX technology built in.
The TCL 20 5G’s cameras also belie the device’s price point. Its main triple camera system is comprised of a 48-megapixel (MP), an 8MP and a 2MP lens, which are ultrawide, macro and lowlight, with 10X zoom. Meanwhile, the front camera is a more than adequate 8MP unit and returns great portrait shots, so the selfie buffs will have no complaints.
Whichever camera you use, the results compare favourably with more illustrious — and expensive — phone models. The colours are bright yet balanced and the outlines crisp. And, if you are the sort that likes to tweak your images further, the onboard AI-aided processing has you covered with a plethora of features. For the really creative snappers, there is a full manual mode to take complete creative control of your photography, though yours truly found the unfussiness of the point-and-shoot mode more preferable. Videos, meanwhile, are shot in full-1080 HD and look refreshingly natural.
With the phone’s convenient 5G capability, uploading your pictures and videos to Instagram and Facebook is a breeze.
You might imagine that all of these features eat up the battery power quickly – but the 20 5G truly surprises here. A 4,500 mAH battery sounds run-of-the-mill in today’s market, but through whatever power-management wizardry TCL has done, our test mule consistently gave around two days of use before needing to be charged, even with heavy use. When use was restricted to just the basic features, that went up to around 4 days. And we got a whopping 7-plus days when it was simply on standby.
The one gripe — or make that two — is that despite the quick-charge claim, it seems to take longer than average to reach full charge and there is no wireless charging feature. It is also not water resistant, so you need to be extra careful when taking those poolside selfies or beach shots. But given the price of the device and what it offers for the money, I’d say I was nit-picking if I griped at these.
As a value for money 5G mobile phone, the TCL 20 5G is highly recommended