TCL has released its 20 Series range of mobiles offering high-spec features for under $500
Smart phones with 5G capability can set you back over two-and-a-half thousand dollars in some instanced (looking at you Apple), so when TCL announced that its new 20 Series mobile phones had 5G, alongside a high-spec processor and camera, we had to get our mitts on one. For a company that has made its name in TV’s and audio equipment, they are giving it a fair crack in the smartphone market.
All about the Looks: Design
The 20 Series comes in two, soon to be three specifications. First is the entry model, the TCL 20 SE, and the range-topper Daily Addict is reviewing, dubbed the ‘20 5G’. The first thing Daily Addict noticed was the massive 6.67-inch FHD+ display which took up the entire front face of the device. Even the forward camera is just a pinprick (or ‘dotch’ as TCL like to call it) in the display, which to this writer looks incredibly attractive. The colours are vibrant and display with HDR10 playback along with the SDR-to-HDR technology and accurate colour calibration.
Flip it over and you’ll find vibrant casing in what TCL has dubbed ‘Placid Blue’ which this writer really like the look of. For those wanting a more subdued option the 5G is also available in ‘Mist Grey’, whereas the SE is only available in ‘Nuit Black’. Also, on the back of the device is a AI-powered triple camera system. The only gripe this write has with the casing is that while it looks shiny and metallic, it feels a little plasticky which is a shame but also expected in this budget range.
Getting a grip: Usability
This writer is not afraid to admit that they have been an avid Apple product user right from the 3GS generations, so a foray into the world of the Android is one that is approached with a small degree of trepidation. A word of warning to those who want to make the swap, it isn’t an easy thing to do. TCL even tries to make life a little easier with specialised inbuilt apps that help move things like photos and contacts across, but they are slow and a little dim-witted.
The key here is patience, and back everything up on your iPhone to your Google Drive prior. If you do that, then when you set up your new TCL you are able to just simply have the photos and contacts available. It also is a bit of a rude shock to not have the apps on the old phone straight away on the new phone however it ended up being a detox of sort providing the perfect opportunity to strip away the unnecessary apps.
The TCL user experience is familiar to android users and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 operating system with 4GB RAM and up to 128GB memory provides adequate processing power and storage.
Snap Happy: Camera
As we mentioned briefly, around the back of the handset is a triple rear camera (48MP + 8MP + 2MP) with 10x digital zoom. The front ‘selfie’ camera is a decent 8MP with ‘Face Beautification’ in-built filter among many as well as a Portrait Mode for those fond of a selfie or two.
Breaking down the camera setup; the 48-megapixel main camera does the heavy lifting with panorama, portrait, slo-mo modes all available. The 8-Megapixel wide-angle camera sorts out the Insta-worth panorama landscapes and the 2-megapixel macro camera for those up-close and detailed shots. Side-by-side against an iOS device the set-up puts up a decent effort with nice colour balance and depth of shadows.
The Nuts & Bolts: System
Inside the 20 Series 5G things sits a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 690 5G Mobile Platform chipset with a Qualcomm® Kryo™ 560 Octa-Core: 2 CPU, which when it comes to being distilled into the most simplistic terms, is enough for any day-to-day usage you can throw at it. All apps tested resulted in very little lag with the only hesitation coming when going from the home page into the camera. Available is 6GB of RAM and 128GB of memory with the ability to add a micro-SD card up to 256GB.
On the sides are three buttons, one for power that also doubles as a fingerprint sensor, one for volume and one for Google Assistant. Getting used to the fingerprint sensor on the side takes a little bit of time, however once you get the hang of it you barely use the face unlock feature. Having both options however is something that other, higher-end phones could take notice.
The battery is decent enough with a type-C USB port for charging or using headphones, as and 4500mAh available. Real-world that meant Daily Addict didn’t need a recharge throughout a day of usage. Strangely the lower-end and cheaper SE model has a larger 5000mAh battery and both are capable of 18W Fast Charging however this reader found that the charging was a little slower that quoted but it’s definitely not a deal-breaker.
For those who are fans for of a smartphone bargain the TCL 20 5G is an enticing alternative to offerings from other mainstream brands, and as relative newcomers in the market TCL have shown just how serious they are. If you are going to make the switch from Apple you are going to save thousands of dollars in purchase price, what will be the dealbreaker is how ready users are to swap their data and re-log into their apps. This is not a TCL exclusive situation, rather all Apple-to-Android switchers will go through the pain.
For a good-value, mid-range devices TCL has bases covered with the 5G at the top of the range down to the budget $299 SE. All phones are attractive with brilliant displays and cameras for the price range and those with current TCL television and computer devices will love the seamless screen-sharing they offer.
Tech Addict Rating: 7/10
TCL 20 5G – $499 – Available at Harvey Norman at end of May and Officeworks from June
TCL 20L+ – $399 – Available at Officeworks now.
TCL 20 SE – $299 – Available at Officeworks in June