TCL has been making household appliances since 1981, and you may be surprised to learn it has been quietly manufacturing phones for years under different brand names that it either owns or has licensed—names like Alcatel, BlackBerry, and more recently, Palm. But the new TCL 10 Pro ($450) and 10L ($250) are the first TCL-branded smartphones to be sold in the US.
Nowadays, competition is fierce for mid-range phones; with options like the new iPhone SE, the Google Pixel 4, and the upcoming Pixel 4A (expected this summer). But TCL has managed to carve out a comfortable home on a shelf full of smartphone pioneers, and that’s a very promising start.
Design and screen
This might be the first time that TCL has tried its hand at building its own smartphone from scratch, but it doesn’t show: this is a very appealing phone in terms of its aesthetics, even if it doesn’t quite hit the heights, design-wise, of the premium-level devices from Apple and Samsung. Everything is solidly put together, and the TCL 10 Pro feels great to handle and hold.
Meet TCL 10 pro, it comes loaded with
1080×2340 pixels resolution
6GB RAM Snapdragon 675
At an affordable price of 40k.
Best phone to integrate with your TCL TV. #phones #tcl #TechNews #tuesdayvibes pic.twitter.com/vDHyOl0hwR
— Pauline. (@kot_hacker) May 19, 2020
The way the quad-lens rear camera has been arranged takes some getting used to, but it’s growing on us, and it’s a nice change to have a phone without a camera bump to worry about. We’re also pleased to see that the TCL 10 Pro is sporting a headphone jack, which means we can carry on using our existing headphones without a dongle, while the data port on the bottom uses USB-C.
Unusually for a phone at this price, the TCL 10 Pro uses an OLED rather than an LCD screen (no doubt thanks to TCL’s TV manufacturing expertise). That typically means deeper blacks and more vibrant colours, and the display on this handset doesn’t disappoint – whether you’re playing games, watching movies (with full HDR10 support on Netflix), or just browsing the web, the 6.47-inch screen really shines.
That screen is running at a 1080 x 2340 resolution, and at a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and is only interrupted with a small teardrop notch for the front-facing selfie camera. As far as looks and build quality go then, the TCL 10 Pro definitely impresses – a sleek grey and a more exotic green are your two colour choices.
As for the generous 4,500 mAh battery, it got us through the day with no problems at all – often with 20-30 percent of the battery left (note though that all phone batteries degrade over time, and that we weren’t really pushing the phone with extensive use). In our usual hour of video streaming test (max brightness, mid volume), the TCL 10 Pro went down from a full charge to 95 percent – one of the best results we’ve seen to date.
The TCL 10 Pro camera is a quad-lens affair, though it’s perhaps not as advanced as that sounds: you get a 64 MP wide lens, a 16 MP ultrawide lens, a 5 MP macro lens, and a 2 MP depth lens. There’s no optical image stabilisation or optical zoom, like you would expect on higher-end phones, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve – such as an AI engine that will automatically adjust the camera settings for each shot.
Unfortunately for TCL, the camera department is one of the areas where the Google and Apple mid-rangers really excel, and so if mobile photography is important to you then there are better options around at this price.
The TCL 10 Pro is powered by the perfectly respectable Snapdragon 675 processor (see also the Motorola Edge Plus). Heavy-duty games and websites might give you a second or two of extra loading time, but overall, the chipset (and 6GB of RAM) can handle everything you might want to throw at it.
There’s 128GB of internal storage on board, which should be enough for most, and that can be extended with a microSDXC card if needed.
The TCL 10 Pro sports some eye-catching hardware, including a slick design and a physically well-integrated quad-lens camera. But there are significant snags throughout, such as an oddly calibrated AMOLED display and a camera that yields inconsistent results. It’s not a bad phone, but you can get so much more for the money, whether you’re minded towards Android or iOS.