REVIEW: New TCL20Pro5G Smartphone All It Needs Is Brand Clout
TCL is the worlds’ #2 TV brand but when it comes to smartphones they not only have an excellent product they deserver more brand traction than they currently have in the Australian market with the business better known for the Alcatel product that their recent TCL offering.
This is a Company that reminds me of US car rental Company Avis, who had the right product, but it was not till they adopted the slogan “We Try Harder”, and backed it with extensive marketing, that they eventually got to #1 in the car rental market worldwide.
TCL is well known for their ‘Display Greatness” but this has to translate into sales for their new TCL20Pro5G smartphone which is seriously up there with brands such as Oppo, Motorola or Nokia.
Right now, TCL is trying hard to be a player in the smartphone market but unfortunately, a lot of really great smartphones are dying in the market, not because of product failings but a lack of marketing spend, the LG V40 was praised by reviewers but it is now dead and buried because Apple and Samsung outspent them in the market, they not only invested in their brand but the product as well.
These two big brands can afford it, but the likes of TCL and LG or even Motorola and Nokia, don’t have the market share to invest in brand marketing resulting in really great smartphones dying on the vine.
One thing is certain, a lot of effort has gone into the TCL 20 Pro 5G, which tops the TCL 20-series with a Snapdragon 750G processor and a “waterfall” AMOLED 6.7″ FHD+ AMOLED, display that delivers 60Hz and 2400×1080 resolution, that’s as good as most Apple premium device.
At 164.2 x 73 x 8.8mm and 190g (vs. 158.5 x 72.4 x 9.2mm and 177g), the 6.67-inch 20 Pro 5G is taller and fractionally heavier but thinner than the prior TCL 6.47-inch 10 Pro.
As one reviewer said, it’s also more squared off in the corners — think Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and S21 Ultra, and you get the idea.
In addition, this device has TCL’s NXTVISION 2 engine, which pairs Pixelworks’ i6 chip with custom algorithms to enhance on-screen media and gaming content and convert standard dynamic range to HDR.
At $798 this device is superior to offerings from the likes of Oppo, Vivo or Realme or even Nokia and if it is to be judged on value, it’s up there with Apple’s and Samsung’s affordable premium devices, The processor is fast and it’s not a case of what you can do but more about what you can’t do.
Let’s frame this offering, because it’s not about the best processor or a widely tricked up camera, it’s more about price and images that look really good and video that’s excellent when played back especially 4K music videos from YouTube.
TCL are famous for their display technology they were the first in the world to deliver Mini LED which LG and Samsung are only just building into their TV’s and unlike smartphones from the likes of Nokia or Apple or even Samsung with some of their cheaper smartphones TCL devices are manufactured in a TCL manufacturing plant a move that allows them to control the quality of their devices.
The display benefits from optical image stabilisation and in your hand the new 5G model feels remarkably comfortable and easy to handle with users given the option of configuring buttons on the left or right of the device for easy access to functions.
The sleek glass finish and the aluminium design gives the device a seriously polished finish. My review sample was turquoise or as TCL call it Marine Blue finish and on two occasions, I had people ask me about the colour which appears to have appeal with teenagers.
The glass and aluminium bonding is a feature that’s not even the norm on flagships models anymore with brands such as Samsung with their S21 and Oppo moving to plastic backs in an effort to cut costs and robotically manufacture their devices in an effort to cut costs.
The wireless charging works really well, and I was able to get good days work out of the device which because of COVID lock downs got an above average workload due to conference calling and increased video use.
The camera rig consists of four cameras, the rear facing Camera is 48MP f/1.8 Main OIS, PDAF – 16MP f/2.4 123º ultrawide – 5MP f/2.2 Macro AF – 2MP f/2.4 Depth.
The front facing camera which is via punch hole is 32MP f/2.5 and video recording is 4k @ 30fps, there is also 1080p slow mo built in.
The camera rig on the left side of the rear, is mounted up in a row flush with the rear glass with the cameras rotated 90 degrees for better picture shooting.
When it comes to imaging, the TCL 20 Pro 5G offers solid specs for a mid-range phone. Round back, there’s a 48MP f/1.8 0.8-micron main shooter with PDAF and OIS (Sony IMX 582, pixel binned to 12MP), 16MP 123-degree f/2.4 1.0-micron ultrawide, 5MP f/2.2 1.12-micron macro with AF, and 2MP f/2.4 1.75-micron depth sensor. In front, you’ll find a 32MP f/2.5 0.8-micron selfie camera (pixel binned to 8MP). So far so good, at least on paper.
The ultrawide and macro max out at 1080p 30fps, and while the ultrawide is stabilised delivering really good wide shots as my pictures of Balmoral beach reveal.
Shooting modes include portrait, night, pro (manual), panorama, macro, high pixel (48MP), and light tracing for photos, plus HDR, macro, slow motion, and stop motion for videos.
Night mode is only available on the main shooter. The device does have a Sony Optical Image Stabilization processor and super night mode 2.0.
Here are some of the images we shot with this camera.
Missing from this device is 90Mhz and stereo sound with audio recorded to video being only mono.
NXTVISION is a new generation of generation of intelligent display that takes advantage of AI software resulting in this device delivering good display quality even at 50% brightness.
Another plus is the 4500mAh battery which TCL appears to be managing with smart software that controls the battery life. As for charging you can go from 0% to 50% in only 35 minutes with the 18W Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger.
This is a really nice smartphone for the price, the superiority of TCL as a display brand shows through with their NXTVISION technology. The design is as good as most brands out there though most devices today are looking very similar.
The speed of the processor is good, and images look good. If you want a mid-range affordable premium smartphone this is your device.
I know cost is an issue for TCL, but they should have invested more in the camera to really give this device a big kick along, I would also have liked to have seen a new range of covers especially a ruggedised cover. While a clear plastic cover is supplied unfortunately the brand is not big enough to justify an investment by third party cover manufacturers.