TCL Is Pushing the Price of 5G Down Even Further with the TCL 20 5G

Illustration for article titled TCL Is Pushing the Price of 5G Down Even Further with the TCL 20 5G
Image: TCL

Last year TCL began flexing its industrial muscle when it launched its first line of TCL branded phones, and now for CES 2021, the new TCL 20 5G is looking to push the price of 5G phones way down.

For 2021, the TCL 20 Series (at least to start) will be comprised of two phones: the TCL 20 5G which is expected to go on sale for under 300 euros, and the even cheaper TCL 20 SE priced at just 150 euros.

With its 10 and now 20 Series phones, TCL is looking to combine the expertise and resources it developed from making TVs, and phones marketed under other brands like Alcatel, Blackberry, and Palm, to create affordable devices that still have some features typically reserved for more expensive premium handsets. In a way, TCL is sort of cribbing off Samsung’s playbook, which is able to use its vast tech empire to sources parts like displays, memory, storage, and even processors from within.

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Priced at 300 euros (around $365 converted directly), the TCL 20 5G is even cheaper than Motorola’s newly-announced Moto One 5G Ace while offering similar specs including a 6.67-inch FHD+ LCD screen, Snapdragon 69o 5G chip, 6GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage, microSD card slot, and a 4,500 mAh battery.

Around back, the TCL 20 5G also comes with three rear cameras including a 48-MP main cam, an 8-MP ultra-wide cam, and a 2-MP macro cam. TCL says the 20 series cams come with AI tuning to help users take better photos, while much like Samsung, TCL is using its knowledge of TVs to add support for HDR 10 video and a built-in SDR to HDR conversion feature to help bump up the quality of whatever you’re watching.

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The main downside to the TCL 20 5G is that while it is quite affordable, just like the Moto One 5G Ace, the TCL 20 5G only supports sub-6GHz 5G but not mmWave 5G. That means if the TCL 20 5G does make its way stateside, it will have limited 5G functionality, especially on carriers like Verizon.

As for the TCL 20 SE, TCL has made a pretty decent looking budget phone for just 150 euros, with components including a large 6.82-inch touchscreen, a rear fingerprint reader, Snapdragon 460 chip, 4GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, microSD card reader, and even bigger 5,000 mAh battery. And in back you actually get four cams instead of three, with the 20 SE getting a 48-MP main cam, 5-MP ultra-wide cam, 2-MP macro cam, and a 2-MP depth cam.

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While the TCL 20 SE is pretty basic and does not support 5G, it does have two notable special features which are a Smart Floating window that is basically a picture-in-picture function that lets you browse the web or respond to texts in a small window while watching videos, and the ability to use the TCL 20 SE’s large 5,000 mAh battery to reverse charge other nearby devices using a USB-C cable.

However, the big tease is that TCL’s first two 20 series phones may just be a preview, as TCL says it’s planning to reveal at least three new phones sometime “in the coming weeks.”

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The TCL 20 SE is expected to go on sale this month for 150 euros, while the TCL 20 5G is slated to be available sometime next month.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

yeah, ok- but it’s still 5g.

I mean sure- 5g is great if you’re in flat, unobstructed open space or a metro area that has boosters on every corner; But if you’re in hilly terrain, heavily congested data areas or the canyons of a metro downtown- you’re screwed.

Battery life is cut by 30-50% by the simple act of the phone trying to sync with it, continually dropping from 5g-a to 5g-b (a being full strength, b being no better than 4g) and then there’s the lovely surcharge providers tack on for the”extra” service.

From all I’ve seen, this was very little more than a multi level cash-grab; 5g speeds, when available, are indeed awesome- don’t get me wrong; It’s been lauded as”going from a garden hose to a fire hose”- but if you’re drinking out of a damned coffee cup, is 500 milliseconds really going to matter on the refill?