The TCL 10 5G UW Is the Cheapest 5G Phone on the Market, But It's Verizon-Only

Illustration for article titled The TCL 10 5G UW Is the Cheapest 5G Phone on the Market, But Its Verizon-Only
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Phone makers have pushed out a wave of premium 5G phones this fall, but when it comes to more affordable handsets that support next-gen cell networks, pickings are still kind of slim. However, starting at just $400, the TCL 10 5G UW is now the cheapest 5G phone on the market.

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To make things even better, unlike some other mid-range 5G phones, the TCL 10 5G UW supports both sub-6Ghz 5G and mmWave 5G so it can take advantage of 5G’s significantly higher peak speeds. The main downside is that the TCL 10 5G UW is only available on Verizon, which is denoted by the UW or Ultra Wideband tag—aka Verizon’s branding for mmWave 5G.

While the TCL 10 5G UW has a slightly larger screen, even though it doesn’t translate 100% in photos, you can still see how the Pixel 4a 5G’s OLED display offers richer, more punchy colors.
While the TCL 10 5G UW has a slightly larger screen, even though it doesn’t translate 100% in photos, you can still see how the Pixel 4a 5G’s OLED display offers richer, more punchy colors.
Photo: Sam Rutherford
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Aside from its price and 5G support, the TCL 10 5G UW (which will go on sale this Friday, Oct. 29) isn’t the most exciting device, but it does have a respectable assortment of specs including a Snapdragon 765G processor, 6.53-inch 2340 x 1080 LCD display, 6GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, a microSD slot, and a 4,500 mAh battery. Those are similar specs to the Pixel 4a 5G, but with a larger screen (though its a lower quality LCD panel instead of OLED), a bigger battery, and expandable storage for $100 less. And unlike a lot of phones nowadays, the TCL 10 5GUW still has a headphone jack too.

That said, the TCL 10 5G UW does have one special feature with its On-the-Go Reverse charging, which allows you to send excess power from the TCL 10 5G UW to another device via a USB-C cord so you can help out a friend with a gadget that’s low on juice.

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Around back the TCL has a fingerprint sensor and a triple camera module comprised of a 48-MP main cam, an 8-MP super-wide cam, and a 5-MP macro cam. And unlike the standard $250 TCL 10, the TCL 10 5G UW has a subtle crystalline design built into its plastic back, for an extra bit of style.

Now I know there are a lot of people who still aren’t ready or simply aren’t interested in getting a 5G phone, and that’s totally OK. Based on the rollout of 5G networks in the U.S., we’ve only just begun to reach a place where caring about 5G makes sense. Almost no one should buy a 5G phone purely to get 5G right now. Think of 5G more as a small bonus that will help improve your mobile data speeds over the next two years, and focus on other features like cameras, performance, and others that you can fully utilize immediately.

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The TCL 10 5G UW has one more camera than the Pixel 4a 5G, but even just after a few quick comparison shots, it’s clear the Pixel has superior image quality.
The TCL 10 5G UW has one more camera than the Pixel 4a 5G, but even just after a few quick comparison shots, it’s clear the Pixel has superior image quality.
Photo: Sam Rutherford

The most important thing the TCL 10 5G UW is doing is helping push the price of 5G phones down, so that when you are ready to actually upgrade to 5G, there will be a wider range of handsets to choose from across a range of prices. And on that front it seems to be doing pretty well.

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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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JicagoChusticeExcession

How many Gs does it have?