TCL 20 Pro 5G review: Pulling the Pixel from its perch

(*20*)Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

While you see the title TCL, you most likely recall to mind TVs. There may be a very good explanation why for that. The corporate’s extremely value-laden line of 4K TVs made a large splash in the marketplace a number of years again and feature handiest progressed since then. I have were given one. My dad has one. My highest good friend has one, and his dad has one, so on and so on. However the smartphone marketplace is a bit more sophisticated, a bit extra aggressive, and a bit harder to crack than the TV sector was once.

That is the place the TCL 20 line is available in. 3 very reasonably priced telephones create a very good follow-up to TCL’s large self-branded debut remaining 12 months, which landed them on the record of highest affordable telephones time and time once more. Finally, TCL is not a amateur to the smartphone marketplace; it is been making telephones beneath the Alcatel, Blackberry, and Palm manufacturers for years (amongst others), and now TCL is leveraging its recognition for its second-generation TCL-branded telephones.

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The TCL 20 Pro 5G is TCL’s flagship telephone this 12 months. It has got all the trappings of a very good revel in: a quick Snapdragon 750G SoC that brings 5G connectivity with it, 256GB of garage with beef up for an extra 1TB by means of microSD playing cards, Tremendous Bluetooth, a fantastic display screen, even better-looking colours on the again, and a quad-camera array that is a noticeable development over remaining 12 months’s style. At $500, that is the highest Pixel 4a 5G competitor. In finding out why in our TCL 20 Pro 5G overview under.

Tcl 20 Pro Back Render Crop

TCL 20 Pro 5G

Base line: TCL’s second-generation flagship is a cast access into the mid-range segment that is priced identically to the Pixel 4a 5G. Whilst it can not fit the prowess of a Pixel digital camera revel in, the whole thing else about this telephone is a greater cost — as long as you handiest plan to stay the telephone for the 2 years that updates are promised.

The nice

  • TCL UI 3.0 is feature-rich
  • Various garage
  • Tremendous Bluetooth
  • Superb battery existence
  • Cast efficiency
  • Nice exhibit

The unhealthy

  • Video recording high quality leaves so much to be desired
  • Best the major rear digital camera is any nice in any respect
  • Gesture navigation is damaged

TCL 20 Pro 5G: Worth and availability

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Front Display

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The TCL 20 Pro 5G is unlocked from Amazon for $500 at release on June 28, 2021. TCL sells the telephone in two colours: the surprising Marine Blue and the case-friendly Moondust Gray.

TCL 20 Pro 5G: {Hardware} and design

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

At $500, the TCL 20 Pro 5G hits all the marks after which some. As its maximum direct competitor is the Pixel 4a 5G, it is beautiful simple to peer simply how a lot cost TCL has stuffed into this telephone. Whilst the processor is a slight step down from the Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 4a 5G, virtually the whole thing else is a large spec improve. Extra garage, extra cameras, a larger exhibit, water resistance, and a larger battery assist carry this one into its personal in some ways.

The whole thing about the design turns out to let you know that it is dearer than it in point of fact is.

Class TCL 20 Pro 5G
Working Machine Android 11 (minimal 2 updates promised)
Show 6.67 inches, 20:9 facet ratio, 2400×1080 (395 ppi) solution, AMOLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G, 8-core, 2.2GHz 2x major cores, 1.8GHz 6x secondary cores
Graphics Adreno 619
Reminiscence 6GB RAM
Garage 256GB
Expandable Garage As much as 1TB microSD
Rear Digital camera 48MP, ƒ/1.79-aperture, Quad Bayer 0.8μm, Sony IMX 582
16MP, ƒ/2.4-aperture, 1μm, Extremely-wide
5MP, ƒ/2.2-aperture, 1.12μm, Macro
2MP, ƒ/2.4-aperture, 1.75μm, Intensity
Entrance Digital camera 32MP, ƒ/2.5-aperture, 0.8μm
Safety In-display fingerprint sensor, face release (unmarried digital camera)
Connectivity Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), 5G, LTE Cat22, Bluetooth 5.1
Ports 1x USB-C, 1x 3.5mm
Audio Unmarried backside speaker, USB-C, and three.5mm headphone beef up
Battery 4,500mAh, 18W QC3.0 charging, 15W Qi wi-fi charging
Water Resistance IP52
Dimensions 6.47 x 2.87 x 0.36 inches (164.2 x 73 x 8.8mm)
Weight 6.7 oz. (190 mg)
Colours Marine Blue, Moondust Gray

The telephone is visually surprising, particularly in the Marine Blue colorway we used for the overview. True to the title, the Marine Blue colorway shifts from a Caribbean tropical ocean teal to a deep, arctic pink, relying on the perspective you dangle the telephone at. Not like such a lot of different telephones, the TCL 20 Pro 5G does not have a digital camera hump on the again — despite the fact that it has 4 cameras beneath the body — however does have an overly slight raised rim round the flash module. Fortunately, that raised rim does not do a lot to place the telephone off stability as a digital camera hump would.

The TCL 20 Pro 5G manages to feel and look much more top rate than many telephones on this class by using a narrow and swish metal-and-glass-sandwich construct with a waterfall exhibit. Then again, the whole thing about the design turns out to let you know that it is dearer than it in point of fact is, even right down to the anti-fingerprint powder coating on the again. Like maximum telephones of this design, it is slippery and would do smartly with a case.

Our overview unit got here filled with a flimsy transparent TPU case, which is at all times a pleasant pack-in. It provides important grip however makes the telephone really feel affordable, and I extremely doubt it might live on a fall with this example, anyway. Higher to pick out up a case like the Axessorize case that still got here with our overview unit.

TCL waxes poetic on the display screen, and it’s surely a marked development over what was once introduced on the TCL 10 Pro. That is an excellent factor as a result of LCD displays on telephones simply don’t seem to be a super glance maximum of the time. This panel is manufactured by way of TCL itself and appears proper on par with one thing you would be expecting in a a lot more dear telephone. To notice, I could not inform the distinction between the one on the Pixel 4 XL and the TCL 20 Pro 5G relating to general high quality — apart from the TCL having curved edges, in fact.

The exhibit is surely a marked development over what was once introduced on the TCL 10 Pro and sits properly along a lot more dear telephones.

As is the case with many mid-range telephones, this one comes with a unmarried bottom-firing speaker and a three.5mm headphone jack. It is even were given an IR blaster up most sensible, making this really feel like a blast from the previous. TCL’s good key — discovered on the telephone’s left aspect — will also be custom designed for dozens of functions, together with launching Google Assistant, the digital camera, particular apps, and even converting some gadget settings.

TCL 20 Pro 5G: Instrument and function

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Front Display

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The TCL 20 Pro 5G ships with Android 11 — the most up-to-date model to be had as of release — at the side of the TCL UI 3.0 pores and skin atop. TCL most commonly sticks to a Pixel-like aesthetic throughout the board however introduces quite a lot of options that producers like Samsung are identified for. Living proof: the sidebar. This little semi-transparent tab sits on the curved portion of the display screen — both the left or proper aspect, relying to your choice — and will also be pulled out to expose an array of shortcuts and gear at any time whilst the usage of the telephone.

That is a kind of issues I have liked about telephones with curved displays for years — specifically Samsung telephones — as a result of this sort of shortcut bar is simply so darn to hand. I discovered myself hardly ever going house to release apps. Relatively, I’d simply turn open the sidebar and get to the place I sought after in a moment. Likewise, the customizable bodily aspect button can temporarily release 3 other apps or movements by way of fast urgent, lengthy urgent, or double-tapping.

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Software Side Bar

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Probably the most noticeable efficiency distinction between this and a higher-end telephone is the refresh charge.

The remainder of the TCL UI 3.0 revel in is little short of extraordinary and often exceeded my expectancies. Whilst my first impact of the efficiency was once lower than nice — the first day of use was once filled with stuttering and jank — the rest of the previous week has been buttery easy. Each and every recreation I threw at the telephone ran marvelously, and each app loaded temporarily without a actual discernable distinction from a Pixel.

Probably the most noticeable distinction between this and a higher-end telephone is the refresh charge. At 60Hz, the telephone can seem sluggish if you are used to a telephone that sports activities a 90Hz or 120Hz display screen. That would possibly not be a topic if you are coming from some other 60Hz telephone however, even though you might be now not, it is one thing you get used to in only a day or two.

Coming from a Pixel, the TCL UI is chock filled with little quality-of-life options that I like. The facility to tweak notification sizes is moderately glorious, as the large slide-down ones have at all times annoyed me via the years. Sport mode is helping spice up efficiency, provides an automated Do Now not Disturb toggle, or even disables the good key, so you do not unintentionally release one thing whilst gaming. Total, TCL’s UI gives a ton of compelling options with out ruining the aesthetic {that a} more practical inventory Android telephone would have.

One in every of my favourite options was once Tremendous Bluetooth, a solution to flow audio to as much as 4 Bluetooth gadgets in sync.

Buried amongst the plethora of area of interest options is one thing I used to be completely enamored with: Tremendous Bluetooth. With Tremendous Bluetooth, the TCL 20 Pro 5G can attach and flow audio to as much as 4 separate Bluetooth gadgets, all with in my view synced audio. For me on holiday, having the ability to use a number of pairs of wi-fi Bluetooth earbuds — all with a unmarried telephone — was once a godsend.

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Gaming On Tv

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

TCL boasts vertical integration with different merchandise in its catalog, together with TCL TVs. The TCL 43S405 I’ve on my table, for instance, near-perfectly streamed the telephone’s exhibit wirelessly proper from the notification color, enabling me to play video games like Minecraft wirelessly on the TV. In fact, there is a slight little bit of latency, so twitch video games and platformers would not paintings, however having the ability to forged like this while not having one thing like a Chromecast could be very great.

Total, TCL’s UI gives a ton of compelling options with out ruining the aesthetic {that a} more practical inventory Android telephone would have.

There are many little enhancements in different spaces, too, like the multitasking carousel, which mechanically switches to the previously-used app as a substitute of opening to the energetic one. I discovered that to be larger for swapping between two apps as opposed to the inventory Android habits. Gesture navigation wishes numerous assist, even though, because it simply did not paintings proper in any respect. Swiping left and proper on the bar would incessantly glitch out, and I discovered myself the usage of the Review display screen to change between apps extra incessantly than I would like.

Regardless of the telephone wearing extra options than a Pixel may ever hope for, some oddities have been lacking. Show dimension, as an example, was once nowhere to be discovered. You’ll be able to regulate the font dimension, however I really like my exhibit to be very dense, becoming numerous knowledge onto the huge displays telephones have. In consequence, the whole thing felt overly huge in comparison to my Pixel, which has a bodily smaller display screen than the TCL 20 Pro 5G.

Since that is handiest TCL’s second-generation telephone, there may be now not sufficient historical past to turn how the corporate helps to keep its telephones up to date. Final 12 months with the TCL 10 Pro, TCL promised just one primary replace. This time round, TCL guarantees a minimal of two years of safety updates, together with 2 primary OS updates. The TCL 20 Pro 5G is already a part of the Android 12 beta program, this means that it must take so much much less time for TCL to ship a last model as soon as Android 12 is completed in past due Summer time or early Fall.

TCL 20 Pro 5G: Battery

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Battery

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Similar to we noticed when 4G debuted, a telephone with 5G in the title can incessantly imply worse battery existence than one with simply 4G radios. The TCL 20 Pro 5G does not fall into this pit in any respect and, in truth, has larger battery existence than any flagship you must spend extra money on. The 4,500mAh battery is not only large for a flagship. It is specifically beefy for a telephone with the power-efficient Snapdragon 750G.

Over the previous week, I have charged the telephone a complete of three times.

Over the previous week, I have charged the telephone a complete of three times. Now that is some actual feel-good battery existence, particularly when it does not really feel like the telephone’s efficiency is any slower than a dearer telephone. People who use their telephones much more closely — specifically when you find yourself gaming so much — must be expecting a complete day’s battery existence with out factor.

If you want to most sensible up, Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 will do the process speedy sufficient at 18W, however it isn’t similar to one thing like OnePlus Warp Fee in pace. Charging at a decrease wattage has a tendency to stay the battery more healthy for longer, even though, so this one will most likely live longer than a telephone with quicker charging if you are making plans on maintaining it a couple of years.

TCL 20 Pro 5G: Cameras

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Front Camera Software

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Normally, while you recall to mind a nice digital camera revel in, you almost certainly recall to mind a Pixel. Then again, Google has gotten its hooks into us (and lots of others) with its very good instrument revel in, oftentimes pulling fantastic pictures out of lower than ideally suited scenarios. Whilst I got here into this overview with the expectation that this conference would not be defied, I left with a stunning consequence: the TCL 20 Pro 5G’s major rear digital camera and front-facing digital camera are, in maximum tactics, similar to the Pixel revel in.

The whole thing from colour accuracy to superb element, dynamic differ, or even low gentle efficiency in auto mode is excellent. I absolutely anticipated the Pixel to blow it out of the water, however that simply wasn’t the case in a lot of my comparisons. Even in middle of the night eventualities the place the handiest gentle round is a nascent streetlight or a string of bulbs that are supposed to be too vibrant for a digital camera to seize adequately, the TCL 20 Pro 5G did an excellent process in each auto and night time modes.

I absolutely anticipated the Pixel to blow it out of the water, however that simply wasn’t the case.

The front-facing digital camera, too, was once a very good revel in throughout. My largest criticism is that HDR is not competitive sufficient in this digital camera however, differently, it produced simply as nice of effects as I’d be expecting from a Pixel in each lights situation. The largest weak spot for TCL presently is the incapability to make use of the Tremendous Evening Mode on anything else however that major 48MP rear digital camera — a weak spot that defines the low gentle revel in on the different two rear sensors.

Whilst the ultra-wide perspective digital camera is a pleasant addition, the reality is that it simply is not excellent in any respect. Right through the day, you can to find a variety of artifacts and fringing in pictures, colours are very washed out or simply flawed, and distinction is not nice. The digital camera is serviceable, at highest, in low-light eventualities, and I discovered it to be a combined bag relying on the state of affairs. Taking pictures movement, regardless of the time of day, incessantly ended in a blurry topic.

You’ll be able to use the ultra-wide perspective digital camera for video, however it must be decided on earlier than recording, that means you’ll be able to’t zoom again in after beginning the video. Video recording general, even though, in point of fact simply is not excellent. Recording from any sensor at 4K was once stuttery for the first 10 seconds each time I attempted it. 4K high quality, too, may use some paintings, as the digital camera often concerned with the flawed issues, introduced muted colours all through the day, and dynamic differ left so much to be desired.

1080P video does not showcase any stuttering problems as 4K — even at 60FPS — however the downgrade in high quality is important as a result of the bit charge trade. Video recorded in 1080p with this telephone was once incessantly blocky and pixellated in some way that made it glance extra like streaming video than one thing instantly off a digital camera. If video is essential to you, do not purchase this telephone; a minimum of, now not till TCL fixes this.

If video recording high quality is essential to you, different telephones do it significantly better.

Regardless of having a devoted macro sensor and a intensity sensor, neither the macro nor portrait modes are highest. Macro mode is a amusing serve as for specific use-cases however, in the end, falls wanting my expectancies. I discovered some amusing taking photos of small insects, however even the ones pictures did not prove too smartly — one in every of the few scenarios the place I discovered I sought after to get as shut as 2cm from the topic.

Portrait mode on the rear digital camera is tremendous finicky and perceived to have issue settling on an issue to isolate. It additionally did not paintings for many items I attempted to make use of it with — simply other people. Mockingly, the front-facing digital camera — which has no devoted intensity sensor — did a much better process of setting apart the individual from the background.

TCL 20 Pro 5G: Pageant

Google Pixel 4a 5G

Supply: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

As already mentioned, the maximum direct pageant to the TCL 20 Pro 5G is the Pixel 4a 5G. Now not handiest do those two telephones promote for the similar $500 ticket, however they each boast 5G connectivity as a promoting level and use very equivalent processors. Whilst the Pixel is theoretically quicker, I could not to find any noticeable space the place this was once the case. TCL will get the leg up with a bigger display screen, fancier construct, extra garage, larger battery existence, and extra OS options, however the Pixel will provide you with a greater general digital camera revel in. Additionally it is extremely most likely the Pixel will see extra primary Android updates in its lifetime, whilst TCL will virtually indubitably at all times be offering extra options.

If you happen to don’t want the additional options, do not care about 5G, and simply desire a cast — but very elementary — digital camera revel in, there is no solution to beat the $350 Pixel 4a. Admittedly, its processor is a little of a downgrade in comparison to the TCL 20 Pro 5G. You can be dropping the further cameras, however for the reason that the additional cameras don’t seem to be excellent anyway, you will not be lacking a lot.

A step up is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. It is going to completely price you extra money, however the telephone lately dropped beneath $500 on Top Day, so it isn’t unattainable to search out it for the similar value. If you’ll be able to get it for that value, there may be little explanation why to make a choice the TCL 20 Pro 5G. Differently, at the customary costs, TCL wins by way of a $200 margin.

TCL 20 Pro 5G: Will have to you purchase it?

Tcl 20 Pro 5g Marine Blue Back Cameras Angle

Supply: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

You must purchase this if …

You need a telephone with a ton of serious options

Android skins have come some distance, and the TCL UI 3.0 keeps the simplicity of inventory Android with out skimping on options. In reality, you would be remiss to forget about simply what number of superb high quality of existence options TCL has added to the Android revel in. They in point of fact do make a distinction in daily use.

You wish to have a telephone that’ll remaining all day (or longer), regardless of how you employ it

That Snapdragon 750G within the TCL 20 Pro 5G sips at the large 4,500mAh battery, leading to very good battery existence for everybody. You should even see 2-day battery existence if you are a mild to average person.

You need a top rate revel in at a mid-range value

Telephones are changing into dearer, however $500 will get you a stunning quantity of cost with TCL. Nice efficiency, extra garage, larger battery existence, and different high quality of existence options make this really feel smartly price the price.

You must now not purchase this if …

You need a class-leading digital camera

TCL has considerably stepped up its recreation from the TCL 10 Pro, however the digital camera on the TCL 20 Pro 5G nonetheless leaves so much to be desired. The primary digital camera and front-facing cameras are if truth be told somewhat very good — as long as you might be simply taking photos — however the further sensors are middling, at highest, and video recording has some critical problems.

You propose to stay the telephone longer than 2 years

TCL guarantees at least 2 years and a couple of primary instrument upgrades, however the corporate stays unproven on this space.

You wish to have flagship efficiency

The Snapdragon 750G in the TCL 20 Pro 5G is greater than ok for on a regular basis telephone utilization. It performs video games simply superb, multitasks really well, and lots temporarily, however chronic customers are certain to run into some snags right here and there.

The TCL 20 Pro 5G is an outstanding telephone for the value. It gives heaps of garage with the talent to enlarge it by means of a microSD card simply, nice efficiency, stellar battery existence, the highest exhibit TCL has ever placed on a telephone, and a top rate construct that feels dearer than it prices. Moreover, TCL UI 3.0 gives many nice options which are if truth be told helpful — now not simply advertising and marketing gear — which is able to make you grateful for TCL’s consideration to element each day.

out of five

TCL’s largest weak spot is still the digital camera, the place maximum of the cameras in this telephone simply don’t seem to be excellent. The primary sensor is a notable step up from remaining 12 months, and the front-facing digital camera will in most cases come up with nice effects, however the ultra-wide-angle digital camera and the portrait and macro modes don’t seem to be excellent. Moreover, video seize is beautiful horrible in any respect resolutions. If you happen to simply take photos, you can be proud of the ones two major cameras; simply do not depend on the different ones.

Tcl 20 Pro Back Render Crop

TCL 20 Pro 5G

Base line: Simply as TCL TVs often exceed expectancies for the value, so, too, does the TCL 20 Pro 5G exceed maximum expectancies for a mid-range telephone. Various space for storing, considerable battery existence, nice efficiency, notable major cameras, and a variety of nice high quality of existence options are scattered in TCL UI 3.0. Sadly, two years of promised updates are lower than what Samsung or Google be offering, and video recording leaves so much to be desired however might be fastened in an replace.

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