TCL 20 Pro 5G review: Just another pretty face

TCL 20 Pro 5G review: Just another pretty face

TCL has spent many of the trendy smartphone period making telephones underneath model names like Alcatel and BlackBerry, but it surely lately stepped out of the shadows to model telephones as plain previous “TCL.” It is launched a couple of mid-range units over the previous 12 months, however the TCL 20 Pro 5G is essentially the most bold piece of {hardware} but. It has a high-quality OLED display screen, a quartet of cameras, and a really enticing design. Nonetheless, TCL can be asking extra for this telephone, and the $500 price ticket places it up in opposition to succesful telephones from Samsung, Motorola, and others.

Once you have a look at the specs all listed out (as you’ll be able to beneath), the TCL 20 Pro 5G looks like an inexpensive deal. Nonetheless, integrating a telephone into your life takes you past the specs, and there is much less to love underneath the floor. The TCL 20’s software program is buggy and inconsistent, and the cameras are middling at finest. Even the 5G connectivity, which is meant to be a giant promoting level of this telephone, was disappointingly spotty. TCL is making progress, however I am unsure it is sufficient.

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

Based mostly solely on appearances, the 20 Pro 5G is the nicest telephone TCL has ever made. It seems and seems like a premium piece of {hardware}, notably on the bottom. The telephone has a glass again different equally priced telephones, however TCL gave the panel a slick two-tone end. The aspect with the digital camera sensors is shiny, and the remainder has a matte texture. There’s nonetheless sufficient of that matte glass to minimize fingerprint build-up and enhance grip, although. I additionally like how the 4 digital camera sensors are all lined up underneath the glass panel—that is proper, there isn’t any digital camera hump.

The show has an aggressive curve on the left and proper edges—it is about the identical radius as Samsung’s Edge telephones from a few years in the past. I do not personally like curved screens as a result of they even make the telephone much less snug to carry and edge touches are by no means utterly eradicated. That stated, the curve feels intentional and well-integrated with the design. The rear glass panel has the identical diploma of curve on the edges, permitting the 2 panels to satisfy up symmetrically with the aluminum body between them. The metallic strip is a bit slender, but it surely’s easy and gives a decent quantity of floor space to carry. I would not name this a cushty telephone to carry, although.

As for the panel itself, TCL should have dropped some money on OLEDs as a result of this can be a a lot better display screen than I anticipated. It is a 6.67-inch 1080 x 2400 OLED with HDR assist. The colour copy is superb, strong viewing angles, and it will get vibrant sufficient to make use of outdoor. It is not going to hit Galaxy S ranges of daylight readability, but it surely’s higher than I anticipated. Nonetheless, TCL’s “Sunlight display” characteristic that reinforces brightness comes on the expense of decrease distinction, which might make the display screen look muddy. The one spec that falls quick is refresh fee, which is a mere 60Hz. There is a hole-punch digital camera on the high middle of the show, and the cutout is a little bigger than you’d see in a real flagship telephone.

There’s an optical fingerprint scanner underneath the show, and I’ve discovered it to be barely too low—it is in about the identical place because the OnePlus 9. The sensor is a bit slower and fewer correct than a telephone just like the OP9, but it surely’s not unusable or overly irritating. It is only a “get what you pay for” state of affairs.

The USB-C port, SIM tray, and mono speaker are all on the underside edge, and up high we have now two notable surprises. There is a headphone jack (yay) and an IR blaster, the latter of which is extraordinarily unusual in US telephones lately. The facility and quantity buttons on the fitting edge are sturdy and tactile, and I just like the crimson accent inlay on the facility button. On the other aspect, there is a programmable button that you should use to launch apps, name up Assistant, activate the flashlight, and extra.

TCL contains the standard manuals and SIM ejector with the telephone, however you additionally get a transparent plastic case. It’s going to most likely look horrible in a couple of months, but it surely’ll make the telephone simpler to carry till yow will discover one thing extra your type. The charger maxes at 18W and comes with a USB-A-to-C cable.

Software program, efficiency, and battery

The TCL 20 Pro 5G runs on the Snapdragon 750G chip, which isn’t quite common within the US. For the uninitiated, that is an 8nm octa-core chip with two high-power cores and 6 environment friendly ones. I’ve discovered the efficiency on this telephone to be glorious general. Apps open shortly, and hopping between them is a breeze (except the fast change gesture acts up, which it does typically). The expertise could be very easy, at the least insofar as it may be at 60Hz. TCL additionally goosed a few of the animations to make the telephone really feel a little bit sooner.

You get Android 11 out of the field, together with TCL’s aptly named TCL UI. This isn’t a UI that utterly replaces the type, but it surely does make a whole lot of (largely pointless) modifications.  TCL additionally has an issue with bloatware, which is shocking for an unlocked telephone. It contains it has its personal apps for music, climate, information, video, and extra. Plus, TCL has included icons that seem like apps however really hyperlink to settings pages. I would favor to not have any of that cluttering up the telephone. The app drawer additionally defaults to exhibiting your apps cut up up by class, however in fact, it would not know something about most apps. So, there is a large block of “Other” on the finish, making it a pretty dumb default.

The issues transcend bloat—TCL’s software program expertise is clearly a step down from the likes of Google, Samsung, or OnePlus. Most of the customized options in TCL UI are buggy or simply dangerous concepts. Options just like the Samsung-eque Edge Bar and Fingerprint Fast Launch are poorly carried out and never value utilizing. TCL has additionally locked don’t disturb mode to additionally cover your notifications. You may change that setting on different telephones, however not right here. The TCL 20 Pro additionally has the choice to regulate colour temperature primarily based on ambient lighting, which I normally admire. Nonetheless, the modifications are so abrupt as to be distracting. I additionally encountered points with connectivity which sometimes required rebooting the telephone.

TCL guarantees two OS updates, which is strong for a tool on this worth latitude. On the flip aspect, safety patches are assured for simply two years as good. For $500, there ought to at the least be a 3rd 12 months of safety updates.

With its barely undersized 4500mAh battery, longevity has been strong however not adequate to face out from the gang. I am averaging six or seven hours of display screen time with heavy use. This telephone will not make it by means of two days, however it’s best to have the ability to get one comfortably. It prices at 18W, which is suitable. However once more, at $500 I want to see OEMs pushing the envelope with charging pace a bit extra. I am comfortable to see 15W wi-fi charging included, although.


The factor I like most in regards to the digital camera array is the way in which it seems on the telephone. Efficiency just isn’t nice, although. At this worth, I anticipate OEMs to place a little bit effort into the digital camera setup, even when it means an unsightly camper hump. Nonetheless, TCL’s selections for this telephone could be higher fitted to a tool that prices half as a lot. There is a 48MP main digital camera, a 16MP ultrawide, and the tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum of smartphone pictures: a depth sensor (2MP) and macro digital camera (5MP). They’re each ineffective.

The first 48MP digital camera takes binned 12 MP photographs, however most of the time, the outcomes are disappointing. In vibrant outside gentle, I’ve gotten a couple of images that I actually like—however I need to emphasize only a few. The digital camera is sluggish, and even OIS cannot prevent from blurry photographs indoors. The colours look a bit muted even in good lighting, however the impact is extra noticeable when gentle is not good.

My spouse hardly ever feedback on photograph caliber once I share snapshots together with her, however she went out of her option to inform me she doesn’t just like the images from the TCL 20 Pro 5G. Nobody will ever be comfortable they’re taking images with this telephone, however there are occasions it will not utterly disappoint you.

Must you purchase it?

In all probability not. The TCL 20 Pro 5G seems prefer it ought to price greater than its $500 price ticket, however seems aren’t every part. These digital camera sensors that mix so seamlessly into the chassis usually are not very succesful, and the software program might use work. The telephone can be not very snug to make use of with that extraordinarily curvy show, full with unintended edge touches.

For $500, I might wish to see longer replace assist, a better refresh display screen, and software program that does not really feel slapped collectively. What it comes right down to for me is that this: you should not spend $500 on a telephone with dangerous cameras in 2021. This can be a high quality telephone, however there’s nothing particular or attention-grabbing about it. I might counsel anybody seeking to get a tool on this worth latitude maintain off for a couple of months to see what the Pixel 5a has to supply. Alternatively, there’s the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, which has a greater OLED, longer updates, and higher digital camera efficiency. Or… simply purchase a Pixel 4a. It is not as pretty, but it surely’s higher on the relaxation.

Purchase it if…

  • Having a telephone that appears costly is necessary to you.
  • You do not take a whole lot of images.

Do not buy it if…

  • You desire a dependable digital camera.
  • You may afford a Pixel or Galaxy machine.

The place to purchase