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TCL 20 Pro 5G first impressions: Stunning design, lovely display, capable quad-camera system Review

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Last year, I spent time with the mid-range TCL 10 Pro, and honestly, if I didn’t write about phones and need to use all of the latest and greatest, it could easily have served as my capable daily driver. I also tried out the $400 TCL 10 5G UW and have been very impressed by the first 10 Series in the TCL-branded phone lineup.

As was just announced, the TCL 20 Series builds upon the 10 Series with a total of five phones announced in April and at CES. For the past couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to use a pre-production TCL 20 Pro 5G device in the stunning Marine Blue color. This phone will eventually launch in the US, likely this summer, but pricing and availability for the North American market have not yet been provided.

Also: Best Android phone in 2021

Since it has only been a couple of days and also since this is an early production, non-retail unit, I will just provide a few impressions to whet your appetite for this phone. I’m going to use it more extensively as we approach the retail launch, but it certainly leaves a great first impression.

TCL 20 Pro 5G specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
  • Display: 6.67 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution (394 ppi), AMOLED
  • Operating system: Android 11 with TCL UI version 3.x
  • RAM: 6GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 256GB internal storage and microSD expansion card slot
  • Cameras: 48MP f/1.79 main camera with OIS, 16MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera with 123 degrees field-of-view, 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth camera. 32MP front-facing camera.
  • Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou, NFC, FM radio
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor, Gyroscope, Electronic Compass, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh non-removable with 18W quick charging, supports 15W wireless charging
  • LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 40, 41, 48, 66, 71
  • strong>5G bands: n2, n5, n7, n41, n66, n78, n78
  • Dimensions: 164.2 x 73 x 8.77mm and 190g
  • Colors: Marine Blue and Moondust Gray

Compared to high-end models, we don’t have a high refresh rate display and the processor is not an 8xx series. However, we do see a high-capacity battery, wireless charging, an IP rating, 5G, a quad-camera system, a 3.5mm audio port, and an IR blaster so this phone packs in a lot with a likely mid-range price.

Hardware

One area we have seen some changes in smartphone design is in the colors and textures of the phones since it isn’t much you can do to innovate a glass and metal/plastic design. The TCL 20 Pro 5G in Marine Blue may be the most gorgeous color and finish I have seen on a smartphone. The color is modeled after the ocean, and although it has a matte glass finish, the colors change in various lighting conditions. There is a glossy bar all down the left side of the phone that encompasses the quad-cameras up top.

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The AMOLED display is lovely with vibrant colors and dark blacks. The 32MP front-facing camera is centered at the top of the display. There are no side bezels as the viewable display flows off the edges down into the sides. The top and bottom front bezels are minimal, too.

The power and volume buttons are on the right side with a programmable key on the left side. You can program this key for single press, double press, and press-and-hold actions.

The USB-C port is on the bottom with the single mono speaker and SIM/microSD card tray. A 3.5mm audio port and an IR transmitter are found on the top. Microphones are also found on the top and bottom of the phone.

The quad-camera system has four cameras in a vertical line down the left side of the back. I plan to spend a lot of time exploring the capabilities of the cameras and am pleased to see both an ultra-wide and macro camera included in this system.

A dual-LED flash is also located on the back. The rear and front cameras support 4K video recording.

As listed in the specifications, 5G support on T-Mobile’s Sub6 band (n71) and mid-band (n41) are provided on the production unit I am testing.

Also: TCL 10 5G UW hands-on: Verizon’s most affordable 5G phone is available for just $400

Software

The TCL 20 Pro 5G launches with Android 11 and CL UI version 3.x. There are likely to be software updates for the North American model as we continue to work toward the launch date, too.

TCL’s UI offers a fairly stock Android experience with most of the TCL customization found in the launcher and settings focused on TCL’s display technologies. There are a few apps provided, such as the IR remote and NXTVISION utility, that facilitate using features found on the phone.

Some unique settings/utilities include an Edge Bar for quickly launching apps, accessing a handy ruler, and connecting with your contacts. There is also a fingerprint quick launch option so that a long press on the under-display scanner takes you right into your selected app.

The Google Feed is available as a far-left home screen panel. All the other expected Google Android functions are present on the phone too.

First impressions

I’ve only had the phone in hand for two days with it set up now as my daily driver on the T-Mobile network. I will be testing network performance, camera performance, the NXTVISION display experience, battery life, and much more.

TCL packed a lot into the 20 Pro 5G, and I look forward to hearing more about pricing as this could be an extremely compelling smartphone option at its likely affordable price. Pricing in Europe at launch is €549, and while this doesn’t translate directly into US pricing, I imagine we may see this phone launch in the $500 range.

Regular readers know that I love matte glass backs and gorgeous phone colors. The Marine Blue is perfect for me as a professional naval architect who works in the marine sector, and the people I have shown it to so far absolutely love the color. My images cannot even capture the full beauty of the phone.

Beyond the beauty, this phone features a lot of great technology to help you get work done, protect your eyes from display fatigue, and keep you connected with 5G technology.

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