TCL 10 5G UW review: the first budget-friendly phone with 5G

The TCL 10 5G UW is the newest 5G phone unique to Verizon’s community at present, and it’s the most inexpensive 5G-ready phone but — for the second, at the very least. It prices $399 outright or $16.67 per thirty days for twenty-four months on a tool cost plan. For these paying consideration, Samsung’s Galaxy A71 5G UW held this distinction in July with a $649 price ticket, so the costs are undoubtedly falling shortly. TCL initially introduced this phone at CES 2020, however at present’s announcement provides the service and worth.

Impressively, TCL’s phone is priced at $200 lower than the Verizon-specific model of the Google Pixel 4A 5G whereas matching it spec for spec when it comes to {hardware}, together with the Snapdragon 765G processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.

$399 is a worth that TCL sees as a better hurdle for individuals who need to expertise 5G with out spending upwards of $1,000 on a flagship phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S20 or the cheaper however nonetheless expensive iPhone 12. And it’s noteworthy for this worth that TCL’s new phone helps Verizon’s newly launched sub-6GHz 5G spectrum to offer faster-than-LTE speeds throughout a lot of the US in addition to millimeter-wave (mmWave) ultrawideband that isn’t as extensively obtainable however significantly quicker in the event you’re capable of expertise it.

5G works as anticipated with the TCL 10 5G UW. In my Brooklyn neighborhood, I’ve one mmWave spot inside a brief strolling distance and a number of other extra inside a mile from the place I reside. If you haven’t skilled mmWave earlier than, it may be extremely quick, maybe quicker than your house web. I noticed TCL’s phone peak at about 500Mbps downloads. Depending on the place you reside, you would possibly attain gigabit speeds. Verizon’s sub-6GHz spectrum 5G community that lately rolled out is accessible from proper exterior my residence, the place I can get round 100Mbps obtain speeds, which is considerably quicker than I normally expertise in my space.

TCL 10 5G UW

On its high, you’ll discover a headphone jack — a {hardware} characteristic we are able to nonetheless rely on showing in midrange units like these.

TCL 10 5G UW

This gadget options USB-C charging and bottom-firing audio system. Unfortunately, there’s no water or mud resistance right here.

It’s nice that quick web speeds are attainable on a phone at this worth, and the remainder of the 10 5G’s specs aren’t any slouch. The Snapdragon 765G’s capabilities right here fall in line with what we noticed in the Pixel 4A 5G and the LG Velvet — even besting their respective battery capacities with a 4,500mAh battery that has no situation in any respect lasting by the day, plus some. The brief model is that the Snapdragon 765G doesn’t maintain a candle to the flagship Snapdragon 865, but it surely’s completely appropriate for working most functions and a few video games easily. TCL will get kudos for matching the specs from Google and LG for a lot much less, however the 10 5G UW isn’t with out compromises.

It has a 6.5-inch LCD display that’s sharp and contrast-rich in most conditions, and it even has tech that permits it to upscale SDR content material to HDR10 content material. But it’s finest seen straight-on and in any other case has awful viewing angles. Also, darkish scenes in films, TV reveals, and video games have a grey, washed-out look to them. Both Samsung’s and Google’s dearer telephones talked about above characteristic OLED screens, which give unmatched image high quality for any type of content material.

(*10*)TCL 10 5G UW

Verizon needs you to know it is a carrier-locked phone. Plus, there’s loads of bloatware to remind you in case you someway neglect.

TCL 10 5G UW

This phone glows fantastically in the proper gentle.

TCL’s 10 5G UW additionally lags behind with software program, launching with Android 10 with the promise of Android 11 launching “in the coming months.” Software variations apart, the really feel of TCL’s spin on Android required an adjustment interval for somebody like me who normally makes use of a Pixel. It has a three-button software program navigation on by default, with the choice to activate full gesture navigation in the event you’d relatively declare the whole display with no software program buttons. It lacks the possibility to modify to Google’s pill-shaped residence button on Pixel telephones that may be swiped to shortly swap apps. Samsung customers would possibly really feel proper at residence, as this interface permits you to swap the placement of the again button and multitasking buttons.

Given that it is a carrier-exclusive phone, you may need seen this coming: Verizon completely stuffed it with bloatware. You’ll get Verizon’s Cloud, Digital Secure, and Call Filter apps put in on the residence display; Verizon’s Messages+ set as the default SMS texting app; alongside with the following apps preinstalled (however fortunately, detachable):

  • Apple Music
  • Google Assistant
  • Candy Crush Soda
  • CrossWord Jam
  • Disney Plus
  • Facebook
  • Forge of Empires
  • June’s Journey
  • Yahoo! Finance
  • Merge Dragons!
  • My Verizon
  • Home Advisor
  • Netflix
  • News Break
  • Pluto TV
  • Raid
  • Verizon Smart Family (So, how’s it going?)
  • Solitaire (I hope you’re doing properly.)
  • Scrabble Go
  • Yahoo! Sports (We’re virtually completed with this listing.)
  • Toon Blast
  • Vudu
  • Wish
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Yahoo News (you made it!)

In case you had been questioning, this isn’t TCL’s most succesful or feature-packed phone. My colleague Jon Porter reviewed the TCL 10 Pro earlier this yr, a $449 phone that prioritizes design over the connectivity and velocity of this Verizon-exclusive mannequin. The 10 Pro has a 6.47-inch OLED display with curved edges, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and really small bezels. By comparability, the 10 5G UW has an even bigger backside bezel and a square-shaped rear fingerprint sensor. Speaking of, that sensor can launch completely different apps relying on which finger you employ to unlock your phone. That’s intelligent.

TCL 10 5G UW

From left to proper: flash LED, macro lens, wide-angle lens, essential lens, and one other flash LED.

In phrases of cameras, the TCL 10 5G UW’s three-camera array doesn’t fairly stack up in opposition to the 10 Pro’s four-lens stack, but it surely nonetheless supplies respectable photos in favorable lighting situations. The cheaper phone features a 48-megapixel essential sensor (versus 64-megapixel) with f/1.8 aperture, a 5-megapixel macro lens, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens. It’s lacking the devoted low-light video digital camera from the Pro, although it brings alongside the twin flash LEDs. I took a couple of handsome photographs with the 10 5G UW in my residence, although most of my different photographs weren’t inspiring sufficient that I’d really feel the urge to share them.

These variations and flaws apart with TCL’s higher-end phone, this $399 gadget is an aggressive play, each for TCL in opposition to the likes of Google and Samsung and for Verizon in opposition to different carriers vying to get you to spend money on their imaginative and prescient for 5G. I’d normally by no means advocate that somebody purchase a phone merely for 5G, but when Verizon’s 5G service is plentiful in your space otherwise you’re keen to fulfill it midway, this gadget is inexpensive sufficient that it isn’t so wild to think about shopping for primarily for that purpose.

TCL 10 5G UW

The service indicator will say “5G UW” if you’re in the fortunate place of stumbling upon some millimeter-wave.

Low-cost telephones like this one present that Verizon needs 5G units to scale (one thing the iPhone 12 will seemingly do for it anyway), but it surely now wants to unravel for including scale to its 5G community. My expertise with it hasn’t been what I’d name exemplary to date — in the US’s greatest metropolis, no much less. Even at present, when 5G is “real” now that the iPhone 12 has launched, I’ve to bodily transfer towards one among its spectacular mmWave emitters, and I don’t see that altering anytime quickly.

Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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