TV maker TCL introduces sub $350 quad rear-cam phone to Canada – review

10L advanced features include 48MP big pixel camera, super-wide angle lens and low blue light certification 

After having recently entered the television market in Canada, TCL has now taken their touch screen technology and vertically integrated manufacturing experience and unveiled a pair of premium featured, yet affordable Android-based mobile phones, the TCL 10L and the TCL 10 Pro, each with actually five cameras and proprietary features to enhance your mobile experience.

TCL 10L Test-drive 

Reviewing the TCL 10L at first glance, you’ll notice a sleek vertically-favoured body. It features a 6.53-inch full high-def 1080 × 2340 pixel display at 395 pixels-per-inch. It has virtually no front bezel for more display area with a 91 percent screen-to-body ratio including the discreet selfie camera notched into the top left corner.

The back features a glossy holographic 3D design with cameras that surprisingly protrude from the cover horizontally aligned with a fingerprint unlock sensor centred just below it. There are easily accessible side mount buttons for power, volume on the right and a handy programmable Smart Key and SIM tray on the left. Headphone jack and mic are on the top. The cutouts for the speaker, second mic and USB-C connector are on the bottom.

Under the hood of its 180 gram body is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 Octa-core professor with 6GB RAM and 64GB of built-in storage (expandable to 256GB with an optional microSD card. It runs the Android 10 operating system but the TCL UI (user interface) adds its own little tweaks for enhancements like automatic app organization, folder browsing and swipe-able image deletion. Its Bluetooth configuration may also support up to four Bluetooth speakers or headphones.

NXTVISION Visual Enhancements

As a TV maker, TCL is all about enhancing one’s visual experience which explains why TCL incorporated NXTVISION, the company’s proprietary advanced display optimization and camera technology to make images and video appear real to life. In Vivid Display mode for example, you can opt to automatically adjust contrast, saturation and sharpness for maximum clarity and optimal brightness in dark scenes. 

The Real-time SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) to HDR (High Dynamic Range) streaming video converter can pump up the colour delivery offering brighter highlights, more prominent shadows and better contrast. Great for watching YouTube videos or binge-watching Netflix shows.

There’s more. 

Reading Enhancements

A Sunlight display option helps for better readability in direct sunlight. Reading mode converts the screen to monochromatic, simulating an eBook reader for better comfort on the eyes. And the Eye Comfort Mode, two-thirds of the blue light emitted from the screen is eliminated, reducing eye strain and might just help keep you from staying awake at night especially if you read at late hours or before bedtime.

Five Cameras 

For a photo lover’s delight, in addition to dual flashes (one front, one back) and a 10x digital zoom you’ll find a 48MP (high-res) camera when you need a lot more definition or detail; an 8MP (super 118° wide-angle) great for interior room shoots or for large groups of people; a 2MP (macro) perfect for 4 cm close-ups like food or flowers and the 2MP (depth) camerasuited for portraits where you want the foreground subject in focus. And finally a 16MP fixed-focus front selfie camera is certainly self-explanatory. You can also shoot 4K video @30fps.

There are a number of shooting modes like portrait, bokeh and pro modes plus an almost endless array of options that you can have fun with and easily get lost on for days. Two cool features I like are Light Trace mode where the camera leaves trail of light for visual effect and Pro mode where you can adjust settings like ISO, aperture, shutter speed just like on an SLR camera. Many people may opt for the auto settings which using the cameras AI technology to adjust exposure and colour. In most cases that will do the trick. Overall I found the camera to perform well; although it was impossible to test every setting. I did find however occasional pics to be “over vivid” and others to be not as crisp especially in low light mode compared to perhaps higher priced smartphone cameras like the iPhone 11.

The 10L has a 4000mAH battery rated at 27 hours of talk time on 4G but it does take almost 2.5 hours for a full recharge. I found that with mixed use, it pretty much lasted all day and then some, better than my iPhone 8 which often needs a juice-up before end of day.

Bottom Line

Overall, the TCL 10L is a nice impressive little phone – ok, it’s not that little. Given it is an entry-level model, it still would have been nice if it had some sort of water resistance rating – as phones are easily damaged by moisture; Wireless charging as found on the Pro model and perhaps some sort of optical or hybrid zoom which some may find more useful than a macro unless you do a lot of closeups. 

Regardless, the TCL 10L is a decent bang for the buck and includes features you won’t find on smartphones at almost double the price. The NXTVISION enhancements, the HDR converter, the 48MP, super wide-angle and bokeh depth cam feature make for almost endless shots. Reader mode and blue light reduction almost eliminate the need for an eReader which is also a nice touch. I also appreciate the programmable smart key which can be used for three preset functions by single, double or long-press of the button.

The TCL 10L comes with a SIM tool, quick-start guide, a USB travel charger and USB-A to USB-C charging cable.

In Canada, TCL 10L pricing will vary by carrier starting at $345 ($13 monthly). It comes in Mariana Blue and available through Bell, Koodo, TELUS, and Virgin Mobile. 

TCL 10 PRO & FREE TV

While we didn’t have an opportunity for a hands-on review, The TCL 10L’s big brother is the TCL10 PRO. Comparatively, it has a slightly smaller screen (6.47-inches) but a higher resolution anti-glare curved AMOLED panel which virtually extends to the edge of the handset with an on-display fingerprint reader. Justsome of the other differences include fast-charging, better camera specs like a crisper 64MP hi-res camera, 24MP front-facing camera, a better low-light video cam, 123-degree super wide-angle camera and macro lens, as well as a hybrid auto focus solution for a fast and crisp shot day or night. 

Pricing on the TCL 10 Pro (128GBmodel) starts at $665 ($26 monthly).

To celebrate the launch Until Jul 16th, 2020 only, with the purchase of the Pro only, you can qualify to get a free TCL 43” 4K Smart TV.

A syndicated version of the article will also appears at Troy Media and affiliated syndicated sites at a late date.

Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator at Crestcom International, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.

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