The TCL 20 PRO 5G is the most non-flashy phone I’ve reviewed in a long time. Despite it’s PRO name and premium design there’s not much under the hood worth getting excited about. I experienced no joy in writing this review nor in using the phone itself and it truly bummed me out.
To be honest, up until receiving this device I didn’t even know TCL made phones. I knew the brand for their televisions and soundbars. The TCL 20 Pro 5G is the top on their roster, and it is the second generation of devices since TCL started making phones. They must have slipped right past me, and if they are anything like this, I see why.
The device itself is pretty and eye-catching. It has a slim long body with buttons on the opposite side of what you are probably used to. The edges of the display are curved, making it pretty comfortable to hold. TCL sent over a case with the unit, but it might possibly be the most ill-fitting awful case I’ve ever used and I will not be mentioning it again. It fit as well as me giving my adult sized glove to a small child and expecting it to warp around their fingers.
There’s a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack (I’ll take this as a win) on the device, with the power button and volume button on the right side and a very small custom button on the left. You can map common functions to it if you’d like. I found it useful but a tad too small to really implement in my day-to-day routine.
The back of the phone is easy on the eyes. The TCL 20 Pro 5G has a grey glass shell that sparkles in the light like a vampire in Twilight. The camera lenses are flush with the phone making it extra smooth to hold. It weighs 190g and is 9mm thick, making it a standard build size.
“The refresh rate on the TCL 20 PRO 5G is a disappointing 60Hz, as most people will probably be used to 120HZ even on budget devices.“
The TCL 20 PRO 5G has a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen, which has a cut-out for the front-facing camera in the top-centre. The edges of the display are curved which help give it that premium feel. It’s weird to see what TCL put money into and then completely skipped over on this device.
The refresh rate on the TCL 20 PRO 5G is a disappointing 60Hz, as most people will probably be used to 120HZ even on budget devices. Look I realize most people aren’t going to care about refresh rates, or even notice it, but it’s nice to be aware and with bars opening up again, you’re going to need all the small talk in your repertoire as you can get.
The screen itself is actually pretty nice. It was created with AMOLED tech, which gives off bold colours and nice contrasts. It also borrows NXTVISION technology, which you would find in TCL’s TV offerings. This digitally upscales your content making games and movies look HDR, and gives slight improvement boosts to things like your photos.
The device has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, but I didn’t find it worked very well. It’s nice to have at this price point but it rarely worked. It would then ask me for a password which would prompt a very small default keyboard that was incredibly hard to type on. And frustrated me more than anything.
If you’re looking for a great camera, you’re not going to find it here. Despite having four rear cameras there was nothing special to hone in on. You have a 48MP f/1.7 main, 16MP f/2.4 ultra-wide, 5MP f/2.2 macro and 2MP f/2.4 depth-sensing camera. On the front, we’ve got a 32MP f/2.45 shooter.
The selfie camera itself is nice, with a good dynamic range and fair amount of detail. Portrait mode works well enough and the added artificial Bokeh blur works but it’s nothing to write home about.
“Both cameras feature 4K videography which worked well enough. Surprisingly, it worked quite well on the front facing camera and would be good for vloggers”
One of the first things I did with this phone was take it out for a nice long walk around Toronto snapping pictures and none of them we’re all that great especially compared to other phones on the market. Overall the quality was fine, but not good. The Macro lens was decent enough, but you had to be unbelievably still and shoot in incredibly bright lighting.
Both cameras feature 4K videography which worked well enough. Surprisingly, it worked quite well on the front facing camera and would be good for vloggers.
Under the hood of the device is the Snapdragon 750g chipset from Qualcomm which is one of the better mid-tier processors on the market. It worked well in my testing from playing games and movies on the fly. There was virtually no lag and the performance was top notch.
“Menu Icons look good but it includes so much bloat and useless apps that clutter your home screen.”
The chipset is paired with 6GB of Ram and a 256GB of storage which is frankly quite a lot for this price point. This is actually quite impressive and really a big selling point if you plan on saving lots of photos/videos on the device without a cloud service backup.
The TCL 20 Pro 5G runs Android 11 with TCL’s UI laid over it. Can’t say I’m a fan of that. Menu Icons look good but it includes so much bloat and useless apps that clutter your home screen. Upon first loading the phone I was overwhelmed with apps, much of which are just shortcuts to the settings’ menu.
The phone also features a 4,500mAh battery which is a decent sized power pack unfortunately it really didn’t last the day. If you’re a medium to light phone user (What’s your secret?) you can probably get away with not needing to charge it, but for heavy users like myself you’re going to need to keep a charger handy.
To add to that the charging speed is incredibly slow. It’s only got 18W of power which is crazy. Cheaper phones usually come in at 65W, so I have no idea why they went with such a low power unit here. It does have wireless charging as well but that’s a measly 15W so don’t expect to go anywhere quick once you start charging.
If you’re wondering if you should buy the TCL 20 PRO 5G, I’d say no, there’s plenty of better phones on the market at this price range. There is really nothing special here outside of the big internal memory and decent ram. The NXTVISION enhancement is a nice touch and it does take nice selfies but otherwise it leaves a lot to be desired. It is a phone that will work but it’s not worth seeking out.