TCL is a brand that has been around for a while. It is the parent to such mobile brands as Alcatel, BlackBerry and Palm, but now it is looking to step into the world of smartphones with the TCL brand, and the TCL 10 series being the first attempt. Hitting at the mid-tier, TCL has now proven that style, quality and features don’t need to come with wallet crushing price tag.
The TCL 10 Series of phones come in two flavours, the “flagship” 10 Pro and the lower end, TCL 10L. Both these phones are stylish offerings, delivering a bevy of features, a stunning screen and a range of cameras all for a sub $1000 price point. Even the flagship 10 Pro only costs $700 CAD in Canada, or $380 USD, making them very enticing for the budget-conscious phone buyers looking to make an upgrade.
The TCL 10 Pro is made of glass and metal, giving it a premium fit and finish throughout the device. The contoured metal and curved glass screen make the 10 Pro feel far more expensive than its price tag suggests. It is a design that feels made for the business world, sophisticated yet subtle, and it is one that could stand toe-to-toe against any other phone in its price bracket and walk away looking like the winner without much trouble. TCL has done a fantastic job on this first outing and they should be commended for the attention to detail and quality of the final product.
Looking to the bottom of the TCL 10 Pro you will find the standard speaker cut-outs and the USB-C connection. At the top, you will find a 3.5mm headphone jack (yes, some phones still offer this) along with an IR sensor blaster. On the side is the standard power button, volume rocker, and on the left-hand side you will find a customizable button that can be adjusted to suit your needs and the phone comes equipped with an in-screen fingerprint sensor for all your biometric needs.
Looking to the back of the phone, the TCL 10 Pro features a dual-flash, quad-camera array that is flush with the phone within a black glass band. It is a subtle touch and is impressive to see when you pull the phone out to take a picture. The rear array features a 64MP 79-deg FoV, 16MP 123-deg FoV, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth camera. On the front, you will find the 24MP selfie camera.
The front screen offers up a TCL made 6.47-inch AMOLED Full HD+ (2,340 x 1,080) with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a 398 ppi. It is a stunning screen to look at with rich blacks and vibrant colours. Colour representation was good throughout my experience with the phone, and the overall impression is that the screen makes the TCL 10 Pro feel like a much more expensive offering than it actually is. Especially with the waterfall sides of the display and the crisp picture the 10 Pro offers.
Under the hood, the TCL 10 Pro features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 with Adreno 612 graphics and 6GB RAM. This is Qualcomm’s answer for performance and efficiency making it the ideal choice for the TCL 10 Pro. The phone powers through everyday tasks and the efficiency of the SoC means you won’t be screaming for the charger halfway through the day. Granted, it does not have the power behind it compared to the 800 Range of SoC’s but for most people, this is more than enough. It can play games, browse the web, and look at videos on the go with ease, with little lag or stuttering.
Thanks to the Snapdragon 675 and the 4,500mAh battery, the 10 Pro will last a day with ease, and can even run well into the second day without needing to pick up a charger. The 10 Pro supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 at 18W and can charge the phone up to 50% within around 30-minutes, with a full charge taking around 2 hours total.
If I had any gripes with the TCL 10 Pro it would be with the camera. The camera software did the job and felt relatively clean and hassle-free, but the issues I found were that the images were oversaturated far more than expected based on the hardware on offer. When dealing with daylight scenes the 64MP main shooter managed well, but the phone seemed to like to push the colours a bit beyond the natural level. Pictures felt fine but compared to the competition overall left me feeling a bit disappointed. You can see the shots below to get a sense of how the TCL 10 Pro handles colour and saturation.
Beyond this fact, the 10 Pro managed to capture images without noise; overall clarity felt good, and for the price, the camera felt solid for most people’s needs. There are some amazing cameras now available at the mid-range and this is one area I would like to see TCL improve with either a software update or on future phone offerings.
The UI for the TCL 10 range of phones feels serviceable if not a bit overproduced. There are some great features at play, and they made customizing the feel of the interface easy, but with so many little additions to the Android 10 experience, it can feel a bit bloated at times. It was nice that TCL gives the option to have an app drawer, or a more iOS experience with apps just on the main screen, but it does feel like a jack of all trades like approach to the phone experience, and some aspects did feel a bit muddled in the process.
The TCL 10 Pro is a stunning device that, in some ways, feels like a tremendous value and, in others, feels hampered by software choices. Visually the 10 Pro is a stunning device with a build quality that puts it up with some of the best phones out today, but clunky software and disappointing camera keep it from greatness.