TCL 10 Pro review: A good debut from an old hand in the smartphone world

Tech tools: The company has made phones for other brands such as Blackberry

The TCL 10 Pro is a mid-range phone

Product name: TCL 10 Pro

Price: €450.0

Where to buy: www.tcl.com

Website: www.tcl.com

Wed, May 20, 2020, 17:00

   

TCL isn’t a household name when it comes to mobile phones. The company has been making them for a while though, just not under its own brand. Blackberry’s Android phones, Alcatel and others are just some of the devices that the company has made under others’ brands.

Now TCL has decided the time is right to start making the phones under its own brand. And as far as Android phones go, the TCL 10 Pro is a good debut.

At first glance, the TCL certainly lives up to its Pro moniker. Designwise, it follows a lot of cues from its rivals: curved edges on the AMOLED display, metal and glass body, an impressive-looking camera set up that somehow manages to be almost completely integrated into the back of the phone – just a little camera bump is apparent.

There is a shortcut button on the left side that is mapped by default to the Google Assistant. You can’t change it to anything else, but you can disable it. And if you don’t want Google Assistant popping up every time you pick up your phone, then you are definitely going to want to disable it in the accessibility menu.

The phone may look high end, but the price tag of €450 implies a more modest phone, something that is backed up when you look at its spec. It is powered by a Snapdragon 675 chip, which is a solid performer but is classed as midrange. There is 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space, which is not bad and can be expanded by 256GB with a memory card. That’s a lot of space to play with, with additional capacity on tap should it be required.

TCL have been making phones for other brands for years, and have included some similar design features, such as curved edges
TCL have been making phones for other brands for years, and have included some similar design features, such as curved edges

Camera specs

When it comes to smartphones, a lot is made of the cameras. It’s not difficult to see why; consumers are increasingly demanding better and more advanced cameras with extra features. TCL has tried to cater for that with a quad camera that includes a 64 megapixel wide-angle lens, a 16 megapixel ultrawide lens, a 5 megapixel macro lens and a 2 megapixel low-light lens.

For all that, the photographs are good – the macro lens will let you get as close as 2cm for example – but not spectacular. They seemed a little overprocessed, which might suit some aesthetic preferences.

Video can be shot in up to 4K – once you take the stabilisation off – and there are motion-detection and low-light features to help you get the best footage possible. In general, the video was quite good, although I switched it to the lower resolution – 1080 is an option – after some experiments with 4K.

The phone comes with Android 10, and some proprietary software that covers customer support and markets TCL products to you.

The software automatically organises your apps under different headings for you. That’s annoying, because you have to go searching for your apps without always knowing exactly where the system has decided to place them. It should be straightforward but it’s not. A child’s game ended up in the health category; podcasts, remote controls and other games ended up lumped in under a generic “others” section. The good news? You can edit the categories and rearrange the apps to suit you.

There’s a decent battery too, and fast charging to get you powered up that bit faster. There is no wireless charging though, which isn’t exactly a deal breaker but it makes things much more convenient for people - me included.

The good

You can’t argue with the price of the TCL 10 Pro. It’s decent amount of phone for less than €500.

And it has a headphone jack, which is an increasingly rare sight these days and more and more companies are pushing us to Bluetooth devices. Much as I love my wireless headphones, there are occasions when I need a cable, usually when the battery has run out on the bluetooth enabled headphones.

The camera, while not hitting spectacular levels of photography, is pretty good for the price. The photographs are sharp, if a little overprocessed, and the night sight mode can take some time to finish your photo, leading to some blurry moments.

The not so good

TCL has opted to omit wireless charging from the 10 Pro. It typically hasn’t appeared in mid-range phones, but Apple has introduced it in the iPhone SE, thus raising the bar for other manufacturers.

The rest:

You get a clear case included in the box, which is a welcome extra. You may not end up keeping it, but at least you have something to stop your phone from being destroyed while you find the perfect protector.

The verdict

You may not have heard of TCL, but we all have to start somewhere. The TCL 10 Pro is a good introduction to what the company is capable of.