TCL 10 5G UW review: Full 5G, speed, and gaming at $399

FINALSTECHNOLOGY

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When TCL Mobile announced its entry into the global phone space with TCL-brand products at CES 2020, it made a bold proclamation to sell a new 5G phone at under $500. With the Verizon exclusive TCL 10 5G UW, the phone leverages a smart combination of components to build a premium 5G-enabled device at just $399.

TCL 10 5G UW includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset for mmWave and sub-6 5G that utilizes the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network in select cities and its 5G Nationwide network. Most parts of the country will utilize the long-range sub-6 5G network, and test speeds totaled an average of 40 to 50 Mbps – about double the average 4G LTE speed in Los Angeles County. The Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network, which utilizes short-range mmWave 5G, is only available in 55 cities in the U.S., but can reach speeds of up to 4Gbps. Fortunately, the TCL 10 5G UW includes both mmWave and sub-6 bands to future-proof the device. By comparison, Apple Inc.’s iPhone 12 units sold in the U.S. include both mmWave and sub-6 5G bands, but start at $699.

The Snapdragon 765G chipset is a lean, mean machine. App and game usage is speedy throughout, with the TCL 10 5G UW hurdling through games like Call of Duty Mobile at 60FPS fidelity. Using sub-6 5G, Xbox remote play in Xbox Game Pass was decent, with some input lag on more graphics intensive games but minimal issues on less taxing titles.

The remaining components in the device include a 6.53-inch Full HD+ display, 6GB RAM, 4500mAh battery, Quick Charge, Reverse Charging, 48MP main camera, 8MP wide camera, 5MP macro camera, and 16MP front camera. The Full HD+ display, which utilizes TCL’s in-house NXTVISION technology, is the most well-calibrated mobile display from TCL yet. The display provides richer color than the entry-level TCL 10L and more even saturation than the AMOLED screen from the TCL 10 Pro.

The use of an LCD panel rather than an AMOLED display, in addition to the energy-efficient Snapdragon 765G CPU, help to extend the battery life of the TCL 10 5G UW. With usage of 5G and Wi-Fi, streaming, gaming, and productivity, we were able to get in 2.5 full days of usage. While the device doesn’t include wireless charging, the 18W adapter can quick charge the phone to 50 percent in only 37 minutes.

In usability, the TCL 10 5G UW feels great in the hand. Its premium glass chassis is sturdy, dense, and holds a striking iridescent geometric pattern on the back panel. The rear three-camera module is nearly flush to the surface and takes decent quality photos and 4K video. The camera software is improved from prior TCL phones with less saturation and artificial trickery. But the cameras don’t include optical image stabilization which can result in blurry photos or video. Sound quality is standard with two bottom-firing speakers, but the unit includes a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth 5.0 headset compatibility to improve the audio experience.

Finally, the Smart Key, a TCL 10-Series button that can be used a toggle a variety of system functions, is sadly missing on this carrier-exclusive variant.

The TCL 10 5G UW is an exceptional value for a 5G device. With a formidable mix of high-quality and cost-effective components, TCL has built its best mobile phone to date.

It sells for $399.99 at Verizon.


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