TV maker TCL introduces sub-$350 phone to Canada

Given the low cost, the 10L offers impressive performance and features you may not find on phones at almost double the price

TCL 10L Mariana Blue smart phone
The TCL 10L smart phone offers a tall, narrow 6.53-inch high-def display. The holographic blue back includes four rear cameras

Greg GazinHong Kong-based TCL recently entered the smart TV market in Canada and now they’ve unveiled a pair of premium-featured and affordable Android-based five-camera mobile phones, including the entry-level TCL 10L.

TCL 10L test-drive

The TCL 10L has a stylish and sleek body. Its 6.53-inch full high-definition screen displays 1,080 by 2,340 pixels at 395 pixels per inch. It has 91 per cent screen-to-body ratio so it has virtually no front frame.

The glossy, 3D holographic back features four rear cameras and a dual flash. Just below is a convenient fingerprint unlock sensor.

There are accessible side buttons for power, volume, a handy programmable three-function smart key and SIMM tray. Headphone jack and microphone 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 64 GB of built-in storage (expandable to 256 GB with an optional micro SD card).

It runs the Android 10 operating system but the TCL user interface adds enhancements like automatic app organization, folder browsing and swipe-able image deletion. It also allows for simultaneous support for up to four Bluetooth speakers or headphones.

Visual enhancements

TCL uses NXTVISION, its display optimization and camera technology, to make images and video appear as real to life as possible.

Notable features that enhance the visual experience include:

  • A real-time SDR (standard dynamic range) to HDR (high dynamic range) streaming video converter. This pumps up the colour delivery, offering brighter highlights, more prominent shadows and better contrast.
  • A display option for better readability in direct sunlight.
  • A reading mode that converts the screen to monochromatic.
  • Eye comfort mode that eliminates two-thirds of the blue light emitted from the screen.
The TCL 10L smart phone
The TCL 10L smart phone is great for all types of photography

Five cameras

In addition to a 10-times digital zoom, you’ll find five cameras:

  • A 48-megapixel (high-res) that’s ideal when a lot more definition is required.
  • An eight-megapixel (super 118-degree wide-angle) that’s great for interior shots or photos of large groups of people.
  • A two-megapixel (macro) that’s perfect for extreme close-ups of items like food or flowers.
  • A two-megapixel (depth) camera suited for portraits where you want the foreground subject in focus.
  • A 16-megapixel fixed-focus selfie camera discreetly notched into the top front left corner.

You can also shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second.

There are a number of shooting modes and options that you can have fun with and easily get lost in for days.

Two notable features are light trace mode, where the camera leaves trails of light for visual effect, and pro mode, where you can adjust settings like ISO, aperture and shutter speed just like on an SLR camera.

If you prefer auto settings, which in most cases will do the trick, the camera’s technology will help you along.

The camera yields more than acceptable results. But some photos were too vivid and others weren’t as crisp, especially in low light mode, as higher-priced models like the iPhone 11.

The 10L’s battery is rated at up to 27 hours of talk time on 4G. With mixed use, it can last all day, better than my iPhone 8. It requires two and a half hours for a full recharge.

Bottom line

Given the low cost, the TCL 10L offers impressive performance and features you may not find on phones at almost double the price. The emphasis is on the visual experience.

It would have been ideal if it had at a water-resistant body and wireless charging like the Pro model. And a small optical or hybrid zoom might be more useful than a macro lens.

The TCL 10L comes in blue and ships with a quick-start guide, USB travel charger and charging cable. It’s available in Canada through Bell, Koodo, Telus and Virgin Mobile starting at $345. Prices vary by carrier.

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

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