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CES 2021: TCL debuts the TCL 20 range, targets the Redmi Note 9T

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On the first day of CES 2021, TCL has announced the launch of two new smartphones, the TCL 20 5G and TCL 20 SE. Both these models will be available in Europe for €299 and €149, respectively. Let us take a closer look at both these mid-range devices.

The first device from the company is called the TCL 20 5G and as evident from the 5G tag, this phone is 5G ready and also happens to be the first 5G smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer. In its keynote, TCL went on to reveal its plans for the future and reiterated that it intends to focus on strengthening its mobile ecosystem by making 5G more affordable and accessible. While doing this will also ensure that the design and functionality aspects do not take a hit.

The result is a fully loaded, 5G-compatible mid-range smartphone that takes on the likes of Xiaomi's feature-packed affordable devices like the recently launched Redmi Note 9T and Redmi 9T.

TCL 20 5G: A solid 5G mid-range offering under 300 euros

As you might have guessed by now, the star of TCL's CES 2021 lineup is arguably the TCL 20 5G. This phone features a 6.67-inch FHD+ AMOLED display in 20:9 aspect ratio and boasts a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels – translating to a pixel density of 395 ppi. The display is based on NxtVision technology. It supports HDR10 video playback and has a real-time SDR to HDR conversion tool for dynamic range upscaling. TCL also uses something called NxtVision 2.0 display technology that claims to offer users a display calibration mode to improve colour accuracy.

The display gets a 'punch-hole' at the top centre where the front-facing camera is housed. The rear panel is covered in a smooth, glossy coating, with a camera module housed within a rectangular 'island'. The TCL 20 5G gets a fingerprint scanner on the right side while the 3.5 mm jack is located on the bottom edge.

The TCL 20 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 octa-core processor that is based on an 8nm manufacturing process. This is Qualcomm's new mid-range 5G chipset and uses the new X51 RF modem that has been optimized for the 6 Series platform to provide higher connection speeds and 5G coverage. It supports NSA and SA modes, dynamic spectrum sharing and download speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps.

The TCL 20 5G's battery management is optimized by Smart 5G technology, which automatically switches between 4G and 5G bands based on data usage to further improve the battery life provided by the large 4500 mAh battery. There is no proprietary technology for charging, but the phone does support Qualcomm's 18-watt Quick Charge 4.0 standard.

ces 2021 tcl 20 5g design
The TCL is a direct competitor to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T. / © TCL

On the imaging front, the TCL 20 5G gets a triple camera module at the rear with a 48 MP main camera. Here is everything you need to know about the camera specs of the phone:

  • 48 MP wide-angle main lens: PDAF/ sensor size 1/2 inch/ pixel size 0.8μm/ aperture f/1.8
  • 8 MP ultra wide angle lens: FF/ sensor size 1/4 inch/ pixel size 1.12μm/ aperture f/2.2/ FOV of 118°.
  • 2 MP macro lens: FF/ sensor size 1/5 inch/ pixel size 1.75μm/ aperture f/2.4 / FOV 83°.
  • video capture: 4K at 30 Fps, 1080p at 60/30 Fps
  • 8 MP wide-angle selfie lens: FF/ sensor size 1/4 inch/ pixel size 1.12μm/ aperture f/2.0/ FOV 78°.
  • video capture selfie: 1080p at 30 Fps

The TCL 20 5G comes in two configurations of 128GB (expandable via micro-SD) or 256GB UFS 2.1 storage coupled with 6GB of LDPPR4X RAM. The Two colour options on offer include Mist Gray and Placid Blue. The manufacturer also revealed that the phone is available for purchase in Italy starting today. It will be available across Europe starting next month at a starting price of EUR 299.

TCL 20 SE: An entry-level multimedia-oriented smartphone

The new TCL 20 SE is the more affordable of the two new TCL smartphones announced today. This model focuses almost entirely on the multimedia and audio-visual aspects and features a massive 6.82-inch HD+ screen in the 20:5:9 format. The resolution isn't impressive at just 720 x 1640 pixels, with a PPI density of 263. It has a drop-shaped notch centered at the top of the panel. At the rear, the phone gets a glossy plastic cover and a rectangular camera module. The company also throws in a fingerprint scanner to the mix.

The TCL 20 SE has a screen-body ratio of 90% and claims to offer a widescreen and cinematic viewing experience. To take further advantage of the large screen, the TCL 20 SE also gets a smart floating window feature that allows users to browse the web or reply to messages while watching videos.

Like the TCL 20 5G, the TCL 20 SE also offers SDR-to-HDR conversion technology. And thanks to NXTVISION technology, colour, contrast and clarity are enhanced in real time. The two-speaker system and Hi-Res audio standard compatibility is also expected to enhance the audio-visual experience whether you wear headphones or not.

ces 2021 tcl 20 se design
The TCL 20 SE is significantly less ambitious than its big brother 5G / © TCL

On the camera front, the phone gets a quad-camera module with a 16 MP primary camera and two usual "filler" sensors. Here is the detailed technical data sheet:

  • 16 MP wide-angle main lens: AF/ sensor size 1/2.77 inches/ pixel size 1.12μm/ aperture f/1.8
  • 5 MP wide-angle lens: FF/ sensor size 1/5 inch/ pixel size 1.12μm/ aperture f/2.2/ FOV 115°.
  • 2 MP macro lens: FF/ sensor size 1/5 inch/ pixel size 1.75μm/ aperture f/2.4/ FOV 83°.
  • 2 MP depth lens: FF/ sensor size 1/5 inch/ pixel size 1.75μm/ aperture f/2.4/ 83° FOV
  • video capture: 1080p at 30 Fps
  • 8 MP choke lens: FF/ 1/4-inch sensor size/ pixel size 1.12μm/ aperture f/2.0/ 80.6° FOV
  • video capture selfie: 720p at 30 Fps

The TCL 20 SE gets the Snapdragon 460 SoC from Qualcomm. It would have been better if it came with the newer Snapdragon 480 chip, which is more powerful and offers 5G support. The TCL 20 SE comes in a single memory version that offers 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. As with most affordable models, the battery is rated at 5000 mAh with support for18 Watt fast charging.

The TCL 20 SE will be available later this month for 149 euros in Nuit Black and Aurora Green. The manufacturer also announced that the 20 range will be expanded with at least three additional models, including another 5G model.

What do you think of these new devices from TCL? Do you think they have what it takes to compete against the Redmi Note 9T and Redmi 9T announced last week by Xiaomi? Let us know in the comments.

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Antoine Engels

Antoine Engels
Senior Editor

Black belt in specs sheet analysis. OnePlus fanboy in (slow) remission. Average estimated reading time of my articles: 48 minutes. Tech deals fact-checker in my spare time. Hates talking about himself in the 3rd person. Dreams he was a gaming journalist in another life. Doesn't get the concept of irony. Head of editorial for NextPit France.

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