The Android smartphone market is full of different choices, especially at more affordable price points. After testing the waters with its Plex smartphone last year, TCL is entering the North American market in 2020 with the TCL 10 Pro, 10L, and 10 5G and at CES 2020, we spend a few minutes checking them out.

At CES, TCL’s reveal of these three new smartphones was more or less just a preview of what’s to come. The full reveal takes place at MWC next month and, at that time, there will be more to share on the spec package, specific price points, and what else these phones bring to the table.

What do we know right now? Based on some brief first impressions at CES, the TCL 10 Series won’t be half bad. The TCL 10 Pro is the big highlight of the collection, so let’s start there.

Coming in grey and green, the TCL 10 Pro packs a curved OLED display which is actually very good when you consider the sub-$500 price. There’s also a set of quad-cameras on the rear of the phone including a 64MP primary sensor, a macro lens, and two other undisclosed sensors. Interestingly, TCL mentioned that none of those extra sensors are telephoto lenses.

While what I was using was early, I’ve got to give TCL some credit for this device. It feels very polished with good craftsmanship, and the software reflects that too. The device was running a built of Android 10 which included support for Google’s gestures and a clone of Samsung’s as well and everything felt very snappy overall.

Moving on to the cheaper models, there’s the entry-level TCL 10L. The difference between the L and the Pro is stark with less impressive overall build quality. The phone feels very light too since most of it is made from plastic. The screen too is a huge downgrade not because it’s a punch-hole, but because it’s not as vibrant or bright. TCL hasn’t directly confirmed,  but it’s almost certainly an LCD instead of OLED.

Most of the same feedback can be applied to the TCL 10 5G seeing as it’s the same hardware as the 10L. To be clear, these phones don’t feel bad, but they’re less impressive than the 10 Pro which, again, will be more expensive. Once again, though, TCL deserves credit for the software here which is clean and fast even though these devices are definitely on lower-end hardware. I’d speculate each model has somewhere between a Snapdragon 6-series or 7-series chip and 4-6GB of RAM.

So, will TCL’s 10 Pro and other phones be worth your money when they come out this year? Personally, I’m curious what TCL’s software commitments will be to the tune of updates and security patches, but otherwise, I think these look solid especially considering they all cost under $500. The price point is key here for TCL because, more than likely, these won’t be sold in carrier stores anytime soon.

We’ll also have to see what TCL’s cameras offer but all of that will be revealed in the next few months. Stay tuned!

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Ben Schoon

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