TCL is known for its TVs, but it's trying to leverage that new-found brand recognition to push hard into smartphones. For early 2020, it has three new phones under the "TCL 10" series — they're frankly forgettable mid-range offerings, but the one that's interesting is the TCL 10 5G, which introduces 5G to a very affordable price point.
Though it isn't yet revealing full pricing for the lineup, we know the TCL 10 5G will be under $500 (or equivalent), which is dramatically lower than the current crop of 5G phones. The much lower price is due in part to TCL using Qualcomm's new chip, the Snapdragon 765, to bring 5G but also with a feature set that leads to an overall more affordable chipset. (TCL won't actually say which processor the phone's running, for whatever reason, but considering it has 5G and is confirmed to have a "700 series" processor, it has to be a Snapdragon 765.)
Even if the phone itself isn't that interesting, it's the perfect example of what Qualcomm and its partners were promising at the end of 2019: most phones going forward will just have 5G, and you won't have to pay a discernible premium to get it. The TCL 10 5G is one of countless phones that will come in 2020 with 5G in the sub-flagship price range. Up to this point, in the U.S. your cheapest entry into the 5G world was still hundreds more.
TCL isn't actually announcing any other details on its new phones, but we will know everything come late February at the MWC 2020 trade show. And I promise you that Android enthusiasts won't be clamoring to get a TCL 10 5G because its hardware or design are particularly groundbreaking. But it's a perfect example of how 5G will quickly become something that you just get, not search out and pick a phone based on whether it has the connectivity option.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.