TCL unveils three new solid Android phones under $550, teases ridiculous Fold 'n' Roll 3-in-1
What you need to know
- TCL is releasing three new devices today, including the TCL 20L, 20L+, and 20 Pro 5G.
- The 20 Pro 5G is the company's most premium device yet, featuring curved glass, improved cameras and display tech, and wireless charging.
- In addition to the three main phones, TCL has teased a new 3-in-1 expandable device that uses both folding and rolling display tech.
TCL has made a name for itself in the mobile space over the last year with a broad selection of some of the best cheap Android phones around with premium designs, snappy software, and a penchant for display tech. Today, the company is expanding its 20 Series, originally launched at CES 2021, with three new models: the TCL 20L, 20L+, and the company's most powerful phone yet, the TCL 20 Pro 5G.
Each of these devices feature TCL's mainstay NXTVISION display tech, which boasts true-to-life colors and blue light filtering, along with AI-driven visual enhancements. TCL says that it reviewed feedback from the 10 Series and sought to improve painpoints like camera performance while maintaining the unique hardware designs, affordability, and display features it excels at.
The most affordable option among the three newly announced phones is the TCL 20L, launching today in various markets for €229, with U.S. pricing and availability yet to be determined. The 20L features a 6.67-inch Full HD+ display with an impressive 91% screen-to-body ratio, along with a fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button and a 5000mAh battery that the company says should last for two days at a time.
One of the more interesting additions to the 20L, along with the other two phones it's launching alongside, is TCL's new Natural Viewing display spec, which alleges to preserve natural colors and visibility on the screen even when wearing polarized sunglasses.
|Category||TCL 20L||TCL 20L+|
|Operating System||Android 11||Android 11|
|Display||6.67 inches, 20:9 aspect ratio, 2400x1080 resolution||6.67 inches, 20:9, 2400x1080 resolution|
|Processor||Snapdragon 662||Snapdragon 662|
|Memory||128GB, 4/6GB RAM||256GB, 6GB RAM|
|Rear Camera||48MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8μm + 8MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12μm (wide-angle) + 2MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.75μm (macro) + 2MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.75μm||64MP, ƒ/1.79, 0.7μm + 8MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12μm (wide-angle) + 2MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.75μm (macro) + 2MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.75μm (depth)|
|Front Camera||16MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.0μm||16MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.0μm|
|Dimensions||166.2 x 76.9 x 9.1mm, 199g||166.2 x 76.9 x 9.1mm, 199g|
|Colors||Eclipse Black, Luna Blue||Milky Way Gray, North Star Blue|
For a bit more money at €269, you can instead pick up the TCL 20L+, a higher-end model that offers double the 20L's internal storage at 256GB and features a higher-res quad camera system mained by a 64MP primary sensor, along with ultra-wide, macro, and depth sensors. Among the camera improvements in the 20L+ are Super Night Mode, which boasts three times the ambient brightness of TCL's 10 Series cameras, and a new Backlight Selfie mode that brightens the background behind you to create a more lively image.
Interestingly, the 20L+ won't be coming to North America — at least, not by that name. Instead, we'll see a slightly different model called the 20S, featuring a slightly different chipset and LTE speed enhancements, though just as with the 20L, the company isn't sharing U.S. availability just yet.
TCL 20 Pro 5G
The most premium of the bunch, however, is the TCL 20 Pro 5G, available today for €549. This phone features a 3D glass back with a matte texture in one of two finishes: Moondust Gray or the striking Marine Blue, inspired by the colors of the ocean. The 20 Pro 5G features a 6.67-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display, backed by NXTVISION 2.0 and a dedicated display engine by Pixelworks.
This display tech allows for features like AI Visual Enhancement, which distinguishes between various types of scenes when watching a movie — say, a dark city shot versus a bright, sunny landscape — and automatically adjusts settings like color and contrast to improve the overall image.
|Category||TCL 20 Pro 5G|
|Operating System||Android 11|
|Display||6.67 inches, 20:9 aspect ratio, 2400x1080 resolution|
|Processor||Snapdragon 750G 5G|
|Memory||256GB, 6GB RAM|
|Rear Camera||48MP, ƒ/1.79, 0.8μm|
16MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.0μm (wide-angle)
5MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12μm (macro)
2MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.75μm
|Front Camera||32MP, ƒ/2.45, 0.8μm|
|Dimensions||164.2 x 773 x 8.77mm, 190g|
|Colors||Moondust Gray, Marine Blue|
As always, NXTVISION also enables real-time SDR-to-HDR conversion, and a new True Flesh Tone feature selectively enhances skin tones on images for a more true-to-life feel. The company stressed that this is a display feature, rather a camera one, meaning it can work on any photo viewed on-screen, not just shots taken from the phone's cameras.
Speaking of those cameras, the 20 Pro 5G features a 48MP Sony sensor with OIS, a first for TCL, along with a 123-degree ultra-wide lens, a 5MP macro sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor. All four of these cameras, along with the 32MP front camera, are capable of capturing 4K video and even shooting in HDR. TCL says it made a concerted effort to integrate this camera system into the body for a perfectly flush design without any annoying camera bump.
The hardware feels terrific in the hand, with the classic combination of curved glass wrapped around a metal frame giving the phone a high-end feel, though fans of flat displays may not appreciate just how curved these edges are. Still, the phone looks and feels terrific, especially in the halo Marine Blue finish.
The TCL 20 Pro 5G is powered by the Snapdragon 750G processor, with support for various sub-6 networks, though of course, millimeter wave support in the U.S. will be largely dependent on carrier approval. Also of note, this is TCL's first phone that supports wireless charging up to 15W.
Fold 'n' Roll
In addition to the three main phones announced today, TCL teased a new device that both folds and rolls, called, wait for it ... the Fold 'n' Roll. This device builds on many of TCL's experimental form factors and technologies over the years, and offers a 3-in-1 solution that allows users to switch between a 6.87-inch phone form factor, an 8.85-inch phablet, and a 10-inch tablet design.
So how does this all work? Firstly, the Fold 'n' Roll folds out via its Dragon Hinge, much like we've seen from the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Huawei Mate XS. TCL is reviving the mostly defunct "phablet" term for this position, reserving the title of "tablet mode" for the 10-inch form factor achieved by then sliding out additional screen space from the left side of the device.
While we have little information on this device so far, this is exactly the type of wild experimentation that I love to see from manufacturers, and especially with LG's recent exit from the mobile space, it's great to see more devices that go outside of the box.
TCL says it's still on track to release its first commercial device with flexible display tech later this year, though it's unclear if that means we'll see the Fold 'n' Roll specifically in 2021.
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Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.