Available this spring, TCL’s new 40-series phones focus on just two things; affordability and screen quality. All three models clock in at just under $200, so if you want to stream a ton of video on an inexpensive phone, these devices might be worth looking at.
Before we get into the weeds, I should mention TCL’s NXTVISION software. This is a real-time processing tool that TCL uses to increase the color accuracy, contrast, and sharpness of video on TVs and smartphones. When I tested NXTVISION on a TCL smartphone in 2021, it didn’t provide a noticeable improvement in image quality. That said, the tech may have improved since then, and all three of these phones have pretty solid display hardware for the price.
The premium model in this lineup is TCL’s 40 X 5G ($199). It features a 6.56-inch display with an HD+ resolution (that’s 900p, not 1080p) and a 90Hz refresh rate. Again, these specs are pretty decent for the price, and I appreciate the 90Hz refresh rate.
Plus, the TCL 40 X 5G uses a very large 5000mAh battery and features a 50MP main camera. It also packs a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset, which is reasonable for the price and supports 5G connectivity. The other specs are kind of negligible—a 2MP macro camera, a 2MP depth sensor (which improves camera quality), 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a microSD slot.
The mid-range option in this lineup, TCL’s 40 XE 5G ($170), is the company’s most affordable 5G handset to date. It’s identical to the TCL 40 X 5G, but it downgrades the main camera to just 13MP. If you buy one of these phones, I strongly suggest skipping this mid-range model, as it’s only $30 cheaper than the TCL 40 X 5G.
And then there’s the TCL 40 XL ($150). It uses a larger 6.75-inch HD+ display, though it doesn’t have a 90Hz refresh rate. Interestingly, this phone also uses a 50MP main camera (along with the two 2MP cameras), and it downgrades to a MediaTek G37—a 4G-only chipset. Otherwise, it’s just like the other two 40-series phones.
Obviously, these are very inexpensive devices. But they may be useful to some people, especially budget shoppers who need a bang-for-your-buck display. The only major drawback is TCL’s support cycle—these phones only receive one year of OS updates. They ship with Android 13, and they’ll reach end of life on Android 14. (TCL hasn’t announced its security update cycle.)
The TCL 40 XL launches in May of 2023, while the more expensive models arrive in June. Additionally, TCL is launching a next-gen Tab 11 tablet, plus a refreshed version of its NXTPAPER 11 tablet.