If you don’t know about TCL televisions, you’re missing out. They’re excellent Roku-smart products at generally eye-opening lower prices than other major brands. You probably didn’t know that the company also makes smartphones — under various other labels. Until now. The company’s debuted two new Android phones — the 10L and 10 Pro — with its own branding. I’ve had the pleasure of using the 10 Pro ($450) for the past few weeks. There’s plenty to like about it.

First, the specs. You get a lot for the price, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, vibrant 6.47-inch 2340 x 1080 pixels resolution curved AMOLED display, 6GB of RAM, Android 10 OS with a TCL user interface (officials say the phone will, at minimum, receive one major OS update plus SMR updates every two months for two years); 128GB internal storage with microSD card support, and five cameras (64MP main camera, 16MP ultra-wide lens with 123 degree field-of-view, 5MP macro lens, big pixel super low-light video cam, and 24MP front-facing camera) — along with two flashes, to name a few. There’s also a 3.5mm headset jack up top and even an IR port to control your local infrared-enabled devices. I used mine to set up a TV remote.

The curved screen is edge-to-edge from right to left. The bottom 3mm bezel and top 2mm bezel translate to an 89.5 percent screen-to-body ratio. The display looks awesome. Much like Samsung’s phones, the saturation is turned up a notch — which I happen to love — but can also be easily muted down by toggle. When viewing your photos, you can go up to the right corner and toggle on or off NXTVISION technology to see visual enhancements in real-time. And you can do real-time SDR-to-HDR conversion for videos.

A TCL official told me the phone comes unlocked “and utilizes GSM and LTE bands in the U.S., so for sure you can use them on any GSM network like AT&T and T-Mobile… and it’s certified on Verizon. It just won’t get CDMA coverage.” I wasn’t able to try the phone function, but I did what I deemed the next best thing and downloaded an app that lets you call out on WiFi. It sounded fantastic on my end, but three of the four people I phoned mentioned lack of clarity on their end when I moved around the house while talking. That said, the problem could’ve easily stemmed from the app because our home WiFi is awful.

Literally everything else I’ve tried — web surfing, game playing, TV watching, music listening, photo and video recording, magazine and podcast downloading, mapping — has worked flawlessly. No animation stuttering. No video buffering. Clear sounding. And in fact the phone can simultaneously connect up to four sets of headphones via Bluetooth.

The camera took some adjusting to — compared to the one I typically use on my own phone. Once I figured out the specifics, I was able to capture some really nice images. Particularly loved the macro lens. And there’s a special mode you can enter to take photos at night. My family was wowed by how it almost makes night-time images look as if they were taken at high noon. Sure, my own phone has a similar feature but I like the TCL’s version even better. The phone also comes with a clear soft plastic-like case.

I realize there are other mid-range phones on the market at about the same price — including Apple’s latest SE — but consider this a higher-end phone at a mid-ranged price. Much how the brand approaches the TV market.



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