TCL 10 Pro review - Useful tips for choosing electronics
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TCL 10 Pro review – Useful tips for choosing electronics


The TCL 10 Pro looks and even feels a bit like a flagship phone, but a handful of rough edges can’t be completely discounted due to the drop in mid-range prices.

Its curvy AMOLED screen, four-lens camera and sleek design make a strong first impression. Elsewhere, small touches like a dedicated Google Assistant button, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a fully flush-mounted camera module mark the TCL 10 Pro as something a little different from the norm.

Jump to …

Price and release date
Design
Pin up
Camera
Camera samples
Performance
Software
Drums
Should i buy it?

But there are flaws and flaws across the board that take away the shine. For example, the TCL 10 Pro’s AMOLED screen has a slightly unhealthy green tint, and it’s not very bright. Sitting right below this screen, in the meantime, there is an unreliable and slow fingerprint sensor that can just lead you to frustration.

The TCL 10 Pro’s conspicuously slim design also hides its own problems, such as an uncomfortably pronounced ridge on the lower rear edge. And we would have gladly indulged in a camera bulge that would spoil the form if it meant that the images taken weren’t so inconsistent.

TCL’s custom user interface is by no means the most egregious example of Android DIY, and many of Google’s operating systems shine. But you still get a handful of bloatware, while custom features like the on-board interface seem to be born from the first era of curved screens.

Performance is acceptable for the most part, but it’s not uncommon to get more processing power at this price. We are thinking in particular of the Huawei Nova 5T and the Realme X2, not to mention the iPhone SE 2020.

On the positive side, the battery performance is quite good and you can erase a full day of use without any problem. You’ll have to do without wireless charging, but it’s not the norm at this end of the market (even if the iPhone SE still says hello).

While this is a solid attempt to put the TCL brand on the map, the TCL 10 Pro finds itself between two stools. You can spend a little more and get something much more fluid and capable, or spend a little less without compromise or even one or two improvements.

Meanwhile, a certain iPhone SE straddles these same two stools with an incredibly compelling package at almost the same price. While it’s far from a bad phone, it’s hard to see where the TCL 10 Pro fits in this picture.

(Image credit: Ditching)

TCL 10 Pro price and release date

  • Costs $ 449 / £ 399 / AU $ 899
  • Launch May 19 in the United States, June 1 in the United Kingdom and Australia

The TCL 10 Pro is scheduled to launch on Monday, June 1, 2020 in the United Kingdom and Australia, and on May 19 in the United States, at a cost of $ 449 / £ 399 / AU $ 899. There is only one model available, with 128 GB of storage.

Although this price is in the lower part of the mid-range territory, it still places the TCL 10 Pro among some chic rivals. There’s the newly reduced $ 499 / £ 469 OnePlus 7T at the top, and the $ 350 / £ 300 Realme X2 and Huawei Nova 5T right below.

Meanwhile, just around the corner, we have the imminent arrival of the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite, which promises to deliver a similar hardware package with the 5G connectivity bonus for just € 349 (around $ 380, £ 310, 640 $ AU).

Google’s Pixel 4a should also provide tough opposition, with the extra weight of the camera and the cleanest software on the market, virtually guaranteed.

But we should really be talking to the elephant in the room here. The TCL 10 Pro is one of the first phones to withstand the full force of Hurricane iPhone SE. You have to feel a little for TCL, which ends up at zero in terms of release date and price.

Design

  • Smooth headlight-like design without camera bump
  • Wide but not excessively
  • Double-curved screen and teardrop-shaped central notch

The TCL 10 Pro is pleasant and balanced in the hand, with dimensions that more or less correspond to those of the OnePlus 8 and the Realme X2 Pro (give or take the odd millimeter). At 177g, it has a good height without being ridiculously heavy.

TCL has clearly worked very hard to give the 10 Pro the basic look of a flagship. It contains the entire glass and metal sandwich sandwich, like all the flagship products.

Of course, when you’re moving straight in front of classy customers like the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Huawei P40 Pro like we did, the build quality differences are obvious. Only one in particular is annoying, however, and that is the presence of pronounced ridges where the frame meets the glass. The bottom edge in particular really grates against your palm and your little finger.

(Image credit: Ditching)

The camera module of the TCL 10 Pro is undoubtedly a design choice that represents an improvement over these same flagship products. Although your opinion varies on the attractiveness of its horizontal stripe design, the fact that it is completely flush with the phone really stands out. Or rather, isn’t it.

Another flagship jewel is the implementation of a curved waterfall-style screen. These are much more pronounced than the OnePlus 8 and Samsung Galaxy S20, with the screen melting right on the left and right edges. Whether or not you like the practical effect it has on display and handling quality, there’s no denying that the TCL 10 Pro looks pretty.

Flagship features continue to be ticked with an integrated fingerprint scanner. But we kind of want TCL to just work in an old rear-mounted solution. It is slow and unresponsive, with a few too many false readings for more comfort.

(Image credit: Ditching)

On the other hand, TCL has stood up to current flagship expectations by including a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s increasingly rare even at this end of the market.

Another new hardware inclusion is an additional hardware button on the left edge, which will bring up Google Assistant. This can be useful if you don’t want to bark “Hey Google” or if you don’t want to accidentally wake up your Google Home.

The bottom edge of the phone has a USB-C port and a lone speaker. There is no stereo sound here. But did we mention that there was a headphone jack?

Pin up

  • The 6.47 inch Full HD + AMOLED screen is dynamic but unbalanced
  • Not great in direct sunlight
  • Cascade-style curved display edges look good, but have little practical value

On the surface, TCL 10 Pro offers display products. It has a 6.47-inch 1080 x 2340 AMOLED screen, which provides much more punchy colors and deeper blacks than the LCD panels offered, for example, by the Huawei Nova 5T.

Again, however, switching directly from a phone like the OnePlus 8 highlights the second-class nature of this component. There is a slight greenish tint in Vivid mode by default, which is accentuated when you keep the TCL 10 Pro slightly tilted, while the reds appear to be an annoying degree.

This may be due to the fact that we are so used to Samsung’s AMOLED displays to this day – the South Korean manufacturer supplies the vast majority of the AMOLED smartphone market, after all.

(Image credit: Ditching)

It’s TCL’s clean display, and it’s good to see the competition in any market. But when flanked by the AMOLED screens of the more expensive OnePlus 8 and the cheaper Realme X2, the comparison is not particularly flattering.

You can tinker with the color tone, as you might expect, with three main presets and a heat slider. But we were never able to get a completely satisfactory result, and the process is confused by an NXTVISION visual enhancement mode that locks you into this Vivid defect. We ended up deactivating the latter anyway in order to limit the supersaturation, which only proved to be effective up to a point.

There is an optional real-time HDR enhancement mode that is supposed to “stream” SDR (standard dynamic range) video and photo content in HDR. But to be honest, we had a hard time noticing a huge effect, or even finding a daily way to test such a feature.

On the positive side, the phone has full Netflix certification, so you can stream Full HD HDR10 content in all its glory.

Although we spot the screen gaps, it’s not great in direct sunlight. It just isn’t bright enough, it seems, which causes excessive reflections.

Ultimately, the screen of the TCL 10 Pro seems to belong to a previous generation of AMOLED technology, before Samsung mastered it and tamed all these resplendent colors.

(Image credit: Ditching)

One of the practical features that AMOLED technology allows is the curved edges of the TCL 10 Pro. We have already mentioned that it looks good, but there are the usual problems with color distortions on curved corners that will matter to you or not care about.

TCL has attempted to justify this as more than cosmetic vanity by including Edge Bar software functionality. Swipe up or down on an edge of the phone, and a small side overlay will appear, providing quick access to your favorite apps.

Samsung took a similar approach at the start of its own curved screen experiences. And when it comes to practicality, your mileage may vary. But since there is no inherent reason why it cannot be done on a flat screen, we are inclined to label it as a gadget and move on.

Camera

  • Four rear cameras: 64MP main, 16MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth
  • 2K 30fps, 1080p video 120fps
  • 24MP front camera

The TCL 10 Pro consists of four rear cameras, but it’s not as comprehensive as you might expect. None of the cameras have a telephoto lens, which means that all zoomed shots are cropped, and one of the lenses is dedicated to capturing depth data for the others. Another lens is a 5MP macro lens, which is never a provision we find particularly useful.

However, the configuration of the phone is led by a 64MP f / 1.8 camera with a 1 / 1.7 inch sensor, and which is accompanied by an ultra-wide 16MP camera. Which is not shabby at all. Indeed, the TCL 10 Pro is capable of capturing very good detailed photos with good lighting, and even usable night photos.

You will have to hold the TCL 10 Pro in place for a certain number of seconds while taking these photos in “Super Night” mode, but the difference in quality between these and simply leaving the automatic mode of the phone to manage things is marked .

Everything is relative, of course. Comparing these same night shots to very similar shots taken with the OnePlus 8 – which is hardly a shining example of the camera phone format – shows that the TCL 10 Pro is far behind even the third or the fourth level.

(Image credit: Ditching)

But the night mode is still a fairly advanced feature, and it works here at the basic level. What really disappoints us with the TCL 10 Pro’s camera is how inconsistent and glitchy it looks under normal conditions. Let’s put aside the annoying watermark found on your default photos, as this can at least be disabled in the Settings menu.

More problematic is the AI ​​system of the TCL 10 Pro camera, which automatically adjusts exposure and color and selects scene types. It’s just not as good as the rival efforts of Huawei and Xiaomi. In the weird shot we took in really normal, well-lit conditions, it would overwhelm the colors, with the kind of bright greens you would expect to see on an alien planet in a particularly dismal video game.

Elsewhere, AI seemed totally incapable of balancing brighter elements, such as the pure white petals of certain lilies, making them look like strange garden lights. And while the 24MP selfie camera takes pretty sharp photos, it also seems to have a hard time with bright spots, like the early evening sky or the sun shining on the head of this (admittedly pale) writer.

Close-up photos of indoor foods with reasonable natural lighting seem quite appetizing at first glance, but there was a tendency to inflate reds and greens to an artificial degree. On several occasions, the artificial intelligence algorithm could not decide if it was taking a photo of food, and continued to switch between two modes, revealing an involuntary flip-book illustration of the unnatural nature of this effect..

We encountered another problem when we looked at a bunch of our photos, with around half a dozen out of 70 or more inexplicably portrait shots when we clearly took them in landscape.

The portraits are far from being completely canceled, but you will get the distinctive blur effect produced by the cheapest cameras. We also got strange objects with portrait selfies. It is generally best to stick to the “natural” bokeh levels of the phone when taking close-up shots.

Camera samples

The TCL 10 Pro’s camera gets closer and zooms out, with a bit of Night Mode magic. Here is a selection of photos that shows its ability to take sharp, well-lit photos, roughly passable night photos and lots of crazy supersaturation photos in between.

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The Pro tends to increase colors. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

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Food photos are also extremely red, although very crisp and appetizing. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

Image 3 of 12

AI couldn’t handle these white lilies. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

Image 4 of 12

From left to automatic, dark photos are a radiation. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

Image 5 of 12

Super Night mode is a significant, if not perfect, improvement. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

Image 6 of 12

Two similar shots, the one where the camera has balanced things out … (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

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… And where it really wasn’t. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

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In optimal conditions, when the AI ​​behaves, the 10 Pro can take beautiful photos. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

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Selfies are pretty sharp, but have a hard time with dynamic range. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

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Selfie portraits leave artifacts with strange edges. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

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The wide angle is not good. Also note the watermark and its bizarre portrait orientation. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

Image 12 of 12

The zooms are simple cropping. (Image credit: Ditching)

Click here to see the image in full resolution

Specifications and performance

  • The Snapdragon 675 chipset is reasonably capable
  • 6 GB RAM with 128 GB storage

The TCL 10 Pro runs on a Snapdragon 675 chipset and is supported by 6 GB of RAM. It’s not a terrible setup for a lower mid-range phone in 2020, although you can get a lot faster for similar money.

Long before, you have a few phones running on the flagship hardware of 2019, like the OnePlus 7T and the Huawei Nova 5T. The iPhone SE, of course, works with Apple’s high-end A13 Bionic processor.

Even when it comes to specially designed mid-range hardware, the Snapdragon 675 is not the newest option in the Qualcomm lineup. It powered bikers like the Moto Z4 at the same time last year, and we’ve since seen the Snapdragon 730 and higher 730G find their way into phones like the Samsung Galaxy A80 and Realme X2.

The TCL 10 Pro is undeniably slower than its rivals. An average multi-core Geekbench 4 score of just over 4,000 is about 40% lower than the Realme X2 and its Snapdragon 730G.

Although it is not a racehorse, the 10 Pro still works quite well. The camera application is triggered quickly and well, the jump between several open applications is quite easy (probably thanks to this generous allocation of RAM), and navigation on the home screen is generally pleasant and smooth .

We were even able to play CoD Mobile and Unkilled on high settings without much hassle – although this is obviously not as smooth an experience as on better-performing phones. The recent graphic showcase on Forza Street has a strange stutter, but is still perfectly playable – although the dark and unbalanced display of the TCL 10 Pro does not make the game’s neon nighttime visual style many favors.

(Image credit: Ditching)

Software

  • Android 10
  • Custom TCL user interface

The TCL 10 Pro software uses a custom user interface in addition to Android 10. But the TCL user interface is not the worst version of Google’s operating system we’ve ever seen.

Menus and icons stick together close enough to store Android to feel smooth and intuitive enough, and there’s no attempt to replace the Google feed on the left side of the home screen. What should be.

TCL is happy to let Google do most of the heavy lifting on the application front, with essentials like email, messaging and web browsing, most of which are covered by Google.

The 10 Pro, however, is not entirely free from software or bloatware issues. TCL provides its own music, gallery, video, file manager and web browser, while in the UK at least BT Sport is initially a rather random optional preload. And the app drawer (if you choose to display it) is presented in a truly counterintuitive way, with downloaded apps divided into categories.

The lock screen, on the other hand, feels like you’re wasting the space and AMOLED technology it has been given. Yes, you can make it keep a permanent low consumption reading of the time and date, but the only way to bring up a useful amount of notification information is to select the “Classic” approach (this is i.e. not TCL) in the Settings Menu.

We are happy that there is this option, and in fact it is a fairly customizable user interface in general. But not everyone will dive into these deeper menus. The default software offering should be better.

Battery life

  • The 4500 mAh battery lasts comfortably beyond a day
  • 18W fast charge

The TCL 10 Pro comes with a 4500 mAh battery. This is quite large considering that the OnePlus 8 is 4,300 mAh and the Realme X2 Pro only 4,000 mAh. These are two high-end devices.

And with a low-power chipset and an AMOLED screen that doesn’t get a crazy light, the TCL 10 Pro will get you into a second day of moderate use. Inevitably, more intensive use will shorten the life of the battery much faster, but this is really nothing to worry about.

One hour of Netflix streaming, with the brightness set to the maximum, we lost 8%. This is quite similar to the 7% of Realme X2, and significantly better than what we got with the Huawei Nova 5T.

Meanwhile, our standard 90-minute loop HD video test only drained 10%. When you consider that the Realme X2 Pro drained 13% in the same test, you will understand that the frugal approach of TCL has paid off in this regard.

The TCL 10 Pro also supports 18W fast charging, which it says can take you from 0 to 50% in 35 minutes. In our own day-to-day use, we have observed that half an hour of charging with the 27% battery gives a gain of 37%.

It’s far from being the fastest load on the market but it’s competitive. The 30 W solution of Realme X2 is a little better, but we have obtained similar practical results with the 22.5 W method of the Huawei Nova 5T.

Should I buy the TCL 10 Pro?

(Image credit: Ditching)

Buy it if …

You hate bumps in the camera
There’s no denying that the bumps in the camera have gotten a little ridiculous in recent years. If you can’t stand your phone rocking when you put it on a table, the TCL 10 Pro would like to show you an almost completely smooth back (ahem).

Barking “Hey Google” triggers multiple devices in your home
The additional physical button on the TCL 10 Pro allows you to bring up Google Assistant quickly and efficiently without having to shout that phrase. Your confused Google Home configuration will thank you.

Missing the headphone jacks
The headphone jacks aren’t turned off, but they’re on the way out – especially on phones as stylish as the TCL 10 Pro. If you cannot or do not agree to using wireless headphones, this phone may appeal.

Don’t buy it if …

You want a bright and precise display
TCL’s approach to AMOLED technology is not what you would call precise or natural colors, and it does not become particularly bright when you venture outside.

You want a camera you can count on
We often highlight the best or the worst examples of mobile photography, but one of the best things that a phone camera can be is reliable. With the capricious quad-lens camera of the TCL 10 Pro, you just don’t know what you’re going to get next.

Looking for raw performance
The TCL 10 Pro’s Snapdragon 675 is fine, and it is supported by a lot of RAM. But you can spend similar money and get much better performance. The players take note.

First revision: May 2020

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