The TCL 20L is part of the budget device of the TCL 20 series that includes the TCL20+ and the recently reviewed TCL 20 Pro 5G.
The TCL 20 range offers a premium looking smartphone but for someone on a budget. They do this by using a super sagitta backing offering a very smooth appearance. The phone comes in 2 colours – Eclipse Black & Luna Blue.
In this review, we were sent the black version of the phone and it’s a very stunning looking phone however it love to catch all your fingerprints. As you might expect with a budget device they have cut some corners in terms of the processor and even camera to a degree. However, it’s that design that makes you consider this as a real option. In terms of Display, this is where TCL stand out and if you have ever experienced there TV’s the display on the TCL 20 Series is very impressive.
At £221 is it worth buying let’s find out?
Just like the TCL 20 Pro 5G, the 20L is also quite big to handle but unlike the 20 Pro version, I had no issues reaching all the buttons with just one hand. Screen wise it comes with a 6.67-inch dotch display with 1080 x 2400 resolution. Unfortunately, the edges of the display are not curved which is a sign it’s a budget device.
The TCL 20L comes with a USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack in regards to controls you have a power button that has an enabled fingerprint scanner built-in all on the right side of the device which was pretty snappy to use and worked perfectly. On the left side of the phone, you have a custom button and you can programme the functions it does with a single, or double tap. In this review, I used it as a shortcut for the camera.
Moving to the back of the device on the 20 Pro it had no camera bump this is not the case with the TCL 20L you go have a camera bump it’s not very large and does not affect the design of the phone. Weight-wise it’s 199g and 9mm thick so it’s a fairly average build but still makes the device nice and slender in the hand.
The only issue I have with this phone and the whole TCL 20 series is they don’t seem to have an IP rating which is a little concerning for everyday use and just in case your phone got wet the lack of IP rating could mean serious damage.
The TCL 20L has a 6.67 FDH Dotch Display which is broken up by the inclusion of the front-facing camera in the top centre. The resolution is 1080 x 2400 pixels with Nixvision and HDR enhancement. The NXTVISION technology is something you would normally find in the TCL TV’s as it offers a vibrant colour that is a clear and sharp contrast to make videos appear in HDR providing a very special display considering the cost.
The NXTVISION technology is paired with a 91% screen to body ratio allowing the user to get a great experience when watching a film or playing a game.
However, TCL has made the same mistake when it comes to the refresh rate it only offers a 60HZ refresh rate which might be fine for the target market for the TCL 20L but considering some other budget devices offer a 90Hz refresh rate it does feel like a bit of a mistake. If you are used to using a 120Hz refresh rate you will notice the difference it will feel slightly sluggish.
Under the bonnet of the TCL 20L, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 chipset with 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage which can be further increased with the use of a MicroSD card.
The Snapdragon 662 is a low-end midrange chipset that was quite powerful considering the price. You will have no issues when playing some mobile games and when watching a film on Amazon Video it showcased some of the graphics quite well.
The TCL 20L is run on an Android 11 operating system which is now commonplace now along mobiles we are reviewing.
This TCL is paired with its own user interface which just means you have some pre-installed apps along with the normal google apps we use everyday some of the pre-insatalled apps just takes up space and are not really needed.
Camera Review by James Robertson Milligan – Our Camera Expert
When I was handed the TCL 20L I could not wait to get this handset out of the box and try the camera out after my last TCL Review, I was expecting big things from this handset and I have to say I was not let down one bit, this handset with its 48MP quad cameras and 16mp front-facing camera based on a 6.7″ screen the pictures came out amazing with great clarity and great depth and field.
Where this handset uses a full screen for pictures its slightly bigger than my iPhone 12 so you get a lot more picture on your screen and it certainly works well, So I had never heard of TCL until the last review but what I do know is that they can defiantly play alongside the upper budget Samsung’s and iPhone 11’s but that’s just my opinion! I will let you guys be the judge of that when you see the sample pictures!
So, with the quad-camera nestled nicely in the phone in a straight vertical line with a flash it certainly looks the part with the mid-screen mounted selfie camera very similar design to that of Samsung’s and you know what on this handset it works and looks the part. The camera its self is nice quick and easy to activate with the icon sitting on the home screen to the bottom right-hand corner so it’s quick and easy to get to after sliding the screen up to unlock the phone and the camera launches straight away as soon as you hit the button so no lag what so ever even going into the gallery there is no Lag Once launched you can just do a simple slide across to get the camera function that you want.
Of course, it has one subcategory which is under the “more section which will take you into your extra settings where you will find High Pixel, Super Macro, Light Trace, Stop Motion and Slo-Mo. Other than that, you will have your quick sections such as Auto, Video, Portrait, Pro and Pano. Once again, there is no lag at all switching between modes so when you get that one-off moment capture you can do that with ease on this handset. The zoom a low 4x zoom that you just need to do a pinch on the screen to zoom in and out but again this works well with no lag and the zoom actually works pretty fast and the cameras adjust very quickly to this with again very little or no lag at all.
I tested the camera in the New Forrest whilst on a trip. So it was a good time to try this out in different settings and environments so without further will do let’s take a look at the outcome of the pictures! 🙂
First up Auto, Auto worked very well on the TCL with a great definition of light, clarity and true tone colours. The cameras really captured the moment and really makes you still feel you are where you were when taking the picture and really captures image well you may get a little bit of lens glare but then you get that on most camera’s when taking a photo in direct sunlight but on the whole auto mode behaves brilliantly with great clear results!
Wide-angle, now I love using wide-angle you get so much bang from your picture and so much surface area, and once again the TCL won’t let you down on this mode when capturing image’s again because of the size of the screen you will see a lot more of your image and this comes out clean, crisp and full of life.
Macro, so Macro allows you to get up close and personal to a subject and gain great detail and once again the TCL won’t let you down. most phones in super macro lack especially with colour, however, the TCL will give you great definition, great colour and a great end result image! if you’re brave enough go up and close to a lavender bush when bees are nestling and I promise you, you won’t be disappointed however for me last time I did this I got stung 🙁 so for this picture, I decided on a harmless tree bud.
Pro mode so Pro works the same as if you have a DSLR camera, it allows you to fettle around with the settings and fine-tune pictures to your liking, of course, it’s easier on a DSLR but with most smartphones these days they come with pro mode, once again you can fine-tune the pictures and play around with the settings, it can be trial and error but after a bit of time and practise you will no longer feel the need to take your DSLR out when on a day out and just use your trusty phone instead.
Selfie camera. We all love a selfie, right? well, my nephew does that’s for sure as I found when going through the camera roll on my phone and I am sure you all love a selfie too BUT you don’t have to stop at a selfie you can really make your imagination come alive with the front-facing 16mp camera and on this handset, you can do just that! the picture’s come out clean, crisp and clear, with great clarity and attention to detail! you really will get that great pose for a profile picture on this phone that’s for sure!
Zooming in! this phone has a small 4x zoom but don’t let that put you off as on full zoom you will still get a great end result with little or no fuzz and grain!
Night-time mode, Now this phone has not got a nighttime mode, basically, all night time does is allow you to take a picture in low light and it will process the image and add a bit of brightness to it, most phones are still advancing this feature so it won’t always come out great, they have left the feature of this handset BUT I did decide to take a picture in auto mode in low light and the picture actually worked well and the end result worked! so, do you need a nighttime function and will it be a deal-breaker? I will let you decide!
Light Tracing, you also have light tracing on this handset, what that allows you to do is to take a picture in a setting called long exposure, and what that will allow you to do is take pictures and have light trails, however on a phone even with the steadiest of hand the picture will come out very shaky and look like a disaster you will need a tripod for phones for this setting but with a tripod, the end result will be amazing, this is a feature on DSLR camera’s that has now been bought to mobile phones but trust me to get the best of this function please use a tripod and you won’t be disappointed!
High Pixel will allow you to take a picture at maximum MP but you do lose the zoom on this function that’s the only downside, don’t worry it’s not just this handset it’s all handsets with this function but the end result is amazing and you will get an excellent result!!
Slo-Mo and Stop action are Video extra’s on this handset.
In all the TCL 20L is an amazing piece of kit for photos and this handset will really make the inner photographer in you come alive and trust me when I say this, with this phone and a free download an app called Snapseed you will really be the envy of all your friends on social media. TCL have really put a lot into the camera behind this phone and it shows in every image and as said previously it will give most high-end phones a run for their money in the camera department!
The TCL 20L bizarrely has a bigger battery than the more expensive 20 Pro Model (4500mAh) it comes with a 5000mAh battery life that is very impressive. This phone will allow you to use it all day long on things such as social media, music streaming and even taking photos alongside phone calls and texts and the 5000mAh battery will last all day. You may find with lighter use it will last a day and a half which is great considering the battery life.
When it’s time to charge this phone you get an 18W charger which is not the best on the market but for a budget phone, it’s acceptable and will charge your phone fully in about 2 hours. The TCL 20L also comes with reverse charging which was surprising and allowed me to get a boost of charge for my Jabra Elite 85T.
The TCL 20L is a nice smartphone that offers some great features such as the NXTVISION technology which provides such a lovely display for a budget phone. It’s ideal for these who like to stream videos a lot on their phone. The lack of a curved display was slightly disappointing but expected considering the cost.
This phone is also great when considering the camera for basic photography but when taking something like a light tracing shot its falls down but if taking a good selfie is most important you will be happy with this phone.
I think the biggest downfall of this phone is the fact it is not IP rated I have tested many phones in this price range and the fact it’s not waterproof for me is a big miss. However, If you can look past that issue for £199 it’s a solid budget phone with a massive battery, a great camera that will do the job even at a 60Hz refresh rate it will get the job done.
Design: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Display: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Performance: 3.0 out of 5.0 stars
Camera: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Battery life: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5.0 stars -4.2 Stars
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