You may know TCL for its affordable TVs, but now it sells affordable phones. Don’t worry, this isn’t the company’s first rodeo – they’ve made phones under brands they own or once owned like Alcatel, Palm, and BlackBerry. But the TCL 10 Pro and 10L are the first phones sold in the United States under its own name, and it’s a very promising start.
The 10 Pro has excellent performance with the Snapdragon 675 chip inside, and its 6.5-inch OLED display is crisp and bright, even in daylight. The 4,500mAh battery keeps it running for a full day, and the quad-camera system performs well in a variety of lighting conditions, although it’s still not as good as the Pixel 3A. It looks more premium because it’s a glass sandwich, but that also makes it brittle.
The plastic-backed 10L is more durable and offers similar performance, even though it uses the slower Snapdragon 665 processor, for $ 200 less. Its battery can last an entire day, and while it can take great photos during the day, the lack of a night mode on this model means your low-light shots will look pretty poor. Its screen is also a bit too dark to be seen in sunny outdoors.
The biggest downside to TCL is that, like Motorola, it only promises one Android version update for these phones at the moment. It’s disappointing and it doesn’t bode well for the longevity of these phones.
Works on the three major US carriers
Should you buy now?
Yes. Now is the perfect time to hook up a new phone. We’ll likely start to see new budget phones coming out in March or April 2021 – maybe even later due to the disruption the pandemic has caused to production. You currently have a lot of good options. Just be aware that OnePlus is expected to launch its Nord N10 5G phone very soon and will likely cost south of $ 400. We are testing it right now and it is very fine, but that doesn’t quite dethrone the Pixel 4A.
Check network compatibility
If you buy an unlocked phone from this listing and try to bring it to one of your mobile carrier’s retail stores, they may tell you that it is not compatible with the network. It probably is. Just use a paperclip or SIM eject tool to pop the SIM card out of your current phone, then slide that SIM card into your new phone. If that doesn’t work at first, restart the phone or wait a few hours.
If you need a new SIM card, try ordering one online from your carrier or try asking them to give you a SIM card when you activate a line in the store (if you are starting coverage). Tell them you have a phone. Many times, representatives will want to sell you a phone; this is one of the potential reasons they might make you buy a different device from the store.
With that said, make sure the phone you buy will work on your wireless network. Lists of retailers like Amazon should clearly indicate which networks they will be compatible with. Also, make sure the listing says the phone is sold “unlocked”.
Warning for Verizon users: There is a higher chance that an unlocked phone will not work on your network. Make sure it’s tagged to work on Verizon or that it says the phone is CDMA compatible. If something strange happens, like you don’t receive any SMS, you might also need to contact customer service and ask them to turn on roaming without CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM operators, which is the standard for most countries around the world; most unlocked phones are compatible with them.