TCL 10 Plus review: a smartphone between highs and lows

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Aina Prat Blasi
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While the name may not be familiar to most users, we guarantee that at least once you have come across some of the brand's products TCL. In fact, in addition to being the manufacturer of the phones BlackBerry in recent years, TCL also produces phones Alcatel licensed, broad range of televisions of excellent quality and is one of the largest Chinese hi-tech manufacturers. But if you haven't heard it in mobile terms before you have your reasons since the TCL 10 Plus, the protagonist of this review, is one of the first phones of the company to be sold in the West.



It is a device that, at the price of about 290 euros in the list, fits into the medium-low range of smartphones with some characteristics that are actually very interesting and others a little less. At the moment, however, the older brother can be found at the same price TCL 10 Pro and let's see together why it might be worth spending a little more to have more balanced performance.

TCL 10 Plus: unboxing e design

Let's start from the first sales package of this TCL 10 Plus, which is quite classic and certainly does not stand out for its originality. White in color, it presents externally only the high definition prints of the device and its peculiar characteristics. Once the package is opened with the classic lifting opening, inside we find, of course, the smartphone, accompanied by one convenient transparent silicone cover, a USB / USB-C cable, the 18 W power supply of maximum power and the usual manuals.


Il design of the TLC 10 Plus, contrary to what has been stated so far, is original and definitely stands out from the crowd. Later, in fact, we find four cameras and two flashes all horizontally and flush with the body. We are not saying that it is necessarily a winning choice aesthetically, but it is undoubtedly an interesting way to depart from the uniform mass of identical designs now proposed in all sauces. The body, compared to the Pro variant, is not in glass but in ABS plastic which, however, has a beautiful shiny electric blue color that gives a certain elegance based on the cut of light. Although, in fact, it is made of plastic, it closely resembles top-of-the-range smartphones with opaque glasses and therefore at least conceptually refers to its older brother 10 Pro.


In the front we find the 6.47 inch AMOLED display with FHD + resolution (1080 x 2340 pixels) and glass Gorilla Glass 5 2,5 D with rounded edges in the edges. At the center of it is a teardrop notch that contains the camera 16 Megapixel F 2.2. On the right side there are the lock and unlock button of the screen and the button to adjust the volume, while on the left side there is a convenient silver button useful for theactivation of the Google assistant, but not customizable for other functions. Finally, on the upper side we find the 3,5mm headphone hole and a small hole for the microphone for the suppression of external noise and in the lower side there are the trolley for the SIM, the USB-C port, microphone for calls and mono audio output.


Le small size (158.9 x 72.9 x 8.9 mm), the weight of just 172 g and the ABS plastic that gives a certain grip to the touch, they make it very handy and easily transportable, but perhaps a little too delicate to scratches on keys or coins and therefore the use of a protective cover becomes necessary.

Features in the norm, incredible display

Under the body of the TCL 10 Plus there is the beating heart of the device characterized by the presence of a Snapdragon 665 octa core 2 GH processorz which represents a good compromise between power and cost precisely because it is actually a not brand new SoC. The credit for its excellent functionality must be given not only to a good development by Qualcomm, but also to the coupled with the Adreno GPU 610 and 6 GB of RAM that do their job well and allow you to start games like Real Racing 3 in solo 10 seconds automatically activating game mode. The internal memory is instead of 64 GB (the version we tested, but there is also from 128 GB) with UFS 2.1 technology and is expandable via microSD thanks to the SIM slot that allows you to insert two nanoSIMs or one nanoSIM and an SD card.


As for connectivity, we find the 4G LTE module up to 400 Mbps (there is no module for 5G), the Wi-Fi dual band, Bluetooth 5.0 with function Super Bluetooth which allows you to connect up to four devices such as earphones or speakers, simultaneously and unexpectedly, for the price range of the phone, the chip NFC for quick payments. Also present the 3,5 mm headphone jack and the quick charging up to 18W via USB-C connector.


Il fingerprint reader for unlocking the screen is positioned under the display thanks to AMOLED technology, but unfortunately it is not very fast and tends to get stuck a little too many times. As well as it unlock with the face which in addition to being only 2D, therefore less secure than 3D technology, is activated only by pressing the release button of the device so it is not very immediate. Finally theaudio is mono, the quality of which is good, but tends to have difficulty during the lower tones with a narrower frequency range and the volume is not very high.

The display of the TCL 10 Plus is the main element of the smartphone. The resolution is high and the visual quality is excellent thanks above all to the NCTVision technology which ensures optimal performance when playing video content. This is also accompanied by the support for HDR10 + compatible with all streaming or video content applications for a truly stunning overall performance for this device's price range. Also present thealways-on display which does not affect much battery life and allows you to view all notifications even when the screen is locked. Finally, excellent brightness in any condition therefore even in direct sunlight thanks to the maximum brightness of 986 thread.


Photographic sector between highs and lows

What, unfortunately, this smartphone lacks a lot is the photo gallery. There are four photographic sensors with a lot of two flashes placed at the ends. One camera, the main one, is from 48 megapixel f / 1.8, a 8-megapixel f / 2.2 wide-angle lens e two 2 megapixel cameras useful one for macro and one to improve the bokeh effect since it controls the depth of field of the image. Unfortunately, the overall performance is not perfect and the defects are a bit too many in any light condition. Let's start with the simplest case, that is when the light conditions are good: there is a strange ed imperfect white balance which leads to photos with a sort of superimposed veil. If in this condition we activate the HDR, perhaps to remedy this problem, the software leads to create photos a little too contrasty. The shutter speeds also do not help and lead, in a few cases fortunately, to make the photo come a bit shaky.

We must, however, point out that during our trial period we have received an update which also included the resolution of some bugs regarding the camera software. After this update, the shots are more accurate in colors and contrast, testimony that photographic sensors are good, but the software deserved and still deserves some fixes. We notice some notable problems, however, during the low light conditions. Here there is an aspect that we have not well understood in reality since on the whole the photos are not bad, although the aforementioned white veil is almost omnipresent. But what we just can't understand is why some light elements are post-produced by purple. This happens with the use of any camera but Migliora when HDR or option is applied Super Night.

Instead, the function is interesting Long exposition, although the first few times it is not exactly easy to use. This allows you to take artistic photos such as capturing both objects and light in motion or capturing bright shapes in the dark with the push of a button. In fact, a sort of video is activated in which instead of recording, take frames every second and only when the user presses the button again, the software re-elaborates the photo. Unfortunately the sensor is too sensitive and for this reason the photos are not always accurate and quick to take. Below you can see some photos taken with the function Macro e Super Macro:

As regards the zoom are one 2x optical e one digital up to 5x. It goes without saying that unfortunately the final rendering is only acceptable with the 2x since beyond the final photo it looks more like a pixel-rich painting. Finally, the good news does not even come for the video. The maximum resolution is in 4K, but in addition to having too contrasting or dull colors, they also suffer from some small lag both audio and video. This problem was partially fixed with the latest update mentioned above, but only for FullHD videos, since at maximum resolution there are still some shortcomings certainly due to the fact that the maximum framerate at each resolution is soli 30fps. The electronic stabilization, on the other hand, is practically perfect and the presence of the two LEDs allows to realize bright videos even in low ambient light conditions. Finally, the possibility of making videos also using the wide-angle camera is interesting.

We conclude the analysis of the photographic sector with the front 16 megapixel camera. Photos and videos are acceptable despite having the same minor issues as the rear cameras. The presence of the flash via the display and portrait mode like the main sensor. The face unlock is not accurate, but the photo sensor is of a good standard and also has an acceptable light capture thanks to thefocal aperture f / 2,2.

Rich operating system for incredible autonomy

Now let's move on to operating system: TCL 10 Plus arrives with the presence of Android 10 with the September 2020 patch at the time of review. The software is highly customized thanks to the interface of the TCL UI which inserts additional functions such as the side panel with your favorite applications (there is also a handy ruler), the shortcuts that can be activated by holding down the fingerprint reader for a long time, the possibility of doing quick searches between applications by swiping up in the home screen and many others more or less useful. The software is very interesting for the features and to tell the truth it is also light in size, but what a little out of place it is aesthetics and structure. The animations are many and not always fluid and the interface seems to slow down during some scrolling or zooming. They will be the 60 Hz screen now anachronistic or just some small microlags, but a few more updates could solve them.

Finally, honorable mention to the battery from 4.500 mAh which, thanks also to not very expensive hardware, allows you to get to the end of the day with intense use of the device. With an average use you could even get to two full days. Too bad that despite the fast charging at 18 W, they are still needed a couple of hours for a full charge from 0 to 100%. However, it is something that does not particularly affect the comfort of daily use.

Verdict

In conclusion, the new TCL 10 Plus is an interesting smartphone in many respects, but disappointing in others. The design, display and hardware are the highlights that stand out for originality, visual beauty and performance respectively. The biggest flaws instead concern the photographic sector and the software which unfortunately lack some bugs and too many inaccuracies despite the recent update. However, it must be said that TCL proprietary software, despite the aforementioned flaws, shows some really curious goodies that with the right improvement could make it innovative at times.

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