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TCL 20 SE Review: Handheld Cinema

by Unbox Staff  April 23, 2021

Review Verdict: TCL went with what they knew with their TCL 20 SE that they’re offering in the Philippines, going all-out with the phone’s display. Unfortunately, the rest of the phone isn’t as good as the front panel – mediocre camera performance and slow charging might put off prospective buyers drawn to its pretty screen. 

Pros

  • Cinema-like display ratio with NXTVISION for improved color display
  • High-quality audio
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Long charging times
  • Very inconsistent camera performance

TCL 20 SE Review

TCL 20 SE Specs

  • Snapdragon 460
  • Adreno 610 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6.82-inch IPS LCD display, 20.5:9 aspect ratio
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 4G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • Quad rear cameras: 16-megapixel main camera; 5-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera; 2-megapixel depth camera; 2-megapixel macro
  • 8-megapixel f/2.0 front camera
  • WiFi, Bluetooth
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Android 11, TCL UI
  • 5000mAh battery

From TCL’s budget-friendly series comes the TCL 20 SE, an entry-level phone being marketed to consumers who enjoy watching videos on the go. The phone has a fantastic-looking display at the expense of its cameras and fast charging capabilities. Is there more to this smartphone than just its huge display?

TCL 20 SE ReviewDesign

The TCL 20 SE looks pretty enough in its Aurora Green colorway and looks pretty fly thanks to its asymmetric coloration. While the phone uses a glasstic back, it utilizes a metal frame for rigidity.

The quad-camera module is tucked neatly in a rectangular strip on the upper left side. The fingerprint scanner resides right beside it.

On the left side of the phone sits the hybrid SIM tray that can accommodate either two SIMs or one SIM and a micro SD card.  Right beside it is a dedicated button that opens Google Assistant which isn’t something we usually see on phones, especially not budget ones.

On the right side sits the power and volume rocker. Adding to the phone’s quirkiness is the fact that taking screenshots with it requires the three buttons to be pressed simultanoesly instead of just the power button and volume rocker.

TCL 20 SE Review

Located on the bottom of the phone is a USB Type-C port flanked by speakers. The top of the phone holds the 3.5mm earphone jack and a mic pinhole.

Display

The main draw of the TCL 20 SE is its generous 6.82-inch IPS LCD with a V-notch display. The display has a 90-percent screen-to-body ratio as well as a 20.5:9 aspect ratio, which TCL says gives users a near-cinematic viewing experience. Additionally, the display gets the benefit of TCL’s NXTVISION tech, which essentially tweaks the display to give you brighter and more vivid images.

It’s a good feature for a phone that prioritizes its display above everything else and does wonders when you’re watching a lot of Netflix or Youtube. Just bear in mind to switch this feature off when you’re checking the photos you’ve shot using the phone as it will appear differently when viewed on other screens.

Accompanying its display are high-resolution audio speakers that are powerful enough to deliver sound that doesn’t break even at the highest volume.

Cameras

Four cameras line the back phone: there’s a 16-megapixel main wide camera, a 5-megapixel ultrawide shooter, a 2-megapixel depth camera, and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. TCL attempts to give users tactile feedback when shooting photos or videos by vibrating every time you press the shutter button or make an adjustment in the settings. The vibration can’t be turned off, however, which is a little annoying.

Shooting in certain environments may give you photos with blurred edges, softer-looking images, or noisy photos. It’s hard to pinpoint what the conditions have to be for this to happen since it happens to both well-lit and dark shooting areas as well as various shooting modes.

You get the option to shoot either in the default auto or wide-angle for photos and video. Shooting video on auto settings yields videos with brighter contrast compared to the wide-angle which captures videos that appear darker and tend to capture more noise. Shooting in slow-mo is possible with the rear camera at 120fps, however, the camera is locked on 4x zoom for this shooting mode.

Performance and Battery Life

The TCL 20 SE uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 processor, paired with  4GB RAM with 64GB of storage. Compared to other budget phones the TCL 20 SE runs a bit on the lower end of the spectrum, and struggles a bit with graphically intense gaming titles like Call of Duty. You can always turn down the graphics settings of course to get more stable frames.

With its 5000mAh battery, you can get 18-hours of non-stop playback. However, that comes at the price of having to put up with long charging times since its charging brick only supports 10W charging. All that power doesn’t have to go to purely watching content though. You can also use it to charge another smartphone thanks to its OTG Reverse Charging feature.

Wrap up and conclusion

Our review of the TCL 20 SE for the Philippines shows that the brand is laser-focused at giving users the best screen they can get for its price point at the expense of other parts of the phone. The quad-camera’s performance is woefully inconsistent, and the SoC isn’t the fastest we’ve seen for the price.

That’s not to say that the TCL 20 SE is all bad – the display is pretty good for the price, and the phone’s design will win over anyone looking for a stylish daily driver. Its excellent battery endurance more than guarantees around two days of use on a single charge, and the phone’s reverse-charging capabilities make it an excellent candidate for a secondary phone if you ever need one.

TCL 20 SE Review Price Philippines

The TCL 20 SE is priced at Php 8,990. Get it from Lazada or Shopee.

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