Affordable phone overload: TCL 20 Pro 5G, 20S, 20L+ and 20L announced

TCL 20 Pro 5G
TCL 20 Pro 5G (Image credit: TCL)

After launching the TCL 20 and TCL 20 5G earlier in the year, the manufacturer who’s been behind Alcatel and BlackBerry phones in the past is dropping the rest of the 20-series: the TCL 20L, 20L+ (20S in North America), and the 20 Pro 5G. 

If you haven’t heard of TCL smartphones just yet, the brand’s selling in no less than 49 countries, and has had success in TVs, home appliances and white goods. In fact, it’s the second largest TV manufacturer in the world, with a TCL TV selling every second. As far as camera phones go, however, the brand’s got a fair bit of catching up to do, and it hopes the TCL 20-series can go the distance.

Starting with the TCL 20L, its entry level option, and the phone’s LCD screen clocks in with a 6.67-inch size, and an expansive 91 percent screen to body ratio. The phone isn’t a flagship, though does deliver some high-end features including a 48MP quad-camera. 

TCL 20 L+ (Image credit: TCL)

Like Samsung, TCL makes its own displays, and the 20L’s screen is packing some smart features, including an unusual sunglasses-friendly picture experience, and a TUV Rheinland certified low-eye strain display, which can zap optical fatigue by 85 percent. 

If you want a bit more megapixel might from your mobile, then you’ll want to bump up to the TCL 20L+, the brand’s 64MP camera phone. In addition to greater resolution, the phone also introduces TCL’s Super Night Mode, for low light photos with extended exposure, not something you always see in the mid-range segment. While the 20L+ won’t be launched in North America by its own name, it will be available under a different moniker, the TCL 20S. The phones will also introduce a new backlit mode, which should help with those sunkissed California beach selfies we’re all so desperate to get back to taking.  

What makes the 20L+ stand out really is its storage capacity. Alcatel loads the phone up with 6GB RAM and 256GB storage, and there’s room for up to 1TB of extra storage by way of a microSD card slot. It’s also pretty easy on the eyes, with an expansive display and a cool blue colur option, or Moondust Gray design if you pick up the 20S. 

Midrange flagships are big business these days. OnePlus pretty much defined the category with its self-proclaimed ‘flagship killer’, and it’s since had fierce competition from the likes of the Realme X50 Pro and Xiaomi’s Mi 10T Pro. The TCL 20 Pro 5G is the highest-spec of the 20-series, and with its curved AMOLED display, OIS-packing camera and fancy, camera-bumpless design, TCL hopes it’s packing enough to fend off the countless alternatives.

TCL 20 L (Image credit: TCL)

The 20 Pro 5G’s screen’s AMOLED, not OLED, so we can infer that it’s made by Samsung, and with its Full HD resolution and 60Hz refresh rate, it doesn’t compete with the best out there out of the gate. That said, TCL’s customized the experience with AI Visual Enhancement boosting visuals to bring out detail from darks, and upscale SDR to HDR. We’ve seen similar claims from OPPO with its O1 Ultra Vision Engine, however it’s welcome to see these features at a slightly lower price point. 

With a DXOMark display rating of 89, the screen matches such display champs as the OnePlus 8T and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, however, with a JNCD of 0.8, it can’t quite tople the best from OPPO, with its 0.4 rating (lower is better) on the, admittedly much pricier Find X3 Pro. 

What also makes the TCL 20 Pro the best in the line are its cameras, and with a 48MP Sony IMX582 heading up the camera quartet, complete with optical image stabilization, it should perform at least well, given our experience with the same sensor on the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. The main camera’s matched with a 5MP macro camera, a 16MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP depth sensor, and the phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G. 

Available in Marine Blue or Moondust Gray, the bump-free TCL 20 Pro 5G will be available at £499/€549, approximately $650), with official US pricing to be confirmed. Meanwhile, the lower cost TCL+ 20L+ can be had for €269 in select markets (approximately $320), and will ship in North America as the 20S, while the most affordable TCL 20L costs £199/€229 (approximately $270). 

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Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist and content creator with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there, he headed up and runs Tech[edit], a technology YouTube channel, and has worked alongside this role at Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 

His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.