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Tested: TCL 30 and TCL 30 XE | Low-cost performance



TCL has achieved quite a feat by launching two phones, the TCL 30 5G and the TCL 30 XE 5G. They are of good quality despite being priced under $500. They are capable of decent performance, are 5G compatible and have a triple lens camera. But you have to give up on many requirements when you pay so little.

WE love

TCL, notably known for having manufactured the Alcatel and BlackBerry telephones, has made a specialty of offering inexpensive but still high-performance devices. Its latest two models take this logic even further, with simply unbeatable prices of $485 for the TCL 30 5G and $355 for the TCL 30 XE 5G.


The TCL 30 XE 5G (left) and TCL 30 5G

Let’s not beat around the bush, we want to know, at this price, how these phones compare to others in terms of performance, with the calibration of Geekbench 5. First observation: they are not at all in the same league as the phones sold for $1000 and up. Overall, they come to 21e and 22e ranks out of the 29 phones we’ve tested over the past few years. We only kept phones $1000 and under for the following table.

We see, casually, that the two TCLs outperform the Galaxy A52 launched in 2021, and prove to be better than Google’s previous Pixel models. Like what a year in this industry is an eternity. Both the TCL 30 5G and the XE feature the same midrange processor, the MediaTek Dimensity 700, with 4GB of RAM.

The other big difference between the two TCLs is the screens, 6.52-inch 720p LED for the XE and 6.7-inch Full HD AMOLED for the more expensive. Here, there is no possible comparison: the AMOLED is clearly more contrasted with its 395 dpi compared to 268 dpi, its more vivid colors and its much better resolution.

Both have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The XE’s 4500 mAh battery, like its big brother’s 5100 mAh battery, gives a good day and a half of normal use. Both accept fingerprint and facial recognition authentication.

We love less

The MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor is not a speed beast. It will struggle to open big games like call of duty Where Fortnite or instantly view your Google Photos. But it does it anyway, with a small delay, but without bugs, and we couldn’t get it to crash with too big requirements. Functional, therefore, but not instantaneous.

For the photo, we must distinguish the TCL 30 5G from its little brother XE. The first has three rear lenses, a 50 MP wide-angle, a 2 MP for depth and a 2 MP for close-range shots. In the second, we replaced the wide-angle with a 13 MPx lens. Both, curiously, have given similar results, which can be described as average. Compared to an iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 FE, the photos turned out beautiful, rich colors and very satisfying autofocus capability. The level of detail, however, seemed mediocre to us, with the two TCLs struggling to manage contrast, even outdoors. Photos indoors in the evening were not very convincing, a specialty of usually much more expensive phones.

So cameras that do a basic job, with no major gaffes, but nowhere near the feats of the best phones.

One buys ?

For a user who doesn’t want to spend a fortune, the two recent TCLs fulfill the essential promises: pay little for decent performance. It’s actually great value for money for phones that are going to do a good job, for those who aren’t necessarily looking for the most advanced features and the best photos.

That said, the TCL 30 5G, with a better screen and more powerful battery, seems to us to be worth the little extra $130.

TCL 30 5G and TCL 30 XE 5G

Manufacturer : TCL
Price: $485 (TCL 30 5G, 128GB) and $355 (TCL 30 XE 5G, 64GB)
Rating: 4 out of 5 for the TCL 30 5G and 3.5 out of 5 for the TCL 30 XE 5G

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