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TCL details the first of five 20-series phones: the affordable 20 5G and 20 SE

The TCL 20 5G gets a bigger screen but costs less than last year’s 10 5G

The TCL 20 5G offers a 6.67-inch display with HDR10 video playback.
Image: TCL

The TCL 20 5G is one of many affordable 5G phones we’ll see this year, and at €299, it will launch a full €100 cheaper than last year’s TCL 10 5G. Using a less expensive 5G-equipped 600-series Qualcomm processor likely enabled the price drop. Otherwise, it looks to be a modest iteration of the previous model. TCL isn’t providing information now about US availability or pricing, only that “some” of the five 20-series phones it will announce this year will come to the US.

The 20 5G adopts the new Snapdragon 690 5G processor, dropping down from the 7-series chipset used by its predecessor. The 690 supports low- and midband 5G frequencies but not mmWave.

The TCL 20 5G with a 6.67-inch screen and rear triple-camera array.
Image: TCL

The phone also offers a slightly larger 6.67-inch, 1080 x 2400 LCD, while its triple-camera array (borrowed from the UW variant that came to the US) now offers improved phase-detect autofocus in the main 48-megapixel camera. It gains a new Smart 5G feature that switches between 5G and 4G automatically depending on the application to preserve battery life.

The display hardware seems similar to the previous model. It offers the same 450-nit brightness as the 10 5G UW and can convert SDR content to HDR in real time. We didn’t love this feature in the 10 Pro, but TCL says the SDR to HDR conversion has been improved in this device.

The 20 5G continues to offer HDR10 video playback support, which isn’t too common at this price, and the device offers a display calibration mode for better color accuracy — not something that’s expected in this class, but TCL is obviously playing to its strengths. Other details include a 4,500mAh battery, fingerprint sensor, Android 10 (with an upgrade to 11 coming), and an 8-megapixel front camera.

Also unveiled today was the 20 SE, which doesn’t support 5G but gets a bigger 5,000 mAh battery and dual speakers. It offers a 720 x 1640, 6.82-inch display, quad-camera array (main, wide, macro, and depth), reverse charging, and a rear fingerprint sensor. It ships with Android 11 installed.

The TCL 20 SE is a cheaper, media consumption-oriented device.
Image: TCL

The 20 5G is currently on sale in Italy and will expand to other countries in February; it costs €299. The 20 SE will arrive in Europe this month for €149.