Is your phone screen just too darn bright and uncomfortable to look at? Do you long for the comforting matte-like finish of a page of paper as you swipe through Tinder? No? Well, TCL went and made a couple of phones to try and remedy these problems anyway. The NXTPAPER 40 and 40 5G include screens with a matte-textured finish that emphasize eye comfort with reduced blue light output, which TCL says gives them a paper-like look and feel. If nothing else, they’re a refreshing departure from the stream of unremarkable budget Android phones the brand has been putting out over the last few years.
Confusingly, the 4G-only NXTPAPER 40 includes a few more high-end touches compared to the 5G version. The NXTPAPER 40 5G uses a newer MediaTek Dimensity 6020 chipset, while the 4G-only model includes a lower-caliber Helio G88 chipset. But outside of that, the NXTPAPER 40 offers more amenities like a bigger 6.78-inch 1080p screen, 8GB of RAM, and 33W wired fast charging. It’s also compatible with an optional T-pen stylus; the 5G version isn’t. The NXTPAPER 5G has a 6.6-inch 720p screen, 6GB of RAM, and slower 15W charging. There’s good news, though: they both have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
TCL’s whole NXTPAPER deal first showed up in concept form at IFA in 2020 and was later released in an 8-inch tablet the following year. This first iteration didn’t include backlighting and was more like a color E Ink screen. The version included in these 40-series phones does use a backlight like a traditional phone screen, though you can switch between color and monochrome display modes if you want to use it as an e-reader. Is this a thing people want to do with their phones? I’m not sure it is, but I respect TCL for trying it anyway.
Both phones arrive in Europe this fall — the NXTPAPER 40 will go on sale in September for €199 (about $215), and the 40 5G will sell for €249 (about $269) starting in October. The company says the phones will be sold in more countries later in the year and that details about US availability will come in early 2024.