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CES 2021: TCL's new 20 series could include the cheapest 5G smartphone ever

TCL 20 5G in Mist Gray and Placid Blue
(Image credit: TCL)

TCL impressed us last year with the incredibly affordable TCL 10 5G UW, which delivered 5G, a beautiful display and a solid feature set for under $400. The company that is best known as a TV manufacturer in the U.S. is back again with the TCL 20 series at CES 2021.

The company is kicking things off with the TCL 20 5G and the TCL 20 SE, but more 20 series smartphones will be arriving later in the year, including another 5G option that we expect will be the true successor to the 10 5G UW. 

TCL 20 5G

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL 20 5G

The TCL 20 5G is the highlight of the company's smartphone announcements for today; the successor to the TCL 10 Pro features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 5G processor and a 6.67-inch FHD+ display.

The rear triple camera array includes a 48MP f/1.8 primary wide-angle sensor, an 8MP f/2.2 wide-angle, and a 2MP f/2.4 macro sensor. This will offer up to 10x digital zoom with electronic image stabilization to keep your images clear. Video capture supports up to 4K at 30fps and 1080p at up to 60fps. Around the front, you will find an 8MP f/2.0 front-facing camera that supports up to 1080p, 30fps video. 

Internally, the TCL 20 5G will include 6GB of LDPPR4X RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage with a microSD slot offering up to an additional 256GB. The 4,500 mAh battery should be plenty considering its more modest processor and FHD+ display. 

While the specs might not blow you away, the price should, as it will be just €299 when it launches in Europe this month, which could make it the first sub-$300 5G smartphone if it does make it to the U.S. later this year. 

TCL 20 SE in green and black

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL 20 SE

Taking a page from Apple's playbook, the most affordable member of the TCL 20 series will be the TCL 20 SE. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 processor and a 6.82-inch HD+ display.

The quad-camera array on the back includes a similar lineup to the TCL 20 5G with a 48MP f/2.0 primary lens, a 5MP f/2.2 wide-angle, a 2MP f/2.4 macro lens, and finally, a 2MP f/2.4 depth camera. That last lens is there to assist with portrait modes and other photos that look to deliver simulated bokeh effects. 

The TCL 20 SE drops down to 4GB of RAM with 64GB or 128GB of storage, but again, offers a microSD slot for up to 256GB of additional storage. The battery, on the other hand, is even larger than that of the 20 5G, with a massive 5,000 mAh that should easily push this phone into two-day use territory. 

The 20 SE will also be launching this month in Europe at just €149, TCL was unable to provide any information on U.S. availability at this time.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.