For many years TCL’s Alcatel brand has been king of the budget and burner phone market. Now TCL has unveiled the 10 Pro their first entry into the competitive upper mid-range phone market.
I’ve been testing the 10 Pro for just over a week. It worked reliably and had some small unique features but the use of an older Qualcomm 675 mid-range processor and lacking a killer key selling point makes it hard to stand out from other phones for sale around $700-$800.
Unboxing, Specifications & Setup
Inside the box you’ll find the 10 Pro phone, an 18W QC3 charger, free case and the usual manual and two year warranty paperwork. Charging time from flat to 100% is about two hours and up to 50% in 35 minutes. The QC charging is a lot slower than most other phones these days but the top-up speed was decent.
The battery itself is a very decent 4,500mAh which with heavy use will still have 15 percent left at the end of the day and with normal use more like 25 percent.
I get that TCL is really proud of their display technology but it would have been nice to have a free clear case rather than huge “Display Greatness” stamped on it permanently:
I quite like the Forest Mist Green colour on the back and 3D glass edges which has a metallic OPVD matte finish that doesn’t show fingerprints easily.
You can see from my photos that the 10 Pro has quite a curved symmetrical edge on front and back which makes it comfortable to hold and nice to look at. The downside in practice is like all very curved phones it’s hard to touch things on the screen at the very edge. Samsung are moving away from curved edges like this — considering they invented the curved display, how long until other manufacturers catch up again and ditch the curve?
On the bottom you’ll find a USB-C port and mono speaker that is loud enough to use as a speakerphone but didn’t sound that great playing music.
On the left you will find a programmable Smart Key. On the right-hand side is the volume rocker and power switch and on top is a very welcome Headphone jack.
Kudos to TCL for letting customers choose which application or phone actions to trigger using the Smart Key button rather than forcing us to use a particular smart assistant like Samsung. In fact the Smart Key can trigger three different actions via single, double or long press.
Setup was easy as usual copying over my apps and settings via the last Google backup I’d made earlier that day. You can choose whether to have an app drawer or not and you can choose to have that app drawer sorted by TCL into types of apps or alphabetically which I prefer.
The day after I set up the phone I received a security and functionality update patch which is a good sign.
TCL Australia advised me that they commit to providing security patches on a two monthly basis for two years on its new mid-range phones including the 10 Pro. Interestingly these updates should be at the same time internationally for all retail purchased models rather than Australia getting them late.
On the plus side TCL uses Google’s Messages, Keyboard, Dialer, Calendar etc rather than making their own apps that would most likely do a worse job. If only other manufacturers (like LG) would do the same.
Some software weaknesses are:
- Auto Brightness jumps around unpredictably at times
- There are a few bundled apps which TCL probably got paid to put on the phone eg. Microsoft News and Modern Combat Rebel Guns. However they can be uninstalled.
- Some of the apps (eg. Camera) need more user-adjustable settings for example the amount of Selfie Blur in Portrait mode.
Like it’s same-priced competitor the Samsung A71 the TCL 10 Pro in-screen finger print scanner is not as fast as some other brands, for example those linked to OPPO, but it was reliable during my testing period.
These are the key differences between the TCL 10 Pro and the Samsung A71 below. As you can see while the 10 Pro has no real spec weak points the A71 edges it out in several areas.
|TCL 10 Pro||A71|
|Display||6.47” FHD+ TCL AMOLED HDR10
Teardrop Dotch Display
|6.7″ FHD+ sAMOLED Plus HDR10
|Rear camera||64 MP (Main)
16 MP (Ultra Wide)
2 MP (Depth)
5 MP (Depth)
|64 MP (Main)
12 MP (Ultra Wide)
5 MP (Depth)
5 MP (Macro)
|Front camera||24 MP||32 MP|
|Performance||Snapdragon 675 (11nm)
(Octa Core Processor)
|Snapdragon 730 (8nm)
(Octa Core Processor)
(18W Super Fast Charging)
(25W Super Fast Charging)
|Security||On-screen Fingerprint Scanner||On-screen Fingerprint Scanner|
|Storage||128GB + expandable||128GB + expandable|
Cameras, Screen and General Usage
Many new phones these days have prominent camera bumps sticking out from the back of the phone so it’s nice to see that TCL has managed to fit all their lenses in one row flush to the back with a nice addition of dual LED lenses on each side.
As is often the case in the mid-range you won’t get a proper 2x or more zoom lens on the 10 Pro. Yes you can use digital zoom but the resulting photo will just be a crop of the main camera sensor, not actually zooming in closer.
All three main back cameras (Normal view, Ultrawide and Macro) as well as the front Selfie cam performed well as can be seen below. I particularly liked using the Macro lens to get really close for some flower photos.
TCL was quite proud of the 10 Pro’s screen technology at the media launch event and it’s true they have done a great job as their in-house manufactured AMOLED screen and NXTVision processing make photos and videos pop on screen nicely. If you’re a mobile Netflix watcher you’ll notice the 10 Pro is Netflix HDR10 certified which is a nice bonus.
Some other highlights were the included Dual SIM functionality, an IR emitter which is a blast from the past letting you control your TV etc and Super Bluetooth.
Super Bluetooth means you can output audio to up to 4 Speakers or headphones at once (other phones usually connect to only 1 or 2 Bluetoooth devices at once), though you should know the maximum volume drops on each output device every time you add another one.
Should you buy the TCL 10 Pro?
At Ausdroid we love more quality competition in the market for our readers to choose from so it’s great that TCL is entering the mid-range game.
The TCL 10 Pro is a great choice if you really like the idea of a mid range phone without a heavy manufacturer skin on top of Android, a large 4500mah battery which easily lasts a day with heavy use, reverse USB-C charging, NFC tap payment support, vivid AMOLED screen, programmable Smart Key, Dual SIM and IR blaster built-in.
However it will be hard for the TCL 10 Pro to gain attention at retailers when the Samsung A71 4G I recently reviewed is exactly the same price, has a much higher marketing budget, faster processor and faster charging.
The TCL 10 Pro can be purchased for $749 in either Forest Mist Green or Ember Gray from August 10th at JB Hi-Fi or Officeworks.
TCL has allowed Ausdroid to retain the 10 Pro for long term testing of their security patch and Android update promises