They say first impressions last and for the TCL 20 Pro 5G, that’s a very strong start. The device has been on the test bench since Tuesday and so far it’s been a really good experience. You’d be forgiven for thinking the phone is just another mid-ranger, but TCL has really shown their hand here.

TCL continues to attack the mid-range ($250 – $600) market with strong entries like the TCL 20 SE and TCL 20 5G. Now we’re looking at a $798 powerhouse that can match it with devices far more expensive. For today, we’ll cover the initial impression of the device with a full review to come in a few weeks time.

The look and feel

Some review devices don’t come in retail boxes, which doesn’t give the full user experience. I like doing the unboxing because it helps understand the impression retail buyers have and the dazzle of the device when you first lift it out of the box. The retail box for this phone is clean, bright and very well presented: Much like the phone.

Our review device is Marine Blue, and while the colour name isn’t something that excites me the actual colour is gorgeous. It’s — obviously — not your standard black or silver colour, it’s really eye-catching and will appeal to both male and female buyers.

I like the 20:9 ratio of the screen, making the device slightly taller and slimmer makes it easier to hold for single-handed use. It’s got a 6.67-inch FHD+ curved AMOLED “Dotch” Display, it comes in at a very reasonable 190g weight and a very well optimised screen running 1080 x 2400 resolution and 394ppi. But that’s where one of my personal preferences pushes me away slightly as I prefer a flat screen and this has curved edges.

In your hand, it feels pretty solid, although I’m not sure how well it would stand up to a drop onto solid surfaces. I’m very pleased to say that TCL includes a clear TPU case with it so you’re not stuck with the “do I cover my gorgeous phone, or destroy it over time” quandary.

We’re currently in lockdown in South Australia so it’s probably had a bit more of a hard time in the early days than normal reviews. More use, more streaming media, more calls and of course, messaging. Despite that, the battery has held up well to the treatment it’s been given: Usually coming off charge at around 6:15 am and back on around 11:15 pm with anywhere between 15% and 22% remaining. So I haven’t needed it as yet, but will definitely take a closer look at the fast charging before the review is done.

Performance and Software

We’ve covered the specs in detail when the phone was initially released. The specs are — being brutally honest — quite good, but not pointy end. Let’s keep in mind though that this is a $798 phone, not $1,500 and up so it’s not fair to expect the best of everything. The performance vitals we’re talking about are:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 750
  • 256GB storage
  • 6GB RAM

So far, with the exception of when I was setting up the device, there haven’t been any noticeable times when the device has lagged hugely or where I needed greater performance. I’m pretty confident that some of the more processor-intensive games I play may push this phone pretty hard, but we’ll see…

As a generic statement, it would be fair to say — as we did in the recent reviews — that the software feels pretty stock. It’s always nice to report that there’s no bloatware on devices and that’s the case here. I’ve actually really liked a few of the little details in TCL UI which we’ll explore in the full review.

The weather, coupled with an inability to travel for the week have prevented any real testing opportunities for the camera. That’s something we’ll endeavour to complete once SA lockdown finishes — fingers crossed — next week. What we’ve done so far shows good colour reproduction and results that aren’t oversaturated by post-processing.

There isn’t anything obviously lacking in the TCL 20 Pro 5G in daily use so far. That’s despite the lower price and specs compared to plenty of other devices in the market.

If you don’t want to wait for the review, Vodafone and Mobileciti have the TCL 20 Pro 5G on sale already and (until July 29th) you’ll get a bonus TCL TV via redemption with your purchase.