TCL has been putting out quite a few new phones this year, from the 20 Pro 5G at $799 and the 20 5G at $499. They now have an offering at under $350 – the TCL 20 R5G.


The TCL 20R5G has a number of features that users are coming to expect as ‘standard’, such as face unlock and certain camera features, however, they typically aren’t standard in phones which are categorised as low budget. Given the R5G is retailing for under $350 some of its included features are pleasantly surprising.

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One particular specification is worth noting here – the 20 R5G has NFC or contactless payment capabilities. While this is a fairly common feature in smartphones these days, it’s notable here because there are very few smartphones under $350 that come with this feature.

The R5G has face and fingerprint unlock capabilities, a 4500mAh battery, a 3.5mm audio jack and uses USB C. As the name suggests the R5G has 5G connectivity as well as the 2, 3 and 4 Bands. It has 4G mobile hotspot capabilities, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.1 as well as NFC.

5G is still being rolled out in Australia at the moment, but availability is growing daily and TCL is putting the advantages of this technology within reach by including it in a lower priced device.

The R5G uses  MediaTek MT6833 Dimensity 700 5G chipset with an Octa-core CPU  (2×2.2 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55) and Mali-G57 MC2 GPU. It has 4GB RAM + 64 GB ROM or 4GB RAM + 128 GB ROM depending on which version of the phone you buy and the device also supports micro SD cards up to 1T in size. The operating system is Android™ 11 using TCL’s version 3.0 UI.

The TCL 20 R5G comes in Lazurite Blue or Granite Grey.


The display on the R5G is remarkable at this price point, crisp, clean, vibrant colour, and very smooth when scrolling. The device has a 6.52-inch HD+ V-notch display which has a resolution of 720X1600, a refresh rate of 90Hz, peak brightness of 500 nits and a screen-to-body ration of 90%.


The overall design of the phone is quite good – comfortable to hold in the hand etc, however, there were a few little niggles. The one which was constantly being brought to my attention while using the phone was the placement of the volume and power buttons. These buttons are located on the right side of the phone; the volume button is directly above the power button. The problem is they are too low. Where I naturally hold the phone, my right thumb rests on the volume down button, not the power button. Almost every time I went to put the phone on standby I ended up either turning the volume down, or taking an inadvertent screenshot.

Another issue I found was the onboard speaker quality. I know a great many people use headphones or earbuds to listen to their audio of choice these days, but this lack of the speaker was also obvious when making phone calls – any call on the speaker was scratchy and lacked clarity which is something Phil noted on the other end of calls.

The battery life on the R5G is impressive, I charged it fully and then decided to see how long it could go before needing a charge. After two full days of normal use there was still 30% battery left – over the 2 weeks I used the phone this varied somewhat, depending on what and how much I had used it for, but on average the battery was good for a solid 48 hours.

I found the fingerprint scanner to be a bit temperamental. Sometimes it worked on the first try, but more often than not it required multiple attempts or brought up the pin code screen. Face unlock was more successful and I think some of the successful fingerprint unlocks may have actually been the face unlock feature accessing the device.

On the whole though, using the R5G was a pleasant experience, it may sound like a bad thing to say that nothing really stood out to me when using it, however I feel it’s a mark of good engineering – it does its job so well you don’t notice it working – it just works.


The R5G has four cameras – a 13MP main camera, a 2MP macro camera, a 2MP depth camera and an 8MP front facing camera. There are Panorama, Pro-Mode, Slow Motion, Stop Motion, and Light Trace capabilities as well as portrait mode and of course video recording.

The picture quality is quite reasonable for a phone costing under $350, however I found that some of the photos I took looked quite grainy, and pictures taken in bright conditions did show a little light flare.


The TCL 20 R5G has some good features at a low price point, and it gives users a financially accessible option to access the new 5G network. These include great battery life, an excellent screen and functions really smoothly.

If you aren’t in the market for a cutting edge flashy phone but still want the functionalities of one, then this phone is worth a look. You’ll be able to pick up the TCL 20 R5G from Harvey Norman, Vodafone, Officeworks & Mobileciti.

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Any phone which cannot be reliably used as a phone should be rated as FAIL.
It doesn’t matter how good or bad the rest of the device is. If it can’t, reliably do the core job of the device, then the device is a fail.


I understand that this is a budget phone. However, since the CPU is a MediaTek Dimensity 700, a minimum of 6GB of RAM would have made this a very good first phone for kids.