TCL 20 R 5G review – proof that quality and features don’t have to cost the earth

  • Design

TCL is on a winner with the 20 R 5G which proves yet again that a quality smartphone with impressive features can be yours without the massive price tag.

Just how good could a $350 smartphone be? When you’re talking about the TCL 20 R 5G – the answer to that question is very, very good actually.

It’s also the cheapest 5G smartphone you can buy as well.

With the 5G networks growing to cover even more of the Australian population, the TCL 20 R 5G allows users to tap into the faster network and enjoy even faster download speeds for downloading and streaming.

TCL has shown yet again having a quality smartphone doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars.

When it comes to buying a smartphone the main features customers look for are screen quality, screen size, design, camera quality and battery life.

For just $349, the TCL 20 R 5G certainly punches above its weight in all these areas.

Let’s start with the design.

It has a slick look and feel with flat edges that gently curve into the rear panel which has a matte finish, so it doesn’t show up your fingerprints.

Also included with the TCL 20 R 5G is a clear silicone case so you can still admire that design and protect it.

The 6.52-inch V-notch display is stunning thanks to the onboard NXTVISION technology which can automatically adjust contrast, sharpness and dark detail for your images and videos and apps on the fly.

It has a 90 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

There’s an eye comfort mode which can filter out the blue light and adjust the colour temperature of the of the display.

And it’s a 90hz display so it’s a lot smoother than your traditional 60Hz screen.

There is an option to keep the screen at 60Hz to save battery, but we always had it at 90Hz, and we didn’t notice much of a hit on the battery.

There’s also a smart refresh mode which can automatically choose the refresh rate based on what you’re watching.

Apple introduced a similar feature this year for the iPhone 13 display which can go up to 120Hz.

The quality of the TCL screen really does make you marvel at the fact you’re holding a $349 smartphone.

It’s excellent for watching your content, using your apps, playing games, making video calls and browsing the web.

Moving on to the camera, the TCL 20 R 5G has a triple lens system which includes AI auto enhancement which can optimise your pictures and videos so they always look their best.

There is a main 13-megapixel camera along with a 2-megapixel depth lens and a 2-megapixel macro lens.

These combine to produce some admirable results.

Users have the choice of capturing regular images, videos, portrait shots and panoramas.

If you dive deeper into the menu there’s also modes for super macro, stop motion, slo-mo, and light trace.

There’s even a Pro Mode that allows users to control their ISO, shutter speed, white balance and focus – ideal for the user who wants to take more control of their images.

On the video side, the TCL 20 R 5G can shoot full HD 1080p at up to 30 frames per second.

And don’t forget the 8-megapixel front facing camera which also has portrait mode, so your selfies will look amazing.

Battery life from the internal 4,500mAh battery easily lasts all day and into the next. That’s enough power for 34 hours of talk time, 10 hours of video playback and 210 hours of audio playback.

The TCL 20 R 5G is running Android 11 and the TCL UI 3.0 which adds a light layer to the operating system without being too obtrusive.

It’s also fast and responsive when switching from app to app and navigating the system.

So far so good – the TCL 20 R 5G certainly ticks all the boxes for providing the same quality of features that customers are looking for.

But it doesn’t end there.

Portrait selfie taken with the TCL 20 R 5G

On the security side, the device also has a fingerprint reader on the rear panel which is a great location because that’s naturally where your finger rests when you’re holding it.

It also has face unlock so the TCL 20 R 5G can be unlocked by looking at it.

Captured with the TCL 20 R 5G

Under the hood is 4GB RAM, up to 128GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot so you can expand by up to 1TB.

Also onboard is NFC so it can be used to make tap and go contactless payments with Google Pay.

That’s a pretty impressive package for $349.

OK, now here what the TCL 20 R 5G doesn’t have: no wireless charging and it’s not water resistant but we don’t think those are exactly dealbreakers.

The TCL 20 R 5G is available now and is priced at $349. Vodafone customers can buy the device (locked to the Vodafone network) for $299.


TCL is on a winner with the 20 R 5G which proves yet again that a quality smartphone with impressive features can be yours without the massive price tag.