In Brazil, TCL is not among the most remembered brands when it comes to Android cell phones, but with the TCL 20 SE, the company tries to show that it is not a mere adventurer in the segment: the generous 6.82-inch screen and the glossy finish make the device catch the eye right away.
Of course, these aren’t the only details that matter. The Snapdragon 460 chip, the quartet of rear-facing cameras — with a 48-megapixel main sensor — and the 5,000 mAh battery are also here to show service.
Can they do it? I tested the TCL 20 SE for three weeks. In the next few moments, I’ll tell you how the model did in terms of performance, battery life, photo quality and other aspects. Follow me.
TCL 20 SE analysis on video
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The TCL 20 SE was provided by TCL on loan and will be returned to the company after testing. For more information, visit tecnoblog.net/etica.
Design, finishing and audio
One thing I like about the cellphone market is the fact that, if not all, most brands launch phones that break away from the black tradition. The TCL 20 SE takes this idea seriously: although dark, the rear of the model is made of a plastic that divides the surface into two segments with a shiny metallic appearance. At least “live”, the effect is very interesting.
The device’s frame is very firm, a feature that contributes to making the TCL 20 SE relatively heavy: it weighs 206 grams. This detail, when added to the somewhat smooth surface of the back, can make the cell phone slip out of your hand more easily. At least the product packaging includes a silicone cover.
While the right side concentrates the on/off button and volume controls, the left houses the chip drawer and a physical button for the Google Assistant.
Two notes here: the drawer supports two SIM cards or one SIM card plus a microSD up to 256GB; I’d love to use the Google Camera Trigger Wizard button, for example, but I can’t configure the component for other functions.
For the record, the top side has a headphone jack and a microphone hole. At the bottom we find a USB-C port, as expected.
There we also find an audio output, on the right, which is paired with the speaker at the top of the device. Together, both components deliver clear sound. The problem is that the audio tends to burst at the highest volume levels. Go for headphones for a good listening experience.
Let’s go back to the back for a detail. Today, most smartphones have a fingerprint reader built into the screen, but this is not the case here. On the TCL 20 SE, the component appears at the rear, near the cameras. And it works well: reading sometimes takes a little while, but it almost always works on the first try.
There’s no denying that the screen is the most eye-catching feature of the TCL 20 SE. The panel is IPS LCD type and is 6.82 inches in size. As the display has a 20.5:9 format, the impression is that the component is stretched out.
In addition to the generous dimensions, the screen is pleasing for having strong brightness, up to 450 nits, offering good viewing from varied angles and displaying vivid colors. In part, this is to the credit of NXTVision, a feature that we know about in the TCL 10 SE review and that automatically adjusts contrast and sharpness.
NXTVision also allows you to set the screen temperature and features a reading mode that makes the panel black and white and has a warm tone — this feature resembles a Kindle screen.
But there is one detail that I don’t like: the resolution is only 1640×720 pixels. This feature doesn’t stop you from enjoying the phone well, but a big screen like the one we found here deserved to be at least full HD.
At 20 SE, TCL didn’t follow the move to make Android as pure as possible. The model leaves the factory with Android 11 and a full-featured interface implemented by the manufacturer.
NXTVision is one of them. The resource is an application that makes adjustments to various screen parameters, as you already know. There are others that fulfill trivial functions: video player, compass, audio recorder, radio, file manager and so on.
We’ve also found several useful features in the notifications area, such as screen recorder, a mode that virtually shrinks the display size for one-handed cell phone use, and the data-saving function.
The organization of applications is also interesting, as they are classified into categories. If you don’t like that, that’s fine, you can change the organization mode on the button positioned at the top right of the screen.
Another useful feature is a discreet sidebar that, when expanded, gives you quick access to contacts, favorite apps and a virtual ruler (!!!).
All of this can make the TCL 20 SE interface look cluttered, but in the end, these features are likely to be convenient for most users.
The TCL 20 SE’s rear camera module follows the traffic light style. There are four sensors. From top to bottom, the first has 2 megapixels and takes macro photos, the second has 5 megapixels and a wide-angle lens, the third has 48 megapixels and consists of the main sensor and the fourth has 2 megapixels and helps to record images with blurred background.
Look, the macro camera does its job, but it’s very simple. Low definition issues are frequent here. The depth camera, on the other hand, works with the main camera to help you blur the background of the scene, as it should be.
The cameras that matter most are the wide angle and the main. When lighting conditions are good, the former can record with color fidelity, good noise control and, of course, a larger field of view. But when you zoom in on the image, you realize that the definition isn’t the best. A sensor with more megapixels would make a difference here.
At least the main camera is trying hard. Although it doesn’t deliver exquisite results, it can make records with a much more interesting level of detail, strong colors but no over-saturation, and adequate noise control.
If the lighting conditions help, of course. In night scenes, the definition drops a lot and the noise appears with ease.
About the front camera, it has 13 megapixels and can take selfies with an acceptable level of detail. Just don’t count too much on portrait mode. With it, it’s not difficult for background blur to fail at some point.
Hardware and battery
We tend to associate big cell phones with powerful hardware, but that’s not always the case. The TCL 20 SE is proof of that. The device has 4GB of RAM and 128GB of data storage, amounts befitting mid-range cell phones. However, the processor is the Snapdragon 460.
We’re not talking about a bad chip, but it doesn’t have much firepower. Netflix, Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram and the camera app were examples of tasks that ran without slowdowns or crashes. On the other hand, you may notice occasional chokes when switching between applications or some delay in responding to commands.
Games like breakneck and Asphalt 9: Legends ran well, but in the latter, you could notice a drop in frame rate, even with the graphics settings at medium level.
All of this suggests that the TCL 20 SE handles the most common tasks of everyday life and light gaming, but at its own pace. Don’t expect outstanding performance in these activities.
The battery, with its 5,000 mAh, has a little more breath. Component tests were done with two hours of video on Netflix and maximum screen brightness, half of YouTube under the same conditions, one hour of Chrome and social media usage, one hour of Spotify via speakers, 15 minutes of Asphalt 9: Legends and a ten minute call.
Tests started in the morning at 100% charge and were run throughout the day. By 10:00 pm, the battery still had 48%.
The recharge time from 5% to 100% with the charger that came with the product was about 2h30min.
TCL 20 SE: is it worth it?
The TCL 20 SE is a cell phone that has important points in its favor: the large screen, despite the only HD resolution, the neat look, the good battery life and software that, although it seems to be a little polluted, brings a set Useful of features.
It’s true that cameras don’t impress and the processor doesn’t have much power. Despite this, these components do their duty. Not with excellence, but they do, so the smartphone can be a good option for those who are looking for a cell phone for basic activities and that has a big screen as a bonus.
But you have to be careful with the price. The TCL 20 SE was launched in Brazil costing around R$2,000. Of course he’s not worth all that. For values close to that you can find the Moto G60 or the Galaxy A52, for example, which have better hardware.
The TCL 20 SE will only be worth it if you find a good price for it, preferably below R$1,500.
- Screen: 6.82-inch IPS LCD, 20.5:9 format, HD resolution (1640×720 pixels), 263 ppi, brightness up to 450 nits
- Processor: octa-core Snapdragon 460 with Adreno 610 GPU
- RAM: 4 GB
- Storage: 128GB expandable with microSD up to 256GB
- Drums: 5,000 mAh
- rear cameras:
- Main: 48 megapixels, f/2.0
- wide angle: 5 megapixels, f/2.2, 115 degrees
- Depth: 2 megapixels, f/2.4
- Macro: 2 megapixels, f/2.4
- Frontal camera: 13 megapixels, f/2.0
- Connectivity: 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB-C, dual SIM, headphone connection
- Sensors: GPS, Glonass, accelerometer, compass, proximity, luminosity, fingerprints on the back
- Operational system: Android 11
- dimensions: 172.08 x 77.14 x 9.1 mm
- Weight: 206 g
TCL 20 SE
- Beautiful external finish
- Wide screen with vivid colors
- Battery with good autonomy
- Lots of software features
- Wizard button could be configurable
- The macro camera is weak
- The screen deserved to be full HD