TCL Makes A Value Play In The Speedy 5G MmWave Market With A $400 Smartphone

TCL 10 5G UW
At first glance, it may seem like a decoder ring is needed to decipher TCL's new 10 5G UW handset, but the model name actually makes sense (even though it is also a bit goofy). It is the latest in TCL's 10 series, hence the 10, and is a 5G handset that can deliver those delightful ultra-wideband speeds that are a potential game changer. But best of all, it's only $399.99.

That makes it the cheapest 5G handset around that I am aware of (if you know of one that costs less, feel free to splash it into the comments section below). It undercuts Motorola's One 5G by $45 (it's priced at $444.49 at Best Buy), and is a few hundred bucks less expensive than Apple's recently launched iPhone 12 mini at $699.

And of course flagship phones with 5G connectivity cost a whole heck of a lot more. TCL's 10 5G UW is not a flagship handset, of course, but it does offer reasonable specifications for the money, starting with a 6.53-inch display with a 2340x1080 resolution and HDR10 support.

This is powered by a Snapdragon 765G processor, which is one of Qualcomm's first fully integrated 5G phone chips (the regular Snapdragon 765 being the other), and 6GB of RAM. It also boasts 128GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot, it has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 4,500 mAh battery with fast charging via USB-C.

For taking selfies, a 16-megapixel shooter resides in the punch-hole cutout in the upper-left corner of the display. Around the back, there is a 48-megapixl main camera, plus an 8-megapixl super wide-angle lens (118 degrees field of view), and a 5-megapixel macro lens. The rear camera arrangement is squished between LED flashes.

The 10 5G UW is exclusively available at Verizon, as the wireless carrier continues to the hype the heck out of ultra-wideband.

"We're excited to work with TCL to bring their unique brand of visually powerful devices to Verizon," said Brian Higgins, senior vice president of device and consumer product at Verizon. "The TCL 10 5G UW enables us to give customers a premium experience at an affordable price, and put the power of Verizon's 5G ultra0wideband and 5G nationwide into even more hands."

Ultra-wideband in Verizon parlance is the especially speedy variant of 5G (millimeter-wave, or mmWave). It's incredibly fast, but also diminishes at longer distances and is not good at penetrating objects. And just as importantly, its availability is very limited. So that is a bit of a buzzkill.

But hey, it's all about baby steps, right? 5G coverage will improve (including truly fast 5G), and as we are seeing on the hardware front, 5G capable phones will continue to get more affordable.

As for TCL's 10 5G UW, it will be available in Verizon stores and online starting October 29.