TCL 10 Pro And 10L Review: Sleek, Budget-Friendly Androids

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TCL 10L And TCL 10 Pro Software Setup, Pricing, And Review Verdict

TCL 10L and 10 Pro Software

The TCL 10L and 10 Pro run identical builds of Android 10. While not as stock as what Google, OnePlus, and Moto bring to the table, TCL’s skin is reasonably fast, lightweight, and unobtrusive. The launcher provides various sorting options for the app tray, and includes the Google Discover feed. By default, the Android navigation buttons are swapped (just like on Samsung’s handsets), and we all know that’s not right. Also, the battery and notification settings live in the Smart Manager app for some reason, which isn’t ideal.

10L front
TCL 10L

Smart Manager is TCL’s version of a checkup tool, a type of app -- common on Chinese phones -- that monitors your phone and offers suggestions to optimize performance and battery life. This tool isn’t really necessary, and we’re not big fans -- especially when it hijacks the battery and notification settings. We like the programmable Smart Key on the left side of each handset, though. You can assign an app or action to a single press, double press, and long press. It’s a great way to quickly launch Google Assistant or the camera app.

Both phones support face unlock, but obviously, this isn’t as secure as using the fingerprint sensor. There’s also a game mode and driving mode. Super Bluetooth is another interesting feature. It lets you connect up to four Bluetooth audio devices simultaneously for synchronized playback -- fun at parties! TCL has managed to keep bloatware to a minimum, which we applaud. Beyond the standard collection of Google apps, Netflix comes preinstalled, along with a few TCL apps like a file sharing utility, compass, and note taking app.


10 Pro front
TCL 10 Pro

The TCL 10 Pro packs a few additional tricks. For example, Triplecam lets you preview the main shooter, ultrawide, and low light camera side-by-side so you can pick what’s best. Edge Screen lets you customize and access your favorite apps and contacts (plus a ruler) by swiping a pill-shaped tab on the edge of the screen. You can also configure the edge of the display to flash for notifications. Finally, there’s an IR remote app that controls a wide array of devices from TCL and other manufacturers -- including TVs, AC units, and more.

TCL 10L and 10 Pro Pricing And Competition

Both phones are heading to Amazon on May 19, as well as Best Buy and Walmart later this month. The TCL 10L will be available for $250 in Mariana Blue, and the TCL 10 Pro will come in Ember Gray for $450. Here in the US, the Moto G Power ($250) is the 10L’s most obvious rival. It offers less RAM (4GB) and lacks NFC, but features a larger battery (5000mAh) and excellent stereo speakers. Other handsets worth considering include the Nokia 6.2 ($250) and Samsung’s Galaxy A51 (currently ~ $280). If you’re abroad, check out Redmi’s Note 8 Pro as well ($210).

As for the 10 Pro’s competition, last year’s Moto Z4 ($500) and Google Pixel 3a (~ $365) have similar specs and are often on sale. Google’s upcoming Pixel 4a will probably be worth waiting for. Another great option is the awesome OnePlus 7T (currently just $500). It packs a full-on 2019 flagship experience thanks to a Snapdragon 855+ and an extra (telephoto) camera. Finally, there’s the iPhone SE ($400), which delivers impressive performance for the money -- assuming you can live with iOS and Apple’s ecosystem lock-in.

TCL 10L and TCL 10 Pro - Review Verdict

TCL has done a very good job with the 10L and 10 Pro. Both handsets provide a well-balanced set of features at their respective price points. The 10L offers a lovely display, great performance and battery life, plus a headphone jack and NFC (something that’s often missing from the competition -- hello, Moto). If you can look past the all-plastic build, the dim screen in direct sunlight, and the lackluster ultrawide camera, the TCL 10L is a solid buy. We’d love to have stereo speakers for a more immersive video watching experience, though.

The TCL 10 Pro -- while definitely premium -- is a bit harder to place. It’s a nice phone all around, but it’s a tougher sell in a world of affordable Pixels, iPhones, and discounted OnePlus flagships. We’re impressed with the build quality and materials, the beautiful display, the excellent performance and battery life, and its headphone jack. But its shooters need more tuning to stand out. And for this kind of money, we’d like to see stereo speakers and some level of water resistance (a nano-coating, maybe?)

Ultimately, the 10-series is a great second effort from TCL, and we can’t wait to see what the TCL 10 5G brings to the table!
approved hh
TCL 10L
  • Affordable
  • Solid performance           
  • Great battery life
  • Headphone jack
  • NFC
  • Cheap plastic build
  • Display could be brighter
  • Poor ultrawide camera
  • Mono speaker
approved hh
TCL 10 Pro
  • Great design
  • Beautiful display
  • Solid performance                 
  • Great battery life
  • Headphone jack
  • Cameras need tuning            
  • Mono speaker
  • No water resistance


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