TCL 30 SE review: Acceptable price? – Phandroid

TCL 30 SE review: Acceptable price?  – Phandroid

Budget Android phones usually seem like a dime a dozen, but there are certain cases when they can turn out to be incredibly surprising. As such, the TCL 30 SE tries to appeal to budget-conscious buyers with its design, internal hardware, and of course, a wallet-friendly price tag. The company’s push to establish itself in the US market seems to be going steadily, building on the reputation it has built for itself with the TV series.

With that said, is the TCL 30 SE worth getting? Let’s take a look.

TCL 30 SE specifications

  • Screen: 6.52-inch LCD, 720 × 1600 pixels
  • Processor: MediaTek Helio G25 chipset
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64/128 GB storage
  • Battery: 5000 mAh with 15W charging support
  • Cameras: 50 MP main sensor, 2 MP macro, 2 MP depth, 8 MP front
  • Software: Android 12 with TCL UI

Display and design

The 6.52-inch LCD screen on the front of the phone has a notch-and-notch combination, which has noticeable bezels around it. The low 720×1600 resolution is pretty basic, which isn’t surprising given the phone’s price tag. But if all you want is something to drown out media on, with no particular preferences about factors like 4K resolution, the big screen should be enough.

There’s nothing terribly impressive about the TCL 30 SE’s design, although it’s surprisingly good – the phone doesn’t try anything overly fancy at the risk of being tacky. There’s none of the bold, ridiculously huge branding we seem to see on a lot of budget phones, or even the annoying faux-chrome accents that admittedly don’t hold up well.

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Instead, the 30 SE incorporates a more subtle design, with a smooth matte coating on the edges of the handset, while the rear panel is made with a glossy coating that ends at the camera module and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The left side has the SIM/micro-SD tray, while the right has the volume and power buttons. There are a pair of speakers next to the USB-C port on the bottom, while the top of the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack. In addition to the fingerprint reader, there is also face unlock which is a very welcome feature, especially in this price range.

Internal specifications, software

In terms of performance, the TCL SE 30 isn’t going to win any benchmark wars, especially given the MediaTek Helio G25 chipset and 4GB of RAM on board. It’s designed to be more of a handset that fits most budgets for users who are instead looking for something for the basics – such as messaging, calling, as well as social media and web browsing. While it’s not blazing fast, it’s not particularly slow either, so you can get essential smartphone tasks done – which also means you’ll stick to more basic games rather than graphics-intensive titles.

In terms of software, the phone runs on Android 12, albeit layered with TCL UI, a proprietary Android shell that gives it a bit of its own “identity”. Users looking for a “clean” version of Android comparable to what you’d get on a Pixel or Motorola phone, for example, won’t find it here.

There are a bunch of extra software features that will either make or break your user experience, depending on how useful you find them. There’s “NXTVISION” for one, which TCL says enhances the user experience with picture and video enhancement. However, this comes with a bunch of other pre-installed apps, including Facebook, and LinkedIn to name a few, which can be a little annoying if you prefer a more minimalistic selection of software. Fortunately, most of these can be uninstalled.

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Camera, battery performance

The camera performance is pretty much what you’d expect from a budget smartphone. It’s certainly not at Google Pixel levels of image quality, but the camera is still there if you want to use it to document life events and such. On the one hand, it’s understandable that the low price comes with some compromises, including image performance, but on the other hand, this isn’t a phone you want to buy for the camera.

That said, photos are mostly usable, and the camera app comes with some additional features like “light trail,” “super macro,” and even “high pixel” photo mode. There’s even a Pro mode that lets you tweak aspects of the camera setup, but there’s only so much you can do with software. Meanwhile, video maxes out at 1080p resolution at 30 fps, and there’s a noticeable lack of video stabilization, so footage seems jittery, especially with excessive movement during filming.

However, a clear strength of the phone is its battery life – there’s a 5000 mAh unit on board the TCL 30 SE, and combined with the relatively modest performance processor, low-resolution screen and limited performance, the battery should last moderate users for a while, especially if they delegate the phone strictly for communication use, with some media streaming now and then. However, charging is not particularly fast, as the phone is limited to 15W charging speeds.

Final thoughts

At this point, we’ve already established that the TCL 30 SE is a budget device meant for buyers looking for an easily accessible Android phone that focuses solely on getting users through a day with the essentials. While elements like screen resolution, camera and overall performance speeds are lacking, proven features like expandable storage, a large battery and even perks like face unlock are undoubtedly welcome at this price point.

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Of course, the TCL 30 SE doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and there are other phones that offer similar prices with a slight edge in performance, but on its own, it’s a no-nonsense budget phone.

TCL 30 SE Assessment: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_50star_empty (3.5 / 5)

The good

  • Large battery
  • Expandable storage and headphone jack
  • Face lock

The bad

  • Low screen resolution
  • The camera is so-so
  • The processor is not impressive

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