There are few issues you possibly can ask of an entry-level telephone, however the TCL 40 SE delivers on virtually all of them. The low-resolution display is compensated for by the lengthy battery life, good efficiency and a predominant digital camera that’s surprisingly strong
From a model that sponsors the Spanish nationwide soccer workforce, you anticipate this TCL telephone to have the intelligence of Pedri, the grit of Gavi, the velocity of Balde and the arrogance of Rodri.
However for lower than £200/€200, you possibly can perceive if it doesn’t shine in all departments and doesn’t win the smartphone World Cup.
My expectations earlier than I acquired my arms on the TCL SE 40 have been low: an affordable telephone, with considerably easy specs, and from a producer that doesn’t have the fame of different firms like Samsung or Apple.
I’ve to say that I got here away with extra constructive surprises than detrimental ones, maybe exactly as a result of I didn’t anticipate a lot from this handset. It is a finances telephone with a giant battery, a very good predominant digital camera, however a display that could possibly be improved.
Design and construct
Ergonomic and light-weight design
Easy however sturdy plastic casing
Slot for 2 SIM playing cards and one microSD card
We like to start out our critiques with what we should always by no means do in actual life: choose the outside. On this case, it’s essential as a result of, when you shouldn’t base your smartphone buy on aesthetics alone, the design additionally speaks to its ruggedness, ergonomics and practicality.
After I took the telephone out of the field, I used to be stunned at how gentle it felt in my arms. I’m used to the 204 grams of my iPhone 13 Professional and, whereas it could not appear to be a lot of a distinction, these 14 grams much less are noticeable. My arms additionally needed to get used to the completely different dimensions, particularly because the TCL is taller.
That’s the top of my comparisons with a telephone that value virtually ten instances as a lot. It’s higher to remember different fashions in our rating of the most effective finances telephones, for instance. Essentially the most I can demand of it at this worth is that it’s sturdy and doesn’t simply present fingerprints and smudges – test.
The TCL 40 SE’s casing is manufactured from plastic, which suggests it received’t get broken as simply as if it have been manufactured from glass. This doesn’t compromise an excessive amount of on aesthetics, because it’s fairly elegant within the gray color I examined (it’s additionally out there in a much less discreet purple end).
TCL doesn’t specify IP certification, so we assume it’s not waterproof or dustproof.
This telephone is simple to grip and the curved edges of the body across the display assist with this, though I’ve virtually all the time had to make use of each arms to carry it nicely when utilizing it.
The buttons on the appropriate facet of the handset are simpler to make use of with only one hand. These are the quantity rocker and the unlock button, which doubles as a fingerprint reader. It’s vast sufficient to position your thumb comfortably so that you simply don’t make a mistake when unlocking the telephone (or not less than not typically).
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On the opposite facet, there’s a slot for 2 SIM playing cards and a microSD card. On the prime there’s a speaker and a microphone, whereas on the backside there’s one other speaker, the USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the again is a digital camera module with a peculiar format as he cameras are inside a rectangle within the prime left nook. Inside it, there’s one other rectangle for the principle digital camera, a secondary lens and the flash, whereas there’s a third lens beneath.
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Show and audio system
90Hz refresh fee is ample
Stereo sound high quality is as anticipated
The display takes up virtually your entire entrance floor of the handset. The bezels are nonetheless current, however they’re slim and don’t detract from the expertise.
Neither does the waterdrop-shaped notch on the prime, which serves to accommodate the front-facing digital camera. It’s true that there are different, extra trendy strategies of gaining a number of millimetres of display actual property, however I didn’t miss them.
The display is 6.75in IPD LCD though what’s most placing is that TCL nonetheless opts for an HD+ decision (1600 x 720, 260 ppi). It’s true that it doesn’t have an effect on day-to-day use, however it’s extra noticeable once you need to watch video. 720p is low decision by right now’s smartphone requirements.
The scale are perfect for audio-visual content material, however at this level I’m asking for greater than 720p. There are different low-end fashions with Full HD+, such because the Moto G62 or the Nokia G60. Alternatively, the 120Hz of the Xiaomi Redmi Observe 10 Professional will not be needed, because the 90Hz of the TCL 40 SE is greater than sufficient.
In any other case, the show is kind of good. You shouldn’t be stunned that it’s more durable to see what’s on it in shiny daylight (I set the brightness to most for greatest outcomes if the automated operate doesn’t work nicely), whereas indoors every part appears to be like fairly good.
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The TCL 40 SE has two audio system, one on the highest and one on the underside. When you use the telephone in panorama mode to look at collection and flicks, which means you should have audio on either side and get stereo sound.
The audio high quality of the audio system is what you’ll anticipate from a telephone beneath £200/€200, and even only a telephone. You received’t be utilizing it to hearken to loud music whereas doing issues round the home (not to mention at an out of doors celebration), however will probably be ample for having fun with audio or video when you’re stretched out on the couch.
You’ll desire the expertise once you join headphones to your telephone, though bass will nonetheless be conspicuous by its absence. I didn’t discover a lot distinction between the sound when utilizing wired or Bluetooth headphones, as each are fairly crisp and clear (though this will even rely on the standard of the headphones themselves, after all).
Specs and efficiency
MediaTek Helio G37 chipset
4GB RAM and 128GB storage
First rate efficiency with some crashes and lags
My first expertise with the TCL 40 SE was not good.
One of many first issues I do after I get a brand new telephone to check is to hyperlink it with my Google account and obtain the apps that I’ll later use for benchmarking efficiency.
It took me a number of tries to have the ability to log in to the Play Retailer efficiently, as it might shut unexpectedly. Ultimately I managed to take action and from right here on my expertise with TCL’s newest telephone was much less bumpy.
First, right here’s what the Geekbench and GFX Bench checks say in regards to the energy of this handset, which makes use of the MediaTek Helio G37 chipset together with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
These figures assist us to match it with different theoretically comparable units in the identical worth vary. Efficiency-wise, it retains up with the earlier technology, the TCL 30 SE. In distinction, each are outperformed by different fashions from Moto, Nokia and Xiaomi that have been launched even longer in the past.
On a day-to-day foundation, the TCL 40 SE presents good efficiency contemplating the value, regardless of the dearth of 5G. Will probably be ample for browsing the Web, utilizing social media, answering emails and watching the occasional video.
The chipset used doesn’t embrace high-performance cores and that is noticeable when some functions take a very long time to load or once you attempt to use greater than one by one. Though it doesn’t all the time occur, generally apps do crash or shut all of the sudden.
You possibly can’t anticipate it to be ultimate for avid gamers both. It isn’t, nor does it fake to be. You’ll have the ability to play video games like Name of Obligation: Cell and even play them with respectable sufficient graphics high quality, however efficiency is a great distance off extra highly effective telephones.
Good 50 MP predominant digital camera
Unhealthy depth lens and macro lens
Entrance digital camera lives as much as expectations
The TCL 40 SE’s cameras haven’t modified a lot from the earlier mannequin, which suggests we nonetheless don’t have an ultra-wide-angle or telephoto lens. Some low cost telephones already provide such lenses, so we don’t perceive why TCL hasn’t taken the plunge but.
For now, you’ll should make do with a 50Mp predominant/macro digital camera (1/2.55in sensor, f/1.8), a 2Mp depth digital camera (1/5in sensor, f/2.4) and a 2Mp macro digital camera (1/5in sensor, f/2.4). In entrance, there’s an 8Mp selfie digital camera (1/4in sensor, f/2.0).
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There’s no higher method to check the capabilities of a smartphone lens than to get on the market and begin capturing. Listed below are a few of my outcomes:
General the TCL 40 SE’s digital camera is okay for the value. The outcomes, given good lighting situations, are acceptable, with balanced colors and good definition. There’s a little an excessive amount of oversaturation for my liking, though that is already the popular type of Android manufacturers corresponding to Samsung.
This all modifications, unsurprisingly, once you begin to zoom in. The digital camera setup doesn’t embrace a telephoto lens, so the zoom you get is digital. And that, unluckily, implies that zoomed photos (as much as x4) are unusable.
That is particularly the case when zooming at evening. The evening mode normally is kind of good. As you possibly can see within the evening shot of a bush, the picture is kind of nicely lit (the actual atmosphere was utterly darkish). However in the event you zoom in, it doesn’t assist. The pictures can be brighter than the actual factor, however utterly blurred.
The evening mode, which is a brand new characteristic for the TCL 40 SE, is routinely activated once you attempt to take an image in a really darkish atmosphere. There is no such thing as a method to activate it manually. As well as, you’ll have to stand nonetheless for a very long time to get a very good end result, as ought to the thing you’re portraying (though if you’re photographing a motorcycle, as in my case, the end result might be fairly cool).
This telephone additionally has a macro lens and a depth lens. The primary one can’t be activated manually both, however the telephone will detect that you simply need to take a close-up image and can solely then current you with a button so you should utilize it. The end result? Nothing nice. You most likely received’t use it because it’s that unhealthy.
The depth lens works somewhat higher and the portrait mode pictures, though not nice, are simply OK. The identical high quality in colors and sharpness is maintained, though it’s a bit too blurry at instances.
That is additionally the case when utilizing portrait mode on the entrance digital camera, and much more evident as software program is used to realize the bokeh impact and never an additional lens. Simply check out the selfie I took, the place there are a number of strands of hair that it didn’t detect correctly.
TCL has additionally included a Professional mode so you possibly can alter the ISO, saturation, publicity, black and white and focus your self. Actually, I don’t assume you’ll be utilizing it, and in the event you actually care about these settings, you’ll desire a extra highly effective smartphone with higher cameras.
Video seize is 1080p at 30fps most on each the entrance and rear cameras. There’s not a lot to touch upon the standard. It’s positive and can serve you nicely for saving particular moments and sharing them along with your family and friends by way of social networks and WhatsApp.
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Battery life and charging
All-day battery life
Gradual charging (3 hours from 0% to 100%)
Solely a cable within the field
The TCL 40 SE has a 5,010 mAh battery. That will not inform you a lot, however it means will probably be in a position to fulfill your want for all-day battery life with out an excessive amount of bother. The truth is, in sensible checks it has achieved simply that.
PCMark’s Work 3.0 battery check gave a results of 7 hours and 25 minutes, however that’s beneath very demanding circumstances which can be unlikely to be wherever close to your day-to-day actuality. It’s nicely behind its predecessor (11 hours and 12 minutes) and in addition rivals such because the Redmi Observe 11.
In actual life use, I used to be in a position to make reasonable use of the smartphone for a complete day away from residence (that included utilizing it for social media, the odd name, pictures, and so forth.) and go to mattress without having to cost it (though I knew I may achieve this the following morning earlier than going out once more).
I used to be positively stunned by the battery lifetime of this telephone, once more, contemplating that it prices lower than £200/€200. Alternatively, its charging velocity is moderately poor. It took me three hours to cost it from zero (10% in quarter-hour; 20% in half-hour), which is way slower than many present Android telephones.
Within the field you’ll solely discover a USB-C cable for charging so that you’ll want to make use of an influence adapter you might have at residence (or purchase one), though this has develop into the norm within the trade.
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Software program and apps
Android 13 with TCL UI 5.0
Polished, however easy interface
Software program is essential in a smartphone for 4 causes. On the one hand, you possibly can assess the standard or practicality of a handset in accordance with whether or not it presents extra or fewer software program capabilities and at what stage.
On this respect, the TCL 40 SE depends on the essential capabilities that everyone knows, and it doesn’t embrace bloatware (solely the Google apps that you’ll most likely need to use). There are additionally a number of customisation choices from panel settings to recreation optimisation, and the power to clone apps.
You possibly can unlock the display with the fingerprint sensor on the facet button. Though its use is dependable, I’ve typically discovered that the operate was disabled for a couple of minutes as a result of I had tried a number of instances, when the truth is I had solely held the telephone in my hand and positioned one other finger (or the identical one) on the button by mistake.
The facial recognition it presents isn’t good both, however it performs inside expectations. In good lighting situations, unlocking is kind of quick and error-free, though that is completely different in darkish environments.
In the course of the time I’ve examined the telephone, I haven’t had an excessive amount of bother navigating the interface easily and the options are the place you’d anticipate them to be.
Personally, I connect significance to aesthetics and whether or not an interface is kind of fairly (however to every their very own!). I had promised to not convey up Apple once more, however I’m too used to the great style with which iPhones care for these particulars.
When you don’t care as a lot as I do, then you definitely received’t thoughts the design of the TCL UI 5.0 (on Android 13), the model of the corporate’s customisation layer that comes with this mannequin. TCL has made some easy little tweaks, however it’s recognisably Android. The menus adapt to the colors of the wallpaper, as normal, and there’s additionally darkish mode.
Software program should provide safety and privateness, and biometrics is just one method to do that. One other is thru common updates. TCL doesn’t specify how lengthy the 40 SE will obtain the most recent Android model and safety updates, which is worrying. I doubt will probably be wherever close to the 4 or 5 years supplied by different manufacturers like Samsung.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Value and availability
The TCL 40 SE is a low-end telephone, so it ought to come as no shock that it prices solely £139.99/€140.
You’ll wrestle to discover a extra inexpensive smartphone. TCL’s telephone rivals different fashions such because the Xiaomi Poco M4 Professional 5G, the Moto G62 or the Nokia G60 5G, though we advocate you check out our rating of the most effective finances telephones to see the variations.
When you’re contemplating shopping for a telephone beneath £200/€200, you’ll perceive that you simply’ll should make some sacrifices. However in the event you’re pleased with good efficiency, a modest display and an OK predominant digital camera, the TCL 40 SE is a mannequin to contemplate.
The design TCL has opted for is as anticipated for a handset on this worth vary. The display, however, may have achieved with a barely higher decision (there are opponents that provide it), however the telephone makes up for it with all-day battery life.
Are there higher telephones in the marketplace? Sure. Are there higher low-end telephones? Sure, however that doesn’t detract from the TCL 40 SE. It’s simply certainly one of many choices.
Android 13 with TLC UI 5.0
6.75-inch NXTVISION HD+ show (1600 x 720, 90 Hz, 20:9)
MediaTek Helio G37
4 GB RAM
128 GB storage (microSD suitable as much as 1 TB)
50 MP (f/1.8) predominant digital camera
2 MP depth digital camera (f/2.4)
2 MP macro digital camera (f/2.4)
8 MP entrance digital camera (f/2.0)
4G, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC
5,010 mAh battery
167.91 x 76.5 x 8.45 mm
Colors: Darkish gray, Twilight purple
This text initially appeared in Spanish on Tech Advisor Spain.