If you find yourself face to face with the TCL 30 V 5G, you’re probably in a Verizon store or on the Verizon website considering its prospects as a “free” phone. Beautiful Free! But the free range may be too steep for 30V 5G.
The full retail price of the 30V 5G device, which few people will choose to pay up front, is $299. That gives you a great Full HD display, a healthy 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, and a 4,500mAh battery that easily lasts all day. Those specs are fine — even if they’re fine for budget phones where low-resolution 720p screens and paltry 64GB of storage aren’t uncommon.
But I have one big issue with 30V 5G: slow performance in almost every aspect of using this phone, from scrolling through menu screens to streaming video. On paper, the phone has the components to perform well enough, but daily use tells a different story. Life doesn’t have to be like this, even when the phone is free.
One of TCL’s main selling points for the 30V 5G is its screen and the NXTVISION image processing behind it. TCL says that this AI-powered feature improves color and contrast in the media you watch on your phone and can convert standard definition content to “HDR quality.” In fact, it can be difficult to tell the difference in image quality with NXTVISION turned on or off. flow Chernobyl On the HBO Max app, I was too distracted by frame rate drops so frequently to care if what I was seeing was SDR or HDR.
The screen itself is good. It is a 6.6 inch LCD screen with 1080p resolution that has enough brightness to be used comfortably in sunny conditions. It’s a large screen with enough resolution to keep things looking sharp, which is great for a $300 phone. But even at this price point, other manufacturers are adding features like higher refresh rates or contrast-rich OLEDs instead of LCD panels. These are not necessarily necessary, but they are more compelling than NXTVISION.
The Snapdragon 480 5G used by the 30V 5G is paired with 4GB of RAM. This is certainly not the worst processor/memory combination in the budget class, but, for whatever reason, it does noticeably slow performance on this device. Apps often close in the background enough to annoy me, and there is a noticeable stutter when scrolling through app screens, pulling down the notification shade, and even playing a video.
Battery life is a bright spot on the TCL 30 V 5G report card. I managed to get two days of light to moderate use on a single charge. With more consistent moderate or heavy use, this kind of longevity will be a challenge, but will likely hold up to a full day of heavy use. There is also a wall charger included in the box, which is a rarity these days. There is no wireless charging, which is not very common in the budget class, although it is almost unheard of.
The TCL 30 V 5G back panel fingerprint sensor is fast and reliable, and the facial recognition works well. I am less happy than weak touch. I often hear the phone ring without really feeling it vibrate in my pocket. There is also no option to adjust the strength of the vibrations.
On the bright side, you get all the flavors of Verizon 5G, including C-band, which is much faster than 4G with a broadband signal. You also get a millimeter wave (mmWave), which is very fast but rare. Verizon brings these two faster types of 5G together and calls them ultra broadband, and you’ll want to check if your phone plan includes it — some only provide access to C-bandless Nationwide 5G, which isn’t really faster than 4G. If your plan doesn’t include Ultra Wideband and you’d rather not upgrade to one, you might be fine with a 4G-only phone for now.
One of my least favorite things about this phone isn’t TCL’s fault – it’s Verizon. Since it’s a carrier-locked phone, Verizon has taken the opportunity to load it up with all sorts of cloud storage and call filtering apps as well as a bunch of pre-downloaded games like Game of Thrones slots casino game (Why?). Some of them, like word trip And CrossWord Jam It can be uninstalled, which means it takes a little longer to set up the phone, but Verizon apps can’t be uninstalled, which is a real pain.
None of this is surprising or unusual on a carrier-specific device, but Verizon takes it as far as setting its own Message Plus as the default SMS app. Google Messages is not pre-downloaded to the phone, but Apple Music Because Verizon wants you to sign up for a free six-month trial with your phone plan and then keep paying for the service when you forget about it afterwards. Apple Music! on this Android phone!
Another software note: 30 V 5G is preloaded with Android 11. There is no update available for Android 12 at the moment; TCL spokeswoman Isabel Brown said there’s an update coming later this year, but that’s the only OS update it’ll get. The company promises only two years of security updates, which isn’t a very long support period — even in the budget category where Motorola and OnePlus now support similarly priced phones for three years. If you want to hold on to your phone for as long as possible, that’s a good reason to look elsewhere.
I’ve also noticed a strange weirdness in Google Maps: when the navigation is on with the screen off and the phone off, it drops the GPS signal. Most reasonable people would probably use Google Maps with the screen and their phone in a cradle or with the touch screen in their car. Me, I like to play it fast and loose – punch in my face, start hopping, turn off my phone, and leave it on the seat next to me with nothing but vibes and the voice of my virtual co-pilot to guide me. This is the first phone I’ve encountered and it doesn’t work like that, which is a bit weird. Strava Do Maintaining a GPS signal with the phone turned off, so this appears to be a problem with Google Maps.
There are three rear cameras in the 30 V 5G: 50 MP wide-angle f / 1.9, 5 MP f / 2.2 ultra-wide, and 2 MP macro. On the front, there is a 16MP selfie camera. Photos in good light from all of these cameras look good, if a little sharpened.
The main camera is a little small (that’s the technical term) about exposure selection. Too often, I would pan the camera minimal between shots and end up with a noticeably darker or lighter image even though the subject was not physically altered. I generally like the choices the phone makes for exposure and color, but sometimes it takes a few snapshots to get to the right answer.
The 30V 5G struggles in low light but no more than any other budget phone. It’s not really cut for shooting moving subjects in low light. Shutter speeds are often very slow, so subjects appear blurry And It has been attenuated by noise reduction, which is not a good look. In very dim conditions, the night mode starts, and does a good job with things that aren’t moving.
Video resolution is set at 1080/30p, so no 4K, which is becoming more and more popular with phones at all price points. Video quality is good, but the lack of any electronic image stabilization is very noticeable, and there is a lot of distracting camera shake in my videos.
TCL 30 V 5G is not a bad Telephone. It does almost everything I need it to do: make calls, launch apps, take pictures, and wake me up in the morning. It’s not very good, and there are enough better options at this price point that it’s very difficult to recommend it to anyone. TCL is known for its high quality televisions at great prices. The company may still be figuring out what the price/quality equation for phones looks like.
As it stands now, things are not piling up. The screen is fine, but it’s hard to enjoy when hampered by choppy performance. It supports important 5G bands, but your phone plan might not even include it. The interface is littered with pre-downloads and Verizon services, and NXTVISION is disappointing.
Thus, the TCL 30 V 5G only really makes sense for someone who doesn’t want a Samsung phone but wants all the flavors of Verizon 5G, a healthy amount of built-in storage, and a large HD screen. And Nor do they want to pay anything out of their pocket for it.
Other than that, at the time I’m writing this, Verizon is also offering the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G for free, which I think is a better option. And for now at least, this view is useful for a new line Which Unlimited plan, not “select” (read: more expensive) unlimited plans required for a TCL promotion. The performance of the A42 5G and the quality of the camera are slightly better, and the Android 12 update is already available. Buying the Galaxy A32 5G unlocked for $279 is another good option. The screen isn’t pretty and you’ll need to expand its 64GB of storage with a microSD card, but the camera system is better, supports C-band Ultra broadband, and is currently updated to Android 12.
And let’s be clear, there is no such thing as a free phone. There’s a lot of value in securing your business over the next 36 months – Verizon knows that all too well. If that’s the currency you’re spending, I think you should use it on another device.
Photo by Alison Johnson/The Verge
Update April 28 at 3:00 PM ET: Updated with additional information about expected operating system upgrades for the device and schedule for security support.