TCL is a company that we all should keep our eyes on. I reviewed some phones from this company, and I’ve usually been impressed by TCL’s balance of performance and price. The company is not exactly turning out “Flagship Killers,” but its phones do offer some healthy perks for the price that you’re paying. I was given the opportunity to review the TCL 40 X 5G, and this phone promises the same balance of price and performance.
I recently reviewed the TCL 40 XE 5G. It’s a close sibling to the phone in this review, but the TCL 40 X 5G promises a more premium experience. The question is, should you buy the 40 XE or the 40 X? That’s one question that I hoped to answer for you.
So, is the TCL 40 X 5G the phone for you, or would you be better off going somewhere else? Let’s find out in this review.
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Design
When it comes to the design of this phone, TCL is not trying to enter it into any beauty pageants. It’s not going to take a prize for being the prettiest handset with the most premium materials. However, that does not mean that this phone is bad-looking in any way. It just has a completely different appeal.
TCL went for a direct no BS approach for this design. It’s not a design that’s meant to turn the eye. In fact, it’s meant to have a slightly understated and elegant aesthetic. Admittedly, while we are talking about a gray color, it does fit the foam pretty nicely. I appreciate the simplicity of the camera package as well.
TCL definitely established its design language with its phones over the years, and it’s been able to deliver different devices with a similar aesthetic. Overall, I do like the design of this phone. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s my favorite, but I do respect it.
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Build quality
You won’t find any fragile glass or aluminum frames with this device. Rather, you’ll find an almost militaristic design. The phone is thick, with a notable heft to it. The back material is made from sturdy plastic with the camera package protruding from a thick camera Island. It’s such a straightforward and understated design, but the statement is saying “I’m tough!”
The TCL 40 X 5G looks like a phone that can take a bunch of drops without taking any damage. You don’t have to worry about scratching the back or shattering any glass. It’s built tough for its price, and that’s sometimes much more valuable than a premium build quality.
At a price like this, you’re likely to buy this for a younger user or at least someone who’s not as precious with their phone. TCL put forth extra attention to make sure that this phone is sturdy and can withstand abuse without breaking easily
I could definitely feel that when I picked up this phone. It’s a hefty device that sits firmly in the hand. I can feel how thick and sturdy the sides of the phone are as well. The chamfered edges give it more of a reassuring blocky feeling. Overall, I think that the build quality is good in general and great for the price.
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Display
TCL is almost like Samsung in the display department. The former is much more of a display company than a smartphone company, and it uses its proprietary technology on phones to boost your viewing experience. And, I can definitely say that it boosted mine!
There are two sides to the story of this phone when it comes to colors. All in all, the colors do have a nice little punch to them, but they’re not as Punchy as you would see with other phones. It has an LCD display, which means that the colors won’t be as saturated. That being said, the colors do have a nice balance to them.
The colors throughout the interface look pretty standard. They give the UI an overall squeaky clean and professional look. Tcl’s operating system is already very toned down in nature with a very straightforward and understated aesthetic. It’s like TCL took Android and put a business suit on it. So, the colors throughout the interface are very boring.
However, that changes when you start consuming media. This may sound weird, but TCL has a special Mode called NXTVISION that offers a substantial boost to the colors and contrast when you’re watching videos or playing games. Trust me, this is legit!
When I first heard about what the technology does, I had my doubts. You can only increase the color saturation and contrast on an LCD so much. I thought that, at best, I would see a very slight boost to the colors and contrast. However, I was mistaken.
The mode kicks on the moment that you start playing a video. Instantly, all of the colors basically double in saturation, and they are extremely beautiful. I would say that they are comparable to some OLED displays that I’ve seen. They all just burst from the screen, and they are a treat to look at. It’s only unfortunate that TCL does not do this for the entire software experience.
One reason why I think the software looks so very cold and professional is because of the color temperature. TCL strove for this phone to produce a perfectly icy White. The color temperature is extremely neutral, and I see that throughout the interface.
I held this screen up to other very neutral displays, and even a professional studio light, and it definitely stacked up. In the display settings, you can adjust the color temperature to make it even cooler or warmer if you want. Overall, I think I prefer the neutral color.
When it comes to contrast, I think that the NXT Vision does help the contrast a bit. The blacks in the images are pretty dark, though they never get to the level of pure black. That’s to be expected, of course. I’d say that this display delivers contrast that’s above average. Again, the NXT vision technology is legit, and it really does boost the video-watching experience.
In terms of brightness, I’d say that this display is very average. I wouldn’t say that the brightness is bad. However, there are plenty of other devices out there with much brighter displays. The phone is plenty bright indoors, so you won’t have any issues watching videos while resting on your couch.
However, once you take it outside in the sun, you’ll start to see the picture quality diminish pretty rapidly. I wouldn’t say that it’s terrible, but I do think that the peak brightness of the display just can’t quite keep up with the afternoon sun. That’s a bummer because the display experience on this phone is really strong in most other respects.
If you’re used to older phones or phones without impressive displays, then you will definitely find this one very fluid. If you’re used to phones with smooth 120Hz displays, then you might be a bit disappointed. The TCL 40 X 5G comes with a relatively smooth 90Hz display. This adds a nice fluidity to the display that you can see while navigating the interface.
Menus smoothly slide in and out of the screen, and animations are all very fluid. Of course, it’s not as smooth as a 120Hz display, but you’ll still have a nice viewing experience regardless. This higher refresh rate will also carry into gaming, so some of your games will also look nice and smooth.
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Speaker
Sometimes, I run across a phone that’s affordable but has some pretty strong speaker performance. That’s not the case with the TCL 40 X 5G, however. This device comes with one single-firing speaker. That’s not to say that the speaker is bad. The speaker is a… speaker. Nothing about them really sticks out for me.
When it comes to the loudness, the speaker is a pretty notable performer. It’s loud enough to pretty much fill a room with sound without getting overly distorted. I’ve tested some phones recently with louder speakers, so I’m not extremely impressed. However, you won’t really be disappointed with the loudness of the speaker in the TCL 40 X 5G.
In terms of clarity, I think that these speakers do a good job. The audio comes out nice, crisp, and clear. I think the clarity of the audio really comes into play with the vocals. When I’m listening to music with singers, the singer’s voices project nicely over the rest of the audio.
The vocals they’re nice and Loud, and they avoid getting so loud that they sound distorted. At full volume, they obviously run the risk of distortion. However, that’s to be expected. Overall, I think that the clarity is the best aspect of the speakers.
When it comes to the low end of the audio, the performance is just not there. When listening to music, it all sounds very thin and one-dimensional. One reason for this is the fact that there’s only one speaker. You’re not going to get a dual speaker set up with a tweeter up top and a subwoofer on the bottom. Everything is handled by the bottom-firing speaker.
That single bottom-firing speaker just does not have much low-end. Songs that usually sound warm just sound thin. As you can imagine, certain genres of music stuff the most. Listening to classical with these speakers is a no-go, as the lower instruments are nonexistent. The same thing goes for most ’70s music.
If you’re listening for the deep and velvety low basis of ’90s R&B, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The low-end performance is just not there with this speaker.
When it comes to the high-end performance of the speakers, it’s also disappointing. When handled right, high-end audio can give some great emphasis to voices and higher percussion. They can help create a dynamic Sound with some satisfying punch.
However, the high-end performance of the speaker did not add any additional punch or emphasis to the sound. Overall, the audio just sounds flat. I didn’t get any boost in the lows or highs. It just sounded like a flat profile. It’s enough to get the job done and not much else.
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Performance
If you’ve read my review of the TCL Tab 8 LE, then you know how bad a TCL device has the potential to perform. Thankfully, the TCL 40 X 5G is a massive improvement over that tablet. In fact, it’s even an improvement over the TCL 40 XE. That phone has some pretty good performance with the occasional drop frame here and there. Gaming was not a strong suit for that phone, but it was still a decent performer.
I’m glad to say that the performance on the TCL 40 X 5G has been very nice. Using the phone, I didn’t run into any lag or stutters throughout the software. I use the phone with typical smartphone apps like Google Chrome, and the Play Store, Bundled Notes, Google Drive, Etc. These are all pretty standard apps, and the phone showed no trouble running them. I even popped some apps out into floating windows and used some simultaneously along with other apps, and the phone still performed smoothly.
After getting the phone warmed up a bit, and jumping from app to app to app, I did start to see the phone chug but only a little bit. With multiple apps running and the phone temperature up, I had the occasional drop frame when closing out of apps. Sometimes, I wouldn’t see the app close animation. Even then, it was not the most common occurrence.
So, when you’re using this phone, and it’s starting to heat up, you should expect it to struggle just a bit. However, this phone is not a poor performer
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Gaming
TCL phones are not known for their gaming prowess, and I have yet to test a TCL phone with strong gaming performance. At worst, it has been a nightmare and at best, it has been decent. So, let’s dive in and see how this phone performs under the burden of Gaming
When it comes to 2D gaming, you are not going to find any issues with this phone. I tested it out with simple titles such as Fishing Paradiso, Survivor IO, and others. None of the titles gave me any issues or slowed the phone down at all. The TCL 40 X 5G didn’t show any sign of slowing down even after an extended period of time playing the games.
Overall, the 2D gaming prowess of this phone is strong. You shouldn’t have to worry about any simple 2D titles slowing you down.
Mid-range 3D games
Moving on to some more graphically intensive games, there are a ton of 3D games on the Google Play Store that can slow down weaker Hardware. When it comes to the mid-tier 3 gaming on this phone, I didn’t see much issue with it.
I played some mildly graphically intensive games such as Asphalt 8, Asphalt 9, and Sky: Children of The Light. None of these games caused the phone to struggle. Games like Asphalt 9 get very intense, and weaker phones will definitely show some serious drop frames. However, when it comes to this phone, I was able to play all these games extremely smoothly. Every once in a while, I came across one or two drop frames, but overall, it was very solid. If you’re going to be using this phone as a light gaming console, then you won’t have any issues with the performance.
Graphically intensive games
Now, we’re going to kick things up to the highest gear. I’m talking about games such as Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail. These are some of the prettiest games on the Play Store, and they have definitely slowed down a ton of phones.
I loaded both of these games onto this phone, and things were not pretty. Right off the bat, I was getting a laggy experience running Star Rail. Granted, this was on its highest graphical settings. When I turned the graphics down to their lowest settings, I was able to get smooth gameplay.
However, I was not able to get up to 60fps even with that setting enabled. Battle sequences also saw frame drops, especially with special attacks. If you’re planning on playing Star Rail, then you might be best suited to the lowest settings.
The same thing goes for Genshin Impact. I started the game on its highest settings, and it lagged the phone considerably. The motion blur effect basically turned the game into a slideshow, and there were consistently dropped frames. However, that’s to be expected.
Genshin Impact is one of the most graphically intensive games on the market, so this comes as no surprise. When I turned the graphics down to their lowest setting, I still got the occasional drop frame, but the gameplay was much smoother. So, if you get this phone, and you really need to play Genshin Impact, it’s possible to do so. You will just have to prepare for a lower-quality experience.
After playing these games for a while, I found that the phone got a bit toasty. However, it did not get outright hot or uncomfortable to hold. One reason for the good heat management, I think, is the plastic body. It doesn’t heat up quite as much as metal or glass. So, you won’t have to worry about this phone getting too hot in your hands.
All in all, I think that the gaming performance of the TCL 40 X 5G is respectable. You’re able to play most games on the Play Store smoothly. It just depends on how simple the games are. If you want to aim for the top and download graphically intensive games like Genshin Impact, just know that you won’t get the smoothest experience.
TCL 40 X 5G Review: Camera
Moving on to the camera, I think that this phone does a respectable job. It’s always been tough finding affordable phones with good camera performance, but cheaper phones are getting better camera performance as time goes on. Nowadays, there’s always the chance that you will come across a sub-$300 phone that actually has decent camera performance. Let’s go through the performance of this phone.
Starting off with the exposure, I think that this phone did a great job of keeping the highlights down and the shadows up. I took pictures in the direct sunlight, and none of them came out overexposed or underexposed. I think that this camera’s HDR mode really kicked in and delivered some amazing photos. Having great exposure is the first step to producing great pictures.
Starting off, this phone did an amazing job of producing images with some juicy colors. The colors come out nice and saturated, but they avoid going overboard. It’s very easy for phones to heavily over-expose their pictures in an attempt to make them look more appealing.
The camera on the TCL 40 X 5G, however, managed to deliver some nice-looking pictures that struck that sweet spot in terms of saturation. A good example of this is the picture of the red flower. We’re all familiar with how the color red can be tough for digital sensors. Reds typically wind up being so overblown that they make your eyes water.
However, in the case of this phone, the reds in the flower were kept well in hand. That goes for the rest of the colors in these pictures. They all have a nice pop, but they are still pleasant to look at.
The contrast is another area where I found this camera did a good job. In very high-contrast shots with direct sunlight, the phone managed to truly capture how the scenes looked in real life. The HDR mode really kicks in and gives these photos a great appearance in direct sunlight.
The low-light performance, I think, is a standout aspect of this camera. Low-light photography has long been an issue for smartphone cameras, while most flagships do an amazing job. When taking pictures and diminished light, the phone did a respectable job of brightening up this scene and retaining some good colors. You get your typical loss of details, however; it is pretty evident here.
In extremely low-light conditions, this phone uses a long exposure mode to bring in more light. I was thoroughly impressed with the results that were delivered. The pictures below were taken in nearly pitch-black condition. I could not make out any details on the objects I was taking pictures of with my eyes. However, the camera was able to brighten up the scene extremely and still retain a high level of detail.
After taking pictures in the long exposure mode, I can still see fine details in the pictures. Honestly, I think that the camera is one of the best aspects of this phone. TCL did an amazing job with it.
When it comes to inexpensive phones, TCL is usually one of the companies that come to mind. It doesn’t only come to mind because of the low prices. The brand’s emphasis on providing an experience that punches way above its price makes its devices worth the money.
Using the TCL 40 X 5G, I had a really pleasant experience. The performance is really good, the gaming is decent, the camera performance is great, and it comes with the latest version of TCL’s Android skin. These are aspects that lead to a very strong overall smartphone experience.
I’m able to pick up this phone and use it just like any other device. It doesn’t feel slow or laggy or anything like that. Also, if I want to use this phone as my main camera, I shouldn’t have any issue with the great camera performance.
I think that TCL definitely outdid itself with this phone, and I highly recommend that you pick it up.