TCL 30 XE 5G review


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Reasonably priced budget friendly good-enough smartphones certainly don’t get as much press or coverage as the extremely expensive flagship smartphones do, but that doesn’t mean the cheaper $200 smartphones aren’t big sellers. $1600 is often way too much money for most people to spend on a mobile phone. $200 on the other hand is quite reasonable. That’s the same price range as the Motorola G series has found a lot of success with (See: Motorola G Power 2022 Review). The TCL 30 XE 5G is very similar in build quality and specs to the Motorola G series, but TCL has 5G data speeds and the phone is free if your a T-Mobile USA or Metro by T-Mobile subscriber.

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TCL 30 XE 5G

Another decent budget smartphone

Pros

  • Very reasonable $198 price
  • Free with T-Mobile subscription
  • 5G data connection support
  • Decent build quality for the price
  • MicroSD storage expansion
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Mediocre camera
  • No NFC payment option
  • Only 64Gb storage

TCL 30 XE 5G: Price and Availability

An image showing the box for TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

TCL 30 XE 5G: Design

An image showing the headphone on the top side of TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

This phone actually has a 3.5mm headset jack on the top so that you can listen to music without having to buy expensive Bluetooth headphones that will be easy to lose. The wired headset can also be used as an antenna for the FM radio and radio software included with the phone. That means free wireless music where ever you go.

A look at the location of sim tray cum microSD card slot on TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

On the left side is the SIM card tray which also includes a MicroSD card tray area. That lets you expand the storage by whatever size MicroSD card you want to add to the phone. This again is another feature that most high-end expensive phones have lost over the years, but it is still so nice to have.

an image showing the USB C port and speakers along the bottom side of TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

On the bottom is the USB-C port and speaker grills. The sound isn’t spectacular, but you shouldn’t expect it to be at this price point. Still it’s completely tolerable to watch streaming TV shows or movies on this. The USB data speed is on the version 2.1 side as well and there’s no high-speed charging capablities here.

an image showing the power button and volume rockers on TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

The right edge has the power button and volume control. These buttons are significantly closer to the middle of the device edge than many other smartphones and that’s a good thing because it makes them easier to reach.

Back Angle Image of TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

On the back is the 3 camera array rectangle bump along with a circular fingerprint scanner. Personally I like having the fingerprint scanner on the back in an indented circle because it’s very easy to find by touch when you reach for the phone in your pocket. Compare this to in-screen fingerprint scanners where you have to actually take the phone out of your pocket, look at the screen, and aim your finger at the scanner area properly to get it to work. You can’t just feel for the scanner area on a smooth screen. This method is much better usability wise.

TCL 30 XE 5G Back Panel Branding Source: Pocketnow

The TCL logo and phone’s IMEI number are also on the back. Usually the IMEI number is hidden inside the SIM card tray or under a removable battery, but with this phone it’s shown very clearly. I’m not sure that’s a good thing as having an IMEI number plainly visible may pose a security risk.

TCL 30 XE 5G: Specifications

Category TCL 30 XE 5G
Operating System Android 11
Display 6.62″, 90Hz, 1600 x 720 pixel Dragontrail glass screen
Processor MediaTek Dimensity 700 2.2Ghz Octa-Core
Memory 4GB
Storage 64GB
Expandable Storage MicroSD
Rear Primary Camera 13MP
Rear Macro Camera 2MP
Rear Depth Sensor 2MP
Front Camera 8MP
Security Fingerprint scanner
Connectivity 5G bands: n25, n41, n66, n71, n77, LTE bands: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/20/25/26/28/38/39/40/41(HPUE)/66/71
GSM bands: 850, 900, 1800, 1900
3G bands: B1/2/4/5/8
WiFi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 2.1
Ports USB-C, USB 2.0
Battery 4500mAh lithium-ion, 18W charging
Water Resistance n/a
Materials Plastic
Dimensions 6.46” x 2.95” x 0.34”
Weight 6.88 oz, 196g
Colors Shadow Black
Release Date February 25, 2022
Price $198

TCL 30 XE 5G: Display

An image showing the display of TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow
  • 90Hz refresh display powered by NXTVISION
  • Enhanced responsiveness with 180Hz touch sampling rate
  • 1600 x 720 pixel, 6.62″ display

The display is totally fine indoors with plenty of brightness and contrast as you can see above.

Dim TCL 30 XE 5G Display in an Outdoor Setting Source: Pocketnow

Outdoors is a bit of a different story as the brightness doesn’t hold up as well and glare becomes a problem. Still it’s totally usable and much better than some $60 phone screens.

TCL 30 XE 5G: Camera

An image showcasing the camera array on TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow
  • Three Rear cameras: Auto-focus. 13MP main, 2MP macro, 2MP depth camera
  • 8MP front camera with screen flash
  • [email protected] video recording and playback

The camera array looks much more impressive than it is. There are 4 circles on the back, but one is an LED flash, one is a depth sensor, and one is a 2Mp macro camera. So really only the one 13Mp main camera is useful for anything. Still it’s not completely terrible and if you’re not a huge photography fan, it should be quite acceptable.

TCL 30 XE 5G Camera Samples

Photos from the main 13Mp camera are acceptable. RAW mode isn’t supported, so you’re stuck with JPGs, but still for social media and web sharing purposes, the main camera is totally fine especially in well lit areas.

an image of lady with a flower wall background Source: Pocketnow

The fake background blur feature that uses the 2Mp depth sensor is ok if you want your pictures to have ugly edge masking artifacts. This is just how all of those “portrait mode” filters work. Some are better than others, but all are still pretty terrible. But if you downsample the photo to such a low resolution where the masking mistakes aren’t visible, then it’s pretty good.

an image showcasing a macro image captured with tcl 30 xe 5g Source: Pocketnow

The Macro camera lets you get really really close to your subject to take low resolution 2Mp photos. This is kind of cool, but the low resolution image quality defeats the purpose.

an selfie taken by a lady with a flower wall background Source: Pocketnow

The front facing 8Mp selfie camera is adequate as well, though it may look a bit oversharpened.

TCL 30 XE 5G: Software

an image showing the app drawer on tcl 30 xe 5g Source: Pocketnow
  • TCL customized version of Android 11
  • Lots of extra T-Mobile software included

Android 11 works well enough, but the TCL 30 XE 5G also includes a lot of T-Mobile branding and extra apps that can’t be removed. On initial set up, you’ll have a dialog for checking off all sorts of other 3rd party apps like TikTok, McDonalds, or Dunkin’ Donuts.

TCL 30 XE 5G: Battery Life

TCL 30 XE 5G Battery Stats from Settings App Source: Pocketnow
  • Great battery life from the 4500mAh battery. Should provide around 18 hours on one charge (more or less)
  • No wireless charging
  • No fast charging

TCL 30 XE 5G: Should I buy it?

an image showing the back side of TCL 30 XE 5G Source: Pocketnow

Buy it if…

  • You want to spend $0 to $199 on a new phone
  • You need a battery that will last you all day
  • You like wired headphones & MicroSD storage expansion
  • You use T-Mobile or Metro as a mobile phone service

Don’t buy it if…

  • You want the best camera available
  • You need water resistance
  • You want fast charging or wireless charging

Honestly, for the $200 price range, the TCL 30 XE 5G is a pretty great phone. Motorola’s G series was usually king in this area, but their latest G Power 2022 has some problems. The TCL 30 XE 5G tops the Moto G Power with the 5G radio support and slightly better build quality.

Product Image of TCL 30 XE 5G

TCL 30 XE 5G

Another decent budget smartphone

Pros

  • Very reasonable $198 price
  • Free with T-Mobile subscription
  • 5G data connection support
  • Decent build quality for the price
  • MicroSD storage expansion
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Mediocre camera
  • No NFC payment option
  • Only 64Gb storage



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