Technically, there are three phones in the 2021 TCL smartphone range: TCL 20 Pro 5G ($ 500), TCL 20S ($ 250) and TCL 20 SE ($ 190). We miss the last two here because one of the other phones under $ 300 or $ 200 above is a better choice. But there are good reasons to choose TCL 20 Pro 5G.
It has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip as the Galaxy A52 5G, but its performance is a bit smoother. It is powerful and easy the best and the most luxurious device. It has an aluminum frame and glass on both sides, although this makes it more fragile. It’s also the only Android phone here with wireless charging support.
The 6.67-inch AMOLED screen is colorful and bright enough to be seen outdoors. The 4500 mAh battery pack lasts more than a day in use and has the usual subtleties, such as NFC, headphone jack and MicroSD card slot. The only reason it’s not our best choice is that TCL promises only two OS upgrades and two years of security updates, so the Google and Samsung phones above will be supported for longer. It also supports 5G, but not AT&T (4G LTE still works) and does not have an IP rating for water resistance. There is a pretty good camera system, but it’s not such as good as the aforementioned competitors.
TCL has announced its CES 2022 Series 30 successors, so expect newer models to arrive in March or April. If you’re in no hurry to upgrade your phone, it’s worth the wait.
Works on all three major US operators (5G does not work on AT&T)
This Motorola phone is rare. Unlike its Moto G siblings with a similar price, it actually has an NFC chip, so it can make contactless payments via Google Pay – convenient when you forget your wallet at home. It has two days of battery life, under-6 5G connectivity and pretty solid performance. Don’t expect much from the cameras, but if you don’t care much about them or software updates, this will surely satisfy you. It often sells for $ 300.
Phones we recently tested
We tested Motorola’s new Moto G Power 2022 and Moto G Pure, but we don’t recommend them here, as the 2021 Moto G Power suppresses them in every way and it costs almost the same (if not less). A similar story is with HMD’s Nokia G50. It is fine phone, but it lacks many features you’ll find on other phones for $ 300, including the Galaxy A32 5G.
Yes and no. If you are looking for devices like TCL, iPhone SE and Samsung and are in no hurry to upgrade, it is worth waiting until March or April. These are still great smartphones, but that’s when we expect new models to appear on store shelves. However, our best choice, the Pixel 5A, won’t see a successor until the end of this summer, so do it.
Think of last year’s flagship phones
If none of these phones have the features you want, or aren’t as powerful as you want, your best option is to look for last year’s flagship smartphones, which can be significantly reduced. Sometimes they are easy to find, but some manufacturers stop selling them completely (2021 Samsung Galaxy S21 will soon disappear). Keep in mind that you will lose one year of software support.
Check network compatibility
If you buy an unlocked phone from this list and try to take it to your wireless carrier’s stores, they may tell you that it is not compatible with the network. Probably so. Just use a paper clip or SIM card eject tool to remove the SIM card from your current phone, then slide that SIM card into your new phone. If it doesn’t work at first, restart your phone or wait a few hours.
If you need a new SIM card, try ordering one online from your operator or try to get them to give you a SIM when you activate a line in the store (if you are starting coverage). Tell them you have a phone. Many times representatives will want to sell you a phone; this is one of the potential reasons to make you buy another device in the store.