The TCL 30 SE is the latest mobile phone from TCL, being the next evolution up from the TCL 20 range released last year. I reviewed the TCL 20 R and found it to be a fantastic 5G capable mobile phone at a very affordable price. Considering the 30 SE is sporting upgrades to the CPU, GPU and camera, I was looking forward to seeing the improvements in action from a gaming sense. After having used this over the past week, there are enough features added since last year’s model to justify upgrading.
Out of the box, the TCL 30 SE feels light but sturdy and fit in my hand nicely. The volume and power buttons are located on the right-hand side as you’re looking down at the phone which are opposite to my current iPhone, however, were easy to adjust to. The phone comes in three colours, Atlantic Blue, Space Gray and Glacial Blue, and this review unit was the Space Gray variant which I prefer for my phones. The darker shell the better to hide any dirt build up, even though I usually get a sturdy outer shell to protect it from dropping it, and my daughters’ finger marks.
Setting up the phone was a breeze, especially if you already have a Google/Android account. A lot of settings and preferences can be carried over from a previous Android phone, and any Google accounts like Google Mail and YouTube are automatically set up for you once you log in. You can also set up fingerprint unlocking, with the sensor on the back of the phone and in good placement when holding the device, as well as face scanning and standard pin security. I did find I noticed my fingerprints more on the screen using after swiping to unlock and browsing and was wiping it down almost after each use.
This phone features a 6.52” HD+ mini-note 20:9 resolution display backed up by an octa-core 2.0GHZ processor, 4GB RAM and NXTVISION enhancement. We are getting more cautious about our eyes when using these devices, so NXTVISION enhances movies and most importantly games to deliver more colours and crisper clarity to the graphics while providing protection against blue light. NXTVISION has four modes for general screen display – reading, eye comfort, darker display, and sunlight display. The phone adjusts its brightness automatically depending on the lighting in the room or when you’re using the phone out in the bright daylight, so there was very little eye strain.
The speakers are located at the bottom of the TCL 30 SE. Sound quality while watching YouTube or playing games at 100% volume sounded distorted, whereas 65-75% was about the sweet spot depending on the game/video. However, when holding the device in landscape with both hands either side, my hand often muffled the sound out of the top speaker outlet, so I had to keep adjusting my grip. The overall length of the phone was getting to the limit of the reach of my fingers and thumbs with some of the game-specific menus and controls so smaller hands may find they need to switch positions more often. If you were gaming with a device like the Razer Kishi, this may help both points.
Video quality wise, the mobile games I tested ran as expected and while the graphics were crisp, there was some slight hitching in some high action scenes. Games tested were Bladebound, Asphalt 9, Evolution 2 and State of Survival: Xiaomi and all played easily with the mobile controls. I did switch NXTVISION off and on again while playing Bladebound and I did notice the colours were sharper with it turned on so I would just leave it on all the time for games and videos, baring in mind it will take more battery power. The 5000mAh 15W battery supports fast charge when plugged into AC power and gave me good usage over the past few days. Gaming obviously chewed the most power but for everyday phone and app use, it was great.
For storage, this Model 6165H TCL 30 SE featured 128GB of storage, of which 22GB is reserved for the Android 12 system files. That still gives you a modest 102GB to play with and the four games I installed only took up 6.6GB so there’s plenty of room for heaps of games, apps and photos. This phone features a 50MP AI triple main camera, a 2MP depth camera for portraits and an 8MP front camera. In the camera app you can take photos, video, portraits, or pano, and in the camera settings you can adjust the picture size, video quality (max is 1080p at 30fps), ai scene detection and other options.
Overall, the TCL 30 SE is yet another very affordable phone and gaming device with this unit’s RRP at $309.00. It is good to see mobile companies investing more in technology that helps protect our eyes and offers varying display settings thanks to NXTVISION, while also providing crisper and more vivid colours in games and videos.
This review utilised a loan unit provided by Closer Communications. The TCL 30 SE phone can be purchased from Dick Smith.