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TCL unveils affordable 5G phones — and they're coming to Verizon and T-Mobile

tcl 30 xe 5g product render
(Image credit: TCL)

Update (Jan 7th): We've chosen the TCL 30 XE and 30 V as two of the most interesting phones revealed during CES 2022.

CES is not usually a big event for phones, but that didn't stop TCL from announcing some new handsets during CES 2022. For smartphone shoppers in the US, there are two upcoming TCL phones of note — the TCL 30 XE and TCL 30 V. 

Both of these phones come equipped with 5G and offer higher-end specs for much less. In fact, TCL says its goal is to bring 5G to everyone, regardless of their budget. 

That's certainly admirable, even if neither the TCL 30 XE and TCL 30 V looks all that buzz-worthy. That said, customers looking for the best 5G phones that are also affordable will have more to look at once the TCL devices arrive and offer an alternative to the budget 5G handsets offered by Samsung and OnePlus.

Here are the specs for both the TCL 30 XE and TCL 30 V.

TCL 30 XE 5GTCL 30 V 5G
Display6.46 inches (1600 x 720); 90Hz6.67 inches (2400 x 1080); 60Hz
CPUDimensity 700Snapdragon 480 5G
RAM4GB4GB
Storage64GB128GB
Rear cameras13MP main, 2MP depth, 2MP macro50MP main, 5MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
Front camera8MP16MP
Battery4,500 mAh4,500 mAh
Charging speedN/A18W
CarriersT-Mobile, Metro by T-MobileVerizon
Size6.5 x 3 x 0.3 inches6.5 x 3 x 0.4 inches
Weight6.9 ounces7 ounces

At first glance, the specs for the TCL 5G phones seem a bit confusing. For example, why is the 30 XE, which is obviously the entry-level model, the one with the 90Hz display? And we're calling it now — the cameras on the TCL 30 XE aren't going to impress. Whenever we see depth and macro sensors, we lose a bit of faith in the device in question. TCL also didn't specify the rate at which the 30 XE charges (while stating 18W for the 30 V). That's odd.

TCL may not enjoy the impact that Samsung has, but the budget phone space is a good place to build a brand. People in that segment are starved for high-end features, so it's a good thing to see more companies prioritize that market. If these two phones accomplish what they set out to do remains anyone's guess.

tcl 30 v 5g product render

TCL 30 V 5G (Image credit: TCL)

We should know more about these phones in the coming weeks, including what you'll pay for the TCL 30 CE and TCL 30 V. We expect that the TCL 30 XE will cost less than $300 while the TCL 30 V might cost a bit more since it has support for Verizon's mmWave 5G network (which is about to get a serious upgrade this month). Phones that carry that honor usually cost more since Verizon charges a premium for the licensing.

Time will tell if these TCL phones succeed, but we hope to get our hands on them to try them out. Budget phones aren't always very exciting, but we shouldn't always focus on the best that money can buy. Sometimes, you just need a basic phone that also has some other niceties.

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter.