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TCL shows off 20 Series phones at CES: TCL 20 5G and TCL 20 SE

The TCL 20 5G and TCL 20 SE are two of at least five members of TCL's next-gen phone family.

TCL 20 5G
The TCL S20 5G is one of many new devices coming out of the Chinese electronics giant. 

This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.

After debuting its eponymous smartphone line in 2020, TCL is charging full-steam ahead with its range of phones.

Better known in the US for its excellent TVs, the Chinese company is following up last year's 10 Series with at least five new phones that'll make up the next-gen 20 Series. Two budget-friendly phones, the TCL 20 5G and the TCL 20 SE, were announced at CES 2021 on Monday, with the remaining three set to be unveiled "in the coming weeks."

Now playing: Watch this: TCL unveils its new 20 series phones

"This year, our TCL-branded mobile devices are highlighting an increasing focus on strengthening our TCL ecosystem by making 5G connectivity more affordable and accessible to people around the world, without compromising the premium features and design associated with TCL," said Aaron Zhang, CEO of TCL Communication.   

Of the two devices, the TCL 20 5G is the higher-end one, starting at 299 euros, which converts to approximately $360, £270 or AU$470. It's already available in Italy, ahead of a wider rollout in Europe expected in February. US pricing and rollout hadn't been disclosed for either phone at the time of writing.

As you can tell from its name, the 20 5G features 5G connectivity, along with what TCL calls "Smart 5G," a fairly common feature that lets the device intelligently switch between 4G and 5G bands to stretch the life of its 4,500-mAh battery. The 20 5G also features a 6.7-inch screen and the second generation of TCL's NXTVision display tech, which is supposed to do things like boost color accuracy and better convert content into HDR. A Snapdragon 690 5G chipset runs the show, and there's a triple camera module on the back. 


The TCL 20 SE. 


The cheaper 20 SE, meanwhile, features a larger 6.82-inch screen, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 460 chipset, and four cameras on its back (details on the chart at the bottom). There are also a few premium touches like reverse charging and a dual stereo speaker system. No 5G on this one, though, it's a 4G LTE-only phone. The 20 SE starts at 149 euros, which converts to approximately $180, £135 or $AU235.

Read more: TCL shows off new 20 Series phones plus tablets, wearable headset and a pet tracker at CES 2021

Although TCL is a relatively new kid on the smartphone block, the company has a long history of designing, manufacturing and marketing phones under brands that are not its own: TCL has produced handsets carrying the Alcatel name, the once-popular BlackBerry brand and even the tiny Palm handset. In fact, alongside the announcement of the 20 Series, TCL launched three new phones under the Alcatel brand name.

TCL 20 5G vs. TCL 20 SE

TCL 20 5G TCL 20 SE
Display size, resolution 6.67-inch; FHD Plus, 2,220x1,080 pixels 6.82-inch, FHD Plus, 2,220x1,080 pixels
Rear camera 48-megapixel (main), 8-megapixel (wide), 2-megapixel (macro) 48-megapixel (main), 5-megapixel (wide angle), 2-megapixel (depth) 2-megapixel (macro)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel Not disclosed
Processor Snapdragon 690 5G Snapdragon 460
Battery 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh
Colors Mist gray, placid blue Nuit black, aurora green
Price 299 euros (converts to $360, £270 AU$470) 149 euros (converts to $180, £135, $AU235)