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TCL 30 Z Brings Android 12 to an Under-$100 Phone

There are some definite trade-offs to get to that price though.

Dan Avery Former Writer
Dan was a writer on CNET's How-To and Thought Leadership teams. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Architectural Digest and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Expertise Personal finance, government and policy, consumer affairs
Mike Sorrentino Senior Editor
Mike Sorrentino is a Senior Editor for Mobile, covering phones, texting apps and smartwatches -- obsessing about how we can make the most of them. Mike also keeps an eye out on the movie and toy industry, and outside of work enjoys biking and pizza making.
Expertise Phones, texting apps, iOS, Android, smartwatches, fitness trackers, mobile accessories, gaming phones, budget phones, toys, Star Wars, Marvel, Power Rangers, DC, mobile accessibility, iMessage, WhatsApp, Signal, RCS
Dan Avery
Mike Sorrentino
2 min read

The TCL 30 Z retails for less than $100.


At $90, the TCL 30 Z will be one of the cheapest Android 12 phones on the market, and in the US it's coming to AT&T and Cricket.

While certainly in the budget phone price range, the phone includes a 6.1-inch 720-pixel display, an 8-megapixel main camera, a 5-megapixel selfie camera and an included headphone jack. However, it has a 3,000mAh battery, which is smaller than the 5,000mAh we see in rivals that cost slightly more, and it uses an antiquated micro-USB connector. TCL says the battery should last 24 hours on a charge. But that latter micro-USB connector is a bit strange, considering most Android phones and wireless headphones, even budget ones, now use USB-C for charging.

Price is the highlight here, though, and the phone can be found for significantly less than its $90 retail price depending on which mobile plan you choose. Cricket, the prepaid wireless arm of AT&T, is offering the phone at no additional cost for new and current customers who bring their own number and activate a $60 a month plan. For customers upgrading their phone or needing a new number, the phone comes at $30 (though it may include fees) with a minimum of a $30 a month plan.

the TCL 30 Z

The 30 Z is TCL's first branded smartphone on AT&T and Cricket.


The TCL 30 Z also comes with a MediaTek Helio A22 Chipset, a quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM.

The phone also includes 32GB of space, which is small, but it can be increased by up to 512GB using a microSD card.

TCL's 30 Z comes about a month after the company debuted its under-$300 Stylus 5G, which as its name suggests includes both a stylus and 5G capability starting at $258. We don't have the software and security update timeline as of yet for the 30 Z, but the Stylus 5G came with a commitment to one software update and two years of security updates. 

That's on the short side compared with Samsung and Motorola, but it could be a trade-off some people may want in order to get cheaper hardware.

See also: Best Phone Under $200 for 2022: Cheaper Picks for the Essentials