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TCL's 10 5G UW hits Verizon for $400 on Oct. 29

The prices for 5G phones have dropped considerably.

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TCL's 10 5G UW is Verizon's cheapest 5G phone. 

TCL

Verizon's first phone with 5G built-in was the $1,300 Samsung Galaxy S10 5G in April 2019. Over 18 months later, the nation's largest carrier now has its most affordable 5G phone, the $400 TCL 10 5G UW. 

First announced back at CES in January, the TCL 10 5G UW offers decent specs for its price. It has a 6.53-inch full HD LCD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable to another 1TB through microSD) and a 4,500-mAh battery. It supports both Verizon's millimeter-wave 5G network that is available in parts of 55 cities as well as its new low-band nationwide 5G network that covers over 200 million people. 

For cameras, the 10 5G UW has a 48-megapixel main rear camera, an 8-megapixel 118-degree wide-angle sensor and a 5-megapixel macro lens with dual-LED flash. A 16-megapixel front camera can be found in a cutout in the upper left corner. 

Like the company's affordable TCL 10L there is a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. As one would expect, more premium features such as wireless charging and water and dust resistance are not present on the 10 5G UW. TCL says it is IP-52 rated for splash resistance and it is worth noting that you can fast charge the device with Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3 or even share power so long as you have a USB-C cable handy.  

Android 10 powers the phone, with TCL promising an upgrade to Android 11 in the future. 

tcl 10 5g uw

The back of the TCL 10 5G UW has three cameras, two flashes and one fingerprint reader. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

In briefly using the device it very much feels like a cheaper phone than Verizon's other 5G offerings. The glass enclosure is a fingerprint magnet and is very slippery without a case, to the point where it slid off multiple surfaces including a desk and couch seemingly on its own. Unlike TCL's unlocked 10 Pro and 10L, which launched in the US earlier this year, no plastic case is included with the device. The phone showed no signs of scuffing or damage to the frame or casing from the tumbles but seems to have developed an odd crack along the bottom of the display. 

TCL says the front of the phone is Gorilla Glass 3 and the back is Gorilla Glass 5. 

The screen, despite touting TCL's NXTVision software for improved quality, also appears washed out particularly when not looking straight at the display. Performance, however, was solid in briefly using the device with games and apps opening quickly and running smoothly. Some initial photos looked fine on both the rear and front-facing cameras but more tests will be needed. 

While the phone is Verizon's cheapest at full retail price, it faces competition at the carrier particularly as holiday deals roll around. Depending on if you are upgrading, switching or trading in a phone, Verizon has a variety of deals on more powerful and impressive 5G devices including the latest iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones and Google's Pixel 5. 

For the 10 5G UW the carrier is offering up to $360 in monthly bill credits for 24 months when switching to the carrier, signing up for its pricier Do More, Play More or Get More unlimited plans and trading in an "eligible" phone. Those already on Verizon can get $250 off the phone when upgrading to one of those unlimited plans and trading in. Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan, called Start Unlimited, would get you access to the nationwide 5G network but not the faster millimeter-wave 5G or get you the discounts on the phone. 

The TCL 10 5G UW will be available at Verizon for $400 starting on Oct. 29.