TCL 40R 5G Review Dual SIM Gaming Phone

Monday, February 13, 2023

A budget friendly alternative to the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra! TCL's new 40R 5G is a very capable midrange phone with good specs that won't leave you pondering - how much is too much!

The TCL 40R 5G has a sleak, slim form factor with a 2mm camera bump on the back and three physical buttons on the right side:, namely a volume rocker for up/down volume control an power button. 
There are no buttons on the left side. The buttons feel responsive - however, the power button location isn't where you would expect it (top right side). It is, instead, located down below.
The TCL 40 R 5G is mostly made of plastic including the back panel and middle frame. On the front, the TCL 40 R 5G sports a 6.6-inch glass screen with a V-notch 720p display, which isn't as clear as a 1080p phone screen but has the benefit of lower power consumption. 
The 40R 5G supports a 20:9 display ratio and 400 nits brightness which is lower than the average 500 nits. On a very bright day, you will struggle to view the screen, especially under direct sun light. For that, you will need at least a 1000 nits phone (e.g. LG G7, Honor 80, etc). You can get a higher nits phone such as the iPhone 14 (~1100 nits) and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which is currently the brightness phone display (1750 nits brightness). 
As far as refresh rate, the TCL 40R 5G supports 60Hz and 90Hz, which is perfect for playing demanding games such as PUBG and Clash of Clans (CoC). You can get phones with 120Hz refresh rate, which offer a smoother screen and less eye strain but, of course, higher battery drain, making 90Hz a good middle ground between 60Hz and 120Hz.
Speaking of gaming, the TCL 40 R 5G phone comes with 64GB internal storage (18GB already used out of the box) and 4GB of memory RAM, which is plenty for resource-intensive games. The processor used is the MediaTek Dimensity 700, which is built-in to the 5G SoC chip and features 8 cores capable of 2200 MHz clock speed. The GPU clocks 950MHz, helping a smooth gaming experience. The Dimensity 700 performance is similar to the Snapdragon 732G.
The TCL 40R 5G also supports two types of notifications - notification light and mini notification, which is a pop up screen notification that shows on the screen like a floating bubble, showing a preview of the message. The neat thing about floating notifications is that you can reply to them without stopping what you are doing, unlike with a notification light.

Gesture support include split screen, flip to mute and 3-finger screenshot. Gestures are a convenient way to use to free up screen space without sacrificing the mobile user experience. The TCL 40R 5G phone features a 5000mAh battery that charges in 3 hours and supports 15 watts fast charging. Battery life is around 5 hours, depending on use. There is a "super battery saving mode" to extend the standby time and reduce battery consumption. 
The TCL 40 R 5G runs Android 12 - which was released 2 years ago - so, it's not the current latest (Android 13) released last month (Jan 2023). There isn't much between Android 12 and Android 13 though, at least aesthetically. That said, Android 13 comes with an app drawer search function similar to the one on iPhone, which allows you to perform Internet and local searches of your phone. 

Both Android 12 and 13 deliver a smooth and responsive user interface (UI) and, it is likely the TCL 40R 5G will support Android 13 since the older TCL 30 5G and TCL 20 Pro 5G phones have received the Android 13 update. Updating to Android 13 maybe worth it because of the improved privacy permissions you get such as being able to allow apps to send you notifications after installation.
Moving on to hardware, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack built-in to the TCL 40 R 5G phone, which is a great plus, although the headphone jack is bottom facing, which is an unusual location. That said, having the headphone jack bottom facing isn't a bad thing. It actually works better running the audio cable from the bottom of the phone!
Despite the simple camera setup, the TCL 40 R 5G camera performance is good. The primacy camera is capable of 50MP and 12MP photos in 4:3, as well as 1080p 30 fps video recording & playback with EIS (electronic image stabilization). The EIS works well, keeping the image steady when zooming in really close. The selfie camera can only do 8MP photos but it supports portrait mode photos.  The TCL 40R 5G also has a neat feature called "One Shot" which works similar to burst mode, allowing you to take multiple pictures from one single shot. 

Potential deal breakers
  • Bottom-mounted headphone jack 
  • Limited gestures
  • No phone case included
  • Available only in two colors
  • Not the latest Android 13
  • No optical image stabilization (OIS)
  • Only supports 120 fps slow mo
  • Made mostly of plastic (no metal)
  • No programmable button
  • 720p screen
  • Not as bright
  • No 1080p 60 fps video recording/playback
  • No telephoto camera
  • No wide lens camera 
  • No wireless charging
  • Bluetooth 5.1 (not the latest 5.3)
  • No IR blaster
  • Not capable of macro photography - only close ups
  • Unusual placement for the power button
  • No video portrait mode
  • A bit more expensive than it should

Selling points
  • Dual 5G SIM
  • External microSD card support up to 1TB
  • O-ring seal on SIM card tray 
  • NFC support
  • Selfie portrait mode for main & selfie camera
  • Cast screen
  • Supports PD 15W fast charging
  • Smooth motion swipes and animations
  • Drain less power than a 1080p phone screen
  • Android 12 (Android Auto)
  • NXT vision 
  • 120 fps slow mo
  • Fingerprint unlock
  • Dark mode
  • Adaptive brigthness
  • Face unlock 
  • 2 years guarantee
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • Notification light
  • Gestures: split screen, flip to mute & 3 finger screenshot
  • Floating notification
  • Screen recorder
  • App cloner
  • Super battery saving mode
  • Video stabilization (IES)
  • 5000 mAh battery capacity
Accessories include a 10W (5V/2A) USB-A wall charger, a 2 meter charging cable and a SIM card tray pin tool. The TCL 40 R 5G is available in three variants/models: T771H, T771K1 and T771K (seen pictured). You can buy the TCL 40 R 5G dual SIM phone from TCL and amazon. Check out the TCL 10 5G, TCL 20R 5G

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