TCL marks comeback in smartphone market with media-centric PLEX

Capitalizing on their brand’s legacy in display technology, TCL Communication recently unveiled the TCL PLEX, a smartphone that combines the company’s TCL NxtVision proprietary display optimization and camera technology with hardware that competes in the market for the upper mid-range segment.

The phone is the first to be released this year, with a Lite and Pro version planned to appear by Q1 of 2020.

The TCL PLEX will be the first product to carry the manufacturer’s banner of “Display Greatness” crammed in a mobile form factor. According to Peter Lee, TCL Communication’s global sales and marketing general manager, the device will be the first of their new range of devices that will include 5G ready products, as well as foldable displays.

“With the launch of TCL PLEX, we not only want to bring our display know-how to more customers and deliver on the key smartphone experiences-display, camera, user interface and design. We also want to open new doors to a whole new future by introducing an ecosystem of smart devices that help our consumers lead more connected lives,” added Lee.

Touting a 6.53” Full HD+ panel with TCL Dotch™ Display, the PLEX is able to achieve a 90% percent screen-to-body ratio and a resolution of 2340×1080. Although the choice to use an IPS LCD panel and not an AMOLED screen for punchier colors seem unusual for a product that brandishes itself with having an exceptional display, the smartphone still comes with some quirky trade-offs like a 6-axis color enhancement feature, 2D edge enhancement and SDR to HDR conversion all packaged in the TCL NXTVISION umbrella.

The shooters, meanwhile, are in a triple-camera array setup comprised of a 48MP f/1.8 main sensor, a 16MP f/2.4 ultra-wide lens at 128° field of view, and a dedicated 2MP f/1.8 slow motion camera that can capture up to 960fps in HD quality. Almost no smartphone in the market has a dedicated slow-motion camera since it can be replicated in software post-processing, but the choice to add it in an upper midrange device instead of a telephoto lens can be viewed as both an advantage or a just a lazy implementation.

The main sensor by Sony comes with a 4K recording function while post-processing is backed by TCL’s algorithm to integrate auto-brightness, denoising, super resolution, and HDR. Although these features on paper reflect a good fit with low-light photography, the implementation in real-world use is underwhelming, based on our first-hand experience with the PLEX. The smart video recording does standout among the stock camera app functions since it is able to lock onto a moving human subject which could translate to good vlogging content, but it has some difficulty tracking non-human subjects.

The front-facing camera, although high at 24MP resolution, produces images comparable to sensors with lower resolutions. This could be improved in a future update however, so it still has room to improve.

Running the show behind the panel is an 11nm Snapdragon 675 platform which is supported by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Thankfully, it has an option for storage expansion for up to 256GB in a shared SIM slot in a dual SIM tray, making it a hybrid card slot.

The fingerprint sensor at the back of the device is a square one, which is a blast from the past, and this design cue according to representatives from TCL might be reflected in future releases. Such is the similar case for the choice to equip the rear shooters with a dual LED flash which does not help improve the case for its outdated looks.

The charging slot is at least a USB Type-C, it also comes with a 3.5mm jack, and NFC-connectivity. The battery capacity is at 3820mAh and is equipped with an 18W Quick Charge 3.0 that can power up the device from 0 to 50% in a little over 30 minutes.

TCL Mobile Philippines country head Rudolph Santos expressed his excitement during the launch of TCL PLEX in the Philippine market and said the device reflects their commitment to provide a new wave of entertainment products to their target consumers.

The TCL PLEX retails for P15,990.00 and comes in two colors – Obsidian Black and Opal White. Both have 3D holographic finishing. For a limited period, purchase of the smartphone starting this November 15 will come with a 24” TCL LED TV until supplies last.

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