If you want a phone with a stylus, you don’t need to spend big bucks on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra ($1,199.99). The affordable TCL Stylus 5G ($258) includes a pen and considerably undercuts even the midrange Moto G Stylus 5G ($499) on price. While we’re fans of the handset’s big screen and above-average cameras, issues with battery life and network performance mar the overall experience. It may not include a stylus, but the Editors’ Choice-winning Samsung Galaxy A32 5G ($279.99) remains a more compelling cheap Android phone for everyone but the most dedicated digital artists.
Attractive Design, Big Screen
The TCL Stylus 5G looks fantastic, though it’s available only in a simple Lunar Black color. The outer edges of the phone feature a textured plastic frame that helps with grip. The plastic rear panel is smooth by comparison, though I didn’t find it too slippery or prone to fingerprints. The phone is a bit large at 6.7 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and 7.5 ounces, but it’s still pleasing to hold thanks to the textured edges. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy A32 (6.5 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches, 7.0 ounces) is about the same size and weight.
The phone sports an expansive 6.81-inch LCD with a 90% screen-to-body ratio. The bezels are particularly slim. The display has a resolution of 2,400 by 1,080 pixels and looks sharp. It’s stuck at the standard 60Hz refresh rate, but that’s par for the course in this price range. The Moto G Stylus 5G may boast a 120Hz screen, but it costs considerably more. Colors are vibrant on the display in most situations, and I didn’t experience any issues with viewing angles. TCL’s Nxtvision app enhances the color and brightness, and it worked well under intense sunlight.
The phone’s 13MP selfie camera is a punch-hole design centered near the top of the display. Many screens adopt this style rather than a notch, and it’s a matter of preference whether one design is better.
(Photo: Dave LeClair)
A 3.5mm headphone jack, two speakers (that produce stereo sound), a USB-C port, and the garage for the stylus line the phone’s bottom edge. The speakers handled our test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” fairly well, though bass response was a little weak. Many smartphone speakers struggle to truly impress in this regard, so TCL’s performance here—or lack thereof—…….