I tried out the TCL 30 5G phone and it’s worth buying if you're on a budget

The TCL 30 5G was launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

TCL 30 5G with a photo of a building
(Image credit: TCL)

During MWC 2022, TCL launched their brand new 30 series smartphones, a range of affordable devices that will be available to buy in Europe from April 2022, and are sure to land on UK shores soon after. 

TCL is a fast-growing Chinese tech firm that has been making some of the best cheap phones for a few years now, the TCL 20 Pro was a prime example of that. When I reviewed it, the 6.67-inch curved screen was what really got my attention as well as its long-lasting battery and cool design. 

This year the series has had a bit of a shakeup and TCL has announced five new devices, including the TCL 30 5G, 30+, 30 4G, 30 SE, and 30E. Prices start from as little as €139 (about £115) and range up to €269 (about £225) so there’s something for every budget, no matter how small. 

I was able to get hands-on with the new TCL 30 5G while I was out in Barcelona and to cut a long story short, it'll be a great choice for anyone who wants 5G support on a budget. Here's why.

TCL 30 5G on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Firstly, it looks great. The new TCL 30 5G is quite a bit different to last year’s handsets. The glossy back has been replaced with a sophisticated matte alternative and the camera strip has been replaced with a rectangular notch. The new design looks and feels a lot more like the best Samsung phones which makes it seem like it could be a lot more expensive than it actually is. 

You’ll be able to buy it in Tech Black or Dreamy Blue, both look smart but the blue variant is definitely more eye-catching in my opinion. The phone feels sturdy and it won't pick up any dirty fingerprint marks which means you could use this without a case. 

Weighing just 184g and measuring 165 x 75 x 8mm, the TCL 30 5G is a compact device that is small enough to slip into your pocket. Even if you have little hands, like me, you'll be able to use it one-handed which will be a massive plus point for a lot of people. 

TCL 30 5G held up against a city view

(Image credit: Future)

The 6.7-inch AMOLED display has FHD+ resolution at 1080 x 2400p with up to 900 nits peak brightness. The screen looks excellent and takes up 91% of the front of the handset - gone are the days of thick bezels on cheap phones!

When it comes to the display quality, the TCL 30 5G will easily be good enough for browsing the web or streaming a YouTube video here and there. You also get a 60Hz refresh rate so although not quite as smooth as the best phones out there, it still feels lovely to scroll and swipe on.

TCL 30 5G rear camera lenses

(Image credit: Future)

While I couldn’t give the camera a proper test run, I can go through what setup you'll get from the TCL 30 5G. The rear camera system is made up of a 50MP main lens, a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro camera, while on the front there's a 13MP selfie snapper. 

There are also a few different camera modes and features to know about including Steady Snap, One shot, High Pixel, Portrait Mode, Movie Mode and Stop Motion. It'll be interesting to see how well the camera hardware and software work together when I come to review the phone.

Powering the handset is a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset with 5G support, and that's the crowning glory here. This reliable mid-range chipset brings 5G down to an incredibly low price, making it accessible to a lot more people. 

If you’re not likely to make use of that you could save even more money by choosing the TCL 30, which is 4G-only and as such uses the MediaTek Helio G37. Either way, the CPU is paired with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage which will be plenty. 

The TCL 30 5G has a 5,010mAh battery to keep it up and running throughout the day with 18W fast charging support although there’s no wireless charging. That’s also pretty good going for a phone this cheap. I couldn’t put the battery through its paces during the short time I had with it, but I’d assume it would easily last you through the workday. 

TCL 30 5G from the back against a window

(Image credit: Future)

Although I couldn’t find out how well the TCL 30 5G works day-to-day, after having had a sneak peek at it, I think it seems like a fantastic option for those who want 5G on a budget. 

Of course, it hardly compares to the very best Android phones you can buy but considering just how cheap it is, the TCL 30 5G manages to pack in loads of up-to-date tech including a good-looking screen, a mid-range chipset and even a three-lens rear camera system. That’s all squeezed into a device that is both compact and stylish. 

Right now, we don't know anything for certain about UK pricing but we do know how much the TCL 30 5G will cost in mainland Europe, so we can hazard a guess.

If you want 5G support then the TCL 30 5G starts at €249 (which is about £210) for the 64GB variant, going up to €269 (about £225) for 128GB of storage.

5G not a necessity? The TCL 30 will be available starting from €179 (about £150).

If you just can't wait, take a look below to see where you can buy TCL's top-of-the-line phone from 2021, the TCL 20 Pro 5G.

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.