TCL Tab 10 5G ($299.99) stands out among Android tablets due to its long battery life, responsive performance, and 5G support. We’re not fans of the TCL Tab 10 5G’s meagre 32GB of storage or TCL’s lacklustre software upgrade commitment, but it easily outperforms competitors like the Nuu Tab 10 ($299.99) and is a much better value than TCL’s more expensive Tab Pro 5G ($399.99). It’s a good bet if you need fast cellular connectivity from your tablet, though the Wi-Fi-only Lenovo Tab 11 Plus ($259.99) remains Editors’ Choice winner due to its lower price and sharper display.
A Beautiful Design with a Vibrant Screen
The Tab 10 5G is only available in grey, giving it a simple but appealing appearance. The bezels around the screen are a little thick, but they don’t seem out of place. The back and sides are made of a textured matte plastic material that repels fingerprints as well as feels sturdy in the hand. TCL does not sell a case (or any first-party accessories), so the solid build quality is appreciated.
The tablet is 9.5 by 6.2 by 0.3 inches (HWD) as well as weighs 17.3 ounces, which is typical for a tablet with a 10-inch screen. For comparison, the Nuu Tab 10 (10.3 by 6.0 by 0.4 inches, 18.2 ounces) is slightly larger and heavier. The button placement is comfortable. The volume rocker is located on the right side, and the power button is located on the top edge. The latter is an unusual design choice (the power button is usually located on the left or right rail), but it works fine in practice. Other than that, top and bottom speakers produce stereo sound, and the bottom edge houses a combined SIM/microSD tray and a USB-C charging port.
The 10.1-inch 16:10 display on the tablet has a resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels. It appears brighter and more colourful than we expected and easily outperforms the Nuu Tab 10. (10.1 inches, 1,920 by 1,200 pixels). We even believe it is comparable to the entry-level Apple iPad (10.2 inches, 2,160 by 1,620 pixels). Although there is no support for high-end display features such as Dolby Vision, the Tab 10 5G is still perfectly adequate for watching movies and TV shows.
Surprisingly Good Results
The TCL Tab 10 5G has good specs for the price. It has an octa-core MediaTek Kompanio 800T chip and 4GB of RAM. Unfortunately, it only has 32GB of internal storage. After accounting for system files, you won’t have much room for your own apps, games, or media files. That’s why the microSD card slot (which accepts cards up to 512GB) is so important in this case. In comparison, the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus has double the built-in storage and a microSD card slot.
In terms of performance, the tablet far exceeded our expectations. Starting with the PCMark Work 3.0 test, which also simulates everyday tasks like web browsing and video editing, it received a score of 9,312 while the Nuu Tab 10 only received a score of 3,864. That’s a significant difference in performance for activities common on low-cost tablets.
Quick 5G connectivity
As the tablet supports T-5G Mobile’s network, you can get a fast connection without using Wi-Fi in many places. T-Mobile, for example, offers a $60-per-month standalone unlimited data plan for the tablet, which drops to $20 per month when combined with a voice line.
We drove the Tab 10 around a small town in southern Connecticut to test network performance. We ran speed tests in both strong and weak connection environments. Except in areas with a weak signal, where the iPhone 14 Pro Max took the lead, it performed similarly to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In a relatively poor T-Mobile coverage area, for example, the iPhone had download speeds of 46Mbps, while the TCL tablet averaged only 11Mbps.
Bluetooth 5.1 is available on the Tab 10. It isn’t the most recent Bluetooth standard, but it should suffice for the majority of users. Unfortunately, there is no NFC, but you’re unlikely to walk into a store and make a mobile payment with a 10-inch tablet anyway.
Longer battery life
To test battery life, we stream a long YouTube video over Wi-Fi with the screen at maximum brightness and time how long the tablet lasts. The TCL Tab 10 lasted 10 hours and 22 minutes, outlasting the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus (7 hours and 58 minutes), the Nuu Tab 10 (7 hours and 5 minutes), as well as the standard iPad (5 hours and 18 minutes).
An 18W charger is included, which is fast for a device in this price range. The slate’s 8,000mAh battery took about 3 hours and 20 minutes to fully charge, which is consistent with the charger’s 18W rating.
The TCL 10 5G has a standard 8MP camera on the back and a 5MP camera on the front. Neither is likely to take your breath away. To get good photos and videos from the rear camera, you need good lighting. If something important occurs and this is the only camera available, it will capture acceptable images; however, your phone’s camera is likely to be a better bet. However, you do get 1080p video capture at 30fps, which is a nice little bonus.
The End of the Line for Android 12
TCL chooses a relatively stock version of Android 12 for this device. Extras include the company’s NXTvision feature, which can boost the display’s highlights and contrast. TCL says it will provide security patches for two years but will not release full Android version updates. This is a significant disadvantage for anyone who intends to use the tablet for more than a couple of years, especially since Android 13 is already available to device makers and has been for quite some time. The tablet-friendly Android 12L build is also unlikely to make it to the Tab 10 5G, which is disappointing.