Although you may have heard of the tech company TCL, it may not be for its smartphones. The Chinese tech giant is known for its pricey TVs, which it sells in countries around the world, as well as a selection of soundbars that go with these TVs.
TCL makes smartphones, too — in particular, mid-range or more affordable models. Depending on where you live, you may have seen one or more on phone store shelves.
For many years, TCL has released phones under its own name in addition to Alcatel and BlackBerry — yes, that BlackBerry, so there’s every chance you may have already seen or owned a TCL phone.
In this guide, we provide an insight into the Chinese technology company and the smartphones that have been released in the market. If you’re interested in other gadgets from the company, TechRadar has produced a guide on whether you should buy the TCL TV.
A brief history of TCL
TCL was founded in 1981, but its smartphone heritage doesn’t extend that far. In 2004, the company joined forces with French technology company Alcatel to make smartphones. A year later, TCL bought Alcatel.
In 2016, TCL acquired the rights to the BlackBerry name, allowing the company to release phones under a well-known brand name. The company did this for four years, until late 2020. A few months later, a different brand bought the rights to BlackBerry, so any new BlackBerry phones that have come out since that time are unrelated to TCL.
It was only in 2019 that TCL started using its own name on smartphones, with the TCL 10 series.
What phones does TCL make?
The main range of TCL phones, which seems to be the most updated, is the numbered line: TCL 10, TCL 20, and so on. These phones come in a few versions, such as the TCL 10 Pro or 10 5G, and are often around the middle price.
We don’t generally see this series of phones come yearly in updates for new generations, unlike mobiles from other big brands.
Occasionally, the company releases Alcatel phones, which are budget devices with low specs. The phones feature number indicators, with the higher digits higher, and the year in the name, so you can tell how recent it is.
TCL phone availability information
Typically, TCL phones haven’t followed a clear release pattern, though we’ve often seen new models shown off at tech shows like IFA in August and CES in January.
The company sells most of its phones in the United States, and some models in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Other technology sells TCL
Besides smartphones, apart from TVs and speakers, TCL also sells some tablets. The TCL 10 Tab Max and Alcatel Joy Tab, for example, are low-cost Android tablets to rival the Amazon Fire Tab line. The brand also makes bars aimed at kids, and confirmed it has a color reader in the works.
The company’s product range also includes headphones, with true wireless, wired and wired units available at a fairly affordable price.