We recently got our hands on the TCL 10 5G UW for Verizon in the US. It is slightly different from the TCL 10 5G available in Europe but shares most of its internals such as the 6.5-inch LCD screen, the Snapdragon 765G chipset, and the 4,500 mAh battery.
The TCL 10 5G UW is also the most affordable 5G smartphone available from Verizon (or from any other US carrier for that matter).
Most importantly, however, we figured it's a great opportunity to see the current state of Verizon's 5G UW (Ultra Wideband) mmWave network. We already did some 5G speed testing in Europe (sub6 networks only), but Verizon's super-fast 5G UW network is the true white unicorn.
TCL 10 5G UW specs:
- Body: glass back with glossy metal frame, Diamond Gray color, punch-hole selfie camera; 163.6 x 76.5 x 9.4 mm
- Display: 6.53" IPS LCD with FHD+ resolution 1080 x 2340 px; ~395ppi
- Software: Android 10
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Octa-core (1×2.4 GHz Kryo 475 Prime & 1×2.2 GHz Kryo 475 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 475 Silver); Adreno 620 GPU
- Memory: 128GB (expandable via microSD card) + 6GB RAM
- Battery: 4,500 mAh, includes 18W fast-charger
- Camera: 48MP 26mm (wide), 1/2.0", 0.8 µm, PDAF; 8MP 13mm (ultrawide) f/2.2, 1/4.0", 1.12µm pixels; 5MP (macro) f/2.2, AF;
- Front camera: 16MP, f/2.2, 26mm, 1/3.06", 1.0µm pixels
- Video: 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120fps (main); 1080p@30fps (front)
- Misc: 3.5mm headphone jack, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, NFC, microSD card slot
For context, Verizon has been handling 5G in its own way. If you've checked our 5G primer, you already know that 5G is not just a single type of network.
"Sub-6" is what you call any 5G using the bands sitting below 6GHz. In contrast, "mmWave" or 'Wide Band' uses the bands in the 26-28GHz range.
Lower band 5G allows for more coverage per tower, while higher band 5G comes with smaller coverage but faster possible speeds. That's why to fully envelope a city a carrier needs an order of magnitude more towers for mmWave than if it was using something between 3-6GHz. 5G mmWave also has a much higher signal attenuation (dropping) when passing through obstacles such as walls and windows.
While the network speeds attainable on mmWave 5G are probably the technology's poster child, most carriers worldwide have chosen to start developing their networks in the sub-6GHz range. And when we say 'most,' we mean practically everybody else but Verizon.
Phones supporting mmWave also need to fit more radio antennae so their internal design is more challenging. With the current state of things, making mmWave compatible phones means you are making them for Verizon only.
You can rest assured that all of Verizon's current 5G smartphones are compatible with its 5G UW network. Until recently that meant their 5G connectivit was limited to the few places where there was 5G UW signal.
But Verizon also just launched its nationwide low-band 5G network. This conveniently coincided with the Apple iPhone 12 launch, and yes, you can use Apple's latest devices to enjoy both types of 5G networks. But most importantly, it meant you can get a much wider 5G coverage with any of the other phones, too.
So what if you didn't have a 5G-enabled iPhone? What sort of speeds can you expect? Is 5G something to get excited about in 2020? This is the sort of questions we'll attempt to answer in this article.
But first, let's look at the design and hardware of Verizon's exclusive TCL 10 5G.