The TCL PLEX smartphone, which was made available in Malaysia not long ago might not be etched with famous brand name. However, TCL is indeed a long-term manufacturer and purveyor of screen and display technologies to mainstream brands globally. This points to the fact that as a manufacturer itself, TCL does not need to go through multiple parties to develop the PLEX - which can be advantageous in terms of quality control and perhaps keeping the costs as low as possible. Ultimately, will it impress us as a mid-ranger with a price tag of RM1199?

Design

First impressions of the design is that the TCL PLEX has considerable heft throughout. By that, its somewhat weightiness is a practical one, featuring a glass back, three cameras and an extra Google Assistant-dedicated button on top of the usual volume riders and power button. It thankfully still has a headphone jack and charges via USB-C port. The front selfie camera is a punch hole unit, in which TCL proudly calls it a “dotch” - derived from the play of words ‘dot’ and ‘notch’. As for the colour, back panel is a muted navy blue with holographic shimmers, so in a way it’s showy but not too loud either.

Display

The 6.53-inch display is possibly one of the more prominent things of the PLEX as it looks quite decent. The ratio is at 19.5 : 9 so it’s tall, while the bezels provide a screen-to-body ratio of around 90 percent. It also has a Full HD+ resolution and 395ppi pixel density so images are technically decently crisp. 

The phone comes with a proprietary app called NXTVISION, which can enhance ordinary videos for an HDR experience, boost multimedia visuals, and control screen colour such as cooler or warmer hues or activate adaptive tone to adjust the colour temperature according to ambient light.

Camera

The main shooter is a 48MP f1.6 lens, which uses a Sony IMX582 sensor. At this price point, photos are actually pretty good. 

The secondary camera is a 16MP ultra-wide angle lense, which pulls back to a 123-degree view. It serves its purpose well to widen the perspectives in order to capture more area. 

Last but not least is the 2MP night vision sensor, which takes in light to brighten shots in low light settings. While I didn’t have an opportunity to take a lot of outdoor night time shots, the sensor does its job at picking up details in a pitch-black environment but do expect a considerable amount of blurriness. 

The dotch selfie camera is 24MP f/2.0 lens, which takes nice and decent selfies if I do say so myself. There’s also beauty controls to brighten or smoothen facial tone and texture. 

A feature that I really like that comes with the TCL PLEX is the triple-lens mode, which allows you to preview through all three cameras. This effectively lets you decide which camera you should use to a particular shot, instead of having to flip between the cameras. 

It has portrait mode, manual controls and 960FPS super slow-motion as well as Full HD video recording.

Performance and Others

The UI has changed considerably with TCL UI dressing over Android Pie. Honestly, because it looks and feels different doesn’t mean it’s bad. It does take some learning to get used to but once you’re familiar, it serves its purpose and makes a lot of sense. 

The dedicated Google Assistant button is a nice touch for those who are into it and don’t want to constantly call out “OK Google / Hey Google”, personally I use Google Assistant a lot for IoT devices at home, so the TCL PLEX is quite convenient with that dedicated button. 

The Snapdragon 675 processor coupled with 6GB RAM makes app loading a breeze. It will also take on the usual games with no problems. Lastly, the 3820mAh battery will last you a day and the Quick Charge 3.0 feature will give you even more.

Final Verdict

I feel that the TCL PLEX, being a mid-ranger has technically met all demands for, well, a mid-range smartphone. Yes, it might not have a long-term brand tenure in the market but the technologies on the PLEX seem to be riding a little towards the upper segments. I appreciate overall quality, its cameras and the general performance and I really don’t mind getting this if my budget is well within its price range. All in all, I had some doubts but it has essentially proven itself to be a worthwhile smartphone to own.

Stuff says... 

TCL Plex review

 TCL might not be a mainstream brand name in Malaysia yet but the TCL PLEX is indeed quite a good mid-range smartphone that has all the basics you need and slightly more.
MYR1,199
Good Stuff 
Great 6.53-inch display
48MP main camera
Dedicated Google Assistant button
Snapdragon 675 processor
Bad Stuff 
Fingerprint magnet
Out-of-the-box UI needs considerable learning curve
Brand needs more innovations to become formidable in the market