Before IFA 2023 officially kicks off this week, TCL has revealed a couple of new Android smartphones that come with paper-like displays. They build on the technology previously seen on the company’s tablets, which is pleasing to the eye (literally, as matte displays are designed to be pleasing to the eye).
These phones are the TCL 40 Nxtpaper and TCL 40 Nxtpaper 5G, which, as the names clearly show, use “Nxtpaper” displays as previously seen on a mid-range 10-inch tablet called the TCL Nxtpaper 10s.
There are more strings in the Nxtpaper display eye care bow. They are certified for low blue light (according to the TUV industry standard) and are pleasant to look at thanks to the paper-like matte effect that the screen sports. This means that it is anti-glare, which also ensures comfortable viewing, and the display actually has a paper-like texture and feel when you touch the screen.
The display is also resistant to fingerprints, again helping to maintain the clarity of what’s on the screen in this regard.
Despite the paper texture and low blue light technology, TCL makes it clear that the display maintains a natural color tone and the color quality is not affected.
And what about the specifications? While you’re probably assuming the models are pretty much the same, aside from 5G support, the 5G-equipped model actually has very different hardware.
With the TCL 40 Nxtpaper you get a 6.78-inch FHD+ display, powered by a MediaTek Helio G88 SoC, as well as 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
As for the TCL 40 Nxtpaper 5G, it offers a slightly more compact 6.6-inch HD+ display, with a MediaTek Dimensity 6020 processor, along with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
As for the cameras, the base model offers a 50MP main camera on the back and a 32MP front camera. The 5G phone is still a bit different with a 50MP rear camera array and an 8MP front camera.
Both phones have a 5,000mAh battery, and of course the 5G version supports the cellular standard, while the base model is 4G.
TCL is apparently pushing these phones into Europe to begin with, and so far only availability in that region has been confirmed, but we expect the devices to debut elsewhere soon enough.
AS Telephone arena, which spotted these launches, reports and prices in Europe, believes the 5G phone is 25% more expensive. The TCL 40 Nxtpaper is priced at €200 (around $220 / £170 / AU$390) and the TCL 40 Nxtpaper 5G is priced at €250 (around $275 / £215 / AU$490). So, these are firmly in the same category as the best budget phones…
Analysis: visual comfort – but at what cost?
This is pretty important to us, as we’re always quite aware of how much time we spend staring at screens in close range (between our phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop monitors). There’s a nagging voice in the back of our minds that’s constantly reminding us to limit our screen time as much as possible and not bulge our eyes, so any moves to help on that front are welcome in our book.
Nxtpaper definitely has a few moves at its disposal to help with the ease of the eyes, which look really helpful. That said, the proof will be in the pudding of what these screens actually look like in real life, rather than on paper (no pun intended).
Now, the note of caution is that in our review of the TCL Nxtpaper 10s (that mid-range 10-inch tablet we talked about earlier), we didn’t find the display all that gorgeous. Our reviewer found the eye care measures helpful, but noted that they came at some cost in reduced image quality, with a noticeable lack of sharpness.
That said, on a smaller screen, any issues with slight blurriness could be minimized, especially if TCL has been honing the Nxtpaper technology since the tablet was produced. We will see and we are eager to see how these smartphones perform.