TCL 20 Pro 5G vs Samsung Galaxy S21 5G: Which phone should you buy?

TCL 20 Pro 5G vs Samsung Galaxy S21 5G: Which phone should you buy?

TCL introduced its new TCL 20 series in the US in June. This lineup is headlined by the company’s TCL 20 Pro 5G, a capable smartphone with mid-range specifications. If you’re in the market for a new Android phone and wondering whether it makes sense to buy the 20 Pro 5G and save some money, or get the Samsung Galaxy S21 for top-of-the-line performance, we can help.

In this article, we’ll compare the TCL flagship with the Galaxy S21 5G to see which of the two phones is a better buy for you.

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TCL 20 Pro 5G vs Samsung Galaxy S21 5G: Specifications

SpecificationsTCL 20 Pro 5GSamsung Galaxy S21 5G
Dimensions and Weight
  • 164.2 x 73.8 x 9.07mm
  • 190g
  • 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm
  • 169g
Display
  • 6.67-inch curved AMOLED
  • Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
  • Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution
  • 120Hz refresh rate
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
    • 2x ARM Cortex-A77 @ 2.2GHz
    • 6x ARM Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz
  • Adreno 619 GPU
  • 8nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
    • 1x Kryo 680 (Cortex-X1) @ 2.84GHz
    • 3x Kryo 680 (Cortex-A78) @ 2.42GHz
    • 4x Kryo 680 (Cortex-A55) @ 1.80GHz
  • Adreno 660
  • 5nm process
RAM and Storage
  • 6GB RAM
  • 256GB storage
  • MicroSD card support
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128/ 256GB storage
Rear Camera
  • Primary: 48MP Sony IMX582 primary, f/1.8, 0.8μm, OIS
  • Secondary: 16MP ultra-wide-angle, 123° FoV, f/2.4, 1.0μm
  • Tertiary: 5MP macro, f/2.2
  • Quaternary: 2MP depth, f/2.4
  • Video: Up to [email protected]
  • Primary: 12MP wide-angle, f/1.8, 1.8μm, OIS
  • Secondary: 12MP ultra-wide-angle, f/2.2, 1.4μm, 120°
  • Tertiary: 64MP telephoto, f/2.0, 0.8μm
  • Video: Up to [email protected]
Front Camera
  • 32MP, f/2.45, fixed-focus, 80.4° FoV
  • 10MP, f/2.2, auto-focus
Battery
  • 4,500 mAh battery
  • Up to 18W wired charging (inside the box)
  • Up to 15W wireless charging
  • 4,000 mAh battery
  • Up to 25W wired charging
  • 10W+ wireless charging
Connectivity
  • Bands (North America):
    • 2G Bands: GSM 850/900/1800/1900
    • 3G Bands: UMTS B1/2/4/5/8
    • 4G LTE Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12(MFBI)/ 13/14/17/20/25/26/28/29/ 30/38/40/41/48/66/71
    • 5G Bands: n2/5/7/41/66/71/78
    • 4×4 MIMO(DL) B2/4/7/30/66
  • NFC
  • WiFi 802.11.b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • USB Type C
  • 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G
  • NFC
  • WiFi 802.11ax (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • USB Type C
Other features
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • IP68 water resistance
Software
  • Android 11 with TCL UI
  • Android 11 with OneUI

Design and Display

TCL 20 Pro 5G display

TCL 20 Pro 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and the TCL 20 Pro 5G have quite a few design similarities. Both phones carry a centered hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera, a matte finish on the back, and a vertical rear camera layout. Notably, the matte finish on the back of the TCL 20 Pro 5G doesn’t extend to the complete back panel as the phone has a slim stripe of glass for a two-tone look. The TCL phone also features a 3D glass cover on the front, whereas the Galaxy S21 5G comes with a flat front.

While the 20 Pro 5G features a 6.67-inch full-HD+ AMOLED display with 60Hz refresh rate and HDR10 support, the Galaxy S21 5G comes with a 6.2-inch full-HD+ AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. Both smartphones also pack in-display fingerprint sensors.

Although neither phone’s design has any particular drawback, Samsung scores on the display front with a faster refresh rate. The display on the TCL phone also isn’t shabby by any stretch and would be more than enough for most consumers.

SoC, RAM, and Storage

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Things become slightly one-sided in this department as Samsung has opted for the flagship Snapdragon 888 (S888) SoC in its Galaxy 21 5G phone. 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB onboard storage join the S888 chip in the Samsung phone.

In the TCL 20 Pro 5G, the mid-range Snapdragon 750G (S750G) SoC is present, joined by just 6GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. The phone also includes a microSD card slot for further storage expansion.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is clearly a more powerful phone and will easily take on anything thrown at it. The TCL 20 Pro 5G may not be as powerful as the Galaxy S21, but its S750G SoC is reasonably capable, so unless you’re planning to play graphically intensive games at top settings, it’ll be sufficient.

TCL 20 Pro 5G vs Samsung Galaxy S21 5G: Cameras

TCL 20 Pro 5G back

TCL 20 Pro 5G

In terms of raw camera specifications, there’s a quad rear camera setup on the TCL 20 Pro 5G, which includes a 48MP primary camera, 16MP ultra-wide-angle shooter, 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor. You also get optical image stabilization (OIS) support on the primary camera and a 32MP selfie shooter. The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G packs only three cameras on the back — a 12MP wide-angle primary shooter, 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 64MP telephoto camera. OIS support is present on both primary and telephoto shooters, and you also get a 10MP selfie camera.

As we know, the raw specifications don’t reveal the full camera capabilities of any phone. So even though the Galaxy S21 5G features a lower-resolution primary camera, its performance is comparably better than the TCL phone. In our review, the 20 Pro 5G primary shooter wasn’t particularly impressive. Some people will also appreciate the telephoto shooter in the S21 5G, which is missing from the 20 Pro 5G.

Battery and Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21

TCL has packed a 4,500mAh battery with support for 18W wired fast charging and 15W wireless charging in the 20 Pro 5G, whereas the Galaxy S21 5G comes with a 4,000mAh battery that supports 25W fast wired charging and 10W+ wireless charging.

Although there is a 500mAh difference in the battery size of the two phones, both will be able to last you an entire day of moderate usage on a single charge.

Regarding connectivity, the Galaxy S21 5G and the 20 Pro 5G have a pretty similar set of options, barring support for mmWave 5G in the Samsung phone. Additionally, the Galaxy S21 5G supports all 5G networks in the US. In contrast, the TCL phone only works with T-Mobile 5G right now, with Verizon certification coming in the future.

OS and Android Updates

The TCL 20 Pro 5G and Galaxy S21 5G run on the Android 11 operating system with their manufacturer skins. But Samsung has promised to provide three years of Android updates and four years of security updates for the Galaxy S21 5G. As per the TCL Canada website, however, the TCL 20 Pro 5G phone will only get two major Android updates and security updates till April 2023.

So if software support is one of your primary concerns, the Galaxy S21 5G makes more sense than the TCL phone.

TCL 20 Pro 5G vs Samsung Galaxy S21 5G: Pricing and Color Options

TCL 20 Pro 5G

Rear cameras on TCL 20 Pro 5G

TCL offers a single storage variant of the 20 Pro 5G that’s priced at $499.99. It’s available in Marine Blue and Moondust Gray colors. The Samsung phone is sold in two storage variants — 128GB and 256GB — priced at $699.99 and $749.99, respectively. You can purchase it in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom White, and Phantom Pink colors.

Even though the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is $200 expensive than the TCL flagship, it packs several improvements that make the price tag worth it.

Conclusion

It’s clear by now that the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is a superior phone to the TCL 20 Pro 5G. It’ll provide top-notch performance, great cameras, and extended software support. But if you don’t need everything top-of-the-line, you can save $200 and get the TCL phone for a decent performance. The Galaxy S21 5G also makes more sense if you want to use 5G on any other network than T-Mobile right now.

    TCL 20 Pro 5G
    The TCL 20 Pro 5G is the top-of-the-line phone in the company's 20 series. It packs a Snapdragon 750G SoC, and runs on Android 11.
    Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
    The Galaxy S21 is the starting point of Samsung's 2021 flagship lineup, packing in a top-of-the-line SoC, great display, and a 4,000mAh battery.

If you’ve purchased the phones, do check out our recommendations on accessories, cases, screen protectors, and more:

About author

Gaurav Shukla
Gaurav Shukla

Gaurav has been covering technology for over a decade now. He has done everything from blogging about Android to reporting the latest from the world of Internet giants. When he is not writing about the tech companies, he can be found binge-watching new TV series on the web.