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TCL 50 XL 5G Review image 11
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

The TCL 50 XL 5G is the cheapest 5G-ready Metro by T-Mobile phone, but is it worth it?

An XL phone with an XL display, but does it excel at anything else?

Published onJune 17, 2024

TCL 50 XL 5G

For $160, the TCL 50 XL 5G offers a compelling blend of style, functionality, and performance. It's not without its compromises due to a limited software support policy and inconsistent cameras, but it certainly does enough to justify its low price tag for Metro by T-Mobile users hunting for 5G on a budget.

What we like

Premium design
Big 1080p display
Decent performance for the price
Clean software skin

What we don't like

Limited software support
Battery life isn't the best
Mediocre cameras
Exclusive to T-Mobile

TCL 50 XL 5G

For $160, the TCL 50 XL 5G offers a compelling blend of style, functionality, and performance. It's not without its compromises due to a limited software support policy and inconsistent cameras, but it certainly does enough to justify its low price tag for Metro by T-Mobile users hunting for 5G on a budget.

TCL 50 XL 5G review: At a glance

  • What is it? The TCL 50 XL 5G features a large 6.78-inch 120Hz display, 6GB of RAM, and a 5,010mAh battery, making it a strong contender in the budget segment. It runs on the MediaTek Dimensity 6100 Plus chipset and Android 14 out of the box.
  • What is the price? The TCL 50 XL 5G costs $159.99 in the US.
  • Where can you buy it? The TCL 50 XL 5G is a T-Mobile exclusive and can be purchased via the Metro by T-Mobile website or in-store.
  • How did we test it? I tested the TCL 50 XL 5G for over a month. TCL supplied us with the review unit.
  • Is it worth it? If you're a T-Mobile customer (or planning to switch) who prioritizes a large display and doesn't mind missing out on the latest Android features in the long run, the TCL 50 XL 5G offers a solid enough value proposition as the cheapest 5G-capable phone available through Metro by T-Mobile. For those prioritizing longevity and display quality, however, the Galaxy A15 5G offers a more enticing alternative with its OLED screen and extended software support.

Should you buy the TCL 50 XL 5G?

TCL 50 XL 5G Review image 6
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

While Motorola and Samsung make some of the most well-known budget phones in the US, TCL has steadily built quite a reputation for itself, offering decent specs at a great price. The TCL 50 XL 5G is the company’s 2024 offering, which costs just $160 and is only available in the US through Metro by T-Mobile. If you’re in the market for a great value-for-money phone, is this one worth picking up? Let’s find out.

The $160 TCL 50 XL 5G is a budget phone with modern features like a big screen, the latest version of Android, and multiple cameras.

The phone lives up to its XL name with its large size, but it doesn’t feel excessively heavy. It might be a bit too wide for those with smaller hands, but it’s generally manageable. Its overall dimensions and 195g of weight make it almost identical in size and heft to direct competitors like the Moto G 5G (2024) and Galaxy A15 5G.

The phone is only available in the single Slate Gray color variant pictured (which looks blue from most angles) and features quite an attractive design at the back. The rear panel is plastic but has a faux leather texture that makes it appear more premium than its price tag. The leathery finish not only looks good but I found it also helps keep fingerprints and smudges away.

One standout design element is the large, circular camera module with a sophisticated etched design around the ring. While the phone’s modest camera setup doesn’t need a camera island this big, I can’t deny that it does add to the phone’s overall premium look. Though, I can’t help but think it would look even better if the island was center-aligned.

The size of the camera island also means the phone doesn’t wobble when laid flat, but I had to be careful not to smudge the camera glass with my fingers while holding the phone in landscape mode.

The power button and volume rockers are on the right edge, positioned just right for easy access. The power button also has a built-in fingerprint scanner, which was always quick enough to unlock the phone for me. As is typical for phones in this price range, the TCL 50 XL 5G isn’t water or dust-resistant, but it does come with a headphone jack and expandable storage via microSD cards.

TCL 50 XL 5G Review image
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

This phone’s XL size also means it has room for a huge 6.78-inch display. The LCD panel packs a resolution of 2460 x 1080 pixels and a 120Hz refresh rate. TCL includes a “Smart” refresh rate option, which is supposed to toggle between 60Hz and 120Hz, depending on what you’re doing. In my usage, it basically remained stuck at 60Hz, only switching to 120Hz when I was in the phone’s settings menu. So, I decided to manually lock it at 120Hz, which worked perfectly for me. The phone feels much smoother with higher refresh rate — it makes everything from opening apps to swiping on social media feel more responsive.

The display’s brightness tops out at 500 nits, which is great for indoor use, but I found that it can be a bit challenging in bright sunlight. Sure, the bezels are a bit uneven, too, and there’s a noticeable chin at the bottom, but that’s pretty standard even for a lot of more affordable Android phones (and even some mid-rangers), so no biggie there.

The large screen is perfect for binge-watching music videos and live sports streams, offering vibrant colors and decent viewing angles. The 1080p resolution ensures that text looks sharp and clear as well. TCL’s NXTVISION enhancements are supposed to boost image and video quality, but honestly, I didn’t notice a huge difference with them turned on. Meanwhile, the trade-off for the expansive screen is that even with my larger hands, reaching the top of the display one-handed proved tricky. Those with smaller hands will likely need to use both hands to use the phone.

The TCL 50XL 5G screen is quite nice for an LCD, but the Galaxy A15 5G can give you a better OLED display.

On the audio front, the phone has a stereo speaker setup, with the earpiece doubling as a secondary speaker. The speakers are loud enough for casual use, though they did lack bass when I put tunes on. If you’re serious about your music or movie audio, you’ll definitely want to use a decent pair of earbuds.

Inside the TCL 50 XL 5G, you’ll find the MediaTek Dimensity 6100 Plus chip, an octa-core processor also found in the similarly priced Galaxy A15 5G. As the benchmark numbers show, it’s very similar to the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 found in the Moto G 5G (2024).

tcl 50 xl 5g 3dmark wild life stress test benchmark

With 6GB of RAM, plus an additional 6GB of virtual RAM expansion, and 128GB of storage (expandable up to 2TB), the 50 XL is well-equipped for everyday tasks. While it won’t win any speed records, it handles basic use without breaking a sweat. During my time with it, the phone managed to keep several apps open in the background smoothly. There were some occasional frame skips and stutters when launching heavier apps, but for its price range, the performance is more than adequate.

TCL 50 XL 5G Review image 13
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

In terms of gaming, the TCL 50 XL 5G performed well with lighter games such as 8Ball Pool and Angry Birds 2. More demanding titles like PUBG and Call of Duty ran smoothly on the lowest settings. However, bumping up the graphics or trying to lock the gameplay to a higher fps did make the phone’s back noticeably warm within 15 to 20 minutes.

There were also frequent frame drops, and the performance deteriorated quite a bit after about 30 minutes or so, which is to be expected in this segment. If you’re a serious gamer, you might need to look at phones in the $300+ range for a more satisfying experience.

TCL's software plays a crucial role in keeping the 50 XL 5G running smoothly, despite its hardware limitations.

As a first-time user of TCL UI, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of bloatware. Inserting a T-Mobile SIM did throw up a few pages of suggested apps and games, but thankfully, those were all optional installs, so I could skip past them. The only new apps added were two T-Mobile-specific apps and a T-Mobile feed alongside the Google Discover feed, accessible by swiping left on the home screen.

The UI is clean and operates smoothly, though the design feels a bit dated with its rounded square icons. Customization options are decent, with several built-in wallpapers and the ability to change system colors based on your wallpaper.

A point to note is the software update policy: the TCL 50 XL 5G only comes with one year of OS upgrades and two years of security updates. This is similar to what Motorola offers with its Moto G series but falls short compared to Samsung’s Galaxy A series, which offers four years of OS updates.

TCL 50 XL 5G Review image2
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

The TCL 50 XL 5G proved reliable in handling everyday connectivity. I used the phone with a T-Mobile SIM in and around the Bay Area in California, and its network performance was quite satisfactory. Right outside my home in San Jose, the device generally achieved download speeds of around 55Mbps and upload speeds of 27Mbps, which is in line with the usual performance I get in my area.

The call quality on the TCL 50 XL 5G was also up to my expectations. The phone did an excellent job of filtering out loud background music, and both the earpiece and the loudspeaker speaker provided sufficient volume for comfortable conversations. There was a slight digital tone to my voice when there was background noise, but it remained comprehensible. The phone also supports NFC, so you can use it to make contactless payments via Google Wallet — you’d think this would be a given but Motorola doesn’t always have NFC, so it’s worth mentioning!

The 50 XL comes with a large 5,010mAh battery and supports 18W wired charging.

As is common in the segment, there’s no wireless charging here. Charging the TCL 50 XL 5G from 0% to 100% with the included 18W charger took approximately two hours and 40 minutes, although that’s largely due to the fact that the last few percent points take forever to top up to preserve long-term battery health. Charging for about 90 minutes can raise the battery from about 5% to above 80%, and the phone can reach 50% charge in about 45 minutes, which is still better. TCL does include a fast charger in the box, which is worth mentioning now that it’s becoming a less-common feature for phones, even in the budget space.

With a decently sized 5,010mAh cell, expected the TCL 50 XL 5G to wow me with its battery life, but that wasn’t the case. The phone can last through a day of moderate use, but that’s about it. I was getting a screen-on time of about 6-7 hours with mixed usage involving a lot of YouTube videos, Instagram scrolling, and some gaming. I noticed that when the phone got hot during gaming or camera use, it sipped off the battery much faster. Simply put, the phone should last you a full day of use, but don’t expect multi-day battery life out of it.

TCL 50 XL 5G Review image4
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

Camera performance is often the Achilles’ heel of budget phones, and the TCL 50 XL 5G is no exception. While TCL deserves credit for including a triple-camera setup with a dedicated ultrawide lens, the overall results are a mixed bag.

Unfortunately, the ultrawide camera’s low resolution results in muddy pictures with poor detail, and the absence of HDR means it struggles to balance bright and dark areas in photos. It might be useful for the occasional group shot where you need to fit everyone in the frame but don’t expect much in terms of image quality.

The main 50MP shooter, on the other hand, offers a glimmer of hope. By default, it uses pixel-binning to produce 12.5MP images, but you can opt for full-resolution shots if you desire. Although pixel peeping reveals slightly more natural details in the 50MP images and a bit more software sharpening in the 12.5MP ones, the improvements aren’t groundbreaking.

In my testing, I primarily used the auto 12.5MP mode, which delivered mixed results. The photos have a decent amount of detail, and HDR works to prevent overexposure, particularly in bright skies. However, the software processing is inconsistent. Some photos appeared overly saturated, while others lacked contrast and looked washed out.

Selfies follow a similar pattern. They look good at first glance, but closer inspection reveals soft details and an HDR halo effect around the face. Portraits were similarly inconsistent. While the phone does a decent job of preserving skin tones and the portrait mode’s edge detection is passable (as long as you don’t zoom in), images sometimes suffer from soft details and overexposure.

Low-light conditions introduce a lot of noise, and the phone’s lack of a night mode limits its capability in such scenarios. It can still manage usable shots outdoors at night but don’t expect miracles. The main camera also has a macro mode, but the results are soft, and the phone struggles with HDR processing at close range. Video recording is limited to 1080p at 30fps on both front and rear cameras. While electronic image stabilization is present, the stabilized video feels jittery at times. The video quality is decent outdoors but tends to be noisy indoors.

Zooming out to consider the overall performance of this budget camera phone, it is a bit of a mixed bag. The main sensor has the potential to capture decent shots, but it’s held back by inconsistent image processing, a lackluster ultrawide camera, and struggles in low-light conditions. While software updates could potentially address some of these issues, I wouldn’t hold my breath over it.

You can check out all of these camera samples in full-res, along with some other photos I took here.

The TCL 50 XL 5G offers considerable value for its $160 price tag. Its faux leather back looks great, the large 1080p display is perfect for media consumption, and the 6GB of RAM ensures smoother performance than many competitors. The inclusion of an ultrawide camera, expandable storage, and NFC for contactless payments adds to its appeal.

The TCL 50 XL 5G offers considerable value for its $160 price tag, but for a little extra you can get a lot more.

That said, the phone is exclusive to Metro by T-Mobile, and the single promised OS upgrade might not satisfy those looking to keep their phones for the long haul. The battery life could also be better, and TCL’s software image processing isn’t quite on par with Samsung or Motorola, affecting camera performance.

TCL 50 XL 5G
TCL 50 XL 5G
TCL 50 XL 5G
Premium design • Big 1080p display • Decent performance for the price
MSRP: $159.99
The cheapest 5G-ready phone on Metro by T-Mobile.
The TCL 50 XL 5G features a large 6.78-inch 120Hz display, 6GB of RAM, and a 5,010mAh battery, making it a strong contender in the budget segment. It runs on the MediaTek Dimensity 6100 Plus chipset and Android 14 out of the box.

What are the best TCL 50 XL 5G alternatives?

TCL 50 XL 5G Review thumbnail
Rushil Agrawal / Android Authority

For those of you eyeing the TCL 50 XL 5G, here are some other alternatives that might be worth considering:

  • Samsung Galaxy A15 5G ($174.8 at Amazon): The Galaxy A15 5G is currently one of the best phones under $200, bringing a superior, brighter OLED display and faster charging capabilities. It also offers at least four years of software support and isn’t restricted to any specific carrier. On the downside, it only comes with 4GB of RAM and Samsung’s heavier UI, which can result in slightly sluggish performance compared to the TCL 50 XL 5G despite the two phones having the same chipset.
  • Motorola Moto G 5G (2024) ($179.99 at Amazon): Around the same price as the TCL, the Moto G 5G (2024) offers the advantage of being unlocked and occasionally capturing better photos with its main camera. However, it comes with a lower resolution 720p display, a less versatile camera system lacking an ultrawide lens, and less RAM than the TCL.
  • Motorola Moto G Power (2024) ($299.99 at Amazon): If your budget is flexible, the Moto G Power (2024) offers better performance with a stronger chipset and more RAM. It also boasts a more capable camera setup and supports wireless charging. However, it costs considerably more, and like the TCL, it’s only promised one OS update.

TCL 50 XL 5G specs

TCL 50 XL 5G
6.78-inch LCD
2460 x 1080 resolution
120Hz refresh rate
MediaTek Dimensity 6100 Plus
Expandable up to 2TB
5,010mAh battery
18W wired charging
- 50MP wide, f/1.8, AF
- 5MP ultrawide, f/2.2, FF
- 2MP depth

- 8MP, f/2.0
Stereo speakers
Headphone jack
1080p up to 30fps

Faux leather back
Plastic frame
Glass front
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5.3
Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Ports and switches
USB 2.0 via USB-C
Android 14
Dimensions and weight
167.6 x 75.5 x 8.22mm
Slate Gray

TCL 50 XL 5G review: FAQ

No, the TCL 50 XL 5G does not have an IP rating, meaning it’s not officially water or dust-resistant.

The TCL 50 XL 5G comes with minimal pre-loaded apps, though a T-Mobile SIM will add a few T-Mobile-specific apps.

The TCL 50 XL 5G handles lightweight games well but struggles with more resource-intensive games at higher settings.

Yes, the TCL 50 XL 5G has a fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button.

No, the TCL 50 XL 5G does not support wireless charging.

Yes, the TCL 50 XL 5G has a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom.

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