Best Of IFA 2019: TCL Plex

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The TCL Plex marks the arrival of a new and serious smartphone player

The TCL Plex was unveiled during IFA 2019 and it's an interesting phone.

This wasn't the most premium, feature-rich, or best phone announced at IFA. Although that matters less compared to what the TCL Plex represents.

This is a phone that confirms there's now a new smartphone player in town. One you will want to pay attention to.

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TCL stepping up to the smartphone plate

TCL is not new to the smartphone game. After all, it is the company who brings Alcatel and BlackBerry Mobile branded phones to the U.S. market.

The TCL Plex, however, is something different altogether. This is phone arriving under the TCL brand banner and that makes it an entirely different proposition. It's not attempting to trade on the Alcatel or BlackBerry Mobile names, but on the company's own merit instead.

It's also only the start of what's to come from TCL smartphones and that makes it all the more exciting. TCL has already confirmed 5G and foldable devices are coming.

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Plex is the building block for future TCL phones

In a world where phone brands try their hand at TVs, TCL is moving in the opposite direction. TCL TVs are popular options and many of the company's TV design elements can be directly seen in the Plex. The display being the most obvious example.

TCL actually announced the Plex by stating it was bringing its "display expertise to smartphones." That's no small claim, and one the company appears to be backing up.

For example, TCL brought out all the marketing guns when announcing the Plex. The company notes how the phone features "a dedicated display engine," "advanced display optimization," "enriched color, clarity and contrast enhancement," "SDR to HDR real-time conversion," to name a few.

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While there's plenty of display keywords here to dazzle you, TCL is also keen to protect your eyes from all the dazzling. Drawing on how the Plex's 6.53-inch FHD "Dotch" display and its 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, comes with features to protect against eye strain. These include a variety of different modes, such as "Adaptive Tone," "Reading Mode" and "Eye Comfort Mode."

More than just a display

While having a good display is great, the ability to capture good content to view back on that display is equally important. And a point not lost on TCL as the cameras are the other big Plex selling point.

First up, there's a triple rear camera setup in play. If you need the hard numbers, then the setup is comprised of a 48-megapixel main sensor coupled with a 16-megapixel super wide-angle sensor. The third is a 2-megapixel sensor specifically designed to improve low-light capturing.

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There's plenty of software tweaking in effect here too, including the use of an algorithm that TCL states will improve the output when shooting with the camera's AI-driven auto-mode enabled.

The overall point of this part of the Plex's IFA announcement is the phone is designed to capture the best images possible and then let you view them in the best possible light on the phone's display.

The TCL Plex is a display-first phone and that's a good thing

Again, TCL could have simply pumped the Plex full of specs that on paper would be the main selling point. However, TCL knows what it is good at and wants to offer products that specifically tap into those strengths.

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That's an approach that's not often seen anymore with most phone brands simply adding as much as they can in a bid to be a catch-all product. By utilizing an approach like this, many companies run the risk of their products lacking an identity.

That's unlikely to be the case with TCL smartphones if the company sticks to the "Display Greatness" philosophy set out by the TCL Plex.

Not to mention, one of the additional benefits of focusing on one's own strengths is the pricing. While many will label this as a mid-range phone, that also means it priced in the mid range.

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