TCL’s Tab 10 5G ($299.99) stands out from the crowd of Android tablets thanks to its long battery life, snappy performance, and 5G support. We’re not fans of its paltry 32GB of storage or TCL’s weak software upgrade commitment, but the Tab 10 5G easily blows competitors like the Nuu Tab 10 ($299.99) out of the water and offers a much better value than TCL’s pricey Tab Pro 5G ($399.99). If you need fast cellular connectivity from your tablet, it’s a good bet, though the Wi-Fi only Lenovo Tab 11 Plus ($259.99) remains our Editors’ Choice winner because of its more affordable price and sharper display.
An Appealing Design With a Vibrant Screen
The Tab 10 5G is available only in gray, which gives it an understated but attractive aesthetic. The bezels around the screen are a bit large, though they don’t look out of place. The back and sides are formed by a textured matte plastic material that doesn’t attract fingerprints and feels sturdy in the hand. TCL doesn’t sell a case (or any first-party accessories), so we appreciate the solid build quality.
The tablet measures 9.5 by 6.2 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 17.3 ounces, which is typical for its 10-inch screen size. The Nuu Tab 10 (10.3 by 6.0 by 0.4 inches, 18.2 ounces) is just slightly larger and heavier, for reference.
(Credit: Dave LeClair)
Button placement feels comfortable. The right side houses a volume rocker, while the power button sits on the top edge. The latter is a slightly unusual design choice (locating the power button on the left or right rail is more common), but it works fine in practice. Otherwise, speakers on the top and bottom produce stereo sound, while a combined SIM/microSD tray and a USB-C charging port reside on the bottom edge. There’s no fingerprint reader or other biometrics, so you must choose between PIN, pattern, or face unlock methods to secure the device.
The tablet’s 10.1-inch, 16:10 display has a resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels. It looks brighter and more colorful than we expected and easily outclasses that of the Nuu Tab 10 (10.1 inches, 1,920 by 1,200 pixels). We even think it looks comparable with the entry-level Apple iPad (10.2 inches, 2,160 by 1,620 pixels). There isn’t support for high-end display features like Dolby Vision, but the Tab 10 5G is still perfectly fine for watching movies and shows.
The Tab 10 5G uses a Dragontrail glass screen(Opens in a new window) and has an IP5X rating. We can’t say for sure how Dragontrail glass compares with Gorilla Glass, but the IP rating means the tablet resists dust ingress to a serious degree, though it isn’t at all waterproof.
Surprisingly Good Performance
The TCL Tab 10 5G offers decent specs for the price. It comes with a MediaTek Kompanio 800T octa-core chip and 4GB of RAM. Unfortunately, it has only 32GB of onboard storage. After accounting for system files, you won’t have much space for apps, games, or media files of your own. That’s why the microSD slot (which supports cards up to 512GB) is so important here. The Lenovo Tab P11 Plus, for comparison, offers double the built-in storage and also has a microSD card slot.
The tablet vastly exceeded our expectations on performance benchmarks. Starting with the PCMark Work 3.0 test, which simulates everyday tasks like web browsing and video editing, it scored 9,312 where the Nuu Tab 10 managed only 3,864. That’s a huge gap in performance for activities common on affordable tablets.
(Credit: Dave LeClair)
TCL’s tablet scored 448 and 1,688 on the Geekbench 5 single-core and multi-core tests, respectively, while the Nuu Tab reached 123 and 526 on those same tests. The Lenovo Tab P11 Plus beat the TCL on the single-core test with 500, but fell slightly behind on the multi-core test with 1,592.
To evaluate gaming performance, we ran GFXBench’s Aztec Ruins test at the device’s native resolution and 1440p offscreen. It achieves 9.5 and 5.7 frames per seconds (fps) on those benchmarks. Those numbers might not seem impressive, but they exceed the Nuu Tab 10’s results of 2.5 and 1.4fps. Anecdotally, the TCL tablet didn’t heat up much when we ran these intense benchmarks, which is always a good sign.
Ultimately, the TCL Tab 10 5G feels good as a daily driver. Everything we used it for ran smoothly, and with 5G connectivity, you have a tablet that’s always connected and ready to use you go.
As for audio, the tablet produces decent sound from its stereo speakers. It isn’t going to replace your Bluetooth headphones or portable speaker. We tested bass response with The Knife’s “Silent Shout” first. The speakers don’t distort much at maximum volume levels, but the low-end lacks power. Moving to Gojira’s “Stranded,” which stresses the treble response a bit more, the speakers sound good; they hit the high notes and riffs of the guitar smoothly.
Fast 5G Connectivity
The tablet supports T-Mobile’s 5G network, which means you can get a fast connection without Wi-Fi in many places. For reference, T-Mobile offers a $60-per-month standalone unlimited data plan for the tablet, which falls to $20 per month if associated with a voice line.
To test network performance, we took the Tab 10 for a drive around a small town in southern Connecticut. We ran speed tests in environments with both strong and weak connections. It performed similarly to the iPhone 14 Pro Max except for areas with a weak signal, where the iPhone took the lead. For example, in a fairly weak spot for T-Mobile coverage, the iPhone had download speeds of 46Mbps, where the TCL tablet averaged only 11Mbps.
(Credit: Dave LeClair)
We evaluated Wi-Fi performance against the Nuu Tab 10. Both have Wi-Fi 5 radios, so it’s an even playing field. We ran tests both close to the router as well as at the edge of its range. There’s not much of a difference between the two here. Close to the router, the TCL Tab 10 reached download speeds around 354Mbps, where the Nuu Tab averaged 324Mbps. When we relocated to the network’s edge, the tablets averaged 13Mbps and 14Mbps, respectively.
The Tab 10 has Bluetooth 5.1. It’s not the latest Bluetooth standard, but it should be just fine for most users. Unfortunately, there’s no NFC, though you probably won’t want to walk into your local store and make a mobile payment with a 10-inch tablet anyway.
Extensive Battery Life
To test battery life, we stream a long YouTube video with the screen at maximum brightness over Wi-Fi and record how long the tablet lasts. The TCL Tab 10 managed to run for 10 hours and 22 minutes, a result that impressively beats the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus (7 hours and 58 minutes), the Nuu Tab 10 (7 hours and 5 minutes), and the standard iPad (5 hours and 18 minutes).
An 18W charger is in the box, which is relatively fast for a device in this price range. It took about 3 hours and 20 minutes to fully charge the slate’s 8,000mAh battery, which is in line with the charger’s 18W rating.
The TCL 10 5G provides a basic 8MP camera on the rear and a 5MP camera on the front. Neither is likely to blow you away.
(Credit: Dave LeClair)
You need good lighting to get decent photos and videos from the rear camera. If something important happens and this is the only camera available, it captures passable images, but your phone’s camera is likely to be the better bet. You do get 1080p video capture at 30fps, however, which is a decent perk.
Photos taken in indoor light look muddy and washed out (Credit: Dave LeClair)
For video chats, the front-facing camera does a good enough job. In testing, the person on the other end of the call could see me just fine. As mentioned, the front-facing camera also enables the face unlock feature, though it’s not as secure as Apple’s Face ID.
Android 12 Is the End of the Line
TCL opts for a relatively stock version of Android 12 here. As for extras, the company’s NXTvision feature is available, which can bump up the display’s highlights and contrast.
TCL says it will provide two years of security patches, but doesn’t intend to release any full Android version updates. That’s a major drawback for anyone planning to use the tablet for more than a couple of years, particularly because Android 13 is already available to device makers and has been for some time. The tablet-friendly Android 12L build isn’t likely to reach the Tab 10 5G either, which is disappointing.
It’s common for more affordable Android devices to include fewer upgrades than their pricey peers, however, and Android 12 is at least a step up from the Nuu Tab 10’s outdated Android 11 software. That said, if you value consistent software upgrades, Apple’s iPad lineup is a much better bet.
A Good Value for the Price
TCL packs a lot of value into the $300 Tab 10 5G. It exceeded our expectations across the board with strong performance, a high-quality screen, and long battery life. The addition of 5G support makes it a good travel companion. We prefer it over the company’s Tab Pro 5G because it offers many of the same features for a lower price. That said, the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus and Apple’s iPad remain our favorite low-cost tablets overall because of their superior builds and higher-resolution screens. Neither offers 5G cellular connectivity (the iPad comes in a 4G model), however, which could tip the scales in TCL’s favor for frequent travelers.
The Bottom Line
If you’re in the market for a 5G-capable Android tablet with peppy performance, the budget-friendly TCL Tab 10 5G for T-Mobile fits the bill.
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