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How good can a $99 smartphone be? This new one looks surprisingly great

The front and back of the TCL 50 XE 5G smartphone.
TCL

If you have $99 to spare and need a new Android phone, you may want to check out the new TCL 50 XE 5G, now available from Verizon Prepaid. This newest offering from TCL offers productivity and good performance while remaining accessible to everyone at a very low price.

The TCL 50 XE 5G has a 6.56-inch HD+ display powered by TCL’s NXTVISION technology. This means that color, contrast, and clarity are optimized for users in real time, providing a screen that probably looks a lot better than what you’d expect at this price. Like other TCL phones, the NXTVISION app provides users with multiple settings for optimal visuals, whether they’re watching videos, playing games, or reading.

The TCL 50 XE 5G’s display has a 90Hz refresh rate and 180Hz touch sampling rate. Though it’s not quite as good as 120Hz on other phones, 90Hz will still provide relatively smooth scrolling and animations, and gaming sessions will have decent screen responsiveness. Plus, for a $99 phone, anything above 60Hz is an unexpected treat.

Someone taking a TCL 50 XE 5G smartphone out of a handbag.
TCL

TCL packed a MediaTek Dimensity 6100+ MT56835 chip inside, along with 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. You can expand that storage up to 2TB with a microSD card. It ships with Android 14 out of the box and has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor with face unlock. With these specs, the TCL 50 XE 5G should have enough power for the average person. It also has 5G connectivity for high-speed downloads and streaming.

For photos and video, the TCL 50 XE 5G has a 50-megapixel main camera, a 2MP depth camera, a 5MP ultrawide camera lens, and an 8MP selfie camera. Although the megapixel counts for the depth and ultrawide cameras aren’t particularly impressive, getting this many camera sensors on a $99 smartphone is pretty cool.

The front and back of the TCL 50 XE 5G smartphone.
TCL

There is a 5,010mAh battery inside the TCL 50 XE 5G that should be able to last all day and then some. You also have the TCL Smart Manager app that can extend that battery life even further with Battery Saver mode and other optimizations. The phone supports up to 18W USB-C fast charging.

The TCL 50 XE 5G won’t be the absolute best phone out there, but for $99, it doesn’t look too shabby at all. You can buy it now from Verizon Prepaid.

Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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