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You can probably guess what makes the TCL Stylus 5G special

The TCL Stylus 5G’s name gives away what makes it special, a hidden stylus ready to scribble notes on the screen. It’s not the first phone we’ve seen with a stylus, but it is the first from TCL, and it’s also a lot cheaper than the best-known stylus-boasting phone out there. You can head over to T-Mobile today and buy one for just $258.

What do you get for that? The stylus is likely the main reason you’ll be checking out the phone, but don’t expect a Bluetooth-equipped pen like the one inside a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The TCL Stylus 5G’s stylus is a passive device, so there’s no battery or requirement to charge it up. TCL isn’t saying much about the specification, but promises a 38% lower latency when compared to other phones with a stylus at a similar price. This means its tests wouldn’t include the S22 Ultra, but the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G is far more likely.

TCL Stylus 5G held in a woman's hand while using the stylus on the screen.

It can be used to take notes, sketch, and annotate screenshots on the phone’s screen as you’d expect, but to increase its usefulness TCL has bundled a couple of handy apps — Nebo and MyScript Calculator 2. Nebo provides handwriting to text conversion to turn your notes into full documents ready for use on a computer, while MyScript Calculator 2 performs mathematic calculations written out using the stylus. The phone also has an e-signature system to sign digital documents.

TCL Stylus 5G held in a woman's hand and seen from the back.

The stylus is housed inside its own compartment in the phone, where it’s secured in place by magnets and released by a familiar pop-and-pull action. The TCL Stylus 5G itself has a 6.81-inch LCD screen with a 2460 x 1080 pixel resolution, a 120Hz touch sampling rate, and various TCL enhancements including a reading mode, blue light filtering, and improved sharpness and clarity when watching video or viewing images.

Power is delivered by a MediaTek Dimemsity 700 processor with 4GB of RAM, and the 128GB of storage space is joined by a MicroSD card slot to add up to 2TB additional space. On the back of the phone are a 50-megapixel main camera and a pair of 2MP cameras for depth and macro duties. Android 12 is installed and TCL will deliver at least one major update and two years of security updates. Finally, there’s a 4,000mAh battery inside the device.

For now, the TCL Stylus 5G is a T-Mobile exclusive. Through T-Mobile it costs $258, but if you go to Metro by T-Mobile you’ll have to pay $269 for the phone. TCL said it will be available elsewhere later in the year, so if T-Mobile isn’t for you but the TCL Stylus 5G fits your requirements, have patience for a little while.

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