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TCL 305i – The only certainty: I threw €60 in the rubbish bin

Personally, I'm a huge fan of cheap smartphones, but how far can we go in saving without throwing money in the dustbin? From the title you will have already understood that today we are talking about TCL 305i, a decidedly economical device, with a price below 60 euros, but the experience with it was disastrous and now I will tell you everything in this review, because after all a a service like ours (that of reviewing products) also serves to warn you about what not to buy.

unboxing

Let's start by analyzing the contents of the package, which doesn't include much, but we couldn't expect much considering the ridiculous expense incurred to purchase the device. Specifically, the sales box is made of cardboard (probably recycled) but inside there is plastic present to accompany the few accessories supplied which include: pin for removing the SIM tray, manuals, micro USB power and data transfer cable and Charger with European connection with 5V-1A/5W output. No protective film on the display, no headphones, no protective cover for the smartphone. In short, the unboxing is really reduced to a minimum.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

Right out of the box, the TCL 305i looks like a smartphone from another era. Definitely old-fashioned design and overly plasticky materials, but overall it fits, we paid less than 60 euros for it. Available in two different colors, Prime Black and Muse Blue, the back is a single body with profiles where we find a vertically engraved texture which gives a classic style and offers a better grip, guaranteeing resistance over time. On the back we find, in addition to the brand logo and various CE indications, also the single rear camera accompanied by an LED flash. Good thing is that the room isn't protruding at all.

The profiles, made of opaque plastic, house the second microphone and headphone jack on the upper side, hybrid SIM tray (2 nano SIM or 1 nano SIM and micro SD), volume rocker and on/off button and finally on the side at the bottom we find the main microphone, mono speaker and micro USB input for charging the device. The dimensions of the phone are equal to 164,7 x 75 x 8,6 mm for a weight of 173 grams, which overall allow the TCL 305i to be used even with a single hand and not to weigh down the hand in the case of prolonged use. The biometric sensor for unlocking with a fingerprint is absent, therefore the phone will be unlocked with the classic PIN/Pattern or via face recognition, although the latter function is not among the most reliable and rapid.

DISPLAY

Even the front of the smartphone does not scream modernity, offering a display set in frames that are decidedly significant in thickness and a teardrop notch which integrates the earpiece capsule and the proximity sensor in the upper part. In fact, we do not have the automatic brightness sensor available, which reaches a maximum of 380 nits, but I admit that readability under direct sunlight is not bad.

We are talking about a 6.52″ panel with HD+ resolution (720 x 1600 pixels) of IPS type in 20:9 format, with 1000:1 contrast, 70% NTSC color gamut and 269 ppi. I used a few technical specifications to season the judgment on this screen which in fact does not support HDR nor L1 DRM, but above all struggles to play multimedia content at 1080p on YouTube. In fact, in the classic test video, the images are jerky and overall the colors are partially mixed. In short, a disappointment that I would not have expected, considering that TCL is one of the biggest and best brands in terms of screens.

HARDWARE

Ready to have a laugh? Our economical smartphone is equipped with a CPU that dates back to 2017 and specifically the MediaTek MT6739, a quad core solution clocked at 1.5 GHz and a 28nm production process which is accompanied by the IMG GE8100 GPU @450 MHz while the RAM relies on the 2 GB LPDDR3 and 32/64 GB eMMC 5.1 storage expandable via micro SD up to 512 GB. I wouldn't have expected latest generation hardware equipment but the combo of components used, decidedly obsolete in 2024, offers performance that will make you want to throw away the phone.

Infinite app loading times, slowdowns, phone restarts, uncertainties and non-existent navigation fluidity cause negative emotions to grow in the user, who, although armed with patience, cannot accept not being able to play even a recreational game with ridiculous games like Fruit Ninja . Even opening standard applications such as Google Maps or Whatsapp requires time and luck.

Poco to say on the autonomy front which is based on a 4000 mAh battery with 5W charging, slow, very slow. In fact, it takes over 5 hours to get full energy, which will simply lead to a full day of smartphone use. And God forbid, considering the old-fashioned hardware used.

SOFTWARE AND CONNECTIVITY

Another sore point is the software that drives our TCL 305i. We are talking about the Android 11 Go Edition OS with security patches stopped in September 2022. Considering the absence of the biometric reader and old software, I certainly do not recommend it for the use of banking or financial apps. In addition to this it must also be said that the 32 GB of internal memory are too small for the phone, but to give the final blow TCL has also decided to include some bloatware which actually weighs down the system. Fortunately they can be removed.

The TCL 305i offers 4G connectivity which overall amazed me by achieving speeds above expectations. I also liked the telephone dialer, customized by TCL and which includes smart contact search but above all allows you to record phone calls without going through Google. Here I would recommend purchasing the smartphone for this reason alone. The rest of the multimedia component then includes Bluetooth 4.2, GPS and 2.4 GHz WiFi in addition to the aforementioned micro USB port with OTG support and headphone jack, which can only be used for music and videos but not for FM radio which is absent. The mono speaker offers a decidedly high volume but no bass. Good audio on calls while fluctuating behavior for the proximity sensor.

A note about GPS and WiFi: in the first case the satellite fix is ​​rather quick but navigation on foot is really frustrating. I found myself looking for a place in Turin and setting off on foot through the historic centre, arriving at my destination by pure luck, because the smartphone was constantly recalculating the route and position. WiFi, on the other hand, often disconnects, so for streaming I'd say we can look elsewhere.

CAMERA AND VIDEO

Fortunately, the TCL 305i offers a single lens on the rear and one on the front, without inserting sensors for marketing purposes which are then of no use. The main camera has a capacity of 13 MP f/2.2 equipped with PDAF and automatic HDR support for photos with the possibility of recording videos at 1080p 30fps, while the selfie camera relies on a 5 MP f/2.2 sensor.

The results obtained with the selfie camera are very insufficient, not so much for the final quality of the shots but for the constant presence of an unbalanced dynamic range and above all for the burnt effect obtained around the framed subject.

The photos taken with the main camera have a higher quality but the "smudged" effect is always a constant in the shots that fail to immortalize the reality of the colors. In night conditions I didn't even have the courage to publish the shots while for the videos there is a lack of any form of stabilization, but above all the sensor struggles in backlight. I won't add anything else so as not to become mean towards this TCL 305i which in my opinion is not good even for the grandfather who wants to capture the photo of his grandson, also because the shutter speed is not a plus point, losing the moment to seize on the fly. The focus in videos is PDAF and works quite well but in photos you often find yourself with the subject framed out of focus.

PRICE AND CONCLUSIONS

It's true, the TCL 305i costs very little, less than 60 euros on the Amazon store with Prime shipping and appropriate guarantee, but we should spend the money saved for the purchase of this terminal on anxiolytics and sedatives, because the user experience is truly dramatic . I don't want to beat around the bush too much and therefore I advise against purchasing this smartphone unless you are really looking for a super mule but above all if you are interested in having the call recording function, which is now unobtainable everywhere.

6 Total score
TCL 305i

At less than 60 euros, the TCL 305i might seem like a bargain if you don't have high expectations. I assure you that however little it may be, it will be the worst money ever spent.

CONFEZIONE
5.6
DESIGN AND MATERIALS
5.8
DISPLAY
6
HARDWARE
5.5
AUDIO AND RECEPTION
6.1
SOFTWARE
5.7
CAMERA
6
BATTERY
6.8
ERGONOMICS
6.4
USER EXPERIENCE
4.6
PRICE
7.6
PROS
  • PRICE
  • IT IS POSSIBLE TO RECORD CALLS
  • HEADPHONE JACK
  • EXPANDABLE MEMORY
CONS
  • ABSENCE OF FM RADIO
  • NO BIOMETRIC SENSOR
  • SLOTH PERFORMANCE
  • ANDROID VERSION AND PATCHES STOP UNTIL 2022
Add your review
Emanuele Iafulla
Emanuele Iafulla

Nerd, Geek, Netizen, terms that do not belong to me. Simply myself, technology lover and provocative as Xiaomi does with his products. High quality at fair prices, a real provocation for the other most famous brands.

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