All efforts to relieve eye strain and fatigue from excessive phone usage have been directed through two distinct routes. Brands that refuse to compromise a display’s colors and brightness have added measures to tame vibrant colors through blue light filters or monochrome modes. Meanwhile, those making devices primarily for reading have opted for paper-like displays.
Both approaches have inescapable pros and cons, but TCL is now taking the middle route, being the first brand to offer a smartphone display that is as fluid as an LCD or OLED, but also as lulling as electronic paper or e-paper screens.
TCL’s budget smartphones in the 40 series feature its proprietary “NXTPAPER” display technology, previously seen on some of its tablets and laptops. Designed to alleviate eye strain from continuous phone usage, the “e-paper-like” color display comes with an antireflective layer over a standard LCD and results in a bright and useful screen that is not arduous to look at, especially in lowlight. The display is mated to a sensor that automatically adjusts the warmth of the colors based on the ambiance and the time of the day. A bunch of software options can dial down the colors further, allowing you to read on the phone for longer.
Besides the unique display, the TCL 40 NXTPAPER series phones strictly cater to the midrange buyer. Here’s what each of them has to offer.
TCL 40 NXTPAPER
The first of the two phones is the TCL 40 NXTPAPER, a 4G-only phone with a 6.78-inch Full HD+ display. It is powered by a MediaTek Helio G88 chipset and 8GB of RAM. You get 256GB of storage that can be expanded up to 2TB with a microSD card.
A 50MP primary camera on the back is complemented by a 5MP ultrawide-angle lens and a 2MP macro camera. On the front, you get a 32MP selfie camera inside a hole-punch cutout.
A 5,000mAh battery drives the TCL 40 NXTPAPER, which can be replenished with a 33-watt fast charger included in the box. The phone also gets dual speakers, along with HD audio tuning by DTS.
TCL 40 NXTPAPER 5G
Besides the LTE-only variant, the TCL 40 NXTPAPER also gets a 5G model that doesn’t have much in common with the other model. The 5G variant is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 700, along with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 1TB using microSD. It gets a less vibrant 6.6-inch HD+ display with a teardrop notch that houses an 8MP camera.
Like the 4G model, the TCL 40 NXTPAPER 5G gets 50MP primary and 2MP macro cameras. Instead of the ultrawide-angle feature, however, it gets a 2MP depth sensor, which the phone could have done well without.
The 5G variant gets a similarly powerful battery, with a 5,010mAh rating, but without any fast charging. It supports a peak charging speed of 15W, but TCL only supplies a 10W charger in the box.
Both phones have Android 13 with a guaranteed update to Android 14 — but not beyond. Both also offer NFC support and are equipped with side-facing fingerprint scanners.
TCL will first launch the 40 NXTPAPER smartphones in Europe, starting with the LTE model arriving in September for 199 euros ($215). The 5G variant will join it in October for 249 euros ($270).
The company hasn’t yet confirmed any plans to release the two phones in the U.S., but says they will be available in more global markets over the coming months.