TCL unveiled its NxtPaper 2.0 technology early in 2023, which is a panel with a special coating that gives the device a paper-like feeling. One of the first phones with it is the TCL 40 NxtPaper 5G, and we finally have a unit with us.
The phone is an affordable device with two key features – first is obviously the screen, the other is the next-gen connectivity, achieved with a Dimensity 6020 chipset. The display itself has a 6.6” diagonal and HD+ resolution, but it’s the unique properties of the paper-like finish that set it apart.
Other specs include a 5,000 mAh battery with 15W charging, a 50 MP camera on the back, a fingerprint scanner on the side, and a 3.5 mm audio jack on the bottom, next to the USB-C.
Alright, let’s get to the proper unboxing. The retail box is made to resemble a book, including the leathery texture because the 40 NxtPaper 5G is extra comfortable for reading. We flip the hardcover and then the transparent first page to get to the device. Opening the “book” in the middle gets us to the USB-A to USB-C cable and the SIM tray ejector pin – there is no charger in the box.
We are rather unimpressed with TCL deciding to skip the adapter, but since the charging speed is nothing spectacular, we guess any old USB-A charger lying around the house would serve. The phone itself is nicely light with a plastic body that also has a paper-like feel to it.
Powering and setting up the device is pretty straightforward, no different from any other Android smartphone. The screen is fast, and nothing like other e-ink gadgets – the touch screen is responsive to all kinds of touches. Colors do look a bit dull at first glance, but we’ll make sure to do more detailed comparisons.
There is still a setting for the display colors, and the Vivid mode is rather tame. There is no glare or reflection, and fingerprints are not an issue, allowing the screen to be enjoyed practically from all angles.
There is Nxtpaper mode, which has two settings – Color paper and Ink paper. Here is where the change is visible – colors are toned down and not vibrant. The full color picture is still there; 4K videos are running smoothly at 60 fps but the brightness is low to make it easy on the eyes.
Ink paper mode strips away all colors and makes everything on the display black or white. Combined with the lack of blue light, it is a new visual sensation, that’s really easy on the eyes.
Changing between the modes also affects how icons appear on the screen, but you cannot take a fully black and white screenshot – the effect is applied only on the panel, not the actual system.
TCL is currently selling the 40 NxtPaper 5G in Europe for €250/£220 for the only 6/256 GB memory variant. It is definitely a phone worth considering if you value eye comfort above performance.