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The TCL NXTPAPER 11 is a budget Android tablet with a difference

TCL unveils 11in Android tablet is slim, light and very easy on the eye

European technology firm TCL has taken the opportunity at MWC 2023 to launch a pair of budget tablets alongside a new cheap smartphone.

The trio all cost less than €300 and the tablets in particular look rather good value for money.

The TCL NXTPAPER 11 comes with a large 11in 2K (2,000 x 1,000) display with TCL’s own NXTPAPER technology attached. This is, essentially, a multi-layered film laminated to the display that’s aimed at reducing eye strain and creating a paper-like feel when using the optional stylus. It isn’t the first time TCL has used the technology on one of its tablets but this is a new and improved version, with 150% higher brightness at up to 500 nits and it has an light sensor that adapts the colour temperature to match the ambient light in the room.

Underneath is a traditional LCD panel but the overall impression is that it’s a bit like an e-ink screen but in full, glorious colour. I like it, especially the extra friction the matte finish gives to your stylus as you scribble.

Otherwise, the tablet is slim and reasonably good looking. It has chopped, flat edges, aping the iPad and iPad Pro design, a lightweight aluminium chassis weighing 462g and it supports the use of TCL’s T-Pen stylus with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Alas, that isn’t included in the box – you have to pay for it separately, although considering the tablet only costs €249 to start with, that’s understandable.

It has a large 8,000mAh battery and reverse charging, an 8MP camera at the rear and an 8MP ultra-wide unit at the front. Hiding within the chassic is a cluster of four speakers and a dual mic array and rounding off the specifications is a MediaTek Helio P60T octa-core processor, a generous 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The tablet runs Android 13.

The second tablet – the TCL Tab 11 – is a more traditional affair and comes with a regular gloss-finish LCD screen measuring 11in across the diagonal and with, you guessed it, a resolution of 2K (2,000 x 1,000). It looks remarkably similar to the NXTPAPER with its lightweight, iPad-like design, square camera housing and textured rear panel.

I prefer the NXTPAPER version but this isn’t bad for €199. It comes with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and a big sharp display that supports stylus use isn’t half bad. The battery is a huge 8,000mAh and, just like the NXTPAPER, it has a MediaTek Helio P60T octa-core processor, running Android 13.

Last on the list is the TCL’s latest budget smartphone, the TCL 406. It comes with a large 6.6in, 720 x 1,612 NXTVISION display rated at a maximum of 400 nits brightness, a large 5,000mAh battery and is powered by a MediaTek Helio G25, backed up by 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It has a 13MP f/2.2 rear camera, a 5MP f/2.2 selfie camera and costs a reasonable €129.

Given the price, I rather like the design. Its textured back feels pleasant in the hand and the phone itself is lightweight and responsive in use, although that MediaTek processor does mean it won’t be able to keep up with the latest flagships and it doesn’t come with 5G.

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Early verdict

Of all these three new products, it’s the NXTPAPER 11 that most intrigues. The e-ink-style matte finish looks and feels different to the usual offerings and it makes the tablet much nicer to use with a stylus than a regular gloss-finish display.

Moreover, it’s good to see some competition, at last, for Apple in the budget Android tablet space that isn’t an Amazon Fire device. If you’re looking for a budget tablet in 2023 with stylus support, it could well be one to put on your list.

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First Look