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TCL NXTPAPER 11 review: An okay tablet in e-reader’s clothing

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £220
inc VAT

With its paper-like display, the TCL NXTPAPER 11 is great for e-reading, but it’s fairly unremarkable as a standard tablet


  • Good for e-reading comics
  • Satisfying writing experience
  • Solid battery life


  • Poor colour accuracy
  • Not the brightest display
  • Too much bloatware

Much in the same way that Superman was initially mistaken for a bird and a plane, the TCL NXTPAPER 11 can convincingly pass for both a standard tablet and a Kindle-style e-reader, depending on your perspective. Unlike Superman, however, who isn’t, in fact, a hybrid of bird and plane, the NXTPAPER 11 falls somewhere between a tablet and an e-reader, aiming to offer the best bits of both worlds.

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Of course, the inverse is that the NXTPAPER 11 is also susceptible to the pitfalls of both devices, and it doesn’t manage to completely avoid them as cleanly as it could have. With neither the extensive battery life of a standard e-reader, nor the processing power of a similarly priced tablet, can the NXTPAPER 11 find a niche for itself, or will it fall before it learns to fly?

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TCL NXTPAPER 11 review: What do you get for the money?

The TCL NXTPAPER 11’s display is coated with a wonderfully tactile matte finish that gives it the feel of a traditional e-reader, making it a solid choice for reading comics and other coloured visual content.

Of course, if you’re happy to forgo the paper-like display, you can read comics on any tablet, and the NXTPAPER 11 has some stiff competition on that front. Retailing for £220 – release is expected for mid-November 2023 – the TCL NXTPAPER 11 lands between the Nokia T21 (£200) and the Oppo Pad Air (£239). It’s also in the vicinity of the high-end Kindle Oasis e-reader (£230) and is around £60 cheaper than the dedicated digital notepad, the reMarkable 2 (£279).

Paper-like screen aside, the TCL NXTPAPER 11 is still a true tablet underneath, and therefore has much more in common with the Oppo and Nokia slates. The 259 x 164 x 6.9mm frame is primarily aluminium, and like the Oppo Pad Air and Nokia T21, it looks more sleek and stylish than you’d expect of a budget tablet. At 462g, the NXTPAPER 11 can’t match the Pad Air’s impressive 440g weight, but it does come in a couple of grams lighter than the Nokia T21 (466g).

Unfortunately, the NXTPAPER 11 also follows the lead of those two tablets in that it only comes in one colour. As mentioned, the gunmetal grey rear is stylish enough, and it’s somewhat broken up by a square camera module housing the 8MP camera and a slim black groove that runs the length of the tablet. However, anyone who prefers a splash of colour in their tablet is out of luck.

Flipping it over, there’s a large 10.95in IPS display with a 2K resolution (2,000 x 1,200). In landscape orientation, with the bezel incorporating the 8MP selfie camera at the top, you’ll find the power button on the flat left edge along with two of the quad-speakers. The other pair are on the right edge, flanking the USB-C port, with the top being home to the volume controls and microSD slot, which can expand the storage by up to 1TB.

The microSD slot is a welcome addition, as the NXTPAPER 11 only has 128GB of built-in storage. This is paired with a decent 8GB of RAM and an octa-core MediaTek Helio P60T processor, clocked up to 2.0GHz. Rounding out the internals is a hefty 8,000mAh battery. In addition to providing decent stamina overall, this battery can reverse-charge your other devices, allowing you to top up your phone or earbuds in a pinch.

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TCL NXTPAPER 11 review: What did we like about it?

TCL makes no bones about it: the display is the leading feature here, and for the most part, it deserves to be. I have two main issues with reading comics on Kindles and other e-readers. The most obvious is the lack of full-colour options, which takes a lot of the punch out of most comics, while the other is that comics tend to be printed around A4 size, so you’re losing a lot of space when working with a 6- or 7in display.

As a large, full-colour tablet, the TCL NXTPAPER 11 swats away both of these problems. While the 10.95in display isn’t quite as big as a standard-sized comic, it’s a massive step up from reading on a phone screen. Whether you’re going page-by-page or zooming in one panel at a time, swiping also feels much more satisfying than on a glossy display, and the trail of greasy fingerprints you leave behind is less visible here, too – though catch the right light and you’ll still spot them.

Colours are quite punchy as standard – we’ll talk about their accuracy in a bit – and the contrast and black level are above average for a tablet of this price, measured at 1,591:1 and 0.20cd/m2, respectively. You can choose to swap to the monochrome reading mode to save battery life while reading regular e-books, or flick on the NXTVISION feature, which is designed to boost colour and contrast. I found the difference with the latter to be quite subtle, but it’s easy enough to tap quickly so it’s worth using when you switch over to streaming.

The paper-like finish also improves sketching and note-taking. Unfortunately, TCL’s T-Pen isn’t bundled in with the tablet as standard, and currently doesn’t seem to actually be available in the UK at all. Luckily, the tablet works just fine with third-party styluses, so I was able to test out some scribbles with my own stylus, and I came away very impressed. It wasn’t at the same level as a dedicated digital notepad, such as the reMarkable 2, but it also doesn’t cost as much.

The slight drag of the matte surface adds a level of precision to writing and drawing that makes it feel more natural. There’s no universal palm rejection setting on the tablet so I was limited to apps that offered the function themselves, but those are plentiful enough that this was never an issue. The tablet came preloaded with the free version of the Jnotes app, and I found writing here to be both fluid and accurate, tracking my pen strokes well and leaving a solid facsimile of my handwriting on the page.

Whether you’re opening a notes app or jumping from Netflix to Comixology, you’re likely to encounter the odd micropause before the app opens. The MediaTek Helio P60T chipset isn’t the fastest out there – as you can see below, the Oppo Pad Air pulls around 12% ahead in the multicore benchmarks – but it mostly performs about as well as I’d expect for a tablet of this price. Minor delays aside, I never found operation to be too lethargic, even when keeping multiple apps open.

TCL NXTPAPER 11 review - Geekbench 5 CPU performance chart

The trend of acceptable but not exceptional continues with the GPU benchmarks. You don’t expect much in the way of gaming prowess from a budget tablet, and while this one definitely won’t change your mind, it at least performs well enough to not fall behind the competition. If your gaming habits are more in the realms of Candy Crush and Solitaire than 3D fare like Call of Duty, the NXTPAPER 11 is perfectly sufficient.

TCL NXTPAPER 11 review - GFXBench GPU performance chart

Where the TCL NXTPAPER 11 really pulls ahead of the competition is with the battery life. With our standard looping video test, the NXTPAPER 11 lasted for an impressive 15hrs 19mins. This still can’t reach the Olympian efforts of the Oppo Pad Air, but it’s reasonable enough for this price, and is a good couple of hours ahead of both the Nokia T21 and Honor Pad 8.

TCL NXTPAPER 11 review - Battery life chart

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TCL NXTPAPER 11 review: What could be improved?

We’ve already covered the benefits of the display, but unfortunately, there are also some negatives to throw into the mix. The ability to read comics on a tablet that feels like an e-reader is great, but anyone who is particular about exact colour reproduction will be in for a frustrating read. To be clear, I never found that any colours looked outrageously iffy while using the tablet, it’s just that there’s quite a gulf between the targeted shade and what shows up on the screen.

There are two colour modes on offer – Vivid and Natural – and neither one of them comes anywhere close to target. Using a colorimeter, I measured an sRGB gamut coverage of 93.6% on the Natural mode, with a total volume of 117.3%. This, along with an average Delta E colour variance score of 4.59, speaks to fairly poor accuracy, with the latter result especially being quite some way off the target value of 1.

The colorimeter didn’t finish poking holes there, either. TCL claims an improved maximum brightness of around 500nits on the NXTPAPER 11 compared to the previous generation, but even on auto brightness and with a torch shining on the ambient light sensor I couldn’t get the peak past 380cd/m2. This is still reasonable enough for a budget tablet and is fine for indoor viewing, but it doesn’t hold up particularly well to direct sunlight, so it won’t be replacing standard e-readers any time soon.

Software as a whole doesn’t particularly deserve to be in this section – the launcher, running on Android 13, is relatively clean, with neutral icons and simple menus – but it was dragged down under the weight of its bloatware. Some preinstalled apps make enough sense to be forgivable, such as the aforementioned Jnotes, but the likes of, Webnovel and the WPS Office suite are more egregious inclusions.

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TCL NXTPAPER 11 review: Should you buy it?

If you fit the niche of a comics reader looking for a large-screened, full-colour device, the TCL NXTPAPER 11 is for you. Colours, while inaccurate, are decent enough, contrast is particularly sharp and, of course, the paper-like display is very satisfying for reading and flicking through pages.

The problem is that the NXTPAPER 11’s mass appeal starts and ends there. As an affordable Android tablet, it has nothing to offer that isn’t done better elsewhere: the Oppo Pad Air is faster and lasts longer, the Nokia T21 is better value for money and the reMarkable 2 handles digital note taking more effectively, albeit for a higher price. If you want to e-read comics, this is a decent enough way to do it, but for anything else, I can’t recommend that you choose the NXTPAPER 11.

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