TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G Review – The Paper-like Experience That Excites Me

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I am particularly looking forward to this review. Why? Because the last time I owned a TCL phone was back in the early days of Android 6 (Froyo), sometime in 2010. I honestly can’t remember the exact model name but it was a TCL phone. It was a remarkable phone at that time. And I absolutely loved it. 

Fast forward to 2023, TCL is still making smartphones and one of their latest releases is the new TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G. If you’re wondering why it is called NXTPaper, it is because the display looks and feels like paper. You know the Kindle Book that has a paper-like display with electronic ink? This feels the same, but better. Hence why it is called the NXTPaper Display. 

At first, I was sceptical of how the display would look. But after a few days using the new TCL 40 NXTPaper, I came to love the display. It has a matte finish, but it is not because of the matte screen protector. The display itself is made to have matte finish, and it feels so much better than a matte screen protector. And the textured PC back cover feels like paper too. It seamlessly blends with the front display perfectly. Among all the smartphones I have tested, by far this has the best feel while holding it in my hand. 

So here’s my honest thoughts about it…

First Look and Design

The new TCL 40 NXTPaper comes with a  6.6” NXTPaper Display with a V-notch that houses the 8MP front facing selfie camera. The display comes with a HD+ 720×1612 screen resolution with 84% screen-to-body ratio, at 20:9 display ratio. The NXTPaper Display has an anti-fingerprint coating to eliminate smudging, hence why I have always preferred a matte screen protector. And the brightness can go up to 500 nits. Not the brightest but it does look bright even under direct sunlight. 

The volume rocker and power buttons on the right side are placed right in the middle, which I think is pretty odd. But the power button also acts as a fingerprint sensor. But after using the phone for a few days, I feel that the button placement is at the appropriate location. I am a left hander when it comes to phones. So I would use my left middle finger to unlock the device. The power button/fingerprint sensor is placed right where I usually rest my middle finger. So yeah, this phone suits me. 

The SIM/MicroSD tray is located on the left side of the phone, near the top. There’s only a tiny microphone at the top while at the bottom, there’s the 3.5mm audio jack (yay!), USB-C charging port and a bottom firing speaker. Do you prefer to have a 3.5mm audio jack on your phone? Let me know in the comments. 

Around the back, the textured feel of the back cover feels really comfortable to hold. This is probably the best part of the TCL 40 NXTPaper phone. It feels grippy and solid. I don’t have to worry about losing any grip while holding the phone in my hand. And then, there’s the camera module on the top left corner. The rectangular camera bump looks simple, yet elegant. The main 50MP camera sitting right at the top and the 2MP depth camera sitting right below it, next to what it seems like a dual-tone LED flash. The third camera is a 2MP super macro setup, which can capture a subject from as near as 4 cm away. 

I have to note that the main 50MP shooter blew me away with tons of on-point shots. But I will do deeper into that in the photography section much later. 

Performance and Daily Usage

The TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G phone is not an entry level device. It may seem like it on paper, but it definitely doesn’t feel like an entry level after I used it for a few days. The device is powered by Android 13 right out-of-the-box with support for one OS upgrade (Android 14). But the OS is more towards vanilla Android, without any over-the-top skinning. Having said that, it does use TCL UI 5 (YGAT), which is TCL’s own launcher. But they have kept everything as vanilla as possible, which to me is a good thing. And I do prefer it this way. 

TCL has also included a few display modes that can be toggled on in the settings such as Reading Mode, which will turn the display to show only in black and white colour, like paper. It also has the Eye Comfort Mode, which will filter out the blue light and adjust the colour temperature to reduce eye strain. It can also lower the brightness of the display with the Darker Display Mode so that you won’t strain your eyes while reading in the dark at night. And finally, there’s a toggle for Sunlight Display Mode that will increase readability under direct sunlight. 

The main feature of the TCL 40 NXTPaper phone is the NXTPaper Mode. You have a choice to leave it as Colour Paper, or Ink Paper, in this setting. This is exactly what this phone is intended to do. It can display a true paper-like experience when the NXTPaper Mode is turned on. You can do this if you intend to do some reading. It looks great while saving the battery life too. There are other modes to choose from as well when it comes to the display. There’s the Image Enhancement, Video Enhancement and Game Enhancement, all of which will enhance the visibility of each segment. 

When it comes to the hardware, the TCL 40 NXTPaper is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 6020. This chipset is made to run mid-range smartphones with ease, and this is proven on the TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G. Yes, it supports 5G connectivity as well. It also comes with a 6GB of RAM, which can also be increased to another 6GB of RAM with the built-in RAM expansion feature. This feature has become a standard by many phone makers and I’m glad that TCL have this feature included on the TCL 40 NXTPaper. 

As for the storage, the TCL 40 NXTPaper has 256GB of internal space. If you feel that this is not enough, you can always have it expanded with a MicroSD card up to 1TB. I feel that 256GB is more than enough for anyone to use but a 512GB would have been better. But given the price and target market, I think having it at 256GB is okay. 

The 5000mAh battery capacity that comes with this device is more than sufficient. I can go on close to 2 days of normal usage, with a little bit of gaming. Thanks to the NXTPaper display, it doesn’t suck up much power from the battery. I can even push it to run more than 48 hours if I use it sparingly with just chatting on WhatsApp and browsing on social media. However, the battery only supports up to 15W of charging. So charging up to 100% may take longer than usual. On my test, it took just over an hour to get fully charged. 

For gaming, I tested it with New State, which is a game related to my usual PUBG Mobile. It is a graphic demanding game as well. So the only way I can fully push the TCL 40 NXTPaper is to play a game that demands power. To my surprise, the TCL 40 NXTPaper handles the New State game like a charm. It hardly broke a sweat while rendering all the maxed out graphics. Since the display screen feels paper-like, all the swiping, tapping, are very responsive and smooth. My fingers would simply glide on the screen easily. As a result, gaming on the TCL 40 NXTPaper is so much fun. Plus it supports a 3.5mm audio jack, so I can plug in my wired earphones to play games. 

I also did a test on Antutu 3D Benchmark, where the TCL 40 NXTPaper scored 347725 points. I do feel that this is a score that this device would get, given that the chipset is meant for mid-range devices. I don’t have my hopes up too high, but surprisingly the overall performance is commendable. It can also handle day-to-day multitasking with ease. I can have multiple apps opened at the same time and I didn’t notice any lags. 

Camera and Photography

As I said earlier, the TCL 40 NXTPaper comes with a 50MP main shooter, but it will shoot at 12MP until you toggle the High Pixel mode in the menu. I was surprised at how this simple setup can capture high quality, on point photos just by pointing to a subject and shoot. Other smartphone cameras tend to have a washed out photo or maybe a little off when it comes to image focus. But that never happened with the TCL 40 NXTPaper. And the camera app is probably one of the most intuitive apps I’ve seen so far. It comes with many features and navigating through the menu is pretty straightforward. 

It does look similar to other brands out there, but there’s something about the TCL 40 NXTPaper’s camera that feels good. Upon opening the camera app, you will be in Auto mode, which is the standard photo but you can turn on the AI feature for better image processing. You can toggle the zoom just by tapping or dragging the zoom icon. 

Next, there is the Video mode, One Shot mode (which is similar to Samsung’s Single Shot), Portrait, Pro and Panorama. Tapping on the burger menu on the left will expand the menu to show the other modes such as Stop Motion, AI Colour Video, Light Trace, Movie Video, Art Effects, Super Macro, Slo-mo, High Pixel (boost to 50MP) and Vlog. 

Again as I said, the camera app is simple, yet packed with features. But how does it perform in real world tests? Have a look at the sample photos taken with the TCL 40 NXTPaper below and let me know what you think in the comments. 


The new TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G surprised me a lot. I was expecting it to be a simple mid-range device but it comes with a plethora of intuitive features. I really like the NXTPaper display and the feel of the screen itself. Matte is my go-to screen protector. But with the TCL 40 NXTPaper, I am happy with the screen. Even the back panel texture feels so good in my hand. 

If you’re into gaming, you should check out this TCL 40 NXTPaper in your next shopping list. While it is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 6020, the chipset processing power is able to outperform some of my existing phones from last year. And some of those phones are powered by a Snapdragon 700 series. The TCL 40 NXTPaper comes with a total of 12GB of RAM, since it has a built-in 6GB of RAM that is coupled with an additional 6GB of virtual RAM. Gaming is a no brainer. Very responsive and smooth indeed. 

If you’re looking for something different, I would highly recommend this new TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G. You will love the NXTPaper display like I did too. At this price point, not only you will get a bang for your buck, but also a device that can plough through your daily usage, with some gaming included. 

The TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G is now available for purchase on TCL’s official Shopee and Lazada marketplace. You can get your spanking brand new TCL 40 NXTPaper 5G for only RM999. Yes, you heard it right. Cheap ain’t it?

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