Given how much time the Stuff team spends glued to our phones, we’ll happily try anything that promises to relieve eye strain (anything, that is, apart from reduce our screen time). TCL’s new 40 NXTPAPER budget smartphone duo aims to do exactly that, courtesy of a unique paper-like display that’s far easier on your peepers than a typical LCD or OLED.
Essentially a matte layer that reduces the amount of emitted blue light and massively reduces reflections, NXTPAPER tech also adds a textured finish that does an eerily accurate impression of a piece of paper. TCL has tested the waters with its tablet line-up, but the 40 NXTPAPER and 40 NXTPAPER 5G are the first smartphones to get it.
The 40 NXTPAPER looks to be the pick of the bunch: its 6.78in, FHD+ resolution screen has a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling, and is joined by dual speakers with DTS audio. Power comes from a MediaTek Helio G88 CPU and 8GB of RAM, although you can silo off another 8GB from the generous 256GB of on-board storage. There’s also microSD card support, in case you’re running low on space.
Around back you’ll find a 50MP main camera, 5MP ultrawide and 2MP macro snapper. The latter two are par for the course for budget phones, but the lead lens should manage to preserve a decent amount of detail. There’s also a 32MP punch-hole camera up front for selfies and video calls.
The 5010mAh battery should comfortably last all day, and wired charging maxes out at 33W. Security is either by face unlock or the side-mounted fingerprint sensor. It runs a tweaked version of Android 13, which includes NXTPAPER UI to toggle between full colour or black-and-white to be even kinder to your eyes while reading ebooks and the like.
Expect to pay £180 (roughly $230) when it reaches the UK in late September/early October. There’s no word yet on a US launch. It’ll be launching in Midnight Blue and Opalescent colours.
The 40 NXTPAPER 5G goes smaller with a 6.6in screen and lower HD+ resolution – but as the name suggests, it also supports 5G connectivity. The otherwise beefier 40 NXTPAPER is a 4G-only handset.
This 5G variant compromises on memory, making do with 6GB of RAM (plus another 6GB pulled from system storage). Overall capacity remains at 256GB, though, which is very high for the class. Other changes include the cameras, which here pair the 50MP main snapper with a 2MP depth and 2MP macro. The front-facing camera also drops to an 8MP unit.
It’ll be going on sale in October, for £220 (about $280).