TCL's new budget phones are the first to feature NXTPAPER displays

The TCL 40 NXTPAPER 5G promises a 'full color paper-like viewing experience.'


When TCL first unveiled NXTPAPER, it said that it was designed for tablets and e-readers — not smartphones. You can disregard that comment now, because the company just unveiled its first smartphone using that very display tech. The TCL 40 NXTPAPER models are budget-oriented devices that promise "industry-leading eye comfort" with mid- to low-range specs.

TCL has described NXTPAPER as a "combination of screen and paper," noting that it offers 25 percent more contrast than typical E Ink displays, while being 65 percent more power efficient. Its latest version delivers up to 500 nits of brightness, and supposedly exceeds TÜV-certified levels of blue light reduction. TCL says the tech can help protect your eye health while maintaining color accuracy and avoiding screen yellowing. The screen's color temperature will adjust automatically based on the time and environment, too.

Despite sharing a name, the TCL 40 NXTPAPER and TCL 40 NXTPAPER 5G have different designs and specs. The former comes with a 6.78-inch FHD+ NXTPAPER display and has a punch hole 32-megapixel (MP) front camera, along with a 50MP rear camera. It has a middling MediaTek Helio G88 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, expandable via a microSD card. Connectivity is limited to 4G, and it will cost €199 ($215) when it goes on sale in Europe in September 2023.

The TCL 40 NXTPAPER 5G, as the name suggests, offers 5G connectivity, but other specs are oddly downgraded. It's got a smaller 6.5-inch HD+ (720 x 1,612) notch-type display, with an 8MP front camera and 50MP rear camera. It uses MediaTek's MT6833v processor (because it has 5G radios) and offers 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (also expandable). It'll go on sale in Europe in October for €249 ($269). Both models will release globally later in 2023.

Specs aside, the NXTPAPER display is the differentiating feature for these smartphones. Each has a 5,000mAh hour, and given the power-efficiency claims, should go for a long while on a charge. It remains to be seen if the screen will deliver a solid smartphone experience, however.