TCL 3S aka Mi 4i killer on pre-sale for $140


The Xiaomi Mi 4i turned out to be a bit of a disappointment after all the hype, mostly because of the resource heavy ROM.

TCL have a phone with pretty much the same specifications but a lighter price tag on sale. What should also be light besides the price is the ROM, which could make a lot of difference to the overall usability.

Just to recap the specifications of the TCL 3S, if you aren’t aware; the phone has a 5-inch 1920 x 1080p display, a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of ROM, a 13 mega-pixel rear camera and an 8 mega-pixel front camera. As mentioned, this pretty much echoes the specs sheet of the Xiaomi Mi 4i… with a difference in the generation of the SoC: the Mi 4i uses the second-gen Snapdragon 615 while the TCL 3S appears to be using the first-gen model clocked at 1.5GHz.

READ: Xiaomi Mi 4i Review

The Xiaomi Mi 4i just had its kernel sources made public, so that should help. Nonetheless, how the TCL 3S performs will be something you’ll probably be very interested in knowing. The Mi 4i is around US$205 in the markets where Xiaomi is selling the phone; resellers are offering it for US$250 and upwards.

The TCL 3S, on the other hand, is listed for US$140 on Everbuying.net. That does seem like quite an attractive price for a phone like that; we’ll try and get our hands on one for review.

Meanwhile, let us know which one you’d rather go for — the Xiaomi Mi 4i or the TCL 3S (or something else altogether?).

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57 Comments

  1. Misto
    July 2, 2015

    Thanks for sharing Yash, that TCL phone is really tempting me to be honest with you. I am just waiting for more reviews to know if there is any heating issue with the Snapdragon 615 Soc. That being said, the phone has an amazing screen resolution and it seems that its UI is a bit buggy. Maybe that will be fixed with software updates. Thanks for saving me from buying the Mi4i. Also Xiaomi has released a MI4 with 2GB RAM and 32GB ROM TDD-LTE, I hope to see a FDD LTE in black color soon so I could buy it.

    • Marius Cirsta
      July 2, 2015

      Highly unlilely to be any heating issues with the Snapdragon 615 as it just has some A53 cores which don’t use a lot of power and the GPU is also not too power hungry.
      The real problem are the A57 core, especially when clock too high ( over 2GH )

      • Misto
        July 2, 2015

        Shoud I buy the TCL 3S considering that I will play games casually? I am not a power user at all, I mean I am looking for a phone with pretty decent specs. I wanted to buy the Mi4i but changed my mind after reading Yash review. I was also tempted by the Siswoo Cooper I7 but didn’t buy it because of its battery and poor wifi signal. Meizu MX5 is really tempting me but with shipping costs and resellers price it will be around 400€ so too expensive for me. My better bet would be the Mi4 with 2GB RAM 32GB ROM (if released in FDD LTE) or the Redmi 2 Pro (has poor CPU) or TCL 3S or Nubia Z9 Mini.

        • Marius Cirsta
          July 2, 2015

          Well the Mi4 and anything with a Snapdragon 801 for that matter is a good phone and should handle games quite well.
          I think a MTK6752 or MTK6753 might actually be better for games than this because the GPU in this one I quite weak ( I think, we could look at Antutu scores for the GPU ).
          If you’re not in a hurry I’d wait for the Helio X20 which should be a real beast while also using little power when not heavily used.

          • Misto
            July 2, 2015

            Thanks, I am not a heavy gamer and I believe that I will get the TCL 3S or the Nubia Z9 Mini (at $250). Xiaomi Mi4 could be very interesting if only they upgrade the phone with 32GB ROM. I won’t be able to get the Meizu MX5 which will be sold above 350€ after resellers.

        • balcobomber25
          July 3, 2015

          What type of games do you play is the better question? If it’s simple puzzle games like Candy Crush or Temple Run even the worst SoC’s today can handle those.

          • Misto
            July 3, 2015

            Hi Balco, thank you for your comment. Well, as a casual player I would for sure play FIFA15 and maybe a few other games. Ibuygou said that Xiaomi has released a Mi4 with 2GB Ram & 32GB Rom TDD-LTE, apparently they might release also a FDD-LTE version but I really don’t know when the phone will be available in the market. I really like the Meizu MX5 but it will be sold above 350€ after resellers plus shipping costs plus a few accessories final price will reach 400€ which is above my budget. So bad that Xiaomi did not choose a better SOC for the Mi4i, it would have been the phone of the year. I mean I am not looking for a killer spec phone, a mid range device with pretty decent specs would be so fine for me. All the best!

      • trolleyfan
        July 2, 2015

        There _are_ heating issues with SD615 on Xiaomi Mi4i.

        • Marius Cirsta
          July 2, 2015

          Well it depends on what you call heating issues, many phones get hot after heavy usage and some manufacturers cheat in benchmarks like Antutu which makes the phone get even hotter.
          Still given the cores uses and the GPU coupled with the 28 nm manufacturing I doubt the SD615 gets too hot. Of course it’s probably up to the phone manufacturer how high the clock the SOC and what kind of cooling they design.

          • balcobomber25
            July 3, 2015

            I have used the Mi4i and I am a Xiaomi fan. There are severe heating issues depending on your usage. If you use it for the basics with a few apps running it is the normal heat that Xiaomi fans all have. If you run anything SoC intensive you better be wearing gloves.

            • Marius Cirsta
              July 3, 2015

              OK that does sound bad and I’m surprised because the SOC doesn’t seem like the kind of SOC that would cause these heating problems… someone messed up somewhere… either Qualcomm with the design, TSMC with the manufacturing or even Xiaomi with the cooling design.

            • balcobomber25
              July 3, 2015

              It’s not just the Mi4i either, owners of other phones with the 615 are complaining of overheating problems as well. Qualcomm was completely unprepared for 64 bit SoC’s. The 410 is underpowered and the 615 and 810 are both portable heaters. They are just poorly designed chips

  2. Guaire
    July 2, 2015

    Mi4i is a natural born suicidal with that price. It doesn’t need a killer.

    Good job TCL.

    • Marius Cirsta
      July 2, 2015

      Yeah the Mi4i has a ridiculous price while this one has a very good price.

      • Vlada
        July 3, 2015

        Furthermore the TCL 3S should have an SD slot. Unfortunately only 32GB and misses 800 MHz LTE just like the Xiaomi.

        • balcobomber25
          July 3, 2015

          Most phones will read more than the limit of the SD card, I have used plenty that say 32 limit and read 64 and 128gb cards.

          • Vlada
            July 3, 2015

            Then I don’t understand why they only write 32GB in specifications.

            • balcobomber25
              July 3, 2015

              Because not every card over 32 will be recognized by their system, usually cards from the major brands (Kingston, PNY etc) will work just fine but cheaper ones may or may not. By saying 32 they are just covering themselves.

    • balcobomber25
      July 3, 2015

      For the retail price of $200 its a great phone if your not a heavy user, for the aftermarket price of $250+ it is suicidal.

      • Vlada
        July 3, 2015

        You would have to be absolutely insane to buy Xiaomi Mi4i for $250 if you can get Nubia Z9 mini for $270.

        • balcobomber25
          July 3, 2015

          Personally I wouldn’t buy either one of them for anything over $200. They both are great on paper but suffer from the same issue: poor software optimization. In the case of Xiaomi I trust it to be fixed as MIUI is updated often and works well on other devices. In the case of Nubia they haven’t ever had good software.

          • Vlada
            July 3, 2015

            The SW is a big problem for almost all Chinese phones. I was pretty satisfied with Jiayu. Almost clean Android, smooth and bug free. Also DooGee is quite good. But they all almost never offer SW updates.

            I’m looking for a new phone for almost 6 month but every new model disappoints me as soon as the final specifications are revealed. There are a couple of features that I want and won’t buy a phone without all of them:

            1) Not bigger then 5″
            2) LTE 800 MHz
            3) SD slot supporting at least 64GB
            4) E-compass
            5) At least 2GB RAM
            6) NFC
            7) Removeable battery at least 3000 mAh
            8) The rest (GPS, camera, SW, display) has to be at least OK, not a disaster

            This reduces my choice of Chinese phones in the market to 0. I’m still hoping that one with these specifications will soon appear.

            • balcobomber25
              July 3, 2015

              Doogee is basically stock Android but they offer zero updates and their phones are poor quality. This is actually very rare for Xiaomi, SW is usually one of their selling points. Their stuborness to use SD chips is the problem. This same phone with a 6752 would run like a dream.

              As for your specs 5 inches and 800 LTE are going to be your biggest problems. Very few phones support that band and the ones that do are like the S3 and Zenfone 2 which are both 5.5 inches.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 4, 2015

              Looks like that this this TCL is just a thing you have been searching for.
              They have decent quality & do the updates.
              Even it bares Qualcomm’s cellular radio you should still check if LTE 800 MHz band is present.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 4, 2015

              Looks like that this this TCL is just a thing you have been searching for.
              They have decent quality & do the updates.
              Even it bares Qualcomm’s cellular radio you should still check if LTE 800 MHz band is present.

            • lisa
              December 21, 2015

              have you already found one ? i have the same problem now so..

            • Vlada
              December 22, 2015

              No, in the end I bought an LG G3, although it has 5,5″ screen. But it has very thin bezels so the phone is not that huge.

              I was also considering LG G Flex 2 and OnePlus X. But G Flex 2 has no community SW development and OnePlus X misses NFC, battery is not removable and is more expensive.

      • Guaire
        July 3, 2015

        I would say great price is $130 for TCL 3S or Meizu M2 Note or $160 for M1 Note.

        Xiaomi can enjoy Mi4i’s success only outside China with that price thanks to lack of proper competition.

        Great price for Mi4i would be $130 IMO. Up to $160 still I would call it fair price.

        • balcobomber25
          July 3, 2015

          I don’t like the Mi4i personally but it has sold well in every country it has launched in and there is plenty of competition in India. $130 is an unrealistic price.

          • Guaire
            July 3, 2015

            If $130 isn’t possible how TCL and Meizu did manage it?

            I’m not saying it should have $130. Just I would call it great price at that level. Up to $160 I would still call it fair or good price.

            Comparing to HTC or OPPO $200-210 is a great price for Mi4i.

            I’m sure its sales going well on that markets and Xiaomi makes good money from it. Thanks to lack of competition, they priced it higher comparing to their own tradition. IMO they couldn’t sell it well in China with that price.

            Price competition in India isn’t at same level with China. Other markets probably worse.

            Meizu M1 Note’s India price is $190 which is $30 more expensive than China price.

            Redmi Note 4G’s price in India was still $160 just a few days ago.

  3. DeliCevat
    July 2, 2015

    Actually, I prefer TCL ono. But, unfortunately WCDMA not supported 🙁

  4. DeliCevat
    July 2, 2015

    Is tcl good at Android and software updates like xaomi and meizu? Anyone have information?

    • Danny H.
      July 3, 2015

      The latest firmware is from 5th of June but obviously software update is not as good & frequent as xiaomi because the software is from lewa, not TCL. There is Yios for it but currently in beta.

  5. Danny H.
    July 2, 2015

    I currently have one TCL 3s in hand and I can tell you now that this phone has a very nice build and quite an amazing screen, bright & vivid. Dual sim slots & lots of bands, FDD-LTE is supported with B1,3&7 on both slots! Quite a great bang for your bucks but it has one Achilles heel, it’s the firmware. The default LewaOS had a noticeable lag everywhere you touch the phone. I guess it’s just too new so software still extremely buggy. If you want fast, responsive and all around better using experience then I highly recommend the Lenovo K3 note.

    • chris
      July 2, 2015

      Does this have an SD card slot and removable battery ?
      Is it rooted ?

      • elmoel
        July 2, 2015

        have sd card.. i think non removable, i never try open it because realy fit and no curve to replace battery

      • Danny H.
        July 3, 2015

        It has a microsd slot. The battery is non-removeable. It’s not rooted out of the box but you can root & install playstore quite easy using software from TCL forum.

    • elmoel
      July 2, 2015

      u can use cm12.1 rom

      try to learn from here
      http://bbs.tclmobile.com.cn/forum-77-1.html

  6. elmoel
    July 2, 2015

    i already use tcl 3s 2 week ago, and already sell
    sim 2 only 2g
    sim 1 can lte also can use hybrid as evdo2000x

    antutu 28k.. mi4i better with 40k
    camera better mi4i

    tcl 3s have custom cm12.1 with great improven then laggy official rom
    tcl 3s have eye identifier to unlock phone, but worst performance

    ih must choose this 2 phone, mi4i is the winner.. even no have sdcard slot

    note:my wife use mi4i, so i can compare both
    – mi4i sell here in indonesia about 200 usd normal price.. when disc and promo can go to 190 usd with warranty

    • quodvadis
      July 3, 2015

      lol, it’s nice if you don’t use your phone for anything more than the available 12GB space.

      • elmoel
        July 3, 2015

        i dont use some phone more than 3 weeks in last 8 months ^-^

    • balcobomber25
      July 3, 2015

      What does a 12k Antutu difference tell you other than one has a higher number? I have used both of these and the TCL was actually a lot quicker due to its UI being minimalist compared to MIUI.

      • Muhammad Yasir
        July 3, 2015

        wait … you USED TCL 3s ?!?!?!
        can u tell me about how well its optical verification works ?

        and all the general formalities (cam performance , multi-tasking and so on.. )

        • balcobomber25
          July 3, 2015

          I had a brief hands on with it at the TCL offices here (maybe 15 mins total), didn’t really get too in depth with it. The optical verification was turned off for our demo. But one of he guys with me has a Mi4i so we compared them together and the 3s was quicker.

          • Muhammad Yasir
            July 3, 2015

            thumbs up !

  7. lordsbm
    July 2, 2015

    Was really considering this or spending more for a MX4 if it drops to 1299RMB or just go for the MX5. Yesterday I found out a local (Singapore) online store is selling LG G flex 2 (32GB/2GB) after coupon discount only around US$335 with local warranty. The online store even have new export set (no warranty) LG ISAI FL or VL (Jap version LG G3 with IPX5/6/7) for around US$240. IMHO those are good deals too.

  8. Steven Fox
    July 3, 2015

    This is Alcatel Idol 3, here`s the review from GSMARENA: http://www.gsmarena.com/alcatel_idol_3-review-1258.php
    Costs a whooping 240 Euros in Europe. Could be better, but at that price it`s a no-brainer.

    • Ivan
      July 3, 2015

      It’s not exactly the same phone, although some of the specs match.

    • Muhammad Yasir
      July 3, 2015

      im too lazy to read 😀
      can u tell me how the phone is in general ?

    • balcobomber25
      July 3, 2015

      Not quite the same phone, the Idol 3 has a 5.5 inch display this has a 5 inch. Also the Idol 3 has a slightly smaller battery (2900 vs 3050).

      • Steven Fox
        July 4, 2015

        It`s absolutely the same phone. TCL make them, for the Chinese market they decided to go with the 5″ for some reason. As you can read, it`s a good device, especially for 140$!

        • balcobomber25
          July 4, 2015

          It’s shares a lot of the same components and made in the same factory but one has a 5.5 inch display and one has a 5 inch meaning they are not the same…

      • Steven Fox
        July 4, 2015

        It`s absolutely the same phone. TCL make them, for the Chinese market they decided to go with the 5″ for some reason. As you can read, it`s a good device, especially for 140$!

  9. Muhammad Yasir
    July 3, 2015

    TCL 3s OFC !

  10. Sirrr
    July 3, 2015

    I look forward for your review

    Later edit: or not…?

    Recall for TCL 3s?

    http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fmobile.zol.com.cn%2F528%2F5289008.html

    • lordsbm
      July 3, 2015

      The recall is for TCL 3s with batch number M3GAYDB001PY401. There are 28000 sets in total. This is due to missing MBN file which will cause abnormal overheat and unstable network experience. Buyer can request for refund or change to the more expensive TCL 3n at no additional charge or the company will send a token to those who choose to keep the handset. The company also promise to improve future firmwares to rectified these issues. It seems that TCL had taken down the sales of 3s from their China website, not sure if it’s temporally or permanent .

  11. lordsbm
    July 3, 2015

    TCL recall 28000 sets of TCL 3s with batch number M3GAYDB001PY401 with missing MBN file. The company claims this will lead to abnormal overheat and unstable network experience. To me this shows TCL is a responsible company who takes their product seriously.

    http://www.tclmobile.com.cn/index.php/news/newsdetail/2394