Teclast M40 hands-on: Powerful hardware for the price, but with a few problems and apparently stuck on Android 10
Back in late 2020, when I reviewed the Teclast P20HD, I was quite impressed by it. Now, the time has come to finally take a closer look at the Teclast M40 that I (alongside my daughter, to be honest) have been using for roughly three months and this time almost everything is better. However, we are talking about the same display and a pair of 8 MP cameras that simply doesn't work for me as it should (more about them, a bit later).
Packaging, features, and design
When talking about the retail package, I should only mention this: the Teclast M40 comes in a box identical to that of the P20HD and accompanied by the same accessories, namely the tool for pushing out the SIM/microSD tray, a USB-C cable for both charging and data transfer, as well as a charger and the user manual and warranty card.
Just like its less potent sibling, namely P20HD, the Teclast M40 comes with pre-applied protective film on both sides and its build quality is similar. However, the unit that I received sometimes feels a bit flimsy when held by a corner. Hardware-wise, everything is great for the price: UNISOC Tiger T618 processor, 6 GB of memory, 128 GB of internal storage, a 10.1-inch Full HD IPS display that accommodates 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as a 4G SIM slot.
In addition to the above, the list of specs and features also includes two 8 MP cameras and a 6,000 mAh battery that is supposed to provide up to 10 hours of autonomy on a full charge. When used in intense multimedia scenarios involving home schooling sessions via Google Classroom and a bunch of games such as Roblox, the Teclast M40 was usually capable of providing at least around 7 hours of autonomy.
The only thing that I will say about the design of the Teclast M40 is to take a closer look at the P20HD and imagine it painted in black. That should be everything you need to know about this part.
Performance and problems
In our months of use, the Teclast M40 worked like a charm without freezes and hiccups. Since a kid was involved in this operation and she installed and played at least a few dozen games during the period, it is good to know that the tablet was up to the task. Unfortunately, I encountered at least three shut downs out of the blue for no particular reason, with over 50% battery charge and without performing any intensive task at that time. Since this happened over a rather long period, it is not such a big issue, but I had to mention it.
Below, you can find a few benchmark results and the ones that I got with the P20HD for comparison:
- UL Procyon AI Inference Benchmark: 4,146 points vs. 2,679 points
- Geekbench 5: 379/1,354 points vs. 155/785 points (single-/multi-core); 1,019 points in the Compute test (via Vulkan) that did not run on the P20HD
- GFXBench: 397.8 frames (test not ran on the P20HD, this score places the M40 between the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Huawei P10)
While there are supposed to be two 8 MP cameras, various apps detect a 0.3 MP or 5 MP front camera and a main shooter as advertised, which is also the only working camera. This looks like an isolated incident, since I haven't been able to find other users complaining about this issue. AIDA64 shows that the front camera has 0.3 MP, and the aforementioned AI benchmark lists the front image snapper as a 5 MP unit. What really matters is that I couldn't take any selfies or use the front camera for video chat applications (including my daughter's Google Classroom sessions).
In the sound department, everything is fine for the price range, but don't expect miracles. The audio provided by the Teclast M40 via the 3.5 mm audio jack has enough volume but lacks depth, although I couldn't put the "muffled" stamp on it.
The good, the bad, and the truth
The Teclast M40 looks great, has a very good display (without any doubt, it is the same panel as the one used in the P20HD), and the performance is adequate for the price.
In addition to the camera issues mentioned earlier, there isn't anything else to say about the hardware. Sadly, the software is stuck on Android 10, there are no plans for an update to the next major version, and the security patch installed is dated September 1, 2020. However, the kernel version is 4.14.133 and its date says November 30.
For as little as US$187 on AliExpress (and US$209.99 on Amazon), the Teclast M40 is a good deal without much doubt. As it holds a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 after no less than 1,790 reviews and 3,898 orders, this is for sure one of the best choices of the moment for those who are looking for a decent 10-inch Android 10 slate with 4G connectivity.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the Teclast P40HD from Teclast free of charge for the purpose of testing.