A company you've never heard of launched the cheapest 5G phone yet

Coolpad's Legacy 5G phone costs just $400.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
3 min read

The Coolpad Legacy 5G.


When 5G phones like the Galaxy S10 5G, the LG V50 5G and the OnePlus 7 Pro debuted in 2019, their price range of $800 to $1,000 was like a necessary evil. Yes, they were expensive but they were touting the latest high-speed mobile connectivity. So, until the more time passed, we all had to live with expensive 5G phones. (One exception was the Motorola Moto Z4 , a Verizon exclusive which cost $440 but it only connected to 5G with a separate accessory.)

But 2020 is a new year after all, and the time for affordable 5G phones has apparently arrived. On Tuesday at CES 2020, Chinese phone maker Coolpad launched its first 5G phone, known as Legacy 5G. Available in the second quarter of this year for "under $400," it will be one of the cheapest 5G phones on the market. The phone will be available unlocked through Coolpad and Amazon as well as other US retailers.

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The phone operates on sub-6GHz spectrum and will be supported by T-Mobile and AT&T's 5G networks. It will also work on Sprint's network and other rural carriers.

The Legacy 5G has a generously sized 6.53-inch display, and I liked its deep blue, ombre design that decorated its back. During my brief time with it, I noticed that the phone felt very lightweight for having such a big screen. This is mostly due to the phone's plastic casing, which felt a bit cheap (then again, the phone costs only $400). The phone's beveled edges also felt uncomfortable to hold. And for people who are still holding onto their wired headphones, the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The phone runs Android 10, but the phone's software is nowhere near final yet. While there weren't any issues flipping through the homescreen pages, I noticed the camera's interface was unfinished and the lens itself didn't lock into focus.

Lowering the price range to $400 at this stage will open up 5G access to more users, but as a relatively unknown company Coolpad faces an uphill battle in the US. Based in Shenzhen, China, it has been selling phones in the US since 2012. In 2014, Palo Alto Networks found that the company had preinstalled a backdoor, which Palo Alto Networks dubbed "CoolReaper," on many of its Android phones. The security vulnerability gathered user data that was sent to Coolpad's servers. Coolpad reported that it has been working with a third party, IOActive, since 2018 to ensure its devices comply with consumer protection agencies, however.

In addition to Coolpad's Legacy 5G, phone maker TCL also introduced its $500 5G phone at CES, known as the 10 Pro. Though 5G won't replace 4G in its entirety, the next-gen network works incredibly fast, and many industries will benefit from it, including self-driving cars, drones and the internet of things. 5G deployment for all four major US carriers kicked off in 2019, with more markets rolling out this year. In Britain, UK carrier EE became the first 5G carrier in the country, followed by Vodafone and Three UK

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Coolpad Legacy 5G specs

  • 6.53-inch FHD Plus display
  • Android 10
  • Two rear cameras: 48- and 8-megapixel (wide-angle)
  • 16-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 4GB RAM/64GB memory
  • Qualcomm 7250 processor
  • 4,000-mAh battery
  • Bluetooth 5.0

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Originally published Jan. 7