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The 5G phone anyone can afford will sell this year for under $500

It's called the TCL 10 5G and it will go on sale in the US and other countries in 2020.


The TCL 10 5G phone will bring you actually affordable 5G.

Angela Lang/CNET
This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

There's going to be a new 5G phone in town and it isn't made by Samsung, LG or OnePlus. Yet it has four cameras on the back and even a headphone jack. Called the TCL 10 5G, it'll start selling around the world in early 2020, coming to the US and Canada in Q2 for under $500 (I'm going to guess $499).

If you've never heard of a TCL phone before, you're forgiven. The brand behind the range of typically high-value-but-affordable TCL TVs has begun embracing phones, including ambitious concept devices like this wild foldable phone that bends into three panels. 

But while the name TCL may be new in the phone world, the brand's handset experience is deep. TCL also operates the Alcatel brand, which has a long history of selling phones worldwide, including with US carriers.

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The TCL 10 5G could be the tip of the spear when it comes to affordable 5G phones, a small field that's currently dominated by high-end devices that cost more than their 4G counterparts. 

TCL's agreeable price combines midrange features and specs with Qualcomm's just-announced Snapdragon 765G processor, a midrange 5G chip designed as a cheaper alternative to the supercharged Snapdragon 865 for premium phones. 

A cheaper 5G chip will speed up the adoption of 5G, because it'll lower the price barrier for devices capable of tapping into your carrier's fastest network.

We don't know a whole lot about the phone's specs. TCL won't actually announce most of the details until its official launch on Feb. 22 at Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world's largest mobile show. Phone brands have increasingly used CES as a way to tease or otherwise preview devices ahead of MWC, an event that draws interest from around the globe. 

In addition to its 5G phone, TCL also announced the TCL 10 Pro and TCL 10L, which the brand will also unveil in more detail at MWC. The brand also showed off a working prototype for a foldable phone that's cheaper than the Motorola Razr.

TCL 10 5G specs

  • Large LCD screen
  • 64-megapixel camera, plus three other rear cameras
  • Hole-punch front-facing camera
  • Snapdragon 765G chipset
  • Rear fingerprint reader
  • Android OS