Chinese manufacturer Coolpad has announced the Conjr, its first smartphone designed for the American market. The company has also jumped through the regulatory hoops required to release the device in Canada, but are holding off for now so as to not overstretch their operation. I got the chance to use one at CES 2017 and came away impressed.
The phone is available for pre-order on Amazon.com for $180 USD, with a January 19th release date. While that’s pretty inexpensive for a modern smartphone, the device felt a lot better than phones I’ve used from Blu, Cube and other entry-level manufacturers. The Conjr has a 5-inch, 720 x 1280 pixel screen.
The phone features a rear fingerprint reader that can save up to five fingerprints at a time (including, so they claim, fingers that are “dry, wet, [or] dusty”). Its cameras are not Lumia PureView quality, nor Asus SuperPixel-grade, but they nonetheless get the job done acceptably well with a 13 megapixel rear, 8 megapixel front, and LED flash for both.
Impressively for a $180 phone, it has 3GB of RAM. It has only 16 GB of internal storage, but it’s expandable via micro SD. The phone’s aluminum-magnesium body feels good in the hand, seemed fingerprint resistant, and was lightweight to hold. It’s dual-SIM too, useful for people who need to maintain work and personal lines, or who like to get a local SIM when travelling.
I’m a big believer that a smartphone should be more than a nice screen and a fast processor, it should also be a great phone too. To me, a decent phone has solid sound quality for both the speakers and the microphone, great frequency support to support multiple carriers, and good antenna quality and placement for good signal strength. I haven’t had a chance to get a sense of the sound quality yet, or test its ability to hold a signal in fringe areas, though I plan to get one for a full review later.
As for frequency support, the Conjr supports LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 7, and 12, which gives you most of the LTE bands you’d want for most of the carriers in North America. It is, however, missing the band 66 spectrum that Freedom Mobile uses for LTE in BC, Alberta, and Southern Ontario.
Roaming in the U.S. should be effortless, with the Conjr supporting every band T-Mobile uses, and all the important bands that AT&T has rolled out. Internationally you should have a good LTE support in most of Central and South America and in Australia. Outside of those areas, Coolpad has supported the 3G and 2G bands commonly in use around the world.
Perhaps the most noteworthy innovation of the device is the Conjr’s ability to take scrolling screenshots. When you engage the screenshot mode, you are asked to scroll to highlight the complete area of interest, in case part of it is off screen. Once you’ve done so, it will create a screenshot of the entire area from where you started scrolling to where you stopped. This could be great when you want to take a picture of, for example, a long list of settings when helping someone with tech support.
This phone might be interesting for phone users given its low price, innovation, and what at first glance feels like great build quality.