When it comes to the 5G network, the advertising is a bit more impressive than the actual performance. Actually, 5G is only somewhat a false reality right now. We’ll spare you the technicalities (the difference between carriers and bands, etc.). Just know in a couple of years, 5G will really make its mark in the cell phone world. That being said, hopping on the 5G train now is a smart idea to future-proof your smartphone.
So what’s the big deal with 5G phones then? The newest phones like the iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy and the Pixel 5 use what’s called the C-band of 5G (okay, we’re going to get a little technical …). The C-band bolsters and expands coverage with Verizon, meaning your phone works just as fast even when you’re out in the middle of nowhere (or that’s the plan). And as more carriers become privy to better and stronger bands of 5G, we are going to see a huge advancement in 5G coverage and speed.
The other thing about 5G phones — if you have one — is that you probably have a pretty rocking phone. Most of the phones with 5G are flagship phones from the most popular phone makers, but there are a few budget options below that work great, too.
The future is here — well almost … But it’s way better to have a phone that’s primed to take off when the network catches up. Trust us, you don’t want a phone that will feel obsolete in a couple of years because it lacks 5G.
Below you’ll find our recommendations for the best 5G phones available:
1. iPhone 12 Pro Max
As soon as Apple announced that the iPhone 12 was going to have 5G, we knew it was going to be something special. We weren’t wrong. The A14 Bionic chipset is nothing short of lightning-fast and 5G keeps the phone running quickly when you are using data. If the chipset wasn’t enough to entice you, the camera setup is a game-changer as well sporting the ability to take incredible gallery-worthy photos — even at night. For power users, the impressive battery life is welcome, improving upon previous versions. Simply put, this is the best 5G phone you can buy right now.
iPhone 12 Pro Max
2. iPhone 12 Mini
There is a real convenience to holding a smaller phone and also carrying around a smaller phone in your pocket all day. But don’t let the Mini fool you, it’s a 5G phone with the same chipset as the iPhone 12 Pro, just in a smaller, much more affordable package. Of course, the camera and battery life aren’t as good as the 12 Pro Max, but the camera is still among the best you can buy, and the battery life will last you all day on a single charge. There’s nothing wrong with going smaller and saving a few bucks, especially in the case of the iPhone 12 Mini.
iPhone 12 Mini
3. Google Pixel 5
BEST ANDROID 5G PHONE
For Android lovers, the Google Pixel 5 is the way to go. It is noticeably smaller than other 5G phones — a six-inch screen — but like the iPhone 12 Mini, doesn’t compromise on performance. The camera relies heavily on internal software for processing and the results are awesome. It has been and continues to be one of the best cameras around. When it comes to the Android interface, you won’t find a cleaner version of Android anywhere else. On top of all that, it’s one of the more affordable flagship phones available.
Google Pixel 5
4. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
BEST SAMSUNG 5G PHONE
You get a lot for the money with the Samsung Galaxy S21. For starters, a 6.8-inch AMOLED edge-to-edge display with a super smooth 120Hz refresh rate makes everything on your phone look great. The cameras are incredible and allow you to zoom in and maintain clarity better than just about any other phone out today. It is also able to work with any and all 5G networks in the country. Samsung also threw in S Pen support to add the cherry on top.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
5. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
STREAMS XBOX GAMES
If you really want to take full advantage of the large 6.9-inch 120Hz display, gaming is the way to do it. With integration from Microsoft’s Cloud game streaming, you have access to a library of games you can stream right to your phone. Combine that with the studly Snapdragon 865 chipset as well as 5G capability and you’ll be able to game without any drag or lag on your phone. Beyond gaming, the Note20 has a great camera set, as well as impressive battery life.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
6. OnePlus 8 Pro
ALTERNATIVE TO IPHONE AND SAMSUNG
We know the OnePlus 9 is out, but you get more bang for your buck with the OnePlus 8 Pro. For starters, it has an incredible display with a 120Hz refresh rate that scrolls ultra-smooth. Wireless charging is quick and even allows you to reverse charge (charge someone else’s phone). The Snapdragon 865 chipset is equally as impressive as it makes speedy work of running multiple apps at once. It’s off the beaten path from Apple, Google and Samsung, but sometimes the road less traveled by is the best option.
OnePlus 8 Pro
7. Google Pixel 4a with 5G
For an affordable way to get the power of 5G in your pocket, as well as the best Android interface and one of the best phone cameras, we recommend going with the Pixel 4a with 5G. One neat advantage to going with the Pixel 4a is its dual-sim capability, so you can use two different phone numbers using the same phone. The battery life isn’t as good as the likes of the Pixel 5, but we’re talking a flagship 5G phone for under $500. Hard to pass on that opportunity.
Google Pixel 4a with 5G
8. OnePlus Nord N105G
If you love OnePlus but find that the OnePlus 8 Pro is a bit out of your price range, consider the OnePlus Nord N105G. The 6.4-inch 90Hz display is bright and vibrant especially for a phone that is $300. It comes with 128GB of storage, but with a microSD slot so you can always add more storage if you need it. And with 5G combined with the Snapdragon 690 chipset, you might just mistake this phone for the OnePlus 8 Pro, but for a fraction of the cost.
OnePlus Nord N105G
9. Samsung Electronics Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
Part phone, part tablet, all amazing with this Samsung Galaxy that has 5G capabilities. The first iteration of the Z Fold had its share of durability issues, but those have been hashed out in the Z Fold 2. In fact, this is arguably the best folding phone available right now. The screens work seamlessly and provide versatility that other phones simply can’t match. It’s lightning-fast and with 5G, is more powerful than ever. It has a hefty price tag, but man, this is a sweet phone.