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Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best 5G phones

If you pay attention to cellular technology and smartphones, you have undoubtedly heard the term “5G.” With 5G networks expanding their reach in the U.S. every day and 5G phones gaining popularity, this term will continue to dominate smartphone discussions.

At its essence, 5G is a cellular networking standard in its fifth generation. 5G speeds are far greater than the 4G/LTE speeds you probably experience on your current smartphone or tablet connected to a cellular network. Eventually, 5G speeds could top out at 10 gigabits per second, even outperforming some of the best current wired fiber internet connection options.

To receive the biggest 5G benefit out of your smartphone, you need a 5G phone. In this guide, we help you figure out the key aspects of 5G phones, offering tips and providing answers to frequently asked questions. To make your shopping experience even easier, we point out some of our favorite 5G phones for your consideration.

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5G technology offers such strong transmission speeds and performance that it’s expected to be the highest standard in the industry until about 2030 (when 6G may start to appear).

Key considerations

Finding the right 5G phone is easier when you understand how 5G works. A 5G phone has hardware and software built into it that allow it to connect to a 5G network. All of the major cellular networking providers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, have 5G capability now in certain locations, and they continually expand the reach of their 5G networks.

When considering 5G phones, you first must determine whether you want an Android or Apple phone.

Android

Android phones are those that run the Android operating system. They are available from a number of manufacturers, with Samsung, Google, and LG among the most popular.

Samsung: Samsung began offering 5G phones in mid-2019, and it continues to build on its 5G family with several releases in 2020.

LG: LG released its first 5G-enabled smartphone in mid-2019, and it has added several more since then to its lineup.

Google: Google, which owns and develops the Android operating system, also manufactures some Android phones. Its first 5G-capable phones appeared in 2020.

Sony: Sony introduced its first 5G phone in early 2020.

Motorola: Motorola claimed to be offering a 5G phone late in 2018 through an add-on element to existing phones, but it didn’t quite offer the speeds expected. Motorola now has true 5G phones in the U.S. and Europe, having joined the market in late 2020.

Several other companies manufacture 5G Android phones, such as ZTE, but the majority of their phones have limited or no availability in the U.S.

Apple

Apple phones run the iOS operating system, which Apple owns and develops. Apple does not license its iOS to other manufacturers, so only Apple has iOS phones.

Apple released the iPhone 12 family of phones late in 2020, which represented its first 5G-capable phones.

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Expert TIp
As soon as you unbox your new phone, go through setting up all of your security settings, including setting a screen passcode and using the built-in tools to locate your phone if it’s ever lost or stolen.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Features

5G modem

A 5G smartphone looks no different from a 4G smartphone on the outside. On the inside, a 5G smartphone has a 5G-capable modem as well as chipsets that support 5G.

Manufacturers like Qualcomm, Samsung, and MediaTek are among those that create 5G modems for various phone brands. After purchasing Intel’s 5G modem business in late 2019, Apple also makes 5G modems.

A 5G modem allows a 5G phone to access the spectrums of the cellular network set aside for 5G transmission.

Screen size

5G smartphones have a wide range of screen sizes, but larger screens are more common with 5G phones than older 4G phones. Manufacturers expect consumers to be watching quite a bit of video on their 5G smartphones due to the outstanding data transmission speeds, so they anticipate consumers will want larger screens. Many phones have screen sizes as large as 6.7 inches (measured from one corner to the opposite corner).

Expert Tip
If you’re concerned about 5G connectivity going through your wireless plan’s available data quickly, go into your phone’s settings and limit which apps have access to cellular connectivity. You can limit any app you want to only work on Wi-Fi, which will prevent your phone from any unnecessary downloads accidentally using too much mobile data.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Screen resolution

Following through on the expectation of people consuming a lot of video on their 5G phones, screen resolution is incredibly sharp on the majority of these phones.

Resolution is typically at least full-HD quality, with a few models offering 4K resolution. The majority of 5G phones have a resolution somewhere between full HD and 4K.

Camera

Because 5G phones are so advanced, it’s not surprising that they have outstanding cameras.

5G phones often have more than one rear-facing camera lens, which gives photographers the option of shooting wide-angle or telephoto shots, depending on the lens in use. Some have up to three lenses on the rear.

The average resolution for these rear-facing cameras is 12MP, but some models have as much as 48MP of resolution in a rear-facing camera. Certain 5G phone models have different resolutions for each of the rear-facing cameras, while others use the same resolution for each rear-facing camera.

Front-facing cameras in 5G phones typically have about 12MP of resolution too, although front-facing cameras with 32MP of resolution are possible.

Storage

When purchasing a 5G phone, you nearly always have the ability to select among a few different storage capacities. You can save a bit of money by selecting less storage, such as 64GB or 128GB. For an extra cost, some 5G phones have 256GB or 1TB of storage.

Battery life

Any 5G phone should deliver outstanding battery life when new, typically from 10 to 12 consecutive hours with normal use. As with any smartphone, as the 5G phone battery ages, it will slowly begin to lose its ability to hold a full charge, so your battery life will diminish over time.

Expert Tips
Reboot your phone about once a week. Modern phones are made to go ages without requiring a restart — but restarting your phone can go a long way toward resolving errors and keeping it running smoothly.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Accessories

Cell phone lanyard: Gear Beast Universal
A lanyard wrapped around your 5G smartphone will keep it close at hand, greatly reducing your chance of dropping or losing this expensive piece of gear. The Gear Beast lanyard fits nearly any phone size and is made of quality materials.

Cell phone rings: Humixx Finger Ring Stand
Another way to keep a tight grip on your 5G phone is with a phone ring. The Humixx ring has excellent build quality. The ring swivels against the adhesive backing, allowing you to easily adjust the angle of the phone.

Expert Tip
If you’re hanging out with others who don’t have 5G phones and they're having trouble getting a signal, you can use your phone to create a WiFi hotspot and provide them with fast connection speeds. Just remember that messaging and data rates apply when you share your signal, so the data used through your phone's WiFi hotspot will apply to your mobile account.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

5G phone prices

Because a 5G phone is a newer phone, you can expect to pay a premium. Newly released smartphones almost always have a higher price than they do 12 to 24 months after their initial release.

Depending on the cellular network provider you select and the deal you receive, your price could vary a bit from the numbers listed here. Our numbers represent retail prices and do not take into account one-time deals.

Inexpensive

5G smartphones with smaller-than-average screens and minimal storage cost in the $400 to $600 range. Buyers must understand that manufacturers are releasing their high-end 5G phone models first to capitalize on the excitement of the introduction of 5G.

Mid-range

An average 5G phone may have a screen that measures 6 inches or larger and costs $600 to $800. These phones will serve many people successfully, but they will lag just behind the top-end phones in terms of screen resolution, storage capacity, and performance speed.

Expensive

The priciest 5G phones run from $800 to $1,200. These phones have the largest screens with the sharpest display resolutions. They are top-end models in terms of performance speed, too.

DYK2 
Expert TIp
Most “unlimited” data plans from wireless providers aren’t actually unlimited. You’ll get fast speeds for your first 30GB of data or so, which is plenty for most mobile users. If you go beyond that, however, you’ll get throttled to slower speeds for the remainder of the billing cycle.
BestReviews Electronics Expert 

Tips

  • Protect your investment. Purchase a case and screen protector to keep your 5G phone looking new and in prime working condition.
  • Understand any hidden costs. Cellular providers often allow you to purchase a 5G phone through a monthly payment plan, but you may need to sign a long-term contract. It’s important to investigate all hidden costs before signing the contract.
  • Reboot your phone about once a week. Modern phones are made to go ages without requiring a restart — but restarting your phone can go a long way toward resolving errors and keeping it running smoothly
  • Set up cloud backup. Maintain a cloud storage backup option with your 5G phone so you always have a fresh copy of your data, just in case something happens to the phone.
  • Watch for dangerous apps. Some phone apps cause security breaches. So, no matter how fun a particular app appears, read user reviews to ensure it is safe before downloading it.
  • Enjoy more video streaming. With 5G transmission speeds, extra services will be available, such as high-speed internet and pay TV services over the cellular network.
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As 5G phones grow in popularity, don’t expect to be able to easily find new 4G smartphones. Manufacturers will be focusing on 5G phones almost exclusively going forward.

FAQ

Q. Is it safe to use a 5G phone?

A. This may seem like an odd question, but there have been some conspiracy theories on social media blaming the introduction of 5G networks for the spread of Covid-19 or increased exposure to radiation for the phone user. None of these theories have hard facts behind them.

Q. Do I have to purchase a new phone to take advantage of 5G networks?

A. Unless you have already purchased a 5G-enabled phone, you will have to purchase a new phone that is 5G-enabled to use the 5G network. However, even if you decide to stick with an LTE phone, you may notice some minor performance improvements going forward. As some users migrate from LTE to 5G, it is likely the traffic on the LTE-only spectrum will become slightly less congested, allowing LTE phones to work faster.

Q. Do I need a new plan to use my 5G phone?

A. Not necessarily, but it will depend on your cellular carrier and the type of plan you have now. Some carriers grant 5G access with your new 5G phone on your current plan. Others require you to upgrade to a new plan along with the new 5G phone. Ask about this before purchasing your new phone so you know what extra costs you may encounter.

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