Welcome to this guide to the best 5G phones, written by the fully 5G-ready experts at T3. This list should be the only 5G phone directory you need: from the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra to the Oppo Reno 5G and everything in between, we'll talk you through the best 5G phones, the cheapest 5G deals, and the details of the 5G spec.
Just about every phone manufacturer out there is working on 5G right now, as CES 2020 has shown and the rest of 2020 will no doubt go on to prove, and you've now got a number of fantastic 5G phones to choose between – read on to find the best 5G phone on the market for you, whether you're buying now or waiting until later.
- 5G UK: the phones, networks, and deals you need for 5G in the UK
- Best phones: all the top smartphones right now in one place
Buying a 5G phone already makes a lot of sense, and it's making more sense every day in 2020: UK operators are now rolling out 5G coverage in more and more areas in a major way, giving you access to super-fast speeds and extra bandwidth. New towns and cities are getting the upgrade all the time.
On top of that, the price premium for making the jump to 5G is shrinking all the time: new models are now appearing on the scene on a regular basis, and we reckon there's never been a better time to take advantage of what 5G has to offer.
Sometimes newer tech can take a while to filter down to the masses, but fortunately it looks as though that won't be the case with 5G: both operators and manufacturers alike seem keen to get 5G technology into the hands of users as quickly as possible.
And while it might take a while for our best smartphones list to get filled with 5G phones, as we go further into 2020 you should have a wide choice of handsets to pick from, with new models from the likes of Apple and Google on the way. We're here to guide you through all the current options.
In terms of the impact of 5G, think augmented reality (computer graphics merging with the real world), virtual reality, improved streaming resolutions, holographic displays, enhanced power and next-gen cloud computing... 5G is a significant jump forward for phones.
With so much bandwidth available, we're seeing plenty more gadgets and devices getting online too (self-driving cars and so on).
Partner these exciting developments with the other phone advancements charging over the horizon, such as totally notch-less and bezel-less displays, and its easy to see why many commentators are pegging 2020 as another big year of change for smartphones.
You might see some regional variation – 5G phones in India might not launch at the same time as in Europe for example – while Apple seems to be taking its time for now. We think the iPhone 12, due to appear in September 2020, is going to be the first Apple handset to support 5G.
Before we get to the 5G phones leading the 5G vanguard, though, let's briefly recap what 5G exactly is…
5G explained – what is 5G?
5G is the successor to 4G (or LTE), which succeeded 3G (spot the pattern...). As phones and the network infrastructure become 5G-capable, we can all start enjoying faster upload and download speeds, among many other 5G phone benefits.
How much faster is a 5G phone connection? It depends on your device, location, and network, but improvements of around 15-50 percent should be possible day-to-day in the real world. Hypothetically, in lab conditions, 5G can improve on 4G many more times than that, so there's room to grow: imagine full 4K movies downloading in a minute or two, and you're in the right area.
5G isn't just about speed though, about simply being able to watch 4K Netflix on the train home. It's also about capacity, and being able to get a stronger signal in crowded areas. In other words, you shouldn't lose connection anywhere near as easily at a crowded sports stadium or a music festival, for example.
Be sure to check out T3's dedicated 5G explained feature if you want even more information about 5G technology and what it can do for you.
The best 5G phones to buy in 2020
The best 5G phone for most people
Reasons to buy
As promised all those months ago at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai, OnePlus has created a 5G-enabled version of its flagship smartphone. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is identical to the standard 4G-touting OnePlus 7 Pro – same design, cameras, display, battery cell. In fact, the only difference is its ability to surf speedy 5G networks. That's a very different approach to the Galaxy S10 5G, which is an entirely-new device with more cameras, a bigger battery and screen than the standard S10.
As such, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G owners will enjoy the same 6.67-inch display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 90Hz refresh rate. The latter, branded Fluid AMOLED by the firm, equates to 90 frames-per-second and makes animations and transitions appear much smoother on the edge-to-edge display. It also supports HDR10 and HDR10+.
OnePlus 7 Pro has a fingerprint scanner embedded beneath the AMOLED display, which is 36% bigger than the one included with the OnePlus 6T for faster and more accurate unlocks. According to OnePlus, the scanner unlocks in 0.24 seconds.
Aside from the AMOLED display, the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G has a triple rear-camera capable of shooting images in Portrait Mode, ultra-wide or at 3x optical zoom. There's also a 16MP f/2.0 selfie camera found in a small pop-up drawer that emerges from the chassis. OnePlus 7 Pro 5G benefits from UFS 3.0 storage, which dramatically improves speed across the entire operating system – from loading-up a hefty PDF document for the first time, to saving photos from the camera. There's also a flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 under the bonnet to keep things ticking over, as well as a 4,000mAh battery, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of built-in storage.
The best premium 5G phone we know of
Reasons to buy
There's so much to like about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra that it's difficult to know where to start: amazing looks, 5G connectivity of course, and specs to rival any handset out there, including up to 16GB of RAM.
That quad-lens rear camera isn't bad either, with its 100x digital zoom for getting you closer to the action, and a sharper 10x hybrid optical zoom. When you're not drooling over the phone's high-speed 5G connectivity, you'll be admiring the quality of the snaps it takes.
Perhaps the only downside is the price, because this is going to cost you a substantial amount of money. With all that in mind, we reckon its the best premium 5G phone out there at the moment.
The best budget 5G phone available now
Reasons to buy
Anyone who tells you that getting 5G on a phone is going to cost you a lot of money hasn't come across the TCL 10 5G: not only does it offer 5G, you also get a very decent screen, processor and camera as well, all for a little under £400 if you're buying direct and SIM-free.
Some corners are cut to get the phone to this price – no waterproofing, no wireless charging – but you can't have many complaints considering the amount you're paying. TCL is relatively new to the smartphone scene, even though it's a veteran in the electronics industry, and we're impressed with what it's pulled off here.
Apart from the 5G that's on board, it's perhaps the display that has the most appeal here. It's bright and vivid, and you get a host of software tweaks that you can apply to really make the colours pop if you need to (when watching Netflix, for example).
4. Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
One of the very finest pound-for-pound 5G phones in the world
Reasons to buy
The Samsung Galaxy S20 5G is testament to the South Korean maker's dedication to ushering in the era 5G data connections, with this premium phone supporting all 5G standards. That means that, providing you have 5G in your area, you are guaranteed to be able to tap into those lighting fast, low latency networks.
It also delivers in terms of a phone, too, with flagship-grade tech, features and fit and finish. The S20 5G's incredible AMOLED screen with silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate is truly something to behold.
The camera system, too, for a Samsung device is literally bursting with features and shooting modes, while the fact that the phone comes running Android 10 out of the box with Samsung's superb One UI 2.0 skin on top means that interacting with it is a sheer joy.
Through in some genuine gaming chops thanks to an Adreno 650 GPU and plenty of internal storage space, and it is easy to see how this phone delivers the complete package to its owner.
Indeed, that package is so impressive that the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G has just won the much-wanted Best 5G Phone award at the T3 Awards 2020. This means that it struck the right notes with the judges and should absolutely be top of any upgrader's list.
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The best Samsung phone with a digital stylus
Reasons to buy
There's a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, and if you can manage the cost, it's undoubtedly one of the best Samsung experiences you're going to get this year. It features a brilliant design, a more than capable camera, and internal specs that mean it will outpace almost every phone on the market.
The biggest reason for buying the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, though, is of course that S Pen – scribble on the lock screen, control the camera remotely, unleash your creative side, and more. If you need a phone with a stylus for serious work on the go, this phone has you covered.
5G is on board, as the name of the phone suggests, which means you're covered for years when it comes to next-gen connectivity – and considering you've got the Exynos 990 or Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset (depending on region) running everything, this isn't a phone that'll be slowing down anytime soon.
As we've said, the price is a little on the eye-watering side, but for something you're going to use every day for years to come, you might consider it worthwhile. The triple-lens rear camera with 5x optical zoom deserves a mention too, as it's capable of capturing some fantastic snaps in any kind of lighting.
6. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
One of the most affordable 5G phones on the market today
Reasons to buy
The 5G Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 was confirmed in late October 2018, and after being teased at MWC 2019, it went on sale in May 2019, putting it near the front of the 5G smartphone release schedule.
5G aside, the Mi Mix 3 is a strong device, with a magnetically sliding 6.39-inch OLED display embedded in a sleek bezel-less design (93.4% screen-to-body ratio), and a suite of hardware that includes a maximum of 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space, as well as a dual rear camera system (24MP + 2MP). We were certainly impressed with the non-5G version of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.
Most exciting for users looking to upgrade to a 5G phone this year is the smartphone's price, which is significantly lower than many other best 5G phones. Indeed, the Mi Mix 3 5G proves that you don't have to break the bank to get a rapid 5G phone.
7. Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
The best 5G phone available at a mid-range price point
Reasons to buy
Our next Samsung pick in this list is the one to go for if you want a quality 5G Samsung phone for as little cash as possible: the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G. It comes with all the usual Samsung qualities (speedy, well designed, great screen) but won't make you part with your life savings.
And you're getting a whole lot in return for your money too, including a triple-lens rear camera (with one camera a 48MP monster), a generous 6.7-inch screen and a big 4,500mAh battery. Some corners are cut – no IP68 waterproofing and no wireless charging, for example – but overall it's a fantastic deal.
It's fantastic to see 5G phones coming down in price, and the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G should be the start of an ongoing trend where 5G becomes more affordable. We'll add more great 5G phones to this list as we come across them.
8. Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
A powerhouse of a 5G phone from Huawei with a simply massive screen
Reasons to buy
It might use slightly older components, but the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G is still a superbly powerful phone and one that'll have you reaching the fastest 5G speeds... assuming you can get them wherever you happen to be standing. Unlike the latest Huawei phones, it has a full suite of Google apps too.
As we've come to expect from Huawei, the camera is excellent, and there are three lenses on the back as well as 3x optical zoom. The battery is a huge 4,200mAh one as well, so you shouldn't have to worry about running out of juice before the end of the day.
Because the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G has been out a while, you might be able to pick it up for some very decent prices (see above and below for details). Definitely one to consider if you like your screens as big as possible (and you don't mind operating your phone with two hands).
9. Oppo Reno 5G
One of the more affordable, and stylish, 5G phone options
Reasons to buy
Also entering the 5G phone race is Oppo, with the Chinese maker officially unveiling the Oppo Reno, a brand new, 5G-toting flagship phone.
The Reno 5G comes with a 6.6-inch edge-to-edge OLED display, a large 4,065mAh battery, 10x lossless hybrid zoom camera and, yes, a 5G modem. It also features a wizzy pop-up wedge selfie camera. In short, the Oppo Reno 5G looks like a real 5G phone contender.
The dramatic Reno release has been coming, too. In January 2018 Oppo finalised a deal with Qualcomm to use its components and technology in its devices, while in May 2018 it demonstrated the world's first 5G video call, too. Oppo has been working on 5G technology for a while now.
The 5G Oppo Reno is set to cost €899 (roughly £790) at launch and is set for release in June 2019. That's still a lot of money, but it's likely to be one of the more affordable 5G handsets to begin with.
10. Moto Z3
A decent alternative 5G phone available at a mid-range price point
Reasons to buy
There are a few qualifiers here: the Moto Z3 is capable of 5G speeds, but only if you buy the 5G Moto Mod for it, and are on Verizon in the US, and are in an area where 5G is supported. Tick all those boxes and you can join the 5G revolution!
The Z3 itself was actually launched quite some time ago, bringing with it a decent 6.01-inch screen, a Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM. It's not the most capable phone in the world, but with a 5G add-on, it qualifies for our roundup.
Now Motorola has joined the 5G club, we'll have to wait and see what it has planned for the other smartphones it's launching in 2020. You'll certainly be able to pick this up relatively cheaply, but remember the 5G Moto Mod.