The 9 Best 5G Phones of 2020

These new phones give you access to 5G networks!

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection
Introduction

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"The Note20 Ultra 5G is the best high-end 5G phone for those who price is no object."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Google Pixel 4a 5G at Best Buy
"The 5G version of the Pixel 4a is the phone for most people, it comes with a big display, great camera, solid performance, and it won't break the bank."
"Apple’s first 5G phone, the iPhone 12 comes with a powerful A14 processor, an attractive screen, and impressive camera capabilities."
"A sized down iPhone 12, the Mini gives you all the power of its larger sibling in a smaller footprint."
"If you want 5G without having to shell out for a lot of extras, the Galaxy A71 offers great value as a reasonably affordable phone."
"One of Motorla's top-tier flagships, the Edge+ can compete with Samsung's best offerings."
"A clamshell folding phone, the Moto Razr has a tiny footprint in your pocket and an innovative design."
Best New Release:
OnePlus 8T at Oneplus.com
"The recently launched OnePlus 8T joins the existing lineup at as powerful 5G phone straddling the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro in price."
Best Early Release:
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G at Amazon
"The Galaxy S20 was one of the first major 5G phones to come to market, it still lives up with powerful specs in a compact form factor."

The best 5G phones operate on the speedy 5G mobile networks being rolled out by carriers. As you might expect, 5G technology offers faster speeds than 4G LTE, especially for high-bandwidth uses like HD streaming, always-connected smart home devices, file transfers, and other uses. All the major carriers in the US are rolling out 5G networks, but not all phones are compatible.

To make sure you can get the fastest speeds possible you'll want to buy a 5G-compatible phone. We've put together a list of the top 5G mobile phones currently on the market. Most do tend to cost a premium over standard 4G LTE devices, but as the market expands, there are some increasingly affordable options that offer a good balance between performance and price.

If you're not ready to make the leap to 5G yet or your country hasn't started 5G rollout, take a look at our general list of the best smartphones instead. Otherwise, read on to see the best 5G phones to get.

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G

What We Like
  • Huge, stunning screen

  • Amazing cameras

  • Ample power

  • Productivity perks

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Can be hard to handle

  • QHD+ or 120Hz, not both

  • Sluggish fingerprint sensor

Samsung’s Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G is an exercise in smartphone excess, delivering top-end technology and ample perks at the highest price of any mainstream smartphone today. It’s a luxurious-looking handset with an enormous 6.8-inch screen, which you can run at either a crisp QHD+ resolution or super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate (but not both simultaneously). The Note20 Ultra also has an excellent and versatile triple-camera array, a very speedy processor, ample battery life, and the pop-out S Pen stylus for a productivity boost.

With support for both sub-6Ghz and mmWave 5G connectivity, it can also deliver swift on-the-go downloads and steady streaming. We found the Note20 Ultra to be a little too large to be comfortable in everyday usage, but size aside, this is one seriously impressive phone. That said, it’s a $1,300 smartphone that can be matched or nearly matched on many points by top $700-800 flagship phones today, making it a very pricey and decidedly niche option.

"The Note20 Ultra has a highly versatile shooting trio that delivers consistently excellent shots in all conditions. It’s one of the best smartphone camera systems you’ll find today."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Google Pixel 4a 5G

What We Like
  • Fairly reasonable price

  • 5G support

  • Crisp screen

  • Great camera

What We Don't Like
  • Processor could be better

  • Missing some frills like wireless charging and waterproofing

The 5G model of the Pixel 4a is likely going to be one of the most popular 5G phones on the market. It offers 5G connectivity, just like all the phones on this list, but it does it for $500, putting it a full $200 below the Pixel 5 and several hundred dollars cheaper than most of the high-end phones on this list. What you get with the Pixel 4a 5G is a 6.2-inch 2340x1080 OLED display, working out to a crisp 413ppi. The screen is an edge-to-edge panel with a cutout, as has become increasingly standard.

Under the hood, it has a Snapdragon 765G processor, just like the Pixel 5. That won't match the Snapdragon 865+ chipset on most flagship phones, but combined with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, along with Google's optimized software, you shouldn't face much trouble when it comes to multitasking and gaming.

The camera capabilities stand out for special consideration. Both are heavily optimized for snapping great shots, with a 12.2MP primary sensor and a 16Mp ultra-wide sensor. The phone can record in 4K video and comes with a sizable 3,800mAh battery and fast charging support. What you're missing here is a higher refresh display, water resistance, and wireless charging, which might be significant omissions for some, but if you can get by without it, the Pixel 4a 5G has great value.

"At $499, you get a 5G-capable phone with a great screen, excellent cameras, and strong battery life, and enough processing power to get the job done." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Apple: Apple iPhone 12

What We Like
  • Eye-catching design

  • Incredibly powerful

  • Full 5G support

  • Beautiful screens

  • Excellent cameras

What We Don't Like
  • Only 60Hz screen

  • No external storage

  • No included power brick

Apple’s first 5G iPhone is a winner, keeping the notched look of recent models while packing in big improvements across the board. The iPhone 12 has a more striking look thanks to the flat frame, and is also thinner and lighter in the process. It also has a markedly better 6.1-inch OLED screen that is much crisper and benefits from improved contrast and black levels.

Beauty is much more than skin-deep with the iPhone 12, however, as it includes the most powerful smartphone chip on the market, the A14 Bionic, not to mention compatibility for blistering 5G speeds and an excellent camera setup. This is a robust, fully-featured iPhone at $799, and sure to make some Apple fans second-guess whether it’s even worth paying extra for one of the iPhone 12 Pro models.

"“The iPhone 12 is Apple’s best sub-$1,000 smartphone in years, delivering a premium, polished handset that is packed with power and style alike.” — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Compact: Apple iPhone 12 mini

What We Like
  • Compact and lightweight design

  • Crisp display

  • Powerful A14 Bionic processor

What We Don't Like
  • No USB-C

  • No high refresh display

There isn't much difference between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. The main thing comes down to size and form-factor. The mini has a smaller 5.4-inch OLED screen, compared to the 6.1-inch panel you get with the iPhone 12. The mini is also thinner and lighter (and probably has less battery). It won't weigh down your pocket as much as the other phones on this list and it'll be easier to use with one hand.

.In other regards, it's largely identical to the iPhone 12. The screen supports HDR and Dolby Vision, has 476ppi, dense black, and rich, saturated colors. It's powered by an A14 Bionic processor making for effective multitasking and has two 12MP cameras on the rear for ultrawide and wide-angle shots, and a 12MP selfie camera. It supports wireless charging, fast charging, IP68 waterproofing, and has a Lightning port despite coming with a Lightning to USB-C cable.

Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G

What We Like
  • Very reasonable price

  • Solid overall specs

  • Good camera capabilities

What We Don't Like
  • No high refresh rate

  • No wireless charging

Another Samsung on the list, but don't worry, the A71 is a different kind of 5G phone from the rest. For one, it costs just $430, making it one of the most affordable phones on this list. Despite the lower price, it still offers solid mid-range performance. For starters, you get a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED edge-to-edge with a 2400x1080 resolution, working out to 393ppi. There are no special frills like a high refresh rate or HDR, but it's powered by an Exynos 980 processor and has 6GB/8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage, allowing for a solid level of multitasking and a bit of gaming.

Camera quality is solid, with a quad array consisting of a 64MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth sensor. It can record 4K video at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps. While it doesn't have waterproofing or wireless charging, you do get a 4,500mAh battery, fast charging, and most key features like dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 For those who don't need all the the bells and whistles, the A71 is a very capable 5G phone for a reasonable price.

Best Motorola: Motorola Moto Edge

What We Like
  • Attractive, modern design

  • Powerful processor

  • Solid camera capabilities

  • Good set of features

  • Big battery

What We Don't Like
  • Screen resolution and refresh could be higher

Motorola is a venerable phone manufacturer, but it hasn't always managed to match the big names when it comes to flagship devices that can compete in hardware. The Edge+ is set to be an exception to that. It's a powerful 5G smartphone that can go head to head against top-tier offerings from Samsung, OnePlus, and others. For starters, you have a 6.7-inch edge-to-edge OLED screen that reaches a 90Hz refresh rate. It's 1080p and it's not as high as the 120Hz panel on the Note20 Ultra, but it does include HDR10+ for rich, saturated colors and improved dynamic range.

Taking a peek inside, the phone has a Snapdragon 865 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal storage, allowing for smooth multitasking and gaming. The camera array is fairly impressive, with a 108MP main camera, 8MP telephoto sensor for 3X optical zoom, and a 16MP ultra-wide camera. It's capable of recording in 6K and 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps. Other features are all present, like a sizable 5,000mAh battery, fast charging, fast wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging.

If you're a Motorola fan and you want to take advantage of the Verizon 5G network, in particular, it's a good phone to get.

Best Unique: Motorola Moto Razr

What We Like
  • Unique and compact folding design

  • Solid overall specs

  • Useful secondary outer display

What We Don't Like
  • Only a single camera

  • Processor could be more powerful

  • No wireless charging

The Motorola Moto Razr is a 5G phone that's a blast from the past. Hearkening back to the glory days of Motorola's Razr phones, the current Razr borrows the name and gives it to a phone with a modern folding screen. It snaps closed like a clamshell device, taking advantage of a unique P-OLED folding screen.

The primary display is a 6.2-inch panel with a 2142x876 resolution (373ppi), which admittedly isn't as high as the Quad HD panels on some Samsung devices, but is still fairly sharp. When folded closed, the Razr has a second external G-OLED display that's 2.7 inches (800x600), giving you access to time, date, notifications, and shortcuts. The unique nature of this device means that you can essentially cut the phone in half in terms of size, reducing its footprint in your pocket.

The unique design aside, this does come with some compromises in terms of hardware. The phone has a Snapdragon 765G processor, rather than the more powerful 865+ you get on other folding phones like the Z Fold2. It comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and only has a single rear camera with a 48MP sensor. There's a 20MP selfie camera and the battery is on the smaller side with a 2,800mAh cell. Fast charging is supported, but not wireless charging.

Best New Release: OnePlus 8T

What We Like
  • High refresh display

  • Solid specs

  • Quad camera array

  • Fast charging

  • Sleek design

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof (unless T-Mobile model)

  • No wireless charging

The OnePlus 8T is the newest 5G phone to be released and the latest from OnePlus. It falls into a middle ground between the more affordable OnePlus 8 and the top-tier OnePlus 8 Pro, giving consumers another alternative in the search for a 5G phone. In terms of design, all three phones look rather similar with a sleek and stylish design, edge-to-edge screens, and the classic hole punch selfie camera cutout.

In terms of hardware, there's little compromise to be found. The phone has a 6.55-inch AMOLED screen with a 1080p resolution and a high refresh 120Hz panel for smooth motion in gaming nad multitasking. It's powered by a Snapdragon 865 processor, has 8GB/12GB RAM options and 128GB/256GB storage options. The camera array is extensive, consisting of a 48MP standard sensor, 16MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and 2MP depth sensor, allowing for crisp shots. The selfie camera is a 16MP sensor. It's capable of recording 4K video at 60fps.

When it comes to big features, all the key elements are here like 65W fast charging with the proprietary Dash Charging, a sizable 4,500mAh battery, and the latest Android 11 software with OxygenOS.

Best Early Release: Samsung Galaxy S20 5G

What We Like
  • Lightweight design

  • Camera and zoom innovation

  • Strong overall performance

  • Crisp display

  • Fast 5G

What We Don't Like
  • 30x zoom with AI isn't as good as optical

  • 5G coverage still spotty

The Samsung Galaxy S20 5G was one of the first mainline flagship phones to come to market boasting 5G. Despite a relatively early launch as part of Samsung's 11th flagship line, it's one of the more compact and lightweight 5G phones on the market compared to the Note line. On the front, you get a 6.2-inch screen with Samsung's rich, saturated Super AMOLED Infinity display, giving you minimal bezels, a small cutout for the front camera, and a dense 563ppi.

As an added bonus, the screen can hit a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth performance during games and streaming. Performance on the 5G network was fast when our reviewer tested it, though he noted that connectivity can be spotty depending on the carrier.

Other hardware is also excellent. There's a Snapdragon 865 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. It won't match Apple's A13 Bionic in benchmark testing, but it can still handle everything you can throw at it in terms of multitasking, gaming, and productivity. The triple camera array on the rear also takes sharp shots, supports 3X hybrid zoom, 30X Super Resolution zoom enhanced by AI, and 100X Space Zoom.

"From the perfectly pocketable size to the exquisite design, great photo, and video capabilities to the tantalizing 5G, the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G is an excellent Android 10 handset." — Lance Ulanoff, EIC Lifewire

Final Verdict

The best 5G phone in terms of specs, power, and capabilities is the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra (view at Amazon). It's a powerhouse phone with a stylus for improved productivity, AI-enhanced cameras, a long-lasting battery, and all the best features like wireless charging and waterproofing. If you need a less costly option, we like the Google Pixel 4a 5G (view at Best Buy). It has solid mid-range specs, great camera capabilities, and clean software, all without hitting your wallet too hard.

About Our Trusted Experts

Lance Ulanoff is Lifewire's EIC with over three decades of experience covering the tech industry and reviewing phones (particularly Apple products). He reviewed a number of 5G phones on this list including the OnePlus 8 Pro, Galaxy S20 5G, and LG V60 5G ThinQ.

Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Dotdash and has been working in the tech industry and reviewing consumer electronics for nearly a decade. He's reviewed hundreds of phones at his previous position at PCMag and personally has used the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who's been reviewing products for Lifewire since 2019. He's previously been published in TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, and Macworld. He reviewed the iPhone 12 which he praised for its 5G connectivity and powerful processor.

What to Consider When Buying a 5G Phone

Screen size - One of the key features to look for in a 5G phone is screen size and quality. Most 5G phones are on the larger side, with most averaging around 6 inches. OLED and AMOLED panels are the most common screen technology, providing dense, saturated colors, and inky blacks. Higher refresh panels are usually 90Hz or 120Hz, making animations and transitions seem smoother. This is particularly useful for games that rely on fps.

A variant of OLED is used by certain companies like Samsung and Motorola to create folding phones that can bend, either snapping closed into a clamshell, or expanding into a tablet-sized device. A bigger screen size allows for better multimedia and utility, but unless it's a folding screen it may also add to bulk. Folding phones tend to be more expensive and the screen a bit more fragile.

Processor - Most 5G phones tend to be flagships, meaning they have a Snapdragon 865 or 865+ processor along with plenty of RAM. This allows them to do multitasking, gaming, and productivity, taking full advantage of 5G data speeds. However, if you're looking for a more affordable device, you can get 5G phones that are powered by a Snapdragon 765G processor or one of Samsung's Exynos variants. They won't be quite as powerful as the latest and greatest Qualcomm chipset, but most people won't notice performance impact outside of benchmark testing.

Features - A certain set of features have become common on most 5G phones and flagship phones, for that matter. IP68 waterproofing allows phones to be immersed in water and survive exposure to dust. Wireless charging allows for compatibility with Qi charging pads, reverse wireless charging lets your phone charge other compatible devices, and fast charging to top up quickly. Some phones allow microSD storage, while others lack the option.