New technology works best when everyone commits to it — 2020 has been the year everyone is committing to 5G connectivity which means you’ll want to find the best 5G phones to future-proof yourself. A ton of support from carriers and smartphone companies is going to flood the market with 5G-capable phones this year. 5G isn’t everywhere (yet), but if you live in a place with a 5G network, these are the best 5G phones you can buy.
Best 5G Phone Overall: Samsung Galaxy S20+
You used to have to buy a specific Galaxy S model that had 5G, but now with the S20 series every phone has 5G, so our top 5G recommendation is the same as our overall recommendation: the Galaxy S20+. The S20+ is a great all-around phone, with a display that has a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, a large 4500mAh battery, tons of RAM, and a new Snapdragon 865 processor.
Samsung made big moves this year with its cameras, which were a weak spot in the last generation. The new sensors are all larger, letting in more light and taking dramatically better low-light photos. It’s not quite on the level of the Pixel 4 XL, but this is a big step up for Samsung and is no longer a shortcoming. You also get capable zooming up to 5X, while keeping an ultra-wide camera for more shooting variety.
The Galaxy S20+ supports 5G on all U.S. carriers, both Sub-6 and mmWave, even when you buy the unlocked model, and that makes it incredibly well-suited to stick with you for a long time.
- Best-in-class display
- Good battery life
- Exceptional performance
- Great all-around cameras
- 5G for all carriers, even unlocked
- Expensive for 128GB of storage
- Camera zoom much weaker than S20 Ultra
- Slow fingerprint sensor
- No headphone jack
Best 5G Phone Overall
Samsung Galaxy S20+
Samsung’s excellent all-rounder has 5G and few compromises
The S20+ has a great screen, top-end specs, a strong array of cameras and feature-packed software. And you get 5G on any carrier.
Flagship Killer: OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro is impressive and well-designed as any high-end smartphone can be. If you know anything about OnePlus phones, you’ll be happy to know it doesn’t upend the traditional OnePlus formula. Instead, it extends it to its logical place in the world of 2020 flagships with more features and a higher price.
The hardware goes toe-to-toe with any phone out there, and it’s punctuated by the best display OnePlus has ever used. It’s bright, colorful and has a 120Hz refresh rate. Inside, there are exceptional specs, and that leads to amazing performance thanks to the super-smooth OxygenOS software — it’s just a joy to use.
The 8 Pro also brings the best cameras yet to a OnePlus phone, with a new main sensor that steps up its game to a true flagship level. The entire camera experience is a small step behind the likes of the Galaxy S20+, but then again it’s also a little less expensive. That’s really where the 8 Pro fits in. It’s a true flagship experience top to bottom, for just a bit less money than the traditional players with big brand names.
When you’re focused on 5G, the one shortcoming here is network compatibility. The OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t support mmWave 5G at all, so you can’t use it on Verizon’s 5G network nor most of AT&T’s network. On T-Mobile you’ll get access to a majority of its 5G network, since it’s built on Sub-6 technology, but even there you miss out on its up-and-coming mmWave expansion.
- Large, beautiful 120Hz display
- Greatly improved main and wide-angle cameras
- Excellent battery life
- OxygenOS is best-in-class Android software
- Wireless charging and IP68 rating
- Much more expensive than before
- 5G limited to T-Mobile and some of AT&T
- Telephoto camera isn’t good
- Some software and camera bugs still present
OnePlus 8 Pro
A great overall phone, but one that comes up short in 5G compatibility
The OnePlus 8 Pro is an impressive and well-designed phone that doesn’t upend the traditional OnePlus formula.
Best Mid-range 5G Phone: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
There are a lot of exciting options to choose from that have launched in the second half of 2020. Samsung may have outshined all of them with the Galaxy S20 FE, which should have been available when the rest of the S20 lineup launched. Samsung offers all of the best features and specs from the S20 while finally providing a flat-screened device that users have been wanting for some time. In a world where curved displays look good, they struggle with palm detection, ending up with more accidental touches than anything else
Samsung also upped the ante by integrating the 120Hz refresh rate, so everything you do on the S20 FE looks smooth. Considering the price of the S20 FE, you figure that Samsung had to cut corners somewhere, and that’s where the plastic material comes in. But this can help alleviate the worry of cracking the back glass panel if accidentally dropped, along with providing six fun and different colors to choose from.
As for 5G connectivity, the Galaxy S20 FE features Sub-6 GHz for most users, but those who want to use 5G on Verizon will be a bit disappointed. Since Verizon relies on Ultra Wideband (mmWave), the standard unlocked version found on Amazon or Best Buy won’t feature this. Instead, you’ll have to go to Verizon directly in order to get the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW model.
We’re also still scratching our heads as to why Samsung ships a 15W charger in the box. The Galaxy S20 FE is capable of charging at speeds up to 25W, but you’ll have to come out of pocket for a compatible charger. The 1080p resolution on this 6.5-inch display may not look the greatest at all times, but the 120Hz refresh rate and improved battery life will make up for it.
- 120Hz flat display
- Six colors to choose from
- Plastic build is refreshing
- Triple camera system
- 5G connectivity for all carriers
- Ships with a 15W charger
- 1080p display
- No headphone jack
- mmWave version only available through Verizon
Best Mid-range 5G Phone
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Samsung hits a home run with the Galaxy S20 FE
With many of the same specs as the Galaxy S20, the FE is a great option for everyone who don’t want to break the bank.
Best 5G Phone on a Budget: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
When you look at the sheer number of phones that Samsung releases, it’s easy to get confused quickly. That is, with the exception of a few of the best Samsung phones, such as the Galaxy A71 5G. This device is the successor to the Galaxy A71, and provides support for both Sub 6 and mmWave 5G connectivity.
As for what the Galaxy A71 5G provides, you’ll get a quad camera system on the rear, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. Samsung already makes some of the best displays in the business, and the company made sure to include a darn good one thanks to the 6.7-inch AMOLED screen. You also won’t have to worry about those accidental palm touches, as this is one of the few great Samsung devices that actually sports a flat display instead of a curved one.
Battery life will also be of no concern with the Galaxy A71 5G with the included 4,500mAh cell and fast charging available. You’ll only begin running into issues when it comes to the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. As is the case with many of Samsung’s devices, the fingerprint scanner is inconsistent and not as reliable as the competition.
- Four rear cameras
- 5G and excellent specs for the money
- Excellent battery life
- Sleek and solid hardware
- Macro camera is not great
- Fingerprint sensor can be slow
Best 5G Phone on a Budget
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
A cheaper alternative to the flagship 5G handsets
The Galaxy A71 5G hits all the marks one could want in a budget phone that’s compatible with 5G networks.
Best with an S Pen: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
When you look at the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and compare it to just about every other phone on the market, there really isn’t a comparison. Samsung has included every feature you could think of, save for a foldable display (hello Z Fold 2). There’s the beautiful 6.9-inch Super AMOLED display, complete with the Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and a 1440p resolution.
Despite the huge camera module, these are some of the best cameras you can find on a smartphone today. Samsung even opted to leave out the 100X Space Zoom that was launched with the S20 Ultra, and honestly it’s for the better. These cameras perform so well on a consistent basis that you likely won’t want to even pick up your traditional camera —unless you’re taking pictures of the Note 20 Ultra.
The star of the show with the Galaxy Note 20 is the S Pen, which has been moved to the left-side but is more feature-packed than ever. Being able to control your device without getting fingerprints on the screen is a game-changer along with the “normal” features like taking notes when the screen is turned off and clicking the button to snap a picture.
Since Samsung is seemingly hard-pressed to stick with its curved displays, you may have to worry about the palm rejection. The company continues to struggle with this, and the issues have remained with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. We also are waiting to see if Samsung will move the fingerprint scanner to the Power Button, as the ultrasonic scanner just doesn’t get the job done well enough on a consistent basis.
- Fantastic 120Hz display
- S Pen is a game changer
- Consistent camera performance
- All-day battery life
- Fingerprint sensor is inconsistent
- Curved display can cause “ghost” touches
Best with an S Pen
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Almost the biggest 5G-capable phone you can get
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the best 5G-capable phone you can with an S Pen, and is one of the best overall.
Best for Dual Screens: LG Velvet
If you’re not into the whole “foldable” scene, or don’t want to choose between buying a used car or a smartphone, the LG Velvet is a great compromise. It seems LG is done chasing Samsung for being the best Android phone and is taking a different approach to the market. Enter detachable screens.
The Velvet itself is a move away from the traditional design that we’ve seen LG attempt in years past. With the Velvet, you’ll find an extremely ergonomic design with curves in all of the right places, along with a water-drop layout for the rear cameras. Those wanting to slap on a secondary display can get the feeling of a book, although you’ll have to spend a few extra bucks to get one. Nonetheless, this combination makes for a great mid-to-upper range option.
If you’re looking at the Velvet solely for camera performance, you’ll come away disappointed. It’s not that the Velvet is bad, but LG’s post-processing software adds on too much sharpening, and almost making your pictures look fake altogether.
On the 5G front, you’ll find that there are actually three different versions of the Velvet. The Verizon edition is $100 more and features mmWave for 5G connectivity, while the AT&T and T-Mobile versions support the more-traditional sub-6GHz network compatibility. But the twist here is that while the Verizon and AT&T versions sport Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G, the T-Mobile variant alone sports the MediaTek Dimensity 1000C chipset. There should not be much of a performance difference, but it’s rather questionable to see this change, causing some potential confusion.
- Gorgeous design
- Dual Screen add-on available
- All-day battery life
- Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
- No face unlock option
- Camera performance could be better
- Three different versions are available
Best for Dual Screens
If you want two screens without the fold, the Velvet is great
The LG Velvet provides a gorgeous design, middling specs, but also comes in several different versions in the same body.
Best Foldable 5G Phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Where does one begin when it comes to talking about the Galaxy Z Fold 2? It’s almost as if the original Galaxy Fold is from a different device lineup altogether, as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is incredible from every perspective. The Cover Screen fills up almost every inch of the front, and unfolding it provides you with a 7.2-inch tablet that is much more useful than you may think.
The camera system may not be exactly on par with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but it is still better than a lot of other smartphones. While Google is still trying to figure out how to handle foldable devices, Samsung has tweaked its software just enough to make sure that you can take full advantage of those apps. From including the Snapdragon 865+ paired with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage, along with all-day battery AND 5G connectivity, this is the Ferrari of smartphones.
Even with its exorbitant price tag, Samsung still opted to cut a few corners with the Z Fold 2. Notably, there is no official IP rating for water or dust resistance. Your phone will be able to handle a bit of rain, but that’s about it and you’ll want to wipe it down as soon as you can. While the Z Fold 2 sports 256GB of onboard storage, that may not be enough for some but that’s just “too bad” as you won’t be able to use one of the best microSD cards with this bad boy.
- Incredible hardware design
- The best specs in a smartphone
- Triple camera setup
- Software has been tweaked to accommodate foldable display
- No IP water resistance certification
- No microSD card slot
Best Foldable 5G Phone
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
The best 5G phone for those who want to live in the future
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 makes you feel like you are living in the future with incredible specs and an even better design.
Best for Verizon: Motorola Edge+
Motorola has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years when it comes to providing one of the best Android phones. With the Motorola Edge+, the company was hoping to get back on the map with a complete re-design thanks to the waterfall display acccompanied by a 90Hz refresh rate.
This redesign provides a more narrow body, making it easier to use with one hand. One-handed usage is something that many smartphone makers have seemingly come to ignore as phones continue to get more wide. Nonetheless, Motorola paired the new design with flagship specs courtesy of the Snapdragon 865 chipset, along with 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and an enormous 5,000mAh battery.
Surprisingly, Motorola made the conscious decision to omit any official dust or water resistance IP rating. You’ll likely be just fine for a splash in the rain, but that’s about it. The camera system is also just OK, and not what you would likely expect to see from a flagship-level device in 2020. Instead, it matches up more with some of the mid-tier smartphones that we’ve seen released over the last year or so.
Finally, there was one more puzzling “issue” with the Moto Edge+ that has some scratching their heads. While this handset supports both Sub-6 and mmWave, the only official carrier support comes from Verizon. Even if your tried to purchase the phone directly from Motorola, you are only limited to selecting Verizon as there are no “unlocked” variants available.
- Beautiful display with 90Hz refresh rate
- Narrow body for easy one-hand use
- Excellent battery life
- Lack of water resistance
- Camera is just okay
- Only available through Verizon
Best for Verizon
Great for only Verizon users
The Motorola Edge+ features both 5G spectrums, while also sporting flagship specs and a gorgeous design.
Best International 5G Phone: OnePlus Nord
For the past few years, we have seen OnePlus join the race to attempt and topple Samsung with devices like the OnePlus 7 Pro and 8 Pro. However, this is a far cry from the “old days” where the flagship killer moniker had more substance. OnePlus devices feature great designs with a solid spec-sheet. Some may say that the company has lost its way, but that has seemingly changed with the OnePlus Nord.
The Nord instantly become one of the best 5G phones with a sleek glass sandwich design, four rear cameras, and a beautiful 90Hz AMOLED display. Under the hood, you’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G paired with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. Battery life is of no concern here thanks to the 4,115mAh cell, along with OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30T fast charging technology.
So then why is this not higher on the list? Well, OnePlus opted to stick to its international userbase for the Nord. The device is available in select regions around the globe, with the exception of the U.S. While we wait for the U.S. version of the Nord to arrive, you’ll be stuck trying to get lucky on Amazon or over at Walmart’s online storefront. It’s also important to note that the Nord does not include any of the 5G bands needed to get the fastest connection from your GSM carrier, and there is no compatibility with CDMA networks.
- Three years of promised software updates
- 30W fast charging
- 90Hz AMOLED display
- Under $500
- Not officially available in the U.S.
- Camera not capable of recording 4K / 60FPS
- No CDMA support
Best International 5G Phone
Perfect for everywhere but the U.S.
The OnePlus Nord marks a change in the guard for the company as it tries to return to its roots.
Best for Pixel fans: Pixel 5 (coming soon)
2020 has been a weird year for Google after getting lambasted in regards to the shoddy battery life from the Pixel 4. The only saving grace for 4 and 4 XL was the absolutely amazing camera system, making it possible to point your smartphone at the night’s sky and get pictures of the constellations. Fast forward to today, and there are now three phones in Google’s 2020 lineup, culminating with the upcoming Pixel 5.
This handset features all of the specs one would expect from a smartphone priced at less than $1,000. The Snapdragon 765G provides great performance while unlocking 5G connectivity. Google’s decision to use an aluminum unibody design while still making wireless charging is fantastic, and the Pixel 5 now features an ultra-wide secondary camera, instead of the telephoto lens found on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL.
Getting a Pixel guarantees you three years of platform updates, along with getting the latest version of Android as soon as it’s become available. But with the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G (another 5G phone in Google’s lineup), Google learned from the past and packed in a larger battery with its latest devices to go along with the 90Hz display for buttery smooth scrolling and gaming, although the 4a 5G is limited to just a 60Hz refresh rate.
It’s going to be tough determining whether the Pixel 5 can really stack up against the likes of the OnePlus Nord and Galaxy S20 FE at this price. Additionally, the Pixel 5 will not be available in all markets, as Pixel fans in India will be left out of the fun here. Nonetheless, the Pixel 5 is sure to turn some heads, especially with the new Sorta Sage color option.
- Aluminum unibody
- Qi wireless charging
- 90Hz refresh rate
- Same camera module from Pixel 4
- Not the greatest value
- Does not feature Qualcomm’s latest processor
- Limited global availability
Best for Pixel fans
Get 5G connectivity from Google
Google’s 2020 flagship may be surprising to some, but it’s an impressive handset with Google’s software and camera prowess.
The best 5G phones aren’t just for enthusiasts anymore
5G coverage is growing, but it isn’t yet to the point where we can unequivocally say that you have to get a 5G phone. At the same time, the number of phones launching with 5G are beginning to become rather compelling with many of the best Android phones already featuring the new bands.The smartphone market will soon reach the point of no-return, where just about every phone released features 5G. We’re just hoping that this will mean that the names of some of these devices can get a little shorter than they are currently.
For those who want to get to the best network speeds, the Galaxy S20+ is a clear winner — because it’s just a great overall phone that happens to have 5G connectivity. You don’t choose the Galaxy S20+ because it has 5G, but because of its great hardware, display, specs and cameras. Having 5G for now — and more importantly for a year from now — is just a great side benefit.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras is a writer covering networking and 5G at Mobile Nations. He spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It’s the Pentium 3.
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he’ll get back to you.
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