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The best 5G phones you can buy right now

The 5G era is upon us, and options are plentiful.
By
January 13, 2022
best 5g phones - 5G logo

5G networks are popping up all over the map, with the likes of China, Europe, the US, Latin America, and other regions offering the next-generation cellular standard. Those looking for faster cellular speeds should consider getting a 5G phone. This is why we’ve done the legwork to bring you a list of the best 5G phones.

The good news? We had to sift through loads of devices, showing us just how far 5G has come. It’s also worth noting that 5G devices aren’t just for 5G networks, as they’ll work just fine on 4G LTE networks too. This is ideal if your local carrier has announced plans for 5G, or if it’s not fully developed yet, but you want to get ahead and get ready for prime time.

What is 5G, anyway?

Before showing you the best 5G phones you can currently get, let’s talk about 5G technology. 5G is the next step in cellular connectivity, in the same way that 4G followed 3G. This mobile connectivity standard delivers faster downloads than 4G LTE, although top speeds vary with the specific 5G technology used — more on this later.

5G also enables lower latency, ideal for VoIP calls, video conferencing, and online gaming. Essentially any real-time activity where lag can be of concern.

Finally, 5G networks also bring reduced congestion compared to 4G. This means you shouldn’t have as much trouble holding a connection at concert venues, stadiums, busy cities, and other places with a ton of people.

Many carriers in Africa, China, Europe, Korea, the Middle East, and the US offer 5G. India is one of the biggest markets without 5G right now, but hopefully, the standard will launch soon.

This is just a brief overview of what 5G is. To learn more about the technology, check out the dedicated post using the link below.

Here: What is 5G, and what can we expect from it?

Is 5G safe?

We’ve seen several alleged 5G dangers in recent years, with one persistent claim being that 5G causes cancer. These claims have been doing the rounds with 2G, 3G, and 4G. Nevertheless, the evidence generally points to this not being the case.

Another popular conspiracy theory is that 5G is somehow responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply put, cellular radio waves don’t create viruses or weaken the immune system. So, please don’t burn down towers.

The 5G/coronavirus conspiracy theory also doesn’t hold water when the likes of India and Iran — two nations with loads of COVID-19 cases — don’t have 5G networks right now.

All signs point to 5G being safe or just as safe as 4G and other technologies. The internet is full of nonsense myths about 5G tech, a lot of which our very own Gary Sims debunked in a video you can check out above.

mmWave versus sub-6Ghz: What’s the difference?

Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G badge

5G is divided into two standards, much like HSPA+ and LTE are two 4G standards. These two 5G standards are mmWave and sub-6GHz.

mmWave 5G is the faster of the two standards right now, with a 2021 OpenSignal survey noting that Verizon’s mmWave 5G network offers average download speeds of almost 700Mbps. But this standard is more unreliable than sub-6Ghz and legacy 4G, making it suitable for much smaller pockets of coverage.

Meanwhile, sub-6Ghz 5G isn’t much faster than gigabit LTE. In fact, the survey above showed speeds varying from 238Mbps by Korea’s LG U+ down to 47Mbps for T-Mobile in the US. Nevertheless, sub-6Ghz 5G offers blanket coverage much like legacy 4G tech, and you’re still benefiting from reduced network congestion and lower latency.

The best 5G phones:

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best 5G phones regularly as new devices launch or are announced.


Samsung Galaxy S21 series

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra face down on desk
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Samsung’s flagship phones have generally enjoyed plenty of features and widespread availability, which rings true in the 5G phone era. The Galaxy S21 series also enjoyed a $200 price cut across the board at launch, which means you’ll be spending $800 on the cheapest model compared to $1,000 in 2020. What do you get for the cash?

The S21 series delivers 120Hz OLED screens, Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 processors, wireless charging, and IP68 water resistance. But the S21 Ultra is the star of the show — it packs a QHD+ screen, a crazy rear camera setup (108MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 5X periscope, 10MP 2X telephoto), and a 5,000mAh battery. It even includes S Pen support.

Our verdict: Samsung Galaxy S21 review — Strength in value

Otherwise, the S21 and S21 Plus have to settle for FHD+ displays and the same rear cameras seen on their predecessors (12MP main, 64MP hybrid zoom, 12MP ultrawide). The base S21 also tops out at a 4,000mAh battery and uses a plastic back, while the S21 Plus offers a 4,800mAh battery (but retains a glass back). Either way, you’re still getting powerful, feature-packed devices that are among the best 5G phones around.


Samsung Galaxy S21 specs:

  • Display: 6.2-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: SD 888 / Exynos 2100
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 64, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: SD 888 / Exynos 2100
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 64, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,800mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specs:

  • Display: 6.9-inch, Quad HD+
  • Chipset: SD 888 / Exynos 2100
  • RAM: 8/12/16GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 108, 12, 10, and 10MP
  • Front camera: 40MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Asus ROG Phone 5s series

Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the rear of the phone from the left side
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The Asus ROG Phone 5s comes as a slight improvement to the ROG Phone 5, and it adds two options to the list of the best 5G phones. The Asus ROG Phone 5s and 5s Pro come with 5G support, but that is hardly the only thing to get excited about.

Both devices feature truly impressive specs. They come with a Snapdragon 888+ processor and up to a blistering 18GB of RAM, which will ensure fantastic performance and long sessions of high-end gaming. The 6.78-inch AMOLED display is stunning and sports a 144Hz refresh rate. The batteries are also pretty huge at 6,000mAh.

More: The best gaming phones you can find

Users can also enjoy excellent gaming features like shoulder triggers and the Asus Armoury Crate app. Not to mention the addition of advanced features like Wi-Fi 6e, available accessories, triple-camera setups, and stereo speakers. These are true gaming beasts.


Asus ROG Phone 5s specs:

  • Display: 6.78-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888+
  • RAM: 8/12/16/18GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 64, 13, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 24MP
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.78-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888+
  • RAM: 18GB
  • Storage: 512GB
  • Cameras: 64, 13, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 24MP
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro lying on autumn leaves
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Google’s devices are often known as the industry standard for what Google should be. While not all Pixel releases are perfect, Google went all out with the Pixel 6 series. The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are great 5G phones. Not only because of their fast data speeds, but because they are excellent overall handsets.

Google took another approach at design this time around, playing with looks to make these phones stand out from the crowd. Their playful colors are fun, build quality meets premium standards, and the overall design is flattering.

Also read: These are the best Android phones available

Specs are worthy of a true flagship, too. Both phones come with a Google Tensor chipset, which competes with the best alternatives. Along with 8GB-12GB of RAM, these devices won’t fall behind in terms of performance. The large AMOLED screens also feature a Full HD+ or QHD+ resolution and 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates.


Google Pixel 6 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Google Tensor
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 50 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,614mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Google Pixel 6 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.71-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: Google Tensor
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 50, 48, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 11.1MP
  • Battery: 5,003mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Xiaomi Mi 11 series

Mi 11 Ultra rear of the phone viewfinder
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Mi 11 and Mi 11 Ultra are Xiaomi’s latest mainline flagship phones, and the two devices are starkly different propositions. They both share a QHD+ 120Hz OLED screen, Snapdragon 888 SoC, and sub-6GHz 5G capabilities (no mmWave here), but that’s about where the similarities end.

Expect to pay a steep price for the Ultra model. Your cash gets you an IP68 rating, 67W wired and wireless charging, a massive battery, and an impressive rear camera setup (50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 48MP 5X periscope). You also get a tiny secondary screen on the back for selfies.

Related: Find the right selfie phone for your needs

Xiaomi’s standard flagship is still a good proposition at €749, featuring 55W wired charging, 50W wireless top-ups, a 4,600mAh battery, and a 108MP primary shooter. But you miss out on the Ultra’s IP rating, faster charging, telephoto camera, and tiny rear screen.

You can also land right in the middle on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro. It shares the same 6.81-inch display as the other two, with a massive 5,000mAh battery and a completely new camera array. You can tap into a 50MP primary lens, 8MP periscope telephoto, and finally, a 13MP ultrawide shooter. Xiaomi kept the 5G-ready Snapdragon 888 processor, so you should never have to worry about power.

Xiaomi also announced its new Xiaomi 12 series right at the end of 2021. It will carry the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and come ready for 5G speeds. However, availability outside of China is limited, so we will wait to update this section until we have hands-on time with the devices.


Xiaomi Mi 11 specs:

  • Display: 6.81-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 108, 13, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 4,600mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.81-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 50, 8, and 13MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra specs:

  • Display: 6.81-inch, Full HD+, 1.1-inch rear screen
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 50, 48, and 48MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro Rear
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro make for a pretty decent upgrade over 2020’s OnePlus 8 family. The standard model targets the lower end of the flagship tier, while the Pro model is an unabashedly premium device.

Both phones share a Snapdragon 888 SoC, 120Hz OLED screen, a 4,500mAh battery with 65W wired charging, and the same main and ultrawide cameras (48MP and 50MP, respectively). And these are also the first phones developed in partnership with camera veteran Hasselblad.

The Pro variant stands out by virtue of its IP68 rating across the board, 50W wireless charging, 3X telephoto camera, and QHD+ screen. Otherwise, the standard OnePlus 9 doesn’t have an official IP rating (unless you buy it via T-Mobile), offers 15W wireless charging (or no wireless charging in India), a 2MP monochrome sensor in place of the telephoto lens, and an FHD+ panel.

OnePlus has also pulled some of the covers back from its new flagship, the OnePlus 10 Pro. It offers a few key upgrades, including an advanced Hasselblad camera, though the ultrawide shooter has us scratching our heads. Of course, we don’t know all of the specs for the flagship quite yet, but we know that it will support 5G.


OnePlus 9 specs:

  • Display: 6.55-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 50, and 2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

OnePlus 9 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 50, 8 and 2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 notifications on cover display
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Those looking for a foldable 5G phone have a great new option from Samsung. While the other Samsung flagships might have an edge in certain respects, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3’s lure is that it can be folded in half, much like a classic flip phone. Unfolding the device will showcase a sharp 6.7-inch 2640 x 1080 AMOLED display.

It finally packs near-flagship level internals, but the Z Flip 3 is still a little light in the battery department. Features include a Snapdragon 888 processor, up to 256GB of internal storage, and a 3,300mAh battery.

Also: The best foldable phones in existence

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 may be the best foldable smartphone made to date and certainly the most affordable. Even if the clamshell-style form factor isn’t as beneficial as something like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the quality of the hinge and improved display outweigh the negatives.


Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,300mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Apple iPhone 13 series

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Series 6
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

The Cupertino company may have been late to the 5G party last year, but the iPhone 13 family is full of worthy upgrades. Between the iPhone 13 Mini, standard iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, there’s easily an iPhone for everyone.

All the phones deliver OLED screens, water resistance, wireless charging, and Apple’s blazing-fast A15 processor. But fans of small phones will be glad to see the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini offer plenty of upgrades. It finally packs better battery life, so you can use your Mini all day long. Of course, there’s also the standard iPhone 13 that’s still not quite on the large side.

Other options: The best iPhone 13 alternatives

Aside from offering bigger batteries, the Pro and Pro Max models also provide a triple rear camera setup compared to the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini’s dual rear cameras. So the Pro models might be worth considering if you value endurance and photography flexibility.

One thing you won’t find on these iPhones is a fingerprint scanner, as Apple is still reliant on Face ID. This isn’t exactly ideal in today’s mask-wearing world.


Apple iPhone 13 Mini specs:

  • Display: 5.1-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 2,438mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

Apple iPhone 13 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,240mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

Apple iPhone 13 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP + 3D ToF
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,095mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB
  • Cameras:12, 12, and 12MP + 3D ToF
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 4,352mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

Sony Xperia 1 III and 5 III

Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III backs stood up
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Sony has been delivering creator-ready phones in its Xperia line for a few years, and the latest Xperia III series is the best of the bunch. Both models come 5G-ready, so it’s up to you to decide on your needs. There’s the 6.1-inch Sony Xperia 5 III for budget-conscious users, which isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t cost as much as the premium Xperia 1 III.

Here: Other great camera phones to consider

Either way, you’ll get a Snapdragon 888 chipset, an IP68 rating, and a headphone jack to unleash your creativity. The Xperia 1 III tops out at 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, while the Xperia 5 III sticks to 8GB and 256GB respectively. Both devices also offer 4,500mAh batteries, though the Xperia 1 III has an edge with wireless and reverse wireless charging.


Sony Xperia 1 III specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 4K
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Sony Xperia 5 III specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and A52s 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G angled up against flower pot
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Another Samsung handset makes our list of best 5G phones, but we’re looking at a mid-ranger this time. The Galaxy A52 5G is one of the top picks if you want a well-rounded 5G device but don’t want to pay top dollar.

The A52 5G brings a couple of flagship-level features to the table, namely IP67 water resistance and a 120Hz OLED screen. But the core specs are pretty good, too, featuring a Snapdragon 750G chipset, 128GB to 256GB of expandable storage, and a 4,500mAh battery with 25W charging. Photography is handled by a 64MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide snapper, and a pair of 5MP sensors (depth and macro). Selfies and video calls are accomplished with a 32MP camera.

International consumers can also snag the new Galaxy A52s 5G with its beefed-up Snapdragon 778 chipset. The two phones share most of the same spec sheet, which means you’ll find the same flexible camera setup and large 4,500mAh battery onboard.


Samsung Galaxy A52 5G specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 750G
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 64, 12, 5, and 5MP
  • Front cameras: 32MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 778G
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 64, 12, 5, and 5MP
  • Front cameras: 32MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Google Pixel 5a

the google pixel 5a on a bench with water splashed droplets
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Those looking to get one of the best 5G phones on the cheaper side of the spectrum should look at the Pixel 5a. It keeps the best features and functionality you find on the standard Pixel 5, but with a much lower price tag and minimal sacrifices.

You get a nice 6.34-inch OLED screen with a Full HD resolution. The chipset and RAM packages aren’t stunning, but the Snapdragon 765G and 6GB of RAM make for a very satisfactory experience for casual users. The 4,680mAh battery is also sizeable for a budget device.

Next: The best budget camera phones

If you’re into photography, Pixel handsets are known for their excellent photo quality, and the Pixel 5a is no exception. This device will take amazing photos, and you get a couple of cameras to play with.


Google Pixel 5a 5G specs:

  • Display: 6.34-inch, Full HD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 765G
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12.2 and 16MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,680mAh
  • Software: Android 11

These are our picks for the best 5G phones you can buy now or will be able to soon, but plenty of other suitable devices didn’t make the cut. We’ll be sure to update this list with new models as soon as they launch.