Best 5G-ready phone: Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7 Pro, LG V50, Note 10 Plus and more
The Note 10 Plus has a 5G variant.
Though it won’t replace 4G in its entirety, 5G is the next generation of mobile connectivity. 5G works fast, and many industries will benefit from the new network, including self-driving cars, drones and the internet. Samsung, the most popular maker of 5G phones, currently has five 5G phones under its belt: the Galaxy S10 5G, the Note 10 Plus 5G, the 5G variant of the Galaxy Fold, the Galaxy A90 5G and the Galaxy S20; the latter launched in February at Samsung Unpacked.
Though 5G deployment kicked off in 2019, you’ll see even more 5G phones throughout this year and next. In the US it’s currently live in select cities for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint users. In 2019, UK carrier EE became the first 5G carrier in the country, followed by Vodafone and Three UK.
Most people will likely experience the benefits of a robust 5G network only through a 5G phone. After all, the grand promises carriers and chip-makers are making with 5G coverage don’t mean much if you can’t access the network with your own device. To help you keep tabs on all the 5G phones and when we can expect more, here’s what the major phone-makers are offering.
The OnePlus 7 Pro has a 5G variant on Sprint that costs $840. The original OnePlus 7 Pro earned CNET’s Editors’ Choice Award and features a 6.67-inch, 90Hz display, a pop-up selfie camera and three rear cameras. (It also survived a few dunk tests for water resistance, despite not being IP rated.) Though more expensive than the original model, which starts at $669 and £649 (or about AU$960), $840 is still cheaper than the $1,000 5G phones from LG and Samsung.
Like the Moto Z4, the Moto Z3 can connect to 5G using an attachable accessory on the back. It features a 6.01-inch display, a 3,000-mAh battery, a fingerprint reader and a 12-megapixel camera.
Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G
The Galaxy Fold features a secondary 4.6-inch display that serves as its “cover.” When you’re ready for something bigger, the Fold opens up like a book to a 7.3-inch tablet. The Fold also has six cameras. On the back there’s a triple-camera setup, and on the front a single 10-megapixel camera. In tablet form, there are two additional cameras inside: a selfie camera and an 8-megapixel depth camera. A 5G version is available in Korea, the UK and Germany. Unfortunately, it will not come to the US.
Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
The Galaxy A90 5G has a 6.7-inch display, three rear cameras and a Snapdragon 855 processor. It also has an octa-core processor and an in-screen fingerprint reader. At 749 euros (about $827), it is one of the more affordable 5G phones.
Coolpad Legacy 5G
Chinese phone maker Coolpad’s first 5G phone is the Legacy 5G. Available in the second quarter of 2020 for “under $400,” it will be one of the cheapest 5G phones on the market. The phone will be available unlocked through Coolpad and Amazon as well as other US retailers. The Legacy operates on sub-6GHz spectrum and will be supported by T-Mobile and AT&T’s 5G networks. It will also work on Sprint’s network and other rural carriers.
TCL 10 5G
Featuring four rear cameras and a headphone jack, the TCL 10 5G will reach the US and Canada in the second quarter of 2020 for under $500. Though it’s not a household name, TCL is usually known for its affordable TVs. The company does make phones too, however, and its latest 5G phone is so inexpensive because it features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset, a midrange 5G processor that’s cheaper than its 800-series processors.
ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G
The Axon 10 Pro 5G is ZTE’s first 5G handset, and is available in China and Europe. A 4G version is available in the US unlocked through ZTE, Newegg and B&H Photo’s online stores. This variant of the Axon 10 Pro starts at $549 (8GB/256GB). There is also version with 12GB of RAM for $599.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi remixed its Mi Mix 3 with a 5G model. Aptly named Mi Mix 3 5G, the phone features 6.39-inch AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 845 processor and dual 12-megapixel rear cameras. Calling it “almost the perfect phone,” CNET editor Aloysius Low also mentioned that it’s neither water resistant nor do its front-facing cameras have secure 3D face unlocking. The phone is not officially available in the US.
Oppo Reno 5G
The Oppo Reno 5G is available on the UK carrier EE and Australia for AU$1,499. The device features a fantastic 6.6-inch screen, a Snapdragon 855 chipset and a pop-up selfie camera. In addition to EE and Australia’s Telstra and Optus, Oppo worked with Swisscom, as well as Singtel in Singapore, to launch the phone. It also partnered with China Mobile to sell the phone.
Huawei Mate X 5G
Juan Garzon / CNET
The Mate X combines 5G speeds and a foldable display. Available only in China, the device has a 6.6-inch display when folded closed, and and 8-inch OLED screen when you flip it open. It also features a 4,500-mAh battery and three rear cameras. The Mate X went on sale in November 2019 for 16,999 yuan ($2,400, £1,860).
What about other companies?
As 5G networks all over the world continue to be built out, expect more phone makers that don’t have a 5G phone yet to join the fray soon. Here’s where other companies stand.
The 2019 iPhones do not have 5G connectivity.
Rumours are floating that Apple will include 5G connectivity this year for its upcoming iPhone 12. More specifically, Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo predicts the company will unveil three 5G phones. There are a couple of reasons why the company didn’t jump on the trend in 2019.
First, Apple usually isn’t the first in on mobile trends, preferring instead to perfect an emerging technology before committing to it. For example, it was behind its competitors in making phones with 3G and 4G LTE connectivity when those networks just launched.
Second, Apple stopped working with the leading 5G modem provider, Qualcomm, because of a dispute over Qualcomm’s licensing fees. The two companies settled their litigation in April 2019, and then agreed to a multiyear 5G chip deal. This led to Apple’s previous partner of 5G modems, Intel, to ultimately exit the 5G phone modem business altogether and Apple later acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion. Apple is still working with Qualcomm, but it got started too late to launch a 5G phone last year.
Apple did not respond for a request to comment.
No 5G for the latest Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 4 either.
Google hasn’t revealed its plans for 5G, and the company declined to reply to a request to comment. Even with its latest launch of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL in October 2019, the company did not unveil any 5G plans. That means we may have to wait until later this year (or even later) to see a 5G Pixel phone.
Will we ever see a 5G Nokia phone?
Though Nokia isn’t the phone giant that it was 15 years ago, it’s still taking steps toward a 5G future. It’s currently working with Qualcomm to make 5G devices and in July 2019, the company announced a $3.5 billion partnership with T-Mobile, which includes taking advantage of T-Mobile’s 600-MHz spectrum to back its 5G network.
But don’t expect 5G Nokia phones any time soon. In February 2019 HMD CEO Florian Seiche (whose firm makes Nokia phones) said those devices probably won’t arrive until later 2020. Seiche reiterated this point again at IFA 2019, and HMD Chief Product Officer Juho Sarvikas added that Nokia’s 5G phone will be “a bit more affordable than anybody that’s out there today.”
Nokia also stands to benefit from 5G in other ways though. In addition to Qualcomm and Ericsson, the company has patent rights to 5G technology, and stands to make up to $3.50 for every 5G phone sold.
HTC’s 5G Hub is a hotspot and runs full Android.
Instead of a phone, Taiwanese electronics company HTC has a 5G hotspot. Available on Sprint for $600, the hub connects up to 20 people simultaneously. Equipped with a 5-inch display, audio speakers and Android Pie software, the device is also a media hub that users can make video calls with or use to check mail.
The Moto Z4 is the most affordable 5G phone yet.
Though Lenovo and Motorola’s Moto Z3 and Moto Z4 have 5G, they require a modular accessory to connect to the high-speed network. As for a Motorola phone that wouldn’t need an accessory, the company is working on making such a device that will launch in 2020. Though Motorola hasn’t released any further information, we can expect the phone to be expensive and high-end.
“If you put out a $399 5G phone, you’re going to have to sacrifice a lot of the elements that people value,” said Francoise Laflamme, Motorola’s chief strategy and marketing officer, at a Qualcomm tech summit in December 2019.
Originally published last year and updated as new developments occur.