Now that most phones on the market are 5G phones, it can be hard to know what device is best for you if you're interested in using this next generation of technology. Lots has changed in the two years since 5G smartphones first hit the market.
5G is the next generation of mobile data connectivity, bringing super-fast speeds along with improved reliability and connection stability over 4G, making it great for tasks like online gaming, streaming movies and downloading large files quickly.
Given how many more 5G-capable phones are still yet to come in 2021, we've compiled this list of the best 5G phones to lay out your top options. This round-up isn't just a replica of our standard best smartphones guide. Instead, we've considered the key uses of 5G, and brought you a list that focuses on these key points. The following roundup is broken down into categories to fit the reasons you might be looking to buy a 5G phone. If you are looking specifically for gaming, this list of best gaming phones should keep you sorted.
Each of these entries has a 'best' model and a 'runner up' to give you a choice even within the categories, which is especially important given that not all of our best phone picks are available in the US or other regions.
This guide has recently seen the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra make its mark with new additions potentially arriving soon. If you can wait for a little while longer, your choices might be very different.
At TechRadar, we test every new 5G phone that comes out, so we've got a good idea of how they all run, work, and compare. We've used that knowledge to create this buying guide to help you work out which 5G phone is best for you.
- What is 5G? Our full explainer about the next-gen internet tech
Best 5G phones
The Phone 12 Pro Max tops our list of the best smartphones, so being a 5G phone it’s also of course the best 5G phone you can buy – but it doesn’t come cheap.
What you do get is a big 6.7-inch OLED screen, great contrast and sharp visuals, the fastest processor on any mobile phone, up to 512GB storage and a camera system that consistenly ranks amongst the best. Yes, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is expensive but it's also the top of the line phone.
Battery life is great on this large phone and the new design with flat sides is a head turner. Add to that the ecosystem of other Apple products and an app store that offers the highest quality apps and you can see why Apple's flagship phone tops our list.
Read our full iPhone 12 Pro Max review
If you prefer Android, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is equally as impressive as the iPhone 12 Pro Max and just like Apple's offering, it doesn’t come cheap either.
Still, you get a decent amount for your money, with a 6.8-inch 1440 x 3200 curved AMOLED screen (that also has a 120Hz refresh rate), a top-end chipset, up to 16GB of RAM, and a quad-lens camera, with a 108MP main shooter, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a pair of 10MP telephotos snappers – allowing for up to 10x optical zoom.
The design impresses too, with a stylish matte glass back and an edge-to-edge display. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also has a big battery, so you can make use of 5G (and everything else) for longer, and there’s support for the S Pen stylus, making this better for art and productivity than most smartphones.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
The Motorola Moto G and Moto G Plus are extremely affordable 5G phones that are our budget picks.
The Moto One 5G is a big phone with a 6.7-inch display and a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, and its processor, camera capability, and screen are all better than you'd expect for its low price.
Sure, it's not a perfect phone, and the signs of its low price (and some of Motorola's quirks) bring it down in a few departments. But if you're looking for a 5G phone without a high price, you should start here.
Read our full Motorola One 5G review
The Nubia Red Magic 5G has all you'd want from a gaming phone - a FHD+ AMOLED screen with a 144Hz refresh rate, a top processor paired with plenty of RAM, and a long-lasting battery with fast charging capabilities.
You won't be able to pick up the Red Magic 5G in all regions, but if you can get it, and you're looking for a 5G gaming phone, it should definitely be your first pick.
We found some software issues with the phone, but if you're a mobile gamer it'll handle anything you throw at it with ease, especially if you want to play games online while out and about (thanks to the 5G connectivity).
Read our full Nubia Red Magic 5G review
- The best gaming phones you can buy right now
The smallest of its line, the iPhone 12 mini has a relatively tiny 5.4-inch display. It's easily totable, fitting in your pocket or hand with ease.
The phone gets most of the specs of its bigger iPhone 12 sibling though, including the same processor, cameras, 5G and MagSafe technology. It's a veritable powerhouse, so you shouldn't judge it based on its size.
That dainty design does pressent one or two issues, especially in the battery department - the battery life isn't great and wireless charging is a touch on the slow side. Overall, though, if you're looking for a small 5G phone this is the one to go for.
Read our full iPhone 12 mini review