Nearly every phone manufacturer is working on 5G right now. 2020 is the big year, and by the end of it, it’s likely we’ll see 5G releases from all the major players in the industry. Now’s the right time to start considering whether it’s time for you to upgrade since US operators are now rolling out 5G coverage in more places nationwide.
And the price premium to make the 5G jump has dramatically shrunk from the $1500 options of 2019 to handsets costing less than $500.
We’ve put together everything you need to know about 5G phones, along with a few of our top recommendations at the end.
5G stands for the fifth generation of cellular technology. It’s the successor to 4G (which succeeded 3G) and so on. As mobile networks and phones become 5G-capable, you enjoy significantly faster download and upload speeds along with improved responsiveness and other benefits.
How much faster 5G depends on a few factors, including your device, location, and network. In some places, you can see, on average, five times faster speeds along with 20 times faster in select urban environments. The phrase you must off hear about 5G is that you can download a 4K move in just 5 seconds. And those speeds will only increase with time.
You’ll also be able to get a stronger signal in crowded places and shouldn’t lose your connection often.
Is Your Phone 5G Compatible?
Probably not. At this point, only 5G can use 5G. You have to buy phones that are specifically 5G-compatible, as it’s not a universal standard yet. Even if you purchased a brand-new iPhone, Google Pixel, along with most other new phones from 2018 or 2019, it’s not 5G compatible.
Can I Make My Phone 5G Compatible?
Probably not. Unless you have certain Motorola phones that are compatible with the 5G Moto Mod.
Which Carriers Offer 5G?
So far, all four US nationwide carriers offer limited 5G networks. T-Mobile currently has the largest 5G network covering 5,000 cities and towns in the US. But it uses a slower 600 MHz (low-band) version of 5G that is only about 4-5 times faster than LTE. On the other hand, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon also offer higher speed (high-band) 5G but only in select cities.
Keep an eye on coverage maps as they’re growing each month significantly around the country.
What Are The Best 5G Phones?
There are currently 20 devices on the market that are 5G compatible. We’ll run through some of the top manufacturers to give you an idea of where they’re at with 5G-compatible phones:
Apple will eventually have a 5G phone. Most tech rumors are suggesting a 5G phone will come with their September 2020 release. This isn’t really a surprise. Apple is usually slower to adopt new technology—water-resistance and wireless charging are two examples of this. Apple typically waits to make sure the technology works well before integrating it.
The Pixel 5 expected to be released in October 2020 will likely be 5G. That’s because it will probably have the same Snapdragon 865 that power the 5G flagships launching in the first half of the year.
It’s also possible that Google will release a more affordable Pixel 4a XL using the Snapdragon 765 chip that’s also 5G compatible.
Huawei is one of the companies that’s behind 5G infrastructure around the world (aside from tensions with the US). Huawei already has a few handsets that support 5G, including the folding, Huawei Mate X. Look for more releases this year.
5G Compatible Huawei phones:
- Huawei Mate X
- Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
In 2019, LG teamed up with Sprint to deliver one of the first 5G devices to hit shelves, the LG V50 ThinQ. You can now use the phone on Verizon’s network as well.
5G Compatible LG phones:
Motorola is now powered with Lenovo and is unique because it has already released multiple phones with 5G compatibility. Not only this, it’s the only company so far that offers 5G upgrades to older phones via its unique Moto Mod. With it, you can add a slim 5G power pack accessory to Moto Z2, Z3, and Z4 to access 5G networks.
We can expect to see even more in 2020 in terms of 5G from Motorola to keep an eye out on them.
5G Compatible Motorola phones:
- Moto Z4 (with 5G Moto Mod)
- Moto Z3 (with 5G Moto Mod)
- Moto Z2 (with 5G Moto Mod + Android Update)
For most people in the US, OnePlus is a new name. But, OnePlus is one of the leading Chinese smartphone manufacturers. Generally, they cover a wide array of budget and mid-priced handsets. But they’re 2019 flagship the OnePlus 7T included a 5G release. The 5G McLaren is available on T-Mobile’s network is a reliable option;
5G Compatible OnePlus phones:
- OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren
Samsung is the largest phone manufacturer in the world. And it’s really set the tone for 5G. In 2019, they released several 5G and are slated to release even more this year. The Samsung Galaxy S10 has been hailed as the top 5G devices though that’s likely to be replaced by the release of their S20 line that debuts soon.
5G Compatible OnePlus phones
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
Other 5G Compatible Phones
Several other phones are 5G compatible including:
- Alcatel 7 5G
- NOKIA 10
- OPPO Reno 5G
- OPPO R15
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
- ZTE Axon 10 Pro
Which 5G Phone Should You Buy?
If you’re an Apple fan, you’ll have to wait until September (there are some rumors the iPhone 9 may be 5G compatible when it releases in March 2020). The most exciting lineup of 5G phones is definitely from Samsung.
With the release of its S20 series, you should also expect some price drops on both the Galaxy S10 5G and the Galaxy A90 5G.
That being said, not all 5G phones may be compatible with your network yet. So, make sure it is before you go out and buy one.
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S20
Game changes. The Samsung Galaxy S20 has everything. If you spring for the S20 Ultra, you even get a 100x digital zoom. 5G is baked into the chipset, and it also benefits from WiFi 6 connectivity. With massive upgrades across the board, it will be hard to top the Galaxy S20 as the best phone of the year.
Best Value: Samsung Galaxy A90
5G Phone phones are pricey and will likely be until late 2021. Samsung’s A90 has many of the bells and whistles of a flagship phone, including 5G and an OLED display. It has a great camera and a massive 4500mAh battery for long battery life. The only downside is that it’s a touch heavy, but considering the price tag, you’ll be able to lift it just fine.
Best Deal: Moto 5G Mod
You can’t beat the prices of the Motorola Z series. And with the Moto Mod 5G, you can get a 5G cheap phone that works on Verizon’s ultra-fast (though limited) 5G network for a few hundred dollars. If you want an inexpensive taste of 5G without committing the dollars to a full upgrade, then check out the Moto 5G.
The Ultimate Guide to 5G Compatible Phones
2020 is the year 5G will take scale both in the US and around the world. With huge releases from Samsung and more expected from Apple and Google, you can be sure there will be a wide variety of excellent 5G compatible phones hitting the market this year.
Keep an eye out on releases and check back often because new models will become available monthly. Just make sure whether you choose one of these or last year’s flagships, that you confirm your new 5G phone is compatible with your network. That way, you can be sure you’ll be able to really get the most out of your new phone upgrade.
For more on 5G phones, visit the Buyback Boss Blog. You can learn more about the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G here. Or learn more about iPhones here. Explore everything you’ve wanted to know about smartphones, cellular networks, and a whole lot more on our blog now!