These are the best 5G phones you can buy right now in April 2021
Whatever your budget, there's a 5G phone for you
5G in 2020 may have left a lot to be desired in terms of coverage areas and peak speeds, but 2021 has seen continual improvement in 5G rollouts — especially now that Apple is helping push 5G adoption. Over here on the Android side, there are no shortages of 5G-ready phones now – in fact, most of the phones in our Best Android phones list already support 5G – but you don’t have to spend flagship money to get that high-speed connectivity now.
Here are the best 5G phones you can buy right now.
Navigate this guide:
- Best 5G foldable phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Best 5G phone between $1000 and $1,500: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Best 5G phone between $800 and $999: iPhone 12
- Best 5G phone between $700 and $800: OnePlus 9
- Best 5G phone between $500 and $699: LG Velvet; iPhone 12 Mini
- Best 5G phone under $500: Google Pixel 4a 5G
- Best 5G phone under $450: Moto One 5G
- Best 5G phone under $400: Samsung Galaxy A51
Best foldable 5G phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
There really weren’t any other contenders in this category — but it’s worth giving the Galaxy Z Fold 2 space to itself anyway. We’ve written plenty about this phone, so let’s keep it simple here: the Galaxy Z Fold 2 may have an inferior camera system to the newer Galaxy S21 Ultra, but overall it is still arguably the best smartphone hardware in the world right now (Huawei’s Mate X2 has a case for being superior, but that phone is sold only in China and is in short supply). The Z Fold 2 has two stunning screens, two unique form factors, five strong cameras, and of course, all the bands for 5G anywhere in the world.
Sure, there are nitpicks to be had: the price is high, the lack of official water resistance, and the camera system lag behind the Galaxy S21 Ultra and other recent slab flagships, but these are all trade-offs some (including a few of us here at XDA) would gladly make to own the latest and the greatest amongst all smartphones.
Best 5G phone between $1,000 and $1,500: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung was one of the first brands to push out 5G handsets back in 2019, so it only makes sense that the Galaxy S21 Ultra supports 5G almost all the way. The only thing you need to keep in mind is mmWave support, as that is missing in regions that have not focused on mmWave yet.
In addition to top-notch connections, you’re getting the best screen possible on a mobile device right now, a Samsung AMOLED screen with an adaptive refresh rate that can max out at 120Hz, with the punchiest colors and 1,500 nits of maximum brightness. Throw in the Snapdragon 888 and a legit 10x optical zoom, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra is not just the best 5G phone right now, but the best non-foldable phone ever.
Best 5G phone between $800 and $999: Apple iPhone 12
Apple released four new iPhones last year but the best one overall for most people is the standard iPhone 12. Starting at $799 at carriers and $829 unlocked, it is objectively one of the better flagship values on the market, considering it packs a premium build quality, the best-in-class 5nm A14 Bionic SoC, and a very capable camera system.
It’s also one of the few phones to have support for every global 5G band, so you know you’re going to be well connected no matter which part of the world you’re in.
Between $700 and $800: OnePlus 9
The OnePlus 9 packs specs almost as powerful as the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s — it’s got a Snapdragon 888, 120Hz OLED screen, a very good 48MP main camera, and premium glass and aluminum design. However, it lacks mmWave 5G bands so in the US it only supports T-Mobile and Verizon’s 5G Nationwide, but not AT&T’s.
Best 5G phone between $500 and $699: LG Velvet; iPhone 12 Mini
One of the very last LG smartphones ever, the Velvet offers 5G connectivity at a reasonable price. Weighing just 180g and measuring under 8mm in thickness, this is one of the sleeker 5G devices around. And depending on your carrier, you might even get the LG Dual Screen case accessory that essentially attaches a second screen to your device for easy multi-tasking.
Do note there are two variants of this device: the Velvets purchased via AT&T and Verizon run on the Snapdragon 765G, while T-Mobile’s Velvet runs on MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000C. This allows the Velvet to be compatible with Verizon’s high-brand 5G or T-Mobile’s mid-band heavy coverage.
The iPhone 12 Mini, meanwhile, is about as good a value as an iPhone can get right now: you’re getting a 5nm SoC that’s far more powerful than the Snapdragon 765G, a strong dual-camera system consisting of a 12MP main and ultra-wide, and all the usual iOS goodies that Apple fans swear by, like AirDrop, iCloud, instant connectivity with Apple’s ecosystem of products, etc. Even when considering that most XDA readers prefer Android, the iPhone 12 Mini is too good to leave off this list at its $699 price.
Best 5G phone under $500: Google Pixel 4a 5G
The Google Pixel 4a 5G is not just the Pixel 4a with a 5G modem in it: it also has a larger 6.2-inch display, larger battery (3,885 mAh to 3,140 mAh), stereo speakers, and, of course, a newer Snapdragon 765G chip that supports 5G.
Please note there are two models of the Pixel 4a 5G in the US: the AT&T and T-Mobile model which doesn’t support mmWave high-band; and the Verizon version, which costs an extra $100, that supports all 5G bands.
If that sounds confusing, at least the rest of the package is simple and clean: with the Pixel 4a 5G, you’re getting Google’s vision of how Android should be, so everything, from UI to camera interface, is simple and clean. The camera of the Pixel 4a 5G is also identical to the Pixel 5, so you’re getting the best Google camera performance here.
Best 5G phone under $450: Moto One 5G
Motorola re-entered the flagship phone scene in 2020 with the Motorola Edge+, but it isn’t leaving the mid-range affordable scene behind: the Moto One 5G is the cheapest 5G-ready phone sold in the U.S., and it’s got quite an impressive list of specs: you’re getting a 90Hz LCD with a dual hole-punch cutout for two selfie cameras, a large 5,000 mAh battery, 48MP main camera, and a Snapdragon 765G.
The cheaper AT&T model, just like the Velvet, does not support high-band mmWave, but the Verizon model does, but it will almost certainly cost a bit more.
Best 5G phone under $400: Samsung Galaxy A51
Initially launched at $499 but has since dropped to under $400, the Galaxy A51 has the honor of being the most affordable 5G phone available in the US right now. And despite its price, it packs quite a punch, with a large 4,500 mAh battery, a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display, and the Exynos 980. Do note that this particular model at this price does not support Verizon’s high-band, so it’s for T-Mobile or AT&T. Verizon has a 5G version of this phone, running on a Snapdragon 765G, but it’s priced above the $400 mark.
Ultimately, if money is no object, my pick of the best 5G phones right now in April 2021 is a two-way tie between the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy S21 Ultra — but I understand the price makes either a no-go for many people. For most people, I think the iPhone 12 or OnePlus 9 are excellent purchases; you’re getting basically as good a smartphone as last year’s technology allows, at a reasonable price under four digits. Of course, if you’re on a tighter budget, then the Google Pixel 4a 5G is also a worthy choice.