These are the best 5G phones you can buy right now in December 2020
Whatever your budget, there's a 5G phone for you
5G in 2020 left a lot to be desired — reception areas for high-band or mmWave (the speedy type) were hard to find, and mid and low-band (the slower, sub-6 type 5G) didn’t quite reach true game-changing speeds. But with Apple officially on board the 5G train, this should push carriers into stepping up their game in 2021. And even if you want to stick with Android, there are no shortages of 5G-ready phones now – most of the phones in our Best Android phones list also support 5G as well – and 5G phones now come in various price points.
Here are the best 5G phones you can buy right now.
Navigate this guide:
- Best 5G phone that money can buy: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Best 5G phone between $1000 and $1,500: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Best 5G phone between $800 and $999 : iPhone 12
- Best 5G phone between $700 and $800: OnePlus 8
- Best 5G phone between $500 and $699: LG Velvet
- 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 5G phone that money can buy: 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 is the most cutting-edge, most technically impressive gadget on the market right now. It’s got 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, the lack of official water resistance, and the camera system lag behind the next phone on this list, but these are all tradeoffs 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 Note 20 Ultra
Samsung was one of the first brands to push out 5G handsets in 2019, so it only makes sense that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra supports 5G all the way — meaning, all the networks, all the bands will work on this beast of a phone.
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 highest maximum brightness. A Snapdragon 865+, a trio of capable cameras, and the trusty S-Pen completes the package.
Best 5G phone between $800 and $999: Apple iPhone 12
Apple released four new iPhones this 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 8
The OnePlus 8 packs specs almost as powerful as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s — it’s got a Snapdragon 865, 90Hz OLED screen, a solid 48MP main camera — but it lacks mmWave (aka high-band) support. This isn’t a huge deal right now, as high-band coverage areas are very limited in the US currently, but this could be an issue down the line. Still, if you’re okay with mid and low-band connections only, this is a good value offering with one of the best versions of Android around.
Best 5G phone between $500 and $699: LG Velvet
A reinvention of sorts for LG, the Velvet was a mid-year surprise that brought good looks, solid performance, and 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.
Best 5G phone under $500: Google Pixel 4a 5G
The newest phone on this list, 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.
The Pixel 4a 5G, at least the default model, doesn’t support mmWave high-band, so it’s only for AT&T and T-Mobile. However, Verizon is getting a special mmWave version of the Pixel 4a 5G, which adds another $100 to the cost.
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 earlier this year 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 have seen 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, ann 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, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is my favorite phone of the year — but I understand its price point makes it no go for many people. For most people, I think the iPhone 12 or OnePlus 8 would be excellent purchases — you’re getting basically as good a smartphone as 2020 technology allows, at a reasonable price well under four digits. Of course, if you’re on a tighter budget, then the Google Pixel 4a 5G is also a worthy choice.