Complete guide to 5G
5G is here, but with super-fast networks spreading, only those with a 5G-capable smartphone can join in the communications revolution. Expected to eventually deliver up to 20 times the speed of 4G, 5G phones are now on the market, with most major manufacturers – aside from Apple – having by now issued their debut 5G phones. An estimated 10 million smartphone users will be using 5G phones by the end of 2019. But will you be one of them?
With 5G technology still being rolled out across the globe, there's a waiting game taking place for many. However, if you're in an area covered by one of the 5G networks, the considerable speed boost and lower latency provides a huge incentive to upgrade to a 5G phone.
BEST 5G PHONE: OVERALL
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G
The top-selling 5G phone so far
Release date: August 2019 | Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 1440x3040 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855/Exynos 9825 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB | Battery: 4300mAh | Colours: Aura Glow/Aura Black/Aura White
If you want to know why you might opt for a 5G phone, Samsung’s new flagship model provides some clarity. Despite its huge price tag, analysts report that the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G is selling faster than any other 5G phone, and this 5G version accounts for a third of all Samsung’s sales. It’s a top phone everywhere, from the mighty 6.8-inch ‘cinematic infinity’ AMOLED screen – Samsung’s biggest-ever – to the novel ‘Live Focus Video’, which blurs out backgrounds in video for movie-like depth of field. It’s also waterproof to 1.5m for 30 minutes, and ships with Samsung’s S Pen stylus.
Best Huawei 5G phone
Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G
An exquisite attempt at a 5G phone, but where’s Google?
Release date: September 2019 | Weight: 198g | Dimensions: 158.1x73.1x8.8mm | OS: Android 10/EMUI 10 | Screen size: 6.53-inches | Resolution: 1176x2400 | CPU: Kirin 990 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Colours: Black, Space Silver, Cosmic Purple, Emerald Green, Orange, Forest Green
The very latest 5G phone at the time of writing, the Mate 30 Pro 5G doesn't sport Google's core services, such as the Google Play Store, so cannot host Google apps. That’s because Google had to revoke Huawei’s license to use its services, on instruction by the US government. We’ve included it here because things might change and, if they do, the Mate 30 Pro 5G is a beautiful 5G phone with ‘ultra’ curved edges, a ‘halo ring’ housing a 40MP ‘Cine Camera’, and the new Kirin 990 5G chipset. We just wish it didn’t come with a political problem.
Best foldable 5G phone
Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G
The only foldable 5G phone also has the biggest screen.
Release date: September 2019 | Weight: 263g | Dimensions: 160.9x62.9x15.5mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 4.6-inch/7.3-inch | Resolution: 1536x2152 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 512GB | Battery: 4235mAh | Colours: Space Silver and Cosmos Black
Is your phone foldable? Samsung’s first effort at a shape-shifting smartphone – originally announced in February, but withdrawn pre-sale after some ‘issues’ with its folding screen – is now available as a 5G variant. The headline act sees it transform from a 4.6-inch to a 7.3-inch screen, though with six cameras and a free pair of Galaxy Buds, the 5G-ready Fold has top specs all-round. However, it is the most expensive 5G smartphone on sale.
Dual screen 5G phone
LG V50 ThinQ 5G
Standard stuff aside from a nifty dual screen add-on.
Release date: May 2019 | Weight: 183g | Dimensions: 159.2x76.1x8.3mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1440x3120 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4000 mAh | Colours: New Aurora Black
A modular phone? Well, not exactly, but LG’s first phone to support 5G does have a trick up its sleeve. Despite it being a rather run-of-the-mill effort that doesn’t look or feel much different to LG’s non-5G V40 smartphone, this 6.4-inch device can be upgraded with a ‘dual screen’, an optional accessory resembling a cover case that gives users a second 6.2-inch OLED display for multitasking. That could be handy for business users. Elsewhere, the core V50 is IP68-certified for dust/waterproofing (for 30 minutes under 1.5m of water), and is one of the few new phones to have a 3.5mm headphones jack.
Best all-rounder 5G phone
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
The most famous 5G phone is also one of the best.
Release date: April 2019 | Weight: 198g | Dimensions: 162.6x77.1x7.9mm | OS: Android 9/One UI | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440x3040 | CPU: Exynos 9820 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 4500 mAh | Colours: Crown Silver, Majestic Black, Royal Gold
Making a 5G flavoured flagship is de rigeur among smartphone-makers, but there’s more to the Galaxy S10 5G than a super-fast mobile makeover. As well as a 6.7-inch curved screen, it’s got six cameras, an in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, Qi wireless charging and powershare, and even a 3.5mm headphones jack. The colours, contrast and the viewing angle of its Dynamic AMOLED screen is to die for, even if its Bixby natural language commands and dictation is probably not. However, this is one of the best 5G smartphones around. Period.
Best 5G phones for selfie fans
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
Slide-out selfies keep this 5G phone notch-free.
Release date: May 2019 | Weight: 225g | Dimensions: 157.9x74.7x8.5mm | OS: Android 9/MIUI 10 | Screen size: 6.39-inch | Resolution: 1080x2340 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3800 mAh | Colours: Sapphire Blue
The relatively slow adoption of 5G by the major smartphone-makers has given a few emerging brands a foothold in new markets, of which iconic Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi is certainly one. In an effort to out-do its arch-rival Oppo (in Asia), Xiaomi has fitted the Mi Mix 3 5G with not one, but two lenses on its slide-out selfie camera. OK, it’s not motorised, but the main camera is high-resolution at 24-megapixels, and it comes with a depth-sensor for adding blur to backgrounds. Elsewhere, the Mi Mix 3 5G – essentially a 5G makeover of 2018’s standard-issue Mi Mix 3 – has a dedicated Google Assistant button.
Oppo Reno 5G
A 5G phone with a pop-up camera that also pushes the price down.
Release date: May 2019 | Weight: 215g | Dimensions: 162x77.2x9.3mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.6-inch | Resolution: 1080x2340 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 4065 mAh | Colours: Ocean Green, Jet Black
Chinese phone maker Oppo has come up with something no other 5G phone has; a motorised selfie camera. Essential stuff? Absolutely not, but it does mean that the Reno 5G has a notch-free display. As well as that pop-up 16-megapixel front-facer for selfies and video calls, this phone – the world’s first commercially available 5G handset when it was launched – has a 48-megapixel primary camera alongside a sensor for 10x zoom. Also inside this 6.6-inch phone are two Nano-Sim card slots to make global travel easier.
Best budget 5G phone
Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
An affordable 5G phone at last.
Release date: October 2019 | Weight: 206g | Dimensions: 164.8x76.4x8.4 mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1080x2400 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4500 mAh | Colours: White, Black
Is around £700 affordable? In the context of the 5G phones market, yes it is, and happily Samsung’s attempt at cutting costs isn’t immediately noticeable on the Galaxy A90 5G. Its AMOLED display has a novel 20:9 aspect ratio, which makes it a very tall phone. It’s there for watching widescreen video, of course, but it could also push productivity. Unusually, its three-camera array drops the telephoto lens, so forget about optical close-ups. It’s also not quite as slim as or as lightweight as Samsung’s flagship phones, and it’s a little plasticky to hold, but the Galaxy A90 5G is nevertheless a great way to enter the 5G era.
Best big-screen 5G phone
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
A monster-sized 7.2 inch 5G phone that only comes in green.
Release date: July 2019 | Weight: 233g | Dimensions: 174.6x85.4x8.4mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 7.2-inch | Resolution: 1080x2244 | CPU: Kirin 980 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 4200 mAh | Colours: Emerald Green
If you’re after a 5G phone with as big a screen as possible for added productivity, look no further than this absolute whopper from Huawei. Stretching to an incredible 7.2 inches in diameter, the OLED screen at the core of this phone impresses, as does the ridged ‘hyper optical’ covering on the back. It’s got IP53 certification, so it’s dust and splash-proof, and for foreign travellers, it’s got dual SIM card slots. There’s an optional stylus, which works well on the massive screen. The only problem, of course, is that despite just being launched, its Kirin 980 5G chipset-powered Mate 20 X 5G has already been bested by the Kirin 990-powered Mate 30 Pro 5G.