Best 5G Phones of 2021

Best overallBest designBest featuresBest budget option
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5GiPhone 12OnePlus 8 ProSamsung Galaxy A71 5G
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The “fifth generation” of wireless technology promises faster speeds, lower lag, and buttery-smooth connections over your cellular data plan. But to channel the power of 5G, you need a 5G-compatible phone.

So which one is best for you?

In this guide, we’ll run down the list of top 5G cell phones, highlighting how they work on 5G networks, what kind of extra features they come with, and which ones give you the most value for your money.

Ready to get on the 5G wave? Let’s ride.

Which 5G phone is best?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is the best 5G phone out (so far). It deserves top billing for its multiband 5G compatibility, silky 120Hz display, and ultrafast Snapdragon 888 chipset that’s perfect for using multimedia tools and multitasking.

The iPhone 12 is a pretty close contender, though. It’s compatible with all 5G configurations—even the newer “C-band” frequency that’s expected to come into wide use in early 2021. It has a superb camera, a robust ceramic shield screen, and a powerful A14 Bionic processor.

Best 5G phones

Best forModelPriceDisplayProcessorGet it
Best overallSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G$999.996.8" AMOLED; 3200 x 1440 pixels
Snapdragon 888
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Best designiPhone 12$884.006.1" OLED; 2532 x 1170 pixels
A14 Bionic
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Best featuresOnePlus 8 Pro$799.996.78" AMOLED; 3168 x 1440 pixels
Snapdragon 865
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Best budget option
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G$444.956.7" AMOLED; 1080 x 2400 pixels
Snapdragon 865
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The phones here all cover wide ground when it comes to 5G capability, letting you tap into both low-band, mid-band, and millimeter-wave 5G networks. They also hook it up with powerful cameras, sleek designs, and sturdy screens.

Most of the 5G phones out right now are deluxe models, since 5G is in such early stages of development. But price-conscious 5G seekers do have options, including the fabulous Samsung Galaxy A71 5G—the best budget 5G phone you can buy.

Pro tip: Do you need a 5G phone right now?

Getting into 5G is a big investment. But 5G technology is still expanding nationwide, and there’s no need to jump in now when there will be more models to pick from in the coming months and years.

But if you rely heavily on your phone for work or play, these powerful and fast phones will really come in handy. And it’s worth investing in 5G now if you want to stay ahead of the tech curve.

Learn more about where 5G is at and how to get it.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Best overall

Price: $999.99 (128 GB), $1,179.99 (512 GB)*

  • Display: 6.8″ AMOLED; 3200 x 1440 pixels
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Cameras: 12MP wide-angle; 12MP ultrawide; two 10MP telephoto lenses
  • Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 888

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is pretty much the Excalibur of 5G phones. Like King Arthur’s mythological sword in the stone, Samsung’s flagship phone delivers excellent performance and a whole range of ridiculously cool features.

The phone’s 3200 x 1440 pixel AMOLED display is lovely, bright and milky smooth when it comes to image quality and resolution. And it has four cameras on the rear, delivering full-bodied image quality with rich colors and great contrast. This lets you step further outside the bounds of selfie territory into truly beautiful photography.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G also has very long battery life, allows for 8K video recording, and supports the predominant 5G bands.


  • Beautiful hi-res display
  • Versatile camera and video options


  • High price tag
  • Annoying absence of 3.5mm headphone jack

iPhone 12

Best design

Prices: $884.00 (64 GB), $934.00 (128 GB), $1,034.00 (256 GB)

  • Display: 1″ OLED, 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • Weight: 5.78 oz.
  • Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front-facing
  • Storage: 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB
  • Processor: A14 Bionic

With its square-edged design, iPhone 12 looks a bit like a throwback to earlier iPhones. But everything is shiny, new, and incredibly innovative.

It has a sturdy build with a water-resistant body and a new ceramic shield for the display. The ceramic shield is a transparent, colorless form of ceramic that makes the screen much sturdier and resistant to cracks and other damage if it’s dropped. The two 12-megapixel lenses on the base model aren’t quite as eye-popping as that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. But they capture images with incredible detail—and you’ll get movie-making quality if you upgrade to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Also, Apple’s A14 Bionic processor ensures peak performance even during maximum multitasking. Want to edit an Instagram Reel or TikTok video while checking your email and toggling across five different dating apps at once? No problem.

One thing to keep in mind with the iPhone 12 is that the base model gives you only 64 GB of storage—a paltry amount for a phone of this caliber, especially if you plan on using lots of apps or your camera to take nice HD photos. We recommend spending a bit more for the 128 GB or 256 GB model.


  • Compatibility support for all 5G bands
  • Ultraresponsive performance


  • Limited storage on baseline model
  • Higher price than iPhone 11

Pro tip:

Curious to know where you can find 5G? Take a look at our T-Mobile 5G page, covering the biggest 5G network nationwide so far.

OnePlus 8 Pro

Best features

Price: $650.39 (128 GB), $799.99 (256 GB)

  • Display: 78″ AMOLED, 3168 x 1440 pixels
  • Weight: 7.02 oz.
  • Cameras: 48MP wide, 48MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto, 5MP color filter
  • Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 865

The OnePlus 8 Pro is a whole lotta phone. Weighing in at nearly half a pound, the 8 Pro may just be the heaviest of the 5G bunch. But a ton of great features have been stuffed into its giant frame.

It has all the deluxe goodies to justify the high price—including the formidable Snapdragon 865 processor (also included on top-of-the-line models from Samsung, OnePlus’s chief Android rival), 48 megapixel cameras with no less than four lenses, and an efficient wireless charging function.

The display can be a little finicky when you’re using it one handed since the curved screen leads you to accidentally clicking and typing things you didn’t mean to. But image-wise, the display is something to behold, delivering a 120Hz refresh rate over 3168 x 1440 resolution, creating ballet-like fluidity as you watch movies and play games.


  • Excellent screen resolution
  • Nifty wireless charger


  • Bulky size doesn’t fit well in hand
  • Curved screen creates accidental clicks

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G

Best budget option


  • Display: 7-inch AMOLED, 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Weight: 6.7 oz.
  • Cameras: 64 MP main, 12 MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, 5MP macro
  • Storage: 128 GB

We know it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to a $444 phone as a “budget option.” But the Galaxy A71 5G is certainly the top 5G phone right now that you can get at a (relatively) affordable price.

Verizon has a version of the phone that supports millimeter-wave 5G (aka the ultrafast version of 5G available only in isolated areas), which you can buy and use exclusively on a Verizon plan. Otherwise, the Galaxy A71 5G doesn’t support millimeter-wave bands. But it lets you tap into what’s known as “mid-band” and “low-band” versions of 5G that AT&T and T-Mobile have been building up, which aren’t as fast as millimeter-wave but still deliver excellent speeds and work over longer distances.

The Galaxy A71 5G—part of Samsung’s affordable and reliable Galaxy A series—has three cameras on the back, giving you lots of options for taking nice, rich photos. And the 2400 x 1080 pixel OLED display panel bursts with color when you stream videos.

There are cheaper options, like T-Mobile’s REVVL 5G (which costs only $399.99), but they’re not as well designed, they support fewer 5G bands, and they aren’t up to date on other current protocols like Wi-Fi 6. Stick with the A71 5G if you want an affordable way to jump into 5G and get as much as you can out of it.


  • Cheaper than most 5G phones
  • Resistant to water and dirt


  • Lacks millimeter-wave support
  • Missing water resistance

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. A cutting-edge new communications standard, it incorporates advanced technology like millimeter waves and massive MIMO to vastly increase data speeds and streamline signaling between radio transmitters and your device.

You can expect to see faster speeds, lower latency (or lag), and more efficient networking communications as 5G networks grow nationwide over the next several years. 5G is still in its early stages, but it could lead to big steps forward in phones, home internet, and more.

If you have more questions about 5G, head on over to our 5G providers page for a more detailed look at what it’s all about.

Pro tip:

If you have more questions about 5G, head on over to our 5G providers page for a more detailed look at what it’s all about.

What to look for in a 5G phone

The main features to look for in a 5G phone are its compatibility with 5G bands, the quality of its camera, and whether its design fits well with your daily phone habits. You’ll also want to know the quality of the display and whether it has any other features that will be attractive to your needs.

Since these phones are so expensive (for now at least), make sure you’re getting exactly what you want when you’re investing in a new 5G phone.

Pro tip:

Not sure whether to jump into 5G or stick with your 4G phone? Take a look at our 4G vs. 5G guide to get the details on which will best meet your needs right now.

5G compatibility

The main reason you’re getting a 5G phone is so you can get on a 5G network, right? So obviously you want to make sure you’re getting all the 5G there is to get.

Unfortunately, buying a 5G phone doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll get access to all the 5G bands that are available.

5G is currently split between these two types: millimeter-wave bands and sub–6GHz bands.

Millimeter-wave bands

Millimeter-wave 5G promises ridiculously fast download speeds of 1,000 Mbps or faster and extremely low latency. But since millimeter-wave bands have such short range, this technology works only in urban areas and indoor sites like sports stadiums. And since these networks are still quite small and unavailable in most areas, many of the cheaper 5G phones won’t be outfitted to give you access to millimeter-wave 5G.

Sub–6GHz bands

These cover what is often called “low-band” and “mid-band” 5G. These are frequencies that give you faster speeds than 4G LTE—sometimes way faster, upwards of 300 Mbps. It’s not quite millimeter-wave fast, but it’s still excellent. These bands also have a much longer range than millimeter-wave.

Most 5G phones (even the cheaper ones) will support a range of sub–6GHz radio bands. However, when you’re shopping around, double-check to see what your phone can support so you can make sure it’s adaptable to what’s on your cell carrier’s 5G network.

Type in your zip code to see if there are any 5G wireless providers in your area:


It seems phone manufacturers are racing to put more and more cameras on their phones these days. The iPhone 12 has two cameras on the back. The iPhone 12 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, and OnePlus 8 Pro all have four cameras.

But photo quality isn’t measured strictly by the number of cameras a phone has. Here are some key things you want in a good phone camera:

  • Wide aperture: This lets you capture images with greater depth of field.
  • Lots of megapixels: A higher number of megapixels collects more detail in an image, creating higher resolution.
  • Quality lenses: A good wide-angle “prime” lense gives you a richer image and is more durable in the long run.

Our verdict

We say go for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. Hands down, it’s the most deluxe package you can get in a phone—the fact that it has 5G compatibility, too, is just icing on the cake. This phone doesn’t skimp on the good stuff (like 5G millimeter-wave capability), and it’s generous when it comes to deluxe features, providing a powerful camera and a beautiful display.

We know the iPhone 12 is relatively new, but you also can’t go wrong with that. It not only hits all the right marks for 5G compatibility, but also gives you a sturdy body and screen, a high-performance camera, a powerful processor, and an excellent design all around.

FAQ about 5G phones

What phones are 5G compatible?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, iPhone 12, OnePlus 8 Pro, and Galaxy A71 5G  are all 5G-compatible phones. Major brands like Apple, Samsung, OnePlus, and Motorola all sell a range of other 5G phones as well, which will work on 5G networks in the United States.

Will 5G work on 4G phones?

5G will not work on a 4G phone. In order for a phone to tap into a 5G network, it has to be configured to work on a number of 5G radio bands.

Will 4G work on 5G phones?

4G will work on 5G phones because all 5G phones are backward-compatible with 4G technology. When you’re not on a 5G network, a 5G phone will automatically switch over to your cell carrier’s 4G LTE network. No fuss, no muss.


Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. utilizes paid Amazon links.


Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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