The world is full of lists for the best smartphones around, Android and otherwise, but 5G networking has also now arrived en masse so now might be a better time to update than ever before. Especially since some networks, such as Verizon’s 5G UW network, can max out with claims over 1Gbps.
With that said, not all new phones support 5G and, of those that do, not all are created equal. As has always been the case, that’s especially true in the budget and mid-range segments. Some phones excel at one or two tasks but fall utterly short elsewhere. The result can be a bad experience overall, weighed down by one or two quirks. So choosing the best of the lot can be a challenge.
Top 10 Best 5G Smartphones 2020 Summary
Of course, as the breadth of available 5G phones grows, choosing between them becomes even more difficult. But, also as a result of that growth, more great devices are available than ever. And not every device is going to make this list that could have.
For example, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G is one device that’s fairly new and should serve most users well. Especially when it comes to battery life. But it didn’t quite make the cut here, despite reviewing well.
Fortunately, Android Headlines has already spent quite some time with 5G gadgets doing research and reviews. So we can help determine which smartphones are best when it comes to being a great overall device. Without sacrificing next-gen networking or necessarily spending a whole lot of money.
The range of available devices is primarily split into price brackets. Some of the best smartphones overall for the budget to premium categories can be found here. And some carriers also have their own devices that won’t work anywhere else. So we’ve included top picks for each major carrier too.
Best Budget 5G Android smartphone
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G/Galaxy A51 5G UW
With Samsung Galaxy A51 5G — or the Galaxy A51 5G UW for Verizon — Samsung effectively has the budget-end 5G market for Android smartphones pinned down. That’s not just because this device can currently be bought for $399.99 on Amazon. Now, the Verizon variant costs a bit more at $549.99 and must be purchased from Verizon or Samsung. That’s due to its Ultra-Wideband radio support for higher speeds in select areas. But what makes this device stand out isn’t its price.
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G is Samsung’s mid-ranger with a flagship attitude. The company, since consolidating its lineup back in 2018, has used the A-series as a testing ground for flagship features. And that’s what this phone has. From its cameras to its battery and software UI.
Samsung included its in-house Exynos 980 chipset on all carriers but Verizon. The latter carrier ships with an equivalent Snapdragon 765G chipset. In both cases, Samsung backed up that octa-core chip with 128GB storage and 6GB RAM.
On the camera front, the phone is equipped with a quad-snapper configuration with a 32-megapixel selfie snapper at the front. At the rear, those are a 48.0-megapixel primary snapper with a 12.0-megapixel ultrawide, 5-megapixel depth, and 5-megapixel macro sensor array.
A FullHD+ 6.5-inch AMOLED display presents users with the latest Android 10 Samsung overlay and probable update to Android 11, at the very least. All driven by a 4500mAh capacity battery for all-day use.
Best alternative budget 5G Android smartphone (Verizon, AT&T only)
Motorola One 5G
Coming in at a slightly lower cost than is typically seen for the above-mentioned Galaxy gadget is the Motorola One 5G. As its branding implies, this is a next-gen mobile networking handset but it’s also one of the best 5G Android smartphones on the market for under $450.
Now, Motorola starts out with a 6.7-inch CinemaVision display with HDR support, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a 1080 × 2520 FullHD+ resolution for this phone. It packs a Snapdragon 765G octa-core chip backed by 4GB RAM and 128GB storage under that. And that provides Android 10 on a near-stock platform backed by a 5,000mAh capacity battery.
One of the sole drawbacks of this smartphone is that it will only work with Verizon or AT&T. So there’s no T-Mobile support. But it also comes with a quad-camera led by a quad-pixel 48-megapixel snapper. That’s coupled with a 5-megapixel ring-light enabled macro camera. As well as a 2-megapixel depth camera and 8-megapixel Ultra-wide camera.
And there are two punch-hole selfie cameras, allowing for more features on that front. Those are a 12-megapixel and an 8-megapixel arrangement. All packed into a water-repellent design.
Best mid-range 5G Android smartphone
Available in Aurora Red, Aurora Grey, Aurora Silver, and Pink White depending on the carrier, LG Velvet is one of the best 5G Android smartphones in its price bracket. But, starting at $588 and ranging up to $699, the colors and costs are going to be different depending on what carrier you use. And so will the processor.
For those on Verizon or AT&T, LG includes a Snapdragon 765G processor. For T-Mobile, that’s a less-known but still quite capable MediaTek Dimensity 1000C chipset. In either case, that SoC is backed by 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. The latter is expandable up to 2TB via microSD card. And the screen is going to be a 6.8-inch OLED FullVision panel in any case. That’s set at a FullHD+ resolution of 2,460 x 1,080.
Under the hood, T-Mobile users get a 4,000mAh cell compared to the 4,300mAh capacity battery at the other two carriers. But the display is backed by LG 3D Sound Engine audio driven through stereo speakers regardless of which device is chosen. And charging happens via Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+ via USB-C.
A triple camera array led by a 48-megapixel snapper and a 16-megapixel selfie snapper complete the IP68, MIL-STD-810G certified package.
Best alternative 5G mid-range smartphone
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G/Galaxy A71 5G UW
If the Samsung Galaxy A51 5G and its UW-branded counterpart don’t seem like enough power, the Galaxy A71 5G and its Verizon counterpart just might. These are easily some of the best Android smartphones currently on the market, even without 5G included.
Falling into the upper-midrange category, the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G and Galaxy A71 5G UW are unlocked and Verizon-ready devices at the top of their game. Both devices are effectively the same with one exception but both offer the same out-of-the-box experience. And that’s thanks to Samsung’s approach to uniformity among its flagships and budget-friendly phones’ UI.
The UW variant offers connections via Verizon’s Ultra-Wideband network where it’s available for the fastest speeds anywhere. At least for now.
Both handsets are driven by a Snapdragon 765G octa-core processor. Samsung backed that up with up to 8GB in the Verizon variant and 6GB in the unlocked variant for everybody else. Each features 128GB of expandable storage. And the latest version of Samsung’s Android overlay is presented via a 6.7-inch sAMOLED Plus display at a FullHD+ resolution of 1,080 x 2,400.
That’s all to set aside other extras such as a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones, the 64-megapixel-led quad-camera, or the 32-megapixel selfie snapper.
Best 5G Android flagship killer
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE/Galaxy S20 FE UW
Samsung surprised everybody with a fresh take on its S-branded flagship line that is arguably the best in that family of devices — let alone the market for 5G Android smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 FE UW are for those Samsung fans who want the latest features but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. So, starting at just $699.99, that’s exactly what it is.
The biggest differences are going to be found in the specs when comparing to the chart-topping standard Galaxy S series handsets. The Fan Edition (FE) is more compact, built from plastic-infused glass, and features a flat 6.5-inch AMOLED display panel. Underneath that, Samsung packed up to 256GB of its fastest storage, 6GB RAM, and a Snapdragon 865 flagship processor.
Next-gen networking is met by next-level cameras, led by a 12-megapixel unit capable of 30-times zoom. A 4,500mAh fast-charging battery rests behind all of that.
The big differentiator between the two brandings noted above is 5G technology. “UW” stands for Verizon’s top-tier mmWave network. The Verizon Galaxy S20 FE supports both sub-6 and mmWave networks while the standard variant only supports the former. In any case, buyers can pick up this handset in one of six colors. Those are Cloud White, Cloud Red, Cloud Navy, Cloud Orange, Cloud Lavendar, and Cloud Green.
Best 5G Android flagship overall
Google Pixel 5
- Price: $699.99
- Where to Buy: Amazon
Google Pixel has quickly grown over the years to build a reputation as the go-to phone for stock Android with added perks. From wireless and reverse wireless charging to a best-in-class 12-megapixel dual-pixel and 16-megapixel ultrawide camera with top-tier night mode, this is going to be a hard phone to beat for the price.
It also happens to have a 6-inch Full HD+ OLED display with Smooth Display tech to optimize viewing based on your surroundings. And that display panel is smaller than the average smartphone without going too small. So users get a nice in-hand fit without compromising viewing space. 5G is just one of the many extras users get with this phone on any carrier.
A fast-charging 4,080mAh battery, a Gorilla Glass 6 display covering, 8GB LPDDR4x RAM, 128GB Storage, and a Snapdragon 765G processor are just icing on the cake. As are Call Screen and Hold For Me. The former feature screens out bot calls. And the latter waits on the line for you when you’re put on hold.
Best pure flagship 5G Android smartphone
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Price: From $999.99
- Where to Buy: Amazon
For a pure flagship experience from a trusted brand, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are arguably at the top of the pile. But they’re also 5G handsets, making them some of the best Android Smartphones around for next-gen networking.
Now, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra have been in the news for quite some time since their launch in August. And, thanks to extras like the included device-housed S Pen, they are already very widely known and popular. But, for the uninitiated, 5G is just one of many aspects that make these devices great. Although the “Ultra” is our choice for 5G because it’s just so much better. So we’ll be covering that here.
To begin with, Samsung packed a Snapdragon 865 chipset — or an Exynos 990 outside of the US — behind a 6.9-inch 120Hz, QHD+, resolution-adjustable AMOLED display. That chip is backed by up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of expandable storage. A 4,500mAh capacity fast-charging battery keeps things going all day long. Which is good, because 5G tends to drain on the battery quite a bit.
Laser autofocus and a 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel periscope telephoto camera led by a 108-megapixel main sensor round out the offerings. As does the in-display fingerprint sensor and front-facing 10-megapixel selfie snapper.
If you want the best of the best for 5G, this is going to be the one to buy.
Best carrier-specific 5G Android smartphone for AT&T
LG K92 5G
- Price: From $359.99
- Where to Buy: LG
If you happen to be locked into a carrier, there are even more options to choose from. Many of them, thanks largely to discrepancies in networks between carriers, are unique to a given carrier. For AT&T, our top pick for the best among the provider’s 5G Android smartphones is easily going to be the LG K92 5G. And this phone will also work for AT&T MVNO Cricket.
Packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 octa-core SoC, this LG isn’t going to be the most powerful on the block. But with a starting point at $359.99 via Cricket and 128GB storage with 6GB RAM backing that up, this is hardly a weak handset. Better still, LG packed this phone with a great, near-stock software experience, LG 3D Sound Engine, and more. All operating smoothly thanks to in-depth optimizations.
A power-button-based fingerprint scanner rounds out the package but the cameras here are actually quite good as well. There’s a 16-megapixel selfie snapper embedded in the punch-hole 2400 x 1080 pixels 6.7-inch FHD+ FullVision display. Around the back are four more shooters, led by a 64-megapixel sensor. The flash is a room-filling quad-chip LED rather than a round LED module.
Fast charging and long battery life are additional hallmarks for the LG K92 5G. So anybody in the market for an inexpensive next-gen phone should definitely be considering this one.
Best carrier-specific 5G smartphone for Verizon
TCL 10 5G UW
- Price: $399.99
- Where to Buy: Verizon
For a brilliant experience and best-in-class display from a company known at once for smartphones and televisions, the TCL 10 5G UW is going to be the place to turn. Specifically, for Verizon customers.
At under $400, TCL manages to include all of the top display features. The 6.53-inch display panel is rated at a resolution of 2,340 by 1,080 pixels. It has a dedicated display engine to enhance SDR visuals to HDR.
That also adapts color, brightness, and other attributes to match environmental lighting. For bright sunlight, for instance, the tech can boost contrast, color, and brightness. All without skipping a beat, while eye comfort and reading mode adapt the display for those uses.
Everything else about this bundle makes it a worthwhile purchase too. Whether that’s the Snapdragon 765 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB expandable storage, triple rear cameras with dual-LED flash led by a 48-megapixel main snapper, or the 16-megapixel selfie shooter. The latter is embedded in the display itself.
HD voice support, a 4,500mAh fast-charging battery, and a brilliant design in terms of both build and software are just perks on top of all of that. If you’re on Verizon, this isn’t going to be a phone to ignore.
Best carrier-specific 5G smartphone for T-Mobile
T-Mobile REVVL 5G
Of course, when it comes to T-Mobile, the best phone for the money right now is arguably it’s own. Like all of its branding, the T-Mobile REVVL 5G is a phone with a literal Magenta twist.
Packed into that not-so-subtle design is a triple-camera array. That’s led by a 48-megapixel snapper. On the opposite side of that is a 6.53-inch display panel rated at 2,340 by 1,080 pixels with the same visual-boosting technology found in the above-mentioned TCL device. A 16-megapixel selfie camera is packed into that display.
T-Mobile’s REVVL 5G packs a 4,500mAh battery that lasts up to and beyond 10-hours in tests. That drives Android 10 via a Snapdragon 765 chipset backed by 6GB RAM and 128GB expandable storage.
Now, the display tech here is the real highlight. But this is easily going to be one of the best Android smartphones available at T-Mobile for those who need 5G networking, with or without that.