All the major carriers—Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile—have launched their 5G networks, which are expected to expand significantly within the next few years. In order to access your carrier’s 5G network, you need a 5G phone. There is certainly no shortage of 5G phones on the market today. The best 5G phone for you depends on your budget and preferred features.
In this 5G phone guide:
- What 5G phones are available?
- How much do 5G phones cost?
- Which 5G phone is best for you?
- Do I need a 5G phone?
- Which carrier has the best 5G coverage?
- Finding the best 5G plan
What 5G phones are available?
There are many 5G phones available, including 5G phones from Samsung, LG, OnePlus, Motorola, and T-Mobile (T-Mobile REVVL 5G). You can also expect the not-yet-released iPhone 12 series to be 5G-capable, as well. Below you can compare 5G phones and learn which carriers sell which models.
How much do 5G phones cost?
5G phones range considerably in price, with the most affordable models starting around $400 and the most expensive 5G phones costing as much as $1,600. In between that range, there are several reasonably-priced 5G phones that won’t run you more than $900 in total.
Thankfully, most carriers, major and small, offer device installment plans that break up the price of your 5G phone into smaller, more manageable monthly payments. Verizon and T-Mobile offer 24-month installment plans while AT&T’s spans 30 months. Many MVNOs partner with a third-party financing company to provide you with a device installment plan that ranges from 6 months to 24 months, although these companies may charge you interest.
Affordable 5G phones
If you have your heart set on a 5G phone but don’t want to break the bank, you may want to check out these 5G phones that cost under $700.
Which 5G phone is best for you?
The best 5G phone for you depends on your priorities and budget, as well as what you primarily use your phone for. If you know how much you’re willing to pay, you can then explore 5G phones within that price range. If you’re a budding photographer, you’re going to want to look at 5G phones (like the Samsung Galaxy S20 series) with sophisticated camera systems, both rear and front-facing.
Other features to consider when choosing a 5G phone include:
- Screen size: Some people want a phone that’s more akin to a tablet while others want a smaller, more convenient phone.
- Display: If you like to stream video and play games on your phone, you’re going to want a high-quality display.
- Video resolution: Whether you like to film home videos of your child learning to ride a bike or like creating short films with your friends, video resolution may be an important feature to consider.
- Battery capacity: If you rely heavily on your phone throughout the day and night, you’ll want a 5G phone with a long-lasting battery.
- Processor: The speed of your 5G phone’s processor will affect overall performance.
- Virtual assistant: If you frequently take advantage of a smartphone’s virtual assistant, especially while driving or multi-tasking, you may want to take this into consideration.
Do I need a 5G phone?
When deciding whether you should buy a 5G phone or not, you’ll want to first consider how good your carrier’s 5G coverage is in your area. If your carrier’s 5G network doesn’t cover your area, then there’s really no point in buying a 5G phone—you’re better off waiting until your carrier has expanded its 5G network.
If your carrier has good 5G coverage where you live and you’re itching for faster speeds, it might be worth your time to shop around for a 5G phone that fits your needs.
5G phones by major carrier:
Which carrier has the best 5G coverage?
As of now, T-Mobile’s 5G network has the most coverage, with 5G service in all 50 states and 30% nationwide coverage. AT&T’s 5G network comes in second with just over 6% 5G coverage with excellent coverage in some northeastern states, such as New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Verizon’s 5G network covers under 1% of the country, but its 5G coverage is bound to expand in the coming years.
As for 5G speeds, what Verizon lacks in coverage breadth it makes up for in blazing-fast 5G speeds, which blow AT&T and T-Mobile’s 5G speeds out of the water. If you want to check if you get 5G coverage in your area, you can compare the different carriers’ 5G coverage maps below.
T-Mobile 5G coverage map
AT&T 5G coverage map
Verizon 5G coverage map
Finding the best 5G plan
In order to use your 5G phone, you’ll need a 5G phone plan. The major carriers give you access to their 5G networks when you sign up for an eligible unlimited plan. Some small carriers also grant you 5G access via various plans. You can compare 5G phone plans below but remember to double-check with the carrier that your unlimited plan includes 5G access.