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5G is short for fifth-generation cellular wireless technology. The successor to the 4G network you are probably using right now on your cellphone improves on that system with:
- Ultra low latency
- Increased reliability
- Massive network capacity
- Improved availability
- Uniform user experience
The improved efficiency and performance of the 5G network also allows for new user experiences such as virtual reality, as well as the connection of new industries.
With the 5G network, it’s possible for users to access new experiences like augmented reality shopping, which uses apps to give you the virtual shopping experience of browsing the aisles and using “mirrors” to see if that shirt looks good on you. It will also make real-time video collaboration possible, give users instant access to cloud services, potentially enable massive multiplayer cloud gaming and much more.
But to do all that, you’ll need a 5G phone. While these were once an expensive upgrade, most new smartphones being released now are 5G-capable. A major milestone was reached in October 2020, when Apple released the iPhone 12 — the first iPhone that can connect to 5G.
With so many options available, it can be hard to tell where to start when shopping for a 5G phone. We searched through every major wireless carrier to find the very best 5G phone deals available right now.
T-Mobile 5G phones
With the addition of the Sprint network (once upgrades are completed) to its own network, T-Mobile will soon have the largest 5G network in America by far. It already has the first and only nationwide coverage, putting it ahead in the coverage game. Now it needs to play catch-up with speed and performance.
During OpenSignal’s testing, T-Mobile came in last, with 5G download speeds of just 49.2 Mbps — barely above 4G speeds. When it comes to actually connecting to 5G, T-Mobile is easily the best of the group, with users connecting 22.5% of the time to 5G.
All of the latest iPhone 12 models are equipped with 5G technology. Right now, T-Mobile has a number of phone deals available for these devices. New customers can get an iPhone 12 for free or $830 off the iPhone 12 Pro Max or iPhone 12 Pro when they activate a new line and trade in an eligible iPhone. T-Mobile is currently accepting the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone X and iPhone XR for the full trade-in value. If you have an older iPhone, you can still get $450 or $600 off a new iPhone 12.
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
The current deal at T-Mobile will get you a Samsung Galaxy A71 5G for free. To take advantage of the deal you need to sign up for a new plan at T-Mobile and trade in an eligible device.
The Galaxy A71 5G has an amazing 64-megapixel rear camera that takes stunning photos, even if you’re a first time photographer. Once you take the pictures, show them off to friends and family on the crisp 6.7-inch AMOLED+ Infinity display. Or upload them to your favorite social media platform on the blazing fast T-Mobile 5G network.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about charging up in the middle of the day. The powerful 4,500 mAh battery delivers 36 hours of talk time and an incredible 16 days of standby time.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
T-Mobile is making it possible to get your hands on a free Galaxy S20 FE 5G handset when you buy one. This is a buy one, get one free deal where you can get a $1,000 bill credit to cover the purchase of a second Galaxy S20 FE 5G after you’ve purchased the first one. To take advantage of this deal you’ll also need to switch from another carrier and open two new lines of service. The deal also applies to the Galaxy S20+ 5G, Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the Galaxy Note10+ 5G.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G will deliver incredible 5G speeds, along with an impressive 108-megapixel camera, or the Take AI software that chooses the proper lenses and takes multiple copies of each still image and video you shoot. Then you get to choose the best and upload them to your social media pages or simply send them to family and friends using the speed of 5G.
You can also capture amazing distance shots with the 100x Space Zoom, or simply magnify something. The 6.5-inch AMOLED Infinity-O display makes certain everything you shoot looks great. It also gives you cinema-quality streaming movies right in your pocket. Plus you won’t have to worry about running out of juice since the 5,000 mAh battery holds a charge for 37 hours and you can add several hours to that in just a few minutes using Samsung Super Fast Charging.
Verizon 5G phones
Verizon’s 5G network may not yet be the largest in the world, but according to data from OpenSignal, it is the fastest 5G network by far, with average download speeds of 494.7 Mbps. That’s more than double the speed of the nearest 5G network, which is the South Korean LG U+ network. Verizon’s 5G network is nearly ten times as fast as its nearest U.S. competitor, Sprint.
The downside is that the data also shows that most users won’t be connected to the Verizon 5G network for most of the time. According to OpenSignal, Verizon users are currently only accessing its 5G network 0.4% of the time. The rest of the time, they’re stuck with 4G speeds.
Like every other cellphone company right now, Verizon has some generous phone deals on the latest iPhones. You can currently get an iPhone 12 Pro for free when you buy another and open one new unlimited line. Additionally, all iPhone 12 models are eligible for Verizon’s trade-in promotion — as much as $550 off when you trade in an old smartphone.
Motorola one 5G UW
Verizon is currently offering a deal that allows you to get the Motorola one 5G UW for only $5/mo. for 24 months, with the addition of a new line. You also must take advantage of the deal online. If you can meet those requirements, this is one of the cheapest 5G phones available.
Aside from being 5G compatible, the Motorola one 5G UW is a high-functioning smartphone. It snaps great photos with its 48-megapixel rear camera, and for those who know how to take stellar photos, this phone can produce some gorgeous imagery. There’s also a 25-megapixel front-facing selfie camera that will help to up your Instagram game.
Once you’ve snapped the photos, everyone can view them on the generous and stunning 6.7-inch CinemaVision Full HD+ display. You’ll also like the battery, which delivers 49 hours of talk time, and with the use of TurboPower, just a few minutes of charging can add hours of battery life.
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G UW
Right now, Verizon is offering the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G UW, the very first 5G compatible Galaxy A model, for a low $10/mo. for 24 months. That’s a total of just $240 for a phone that retails at $649.99. In order to qualify, you’ll need to get a new line and a select Unlimited plan.
The obvious benefit to buying the Galaxy A71 5G UW is the stunningly fast 5G speeds you can experience with this handset. However, it doesn’t stop there. This Galaxy phone comes with a 64-megapixel rear camera that will take pictures that anyone can be proud of — even amateur photographers. Show off those works of art on the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED+ Infinity display. The Galaxy A71 5G UW also comes with a potent 4,500 mAh battery that gives almost 30 hours of talk time and over 13 days of standby time.
AT&T 5G phones
The AT&T 5G network is coming along slowly after the carrier was the first to deploy something called 5G E, which wasn’t true 5G technology, but was instead a more powerful LTE technology. AT&T’s 5G network speed is nowhere near Verizon’s, but it also isn’t the worst.
Current data shows AT&T’s 5G download speed to be 60.8 Mbps, which is a nice boost from the 4G LTE download speeds of 32.7 Mbps for this carrier. As far as actually connecting to the 5G network, AT&T also has Verizon beaten in that area, with data showing 5G connections 10.3% of the time.
Like T-Mobile and Verizon, AT&T has some great deals on the latest iPhones. But unlike those carriers, you don’t need to be a new customer to take advantage of the promotion. Right now, you can get $700 off on each of the four iPhone 12 models, which would mean an entirely free iPhone 12 mini. To qualify, you’ll just need to open a new line or upgrade an existing line, then trade in an eligible smartphone with a value of $95 or more.
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
Get a Samsung Galaxy A51 5G for $5/mo. for 30 months when you buy it on a qualifying installment and add a new line to a new or existing AT&T account. Also required is a qualifying unlimited plan valued at $75/mo. or more before discounts.
This is a top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy, and with the added 5G connection you’ll have blazing fast downloads to go along with all the other features offered on this phone. For example, consider the Take AI software that allows you to take multiple still images and videos with each shot. You can also capture amazing distance shots with the 100x Space Zoom or simply magnify something up close. Send them off to the web or friends in a blink on your 5G connection.
Plus the 4,500 mAh battery keeps you going for up to 23 hours of continuous use, and in a pinch, you can add hours of charge in just minutes with Samsung Super Fast Charging. And those photos and videos you took? They are going to look stunning on the 6.5-inch AMOLED Infinity-O display, which also delivers quality streaming experiences.
LG K92 5G
Get the LG K92 5G for $5/mo. for 30 months when you buy it on a qualifying installment agreement and add a new line to a new or existing AT&T account. Also required is a qualifying unlimited plan valued at $75/mo. or more before discounts.
The LG K92 5G stands out in a crowd with its striking design, premium features and an unbridled performance. Start with the 6.7-inch FHD+ FullVision Display that replays video in HD resolutions that will make you feel like you’re at a theater. The phone also features an octa-core processor that, when combined with 5G speeds, means you won’t have to wait for apps or downloads.
The rear camera is an impressive 64-megapixel lens, while the front-facing selfie camera is 16 megapixels. The 4,000 mAh battery will give you nearly 17 hours of talk time and 18 days of standby use, making sure you never have to charge up in the middle of the day.
Sprint 5G phones
In July 2020, T-Mobile turned off Sprint’s 5G network and transitioned Sprint users to their network. T-Mobile’s plan is to optimize, integrate and redeploy the Sprint network as part of its network, which is already occurring in some metro areas. Sprint has also merged its website and accounts, so now instead of the big four carriers, consumers have the option of the big three carriers.
5G phones FAQs
While 5G doesn’t work on 4G phones, there’s no reason to ditch your 4G phone for a new 5G phone just yet. The mobile carriers are building their 5G networks alongside the 4G LTE network, and it could be years before the 4G phones become obsolete.
5G is an improvement over 4G for several reasons:
- 5G has a significant speed improvement over 4G
- 5G has increased capacity when compared with 4G
- 5G latency is far less than 4G
- 5G is more capable than 4G thanks to its unified platform
- 5G features improved spectrum usage when compared with 4G
While it isn’t a certainty, some home internet will be able to switch over to 5G. This is made possible because 5G can provide a wireless modem alternative to the wired system. This will allow internet service providers to use the 5G infrastructure to provide 5G home internet to residential users.
The major carriers began launching their 5G networks in early 2019. Currently consumers can get nationwide coverage in the U.S. through T-Mobile, with the other major carriers working to increase the coverage of their own 5G networks. In addition, there are a number of Android hardware devices that have been marketed specifically for 5G. Apple is also expected to announce its own 5G iPhone in the third quarter of 2020. That said, 5G service is not available everywhere, and it could take some time for it to reach rural areas of the U.S.
*Originally written 08/26/20. Last updated 01/12/21.
Written by:Joe Supan
Senior Writer, Broadband Content
Joe oversees all things broadband for Allconnect. His work has been referenced by Yahoo!, Lifehacker and more. He has utilized thousands of data points to build a library of metrics to help users navigate these … Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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