1. The quick list
2. The best 5G phone
3. The best 5G Android phone
4. The smartest 5G phone
5. The best 5G flagship for less
6. The best 5G value
7. The best 5G iPhone for most people
8. The best low-cost Samsung 5G phone
9. Samsung's most affordable 5G flagship
10. The best 5G foldable
11. The best lower-cost 5G iPhone Pro
12. A big-screen 5G iPhone
13. Most compact 5G phone
14. How to choose the best 5G phone
15. How we test 5G phones
Searching for the best 5G phones? These days, that just means you're looking for one of the best phones, as any device worth its salt is going to come with 5G connectivity.
That's not only true of flagship devices, but midrange and budget models as well. And that's good news for consumers, as it means a wider variety of pricing among the best 5G phones, so that you're not forced to overpay for a device that's not in your budget.
There's a reason so many phones offer 5G connectivity these days — it's easier than ever to find 5G coverage from the best phone carriers. T-Mobile has the largest network, with its 5G service reaching 330 million people, but AT&T and Verizon have been expanding their coverage as well. Even better, 5G speeds are picking up, so it makes more sense than ever to make sure your phone can connect to a 5G network.
Our favorite 5G phones offer more than just speedier downloads. The best 5G phones also feature outstanding cameras, big displays and super-sized batteries. Here are the best 5G phones available right now to meet any budget.
The quick list
Best 5G phone overall
Best 5G phone you can buy
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best 5G phone you can buy thanks to a new titanium case, an improved telephoto lens and the powerful A17 Pro chipset. We also like the new Action button, which can trigger shortcuts.
Best 5G Android phone
The best 5G phone for Android users
Though it's been supplanted by the latest iPhone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra still delivers top-notch cameras, strong performance and a long-lasting battery. And the productivity-boosting S Pen comes with the phone, too.
Smartest 5G phone
Smartest 5G phone
AI-powered features is what sets apart the Pixel 8 Pro from other 5G phones. The new Tensor G3 chip enables advanced call screening and translation features, while introducing new photo editing tools like Magic Editor and Best Take.
Best alternative 5G phone
You don't need to turn to Apple or Samsung for a top 5G phone. The OnePlus 11 also offers extensive 5G connectivity, and it costs less than the Pro and Plus models from rival phone makers. Improved cameras add to the OnePlus 11's appeal.
Best value for a 5G phone
The Google Pixel 7a illustrates how you no longer have to pay up for a top 5G device. It only costs $499, but you still get excellent cameras, a fast-refreshing display and the same Tensor chipset in Google's flagship Pixel 7.
Most affordable 5G iPhone
Apple's best 5G phone for most people
Apple's entry-level iPhone takes a big leap forward, adding a 48MP main camera and replacing the notch with the Dynamic Island cutout. This compact form also lasts a long time on a charge, and Apple kept the starting price the same.
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5G value from Samsung
Samsung's best value 5G phone
The Galaxy A54 costs $449 but still features the same main camera found on the more expensive Galaxy S23. Samsung's midrange phone is one of the cheapest picks on our best 5G phones list, though you won't have to give up too many features for the low price.
Low-cost 5G flagship
Samsung's affordable 5G flagship
At a starting price of $799, the Galaxy S23 costs $400 less than the Galaxy S23 Ultra but still features the top performing Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. That also means solid battery life for this 5G-capable device.
Best foldable 5G phone
Best foldable 5G phone
The first foldable phone from OnePlus is also the best foldable phone you can buy. An excellent thin-and-light design plus the best multitasking features of any foldable make this a great choice if you're considering a 5G foldable.
Sub-$1,000 iPhone Pro
Pro features for less
With the iPhone 15 Pro Max rising in price, the iPhone 15 Pro is the best way to get Apple's Pro features for less than $1,000. The iPhone 15 Pro features a titanium frame, A17 Pro chipset and Action Button just like the Pro Max.
Big screen 5G iPhone
For a big-screen iPhone that costs far less than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, turn to the iPhone 15 Plus. The 6.7-inch screen is super bright, and the Plus turned in the best result of any iPhone on our battery test.
The best 5G phone
For the best 5G phone, turn to the best phone overall — Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max. This 6.7-inch phone features the best performing mobile chipset that we've tested, the A17 Bionic. Not only can it handle app and task you throw at it, it also delivers top power management, helping the Pro Max last more than 14 hours on our battery test.
It's the improved telephoto lens that really makes the iPhone 15 Pro Max a great choice. Apple replaced the old camera with one featuring a tetraprism design that now supports a longer 5x zoom. (Previous Pro Max models topped out at 3x.) That simply adds the photo capabilities of what was already a great camera phone, and Apple has made improvements to night photos and portrait mode to boot.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max now costs $100 more than previous models, but you get more storage in the base model than before. And other changes, like a new shortcut-triggering Action button, make sure that you're getting plenty of features for your money when you opt for the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review.
The best 5G phone for Android users
Samsung raises the bar with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, equipping it with a powerful chipset and an impressive camera array. The chipset in question is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and it's customized specifically for Samsung's Galaxy S23 lineup. While the iPhone continues to feature the top-performing silicon, this new Snapdragon chipset closes the gap considerably. Even better, it's exremely power efficient, helping the S23 Ultra last for nearly 12.5 hours on our battery test. That's a big improvement over Samsung's previous 5G phones, which didn't last as long as we would have liked.
As for the camera array, it's highlighted by a 200MP main sensor that gives you greater flexibility when capturing photos. The front camera gets a fast autofocus feature, and Samsung has added an AI-powered algorithm designed to improve low-light photos. We've put the Galaxy S23 Ultra up against the best camera phones and came away impressed by its results.
These days, choosing the best 5G phone comes down to choosing the best phone overall. On the strength of its long battery life and excellent cameras, coupled with returning features like an excellent design and an included S Pen, the Galaxy S23 answers to that description.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review.
The smartest 5G phone
The Google Pixel 8 Pro shows you what AI can bring to a mobile device. The new Tensor G3 chip that powers this phone offers an improved neural engine that delivers AI-driven features to simplify tasks on your phone. Not only can the Google Assistant screen incoming calls, it can also tell you what the call is about so you can pick up if it's an urgent matter. On-device translation and web page summaries are also part of Tensor's bag of tricks.
But the AI really shines when you edit photos on the Pixel 8 Pro. A new Magic Editor feature lets you easily tweak photos to your liking, and Best Take guarantees that everyone in a group shot will be looking at the camera. A Magic Audio Editor that removes unwanted sound from videos you capture also impresses.
There's more to the Pixel 8 Pro's camera setup than just great AI. The ultrawide camera now has a 48MP sensor and the aperture on the main camera is wider for improved low-light photos. Google's reputation for creating excellent camera phones continues with the Pixel 8 Pro.
Read our full Google Pixel 8 Pro review.
The best lower-cost 5G flagship
The OnePlus 11 marks a great return to form for the upstart phone maker, with this model benefitting from a powerful chipset, impressive battery life and ongoing improvements to OnePlus' cameras. The best feature of all, though, may be the price. Starting at $699 for a model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the OnePlus 11 proves that top 5G flagship phones don't need to approach $1,000.
Like the Galaxy S23, the OnePlus 11 benefits from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (though this isn't customized silicon). That results in excellent performance and more than 13 hours of battery life, even with adaptive refresh rate enabled on the phone's 6.7-inch display. The days of 5G phones consuming too much power appear to be over, with the OnePlus 11 as the best example of that on the Android side of things.
We wish the OnePlus 11 supported wireless charging, and while it offers the best cameras we've seen on a OnePlus phone, we wish the telephoto lens offered more than just a 2x optical zoom. Still, these are minor criticisms when compared to the overwhelming value this 5G phone delivers for less than $700.
Read our full OnePlus 11 review.
The best 5G value
You don't have to pay up for a Pixel 7 Pro if you're impressed by what that phone's Tensor G2 chipset can do. The Pixel 7a runs on the same silicon supporting the exact same features, and it costs $400 less.
You're not sacrificing much to get the lower priced Pixel 7a, which is almost indistinguishable from the Pixel 7. Like that phone, the Pixel 7a offers a display with a 90Hz refresh rate and wireless charging suport. The cameras have gotten an upgrade, too, led by a 64MP main shooter. And best of all, the Pixel 7a features above-average battery life, at least when its display refresh rate is set to the default 60Hz. This is a very strong budget option if you're looking for a 5G phone.
Read our full Google Pixel 7a review.
The best 5G iPhone for most people
If you were underwhelmed by the lack of changes for the iPhone 14, the iPhone 15 will have you rethinking your opinion about Apple's entry-level flagship phone. Yes, the Pro models continue to get the more extensive updates, but there are plenty of changes introduced to the iPhone 15.
Start with the camera setup, where the iPhone 15 has adopted the 48MP main camera previously introduced to the iPhone 14 Pro phones. The result is a much more flexible camera producing more detailed shots. The Dynamic Island feature moves over to the iPhone 15 as well, putting an end to a notch on the phone's display.
All these changes, which include a switch from Lightning to USB-C connectivity, occur without any change to the iPhone's $799 starting price. People who's been holding onto older Apple phones waiting for big changes will be pleased with what the iPhone delivers.
Read our full iPhone 15 review.
The best low-cost Samsung 5G phone
The Samsung Galaxy A54 is a great choice for a 5G phone if you don't want to pay flagship prices. For less than $500, you can get a device that features the same 50MP main camera as the more expensive Galaxy S23 for photos that stand up well against the competition. Samsung's midrange phone holds up well against the power demands of 5G connectivity, beating the average smartphone's result on our battery test. And if you turn off the phone's 120Hz refresh rate, you can eke out even more battery life.
Other phones offer more powerful performance, even those in the midrange category. But the Galaxy A54 ticks off the key features for smartphones in terms of camera, battery life and a bright display. It's definitely one of the best bargains among 5G devices.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 review.
The most affordable Samsung 5G flagship
The Galaxy S23 Ultra may have the flashy features, but it's the Galaxy S23 that has the friendlier price tag, and in this economy, we're guessing that the latter will have a wider appeal. You won't get the 200MP main camera that the S23 Ultra offers, though the Galaxy S23 cameras are formidable in their own right (except for maybe the front camera.) But other key features are included in this less expensive flagship — most importantly, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.
Qualcomm's latest silicon not only helps the Galaxy S23 outperform other Android phones but also narrow the performance gap with Apple's iPhone. Even better, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 along with a 3,900 mAh battery that's bigger than what the S22 offered helps the Galaxy S23 last longer on a charge, posting an above-average result on our battery test. That's the kind of longevity we like to see in the best 5G phones.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 review.
Best 5G foldable
This has been a great year for foldable phones, and none has made a better impression than the OnePlus Open. This phone opens up to reveal a larger 7.82 internal display, but a thin design makes this a lot skinnier than rival foldables.
We're particularly impressed with Open Canvas, OnePlus' approach to multitasking on your foldable. It lets you run three apps at once, and you can dynamically shift your view as you switch from one app to the other. You can also save up to nine multi-app presents to really kickstart your multitasking.
At $1,699, the OnePlus Open cost less than similar foldable phones, and a deal through OnePlus essentially drops the price to $1,499. While not cheap, that's the best value we've seen yet on a foldable phone.
Read our full OnePlus Open review.
A lower-cost 5G iPhone Pro
Now that the iPhone 15 Pro Max costs more, the iPhone 15 Pro is your best bet for getting Apple's Pro phone features at a more reasonable cost. Like the Pro Max, the iPhone 15 Pro uses titanium instead of stanless steel for a more durable design that's lighter than before. There's a new Action button, too, for triggering shortcuts with a press.
Perhaps the most important addition is the A17 Pro chip that powers the iPhone 15 Pro. You get the best performance we've seen from a mobile chip, plus more efficient power management that helps this phone last longer on a charge than its predecessor.
By opting for the iPhone 15 Pro, you lose out on the iPhone 15 Pro Max's more powerful telephoto lens. But for $200 less, you're still getting a very powerful phone that's easier to tote around.
Read our full iPhone 15 Pro review.
Big screen 5G iPhone
The iPhone 15 Plus is the all-time battery life champ among iPhones, just edging out the iPhone 15 Pro Max on our battery test. If you want a long-lasting phone with a big-screen, this model costs $300 less than the Pro Max.
You won't have a telephoto lens at your disposal, but you do have a pretty powerful main camera now that Apple was adopted a 48MP sensor for all of its phones. The iPhone 15 Plus even has more screen real estate to work with, now that the notch is gone in favor of the Dynamic Island cutout. And like other iPhone 15 models, the Plus switches from Lightning to USB-C connectivity.
Read our full iPhone 15 Plus review.
The most compact 5G phone
If you want a compact phone that still delivers top performance, Asus' Zenfone is the model to turn to. The latest version continues to deliver a great 5G experience (provided you're using AT&T or T-Mobile) in a tiny 5.8 x 2.7 x 0.37 package.
While the 5.9-inch screen will appeal to people who don't care for oversized smartphones, the real appeal of the Zenfone 10 is its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which delivers great performance without consuming too much power. In fact, the Zenfone 10 held out for a little more than 12.5 hours on our battery test — a terrific time that places it among the longest-lasting phones we've tested.
The cameras could be better — there's no telephoto lens here, for instance. But at $699, this is a way to get a 5G flagship phone without having to spend big bucks on a big screen.
Read our full Asus Zenfone 10 review.
How to choose the best 5G phone for you
When looking for a 5G phone, you'll want to consider which wireless carrier will be providing your cell phone service. Different service providers are taking different approaches to their 5G rollouts.
Verizon, for example, placed an initial emphasis on mmWave-based technology, so if you wanted phone service from Big Red, you had to make sure that your 5G phone could connect to mmWave towers; Verizon is in the process of expanding that coverage through C-Band 5G, which most phones support. Likewise, while T-Mobile and AT&T have a few mmWave deployments, the vast majority of their network relies on sub-6GHz technology for initial coverage. That's not as fast as mmWave, but it covers a wider area. (AT&T is expanding its mmWave-based coverage, though, for faster performance.)
In its July 2023 5G experience report, OpenSignal ranked T-Mobile tops for 5G download speed while also praising the carrier's live video experience. Verizon pulled ahead of T-Mobile for upload speeds and won high marks for its video, voice and gaming experience over 5G. OpenSignal says T-Mobile has the best 5G availability at 57.9% — 2.8x the amount of time AT&T customers are connected to 5G. Rootmetrics' latest report, which covers the first half of 2023, awards T-Mobile for offering the best 5G availability and fastest 5G speeds; Verizon gets credit for 5G reliability.
Apart from what 5G networks a phone supports, the criteria for picking a 5G phone is about the same as it would be for any handset. Consider the processor, screen size, cameras and other features. Battery is especially important — 5G can draw some serious power, and you'll want a phone that's able to handle the added demands on its battery.
Price remains an important distinguishing factor, and it's going to get more so as lower-cost 5G phones roll out later this year. In 2019, you had to pay anywhere from $700 to $1,200 for a flagship 5G phone. Even with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 continuing to cost $1,799 — a price that has more to do with its foldable design than its 5G support — the price range for 5G phones has begun to fall with a rapidly increasing number 5G models available for $500 or less.
How we test 5G phones
We test 5G phones the same way we test any phone we review. At this point in 5G's evolution, we merely confirm that a 5G phone can connect to a carrier's 5G network. We don't run performance testing for 5G speeds, as those say more about a carrier's network than the phone itself. Also, 5G performance can vary widely depending on your location.
As for other tests, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.
To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 and sRGB color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.
One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test, which has become especially important for 5G phones given how power-hungry they are. We run a web surfing test over 5G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.
We also perform camera testing, comparing shots taken by each phone we test with similar phones. This part of our testing is less relevant to our 5G phone evaluations, though.
For more information on phone testing, check out our how we test page for Tom's Guide.