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Here's the phone to get if you want the fastest 5G downloads

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in white
(Image credit: Future)

if you want the fastest phone when it comes to making 5G connections, turn to Samsung. The best Samsung phones dominate the list of fastest 5G devices complied by a network testing firm in its latest quarterly look at the state of wireless networks.

Specifically, testing firm Ookla's quarterly network performance report (opens in new tab) says that the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers the fastest 5G speeds, posting a median download speed of 116.3 Mbps and a median upload speed of 14 Mbps. The S22 Ultra was followed by the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the only other phone to break the 100Mbps with its median download speed. The iPhone 13 Pro Max was just behind at 99.5 Mbps.

The performance of the Galaxy S22 Ultra among the best 5G phones should hardly be a surprise. Samsung's latest flagship features a Snapdragon X65 modem, which had been Qualcomm's fastest modem until the Snapdragon X70 was introduced about a month ago. (That newer modem won't appear in phones until the second half of the year.) The iPhone 13 series, in contrast, uses Qualcomm's X60 modem, a generation behind the X65.

Ookla's Fastest 5G Performance by Device, 1Q 2022
DeviceMedian Download SpeedMedian Upload Speed
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra116.3 Mbps14 Mbps
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3100.8 Mbps12.7 Mbps
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max99.5 Mbps12.5 Mbps
Apple iPhone 13 Pro97.5 Mbps12.3 Mbps
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra91.3 Mbps12.3 Mbps

The results are also consistent with an older report from a different testing firm. A year ago, OpenSignal also said Samsung phones offered faster 5G speeds than the latest iPhones.

The iPhone 14 could level the playing field when it arrives in the fall. Apple's next phone is likely to feature the same X65 modem found in the Galaxy S22 series. There are rumors Apple is looking to build its own modems going forward, but that's not likely to reach the iPhone before 2023.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra's place at the top of Ookla's device rankings makes even more sense when you look at the best performing chipsets for 5G devices. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system-on-chip ranks first with a median download speed of 112.7 Mbps — that chip not only powers the latest Galaxy S22 models, but also phones like the OnePlus 10 Pro and Motorola Edge Plus (2022). Qualcomm's X60 and Snapdragon 888 chips round out the top three.

Tensor, the Google-built chip that powers the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, is ranked fourth by Ookla, with an average download speed of 88.9 Mbps. When testing Google's flagships last fall, we noted the slower 5G performance and also speculated that Tensor's use of an older 5G modem was contributing to those devices' lackluster battery life.

Ookla's report, which covers the first three months of 2022, looks at more than just devices. It also evaluates the performance of the best phone carriers, both in terms of 5G and overall speed.

On the 5G front, Verizon sees the biggest gain, fueled by that carrier's move to launch C-Band 5G at the start of the year. That helped boost Verizon's media download speed to 107.3 Mbps, up from 78.5 in the last quarter of 2021. However, T-Mobile still claims the fastest 5G speeds, according to Ookla, with a median download speed of 191.2 Mpbs. AT&T's 68.4 Mbps download speed was flat from last quarter.

When factoring in overall performance, T-Mobile recorded the fastest speeds of any carrier, claiming a media download speed of 117.8 Mbps. Verizon moved ahead of AT&T with a median download speed of 62.6 Mpbs to AT&T's 56.1 Mbps. T-Mobile also posted the highest consistency score with with 88.3% of its results showing at least 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds. That's ahead of Verizon's 84.6% score in Ookla's rankings.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.