The best phones keep getting better every year — even if some years it's just an incremental upgrade. But are they getting faster? Specifically, do they help you get faster upload and download speeds? After all, if you’re shopping for a new phone this Black Friday, you’ll definitely want it to be faster on your phone carrier than your previous phone.
Luckily, we actually have some answers for you. Ookla (opens in new tab) just released its data for the fastest 5G devices around the globe, and there are some notable trends. First, you’ll definitely want a new phone. The newest phones were the fastest in both the U.S. and the U.K., with the iPhone 14 Pro Max leading the way in both countries.
But that’s not too surprising. What is surprising is that you’ll need an iPhone to get the fastest download and upload speeds. In previous testing, Ookla had found Samsung phones to be leading the pack — at least in the U.S. In April 2022 the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was the fastest 5G phone. Ditto for when Ookla tested 5G speeds in Q2.
But now, Apple clearly dominates the market. In the U.S., the top two phones were the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro. In the U.K., the entire Top 5 was all Apple, with Cupertino crushing anything the best Android phones had to offer.
Still, the differences between the phones aren’t massive, so if you prefer an Android phone it's not like you still shouldn’t consider the latest Samsung phones. Below we break down Ookla’s results for the five best 5G phones and why you should consider each one.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
It’s tough to make an argument against the iPhone 14 Pro Max unless you are someone wedded to Android. It was the clear winner in Ookla’s testing, with the fastest download and upload speeds in both the U.S. and the U.K. On average, the Pro Max was able to achieve download speeds of 177.21 Mbps in the U.S. and 171.24 Mbps in the U.K., with upload speeds of 19.28Mbps and 16.59Mbps respectively.
Plus, the sits atop our list of best phones, so it was already the best phone overall without being the fastest on 5G networks. It has an incredible 48MP camera, best-in-class battery life and an incredible action mode for filming video. It also replaces the notch of previous generations with Dynamic Island, which allows you to view important information like live sports scores. This iPhone is definitely worth the upgrade this holiday season.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
There aren’t a ton of differences between the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. They’re essentially the same phone, but the battery and screen are a bit bigger on the Pro Max. This contributes to the Pro only having 10 hours of battery life compared to the 13 hours on the Pro Max. But at least you pay $100 less.
In terms of 5G speeds, the differences aren’t drastic either, at least in the U.S. Ookla showed median download speeds of 175.08 Mbps and median upload speeds of 18.59 Mbps.
But things get interesting in the U.K. In the U.K. the iPhone 13 Pro Max actually outperforms the iPhone 14 Pro in download speeds. The iPhone 13 Pro Max tested average download speeds of 165.49Mbps and upload speeds of 13.84. The iPhone 14 Pro only hit 158.24Mbps download speeds but did reach 15.06. Given the difference in other features, we still recommend going with the iPhone 14 Pro over the iPhone 13 Pro Max, despite the boost in 5G speeds.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
While Android got wiped off the map by iPhones in the U.K., there were a few high-performing Android phones in the U.S. — all from Samsung. The top performer was the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, with median download speeds of 162.5 Mbps and median upload speeds of 15.17 Mbps. This was a step down from the iPhones, but a noticeable step up in 5G download speeds from the final two phones on the list.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also our top foldable phone. It’s easily the best foldable phone money can buy, with an excellent 50MP main camera, a wider cover display and brighter main display and longer battery life than its predecessor. It’s definitely still expensive. though, and still needs to become a bit sleeker to compete with the best Samsung has to offer. Still, outside the Samsung Galaxy S22 lineup, it is our best Samsung phone.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Okay, it was truly odd to see the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus on this list. Especially ahead of the entire Galaxy S22 lineup. Don’t get us wrong — it’s a good phone — but it's not performed this well in previous testing and it doesn’t really make sense that it did this time.
Still, the numbers don’t lie, and the Galaxy S21 Plus 5G was fourth in Ookla’s testing of U.S. 5G download and upload speeds. It achieved median download speeds of 140.06 Mbps, which was nearly 3 Mbps faster than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It was also 0.29 Mbps faster in median upload speeds.
Despite this, we still cannot recommend it over the Samsung Galaxy S22 lineup, especially the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The difference in speeds is marginal, but the upgrades in other areas are not. The S22 lineup gets a noticeably upgraded camera and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset that make them some of our best phones available. If you’re upgrading this holiday season, go for one of them instead.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Last on Ookla’s list is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This was… surprising, if not downright shocking. The Galaxy S22 Ultra had been at the top of these lists as recently as July. The one thing we did notice, is all the median speeds were faster than in previous testing. Even the S22 Ultra took a step up; in the numbers we reported in July, it produced median download speeds of 105.26 Mbps. This most recent testing produced 137.42 Mbps median download speeds, which is a significant upgrade.
So it’s important to note that something may have changed in Ookla’s methodology compared to previous quarters given the dramatic shift in results. But for now, we have to assume that the S22 Ultra is — for some reason — falling behind the competition in terms of 5G speeds.
Luckily, it’s still an excellent phone and our top choice for best Android phone. The built-in S Pen got faster, the display is bright and gorgeous and the low light photography is excellent. It’s a bit pricey, though it’s recently crashed to $899 in early Black Friday deals. Regardless of the speed test results, this remains the Android phone you want to get this holiday season.