Best 5G phones 2022: these are the next-gen handsets you should pick up

Best 5G phones
(Image credit: TechRadar / Apple)

The best 5G phones aren't just high-end flagship devices. They also include most mid-rangers and an increasing number of budget devices. All can help you enjoy the fastest speeds so it's a good idea to figure out what you can afford to spend. 

5G is the next generation of mobile data connectivity and its reach is expanding significantly. It brings with it super-fast speeds along with superior reliability and connection stability compared to 4G. It's ideal for online gaming, streaming movies, or quickly downloading large files. 

The best smartphones may suit your needs but we've focused on the key uses of 5G here so we're able to find the best 5G phones for covering these requirements. Below, we've broken things down into categories to help you determine why you might need a 5G phone. 

Each entry include a 'best' model along with a 'runner up' so you know what the highlights are. That's particularly important as not all our best phones picks are available in the US or other regions.

We test every new 5G phone that comes out, so we know what we're talking about. That also means this list is regularly updated so you may wish to check back in often.

  • What is 5G? Our full explainer about the next-gen internet tech

Best 5G phones at any price

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A Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra against a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)
The new King of the 5G phones

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Weight: 228g
Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3088
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 40MP

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic camera
+
Gorgeous screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No microSD card slot

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the new leader of the best 5G phones, although it will cost you a fair chunk of change to enjoy its many great features.

Those features are vast at least. It offers a beautiful 6.8-inch AMOLED screen that supports up to 3088 x 1440 resolution and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits. Its refresh rate goes up to 120Hz with the ability to adapt as needed so it always looks great, while Samsung's new Vision Booster technology means visibility is great even in direct sunlight.

Elsewhere, its camera array is fantastic with an array of lenses offering you plenty of options from two 10MP zoom lenses, to a 12MP ultrawide, and 108MP main camera. Great technology further enhances your images. 

Throw in the integrated S Pen, speedy performance, and reasonable if not remarkable battery life, and this is a dream of a device.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

OnePlus 10 Pro

(Image credit: OnePlus)
Another top Android choice

Specifications

Release date: January 2022
Weight: 201g
Dimensions: 163 x 73.9 x 8.6 mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3216
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8/12GB
Storage: 128/256/512GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP + 50MP + 8MP
Front camera: 32MP

Reasons to buy

+
Cheaper than competition
+
Great display

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit big
-
Cameras aren't perfect

Besides offering crucial 5G connectivity, the OnePlus 10 Pro offers a bunch of features we'd now consider crucial in a flagship phone. 

It's chunky but it has a gorgeous 6.7-inch 2K screen that's perfect for streaming content while on the move or playing online games. 120Hz refresh rate means it can keep up with it all. 

Further helping it is its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip that means powerful performance at all times, ensuring it can keep up with the speed that 5G brings. It even bundles in cooling systems to help ensure your phone won't overheat while you game on your commute. 

Slightly weaker cameras than some, but still reliable, is pretty much the only true downside to the otherwise remarkable performance of the OnePlus 10 Pro. 

Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review.

Best cheap 5G phones

A OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G against a white background

(Image credit: OnePlus)
A great affordable Android

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Weight: 173g
Dimensions: 160.6 x 73.2 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.43-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Dimensity 900
RAM: 6/8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP

Reasons to buy

+
Fast to charge
+
Slim body

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling performance
-
So-so camera

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G has mid-range specs but a price that makes it one of the more affordable 5G phones, and it’s an excellent choice if you’re on a budget.

Beyond 5G connectivity, it benefits from fast 65W charging, a slim, lightweight build, and slick software that’s almost entirely free of bloat.

The performance and camera are more middling but far from disasters, and while the screen is similar to the one on the original OnePlus Nord CE 5G, it’s still pleasant to use.

Read our full OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G review

Realme 9 Pro Plus

(Image credit: Realme)
A mid-range champion

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Weight: 182g
Dimensions: 160.6 x 73.3 x 8mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.4-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 920 5G
RAM: 6/8GB
Storage: 128GB/246GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic value
+
Perfect for low-light photography

Reasons to avoid

-
Display is only 90Hz
-
Heart monitor is hidden in menus

The Realme 9 Pro Plus is one of the cheaper 5G phones available, yet it has a lot going for it, including surprisingly good low light photography capabilities, which is something you usually have to pay a lot for.

With 60W charging this phone also powers up fast, and it has a striking design, with direct sunlight causing the rear panel’s color to gradually change.

Plus, its camera is reasonably accomplished beyond its low light skills, performance is strong for the price, and it has a built-in heart rate monitor, which is something you don’t often see on phones. There’s quite a lot of pre-installed bloat, but that’s our only significant complaint.

Read our full Realme 9 Pro Plus review

Best 5G gaming phones

Asus Rog Phone 6D Ultimate

(Image credit: Asus)
The best 5G gaming phone

Specifications

Release date: September 2022
Weight: 247g
Dimensions: 173 x 77 x 10.4mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.78-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2448
CPU: MediaTek Dimension 9000+
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Battery: 6,000mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great display
+
Perfect for gaming on the move

Reasons to avoid

-
Not available in the US
-
Expensive

The Asus ROG Phone 6D is perfectly targeted for the mobile gamer. It has a smart heat dissipation system that means you won't have to worry about it getting too hot while you play or browse online. A gorgeous 6.78-inch full HD OLED display is great for streaming videos or playing games, while there's excellent battery life so it'll keep you entertained all day long.

Its camera is a bit weak for the price and it's expensive, but the Asus ROG Phone 6D offers some great performance thanks to MediaTek's new Dimensity 9000 Plus chipset making it an ideal choice for taking advantage of everything 5G has to offer.

Read our full Asus ROG Phone 6D review.

Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Black Shark)
Speedy performance in every way

Specifications

Release date: March 2022
Weight: 220g
Dimensions: 163.9 x 76.5 x 9.5mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8/12/16GB
Storage: 256/512GB
Battery: 4,650mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 16MP

Reasons to buy

+
Useful retractable triggers
+
Fast performance 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lackluster battery life
-
Gets hot

5G may mean the Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro isn't the longest lasting of phones, needing a top up charge from time to time, but it flies elsewhere. Thanks to its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, it's well designed for gaming on the move, whether streaming or downloading.

Even better, it has some pop-up physical triggers along one side, turning the phone into a gaming controller.

It gets a bit hot while you play and we'd have liked to have seen an AMOLED rather than OLED display, but the Black Shark 5 is still a great bet for gaming while connected to 5G.

Read our full Black Shark 5 Pro review

Best 5G phones for watching and streaming media

An iPhone 13 Pro Max in gold, against a white background

iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Apple)
The biggest iPhone with a great display

Specifications

Release date: September 2022
Weight: 240g
Dimensions: 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm
OS: iOS 16
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1290 x 2796
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 4,323mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP + TOF
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
High-quality cameras
+
Finally an always-on display

Reasons to avoid

-
Incredibly expensive
-
Slow to charge

The iPhone 14 Pro Max takes lots of the specs of its predecessor, including the display and charging speed, but improves on the formula with a higher-resolution camera, new punch-hole front camera, always-on display and more.

With its big 6.7-inch OLED screen, great contrast and sharp visuals, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is great whether you're using Apple's own services like Apple TV Plus or any of the other streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. It's also good for watching YouTube, checking TikTok, or anything else that benefits from so much screen real estate.

The phone also has even better battery life than its predecessors, so watching shows during your commute to work won't stop you being able to stream on the way back. The presence of 5G also makes downloading movies on the go super easy.

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro Max review

Sony Xperia 1 IV

(Image credit: Sony)
The best display around

Specifications

Release date: June 2022
Weight: 185g
Dimensions: 165 x 71 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.5-inch
Resolution: 1644 x 3840
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256/512GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP + 0.3MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great looking display
+
Impressive battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Temperamental fingerprint scanner

Aimed at professional content creators, the Sony Xperia 1 IV maintains an impressive battery life while providing power, a 4K screen, and - of course - 5G connectivity. 

Its design won't be comfortable for everyone but it offers a long and thin 6.5-inch display with a 4K resolution and 120Hz refresh rate to boot. It's ideal for watching streaming content on the move and at speed too. 

Spend some time with its camera systems and you'll appreciate the Sony Xperia 1 IV's continuous 3.5x-5.2x camera zoom too along with its ability to record 4K 120fps video as well. Ideal for uploading at speed to your social media account. 

Read our full Sony Xperia 1 IV review

Best small 5G phones

iPhone 13 mini

(Image credit: Apple)
The most pocketable 5G phone around

Specifications

Weight: 131g
Dimensions: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 5.4-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/
Battery: 2,438 mAh
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful compact design
+
Better battery life than its predecessor

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 60Hz screen
-
More expensive than before

Small yet mighty, the iPhone 13 mini is probably the best small phone on the market right now. It has a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display that looks fantastic, offering the same tech as the iPhone 13. While it has a mere 60Hz refresh rate, it's a small price to pay for, well, a small phone. 

Camera wise, it has a 12MP f/1.6 wide camera with 1.7µm pixels for better low-light performance, and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera with 120-degree field of view. Expect to see some great low-light performance with these lenses. 

Performance is similarly satisfying with the battery life easily lasting a whole day of normal usage before needing a boost. 

Read our full iPhone 12 mini review

Press shot showing the front and back of the Sony Xperia 10 IV

(Image credit: Sony)
Slight yet well-made

Specifications

Weight: 161g
Dimensions: 153 x 67 x 8.3mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.0-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2520
CPU: Snapdragon 695 5G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP+8MP+8MP
Front camera: 8MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great battery life
+
Solid build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Average performance
-
60Hz display

The Sony Xperia 10 IV is a rare beast in that it still offers a headphone jack, instantly feeling like the right phone for anyone wanting to stream shows on their travels. Its 6-inch OLED display only has a 60Hz refresh rate but it's ideal if you want something more pocket-friendly. 

A capable camera system with 2x optical zoom is useful for social media fans, while there's reasonable performance for the price from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor. Strong battery life means it'll last all day without a problem. 

Read our full Sony Xperia 10 IV review.