Our Top Picks for 5G Phones

The best phones to buy in 2023 — including Apple’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 range and Google’s own Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro — are all 5G-ready to let you enjoy those fast data speeds. But you should expect they would be, given their high price tags. Even if you don’t want — or need — to spend big bucks on today’s top-end flagships, you can still get those sweet data speeds at lower prices. There are loads of superb affordable 5G handsets, including the excellent Google Pixel 6A and other options from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and Motorola, too. Even Apple’s cheapest 2022 iPhone SE is 5G-enabled.

Though it won’t replace 4G in its entirety, 5G is the next generation of mobile connectivity. 5G works fast, and many industries and products can benefit from the upgraded network, including drones, self-driving cars and internet-of-things devices. Its growth across the US, the UK and the wider world has been fast, but it’s still not everywhere quite yet, so make sure 5G coverage is available — or at least coming soon — in your area before you spend your cash on a 5G-enabled handset.

Remember that a 5G phone will still work as normal on a 4G network (albeit at lower speeds), so don’t be afraid of buying a 5G phone like the S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 even if you aren’t in a 5G zone. It’s good practice to future-proof yourself; you may not be in a 5G zone right now, but it may well be that 5G will come to your area in the three years or so you have your phone, so at least you’ll be ready to take advantage of it when it arrives.

With 5G handsets being offered by every major phone manufacturer now, it can be difficult to work out which is best for you. We’ve done some of the hard work and put together a list of our top 5G-enabled phones that you can go and buy right now.

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Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce a variety of changes, like the Dynamic Island instead of the old notch, a new 48-megapixel camera system that’s seriously impressed us, and the new A16 Bionic processor. All these upgrades come together to make for an experience that feels fresh and fast compared with older generations.

It’s the most expensive iPhone you can buy, especially if you opt for the larger Max version, but if you want the high performance and stellar camera quality of Apple’s top phone, then the iPhone 14 Pro is for you.

Read our Apple iPhone 14 Pro review.

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Google’s Pixel 7 range has seriously impressed us with the combination of a slick refreshed design, superb cameras and a smooth overall experience which makes both these phones a joy to use. At $599 the base Pixel 7 is an affordable option for those of you looking for a solid Android phone for all of your everyday needs.

The Pixel 7 Pro has a larger $899 price tag, for which you get a larger display and a more fully-featured camera system that includes a superb telephoto zoom lens. Otherwise its processor and interface is the same as the cheaper model, so it’s worth considering how important the extra camera features are.

Read our Pixel 6 Pro review.

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The Galaxy S23 is a lot, but in a good way. It’s more than most people need in a phone, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Samsung made improvements to the camera’s resolution (200 megapixels compared to 108 megapixels), color tones and dynamic range, while retaining the same edgy design and massive 6.8-inch screen as its predecessor. There’s also a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that’s been optimized specifically for Samsung’s phones, which brings faster performance compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

With a starting price of $1,200, it may be an understatement to call this phone expensive. But those willing to pay more for a giant screen and a high-quality, versatile camera won’t be disappointed. Read our full review of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

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The Pixel 6A is Google’s most affordable phone, replacing the Pixel 5A as the $449 device in its lineup. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco called it the “best Android phone under $500” in her Pixel 6A review, calling out how it keeps the same Tensor chip seen in the $599 Pixel 6 and many of its features.

The phone is slightly smaller than the Pixel 6, featuring an 6.1-inch OLED display and a refresh rate of 60Hz. And it has a similar camera to the Pixel 5A, including a 12.2-megapixel main camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. But by including the Tensor chip, photos can benefit from its Real Tone skin tone feature, Face Unblur, Night Sight for darker photography and the Magic Eraser for removing unwanted elements from a photo.

The $700 OnePlus 11 is a powerful phone that’s well equipped to handle gaming, video streaming and other common tasks. In typical OnePlus fashion, this phone is also cheaper than the $800 Galaxy S23 and $900 Pixel 7 Pro. The cameras aren’t the best, but they’re fine for casual photographers that just want to capture their next vacation or a night out. What sets the OnePlus 11 apart from many of its rivals is its blazing fast 100-watt fast charging, which can replenish the battery in just 25 minutes. (The US version only supports 80-watt charging, but that’s still an improvement over the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 45-watt charging). Overall, the OnePlus 11 is ideal for those who want a powerful phone that charges quickly and won’t break the bank. Read our full review of the OnePlus 11.

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Although Apple’s new iPhone 14 range didn’t bring with it a new iPhone Mini, it has resulted in last year’s iPhone 13 Mini being offered at a lower $599 starting price. If you’re someone who prefers smaller, pocket-friendly devices, this is a good option to consider. The 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Mini is easy to use with one hand and even fits into tight jean pockets. While battery life isn’t as strong as others in the range, this petite Apple iPhone doesn’t sacrifice on camera capabilities or processing power.

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Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung’s new Galaxy A53 5G has a lot to offer for the price. With a spacious 6.5-inch display, a camera with cameras for wide, ultrawide and macro shots and long battery life, it’s easy to forget this phone costs just $450. That also makes it $50 cheaper than its predecessor, and Galaxy A53 5G is guaranteed to get at least four generations of Android updates. It supports all three flavors of 5G: sub-6GHz, C-band and millimeter-wave.

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The Z Flip 4 is a phone that folds in half to become a smaller phone. When it’s open, this Samsung Galaxy phone has a big 6.7-inch display, but fold it in half and it becomes a small square that’s easy to slide into a jeans or jacket pocket. This latest generation of Samsung’s compact folding phone brings various refinements to the table including a more robust hinge and improved cameras.

The price for these quirky foldables is still higher than a regular smartphone, so you’re certainly paying a hefty premium for that folding novelty. Still, if you love the idea of having cutting-edge bendable mobile tech in your pocket, the Z Flip 4 is one of the best options to go for right now.

Read our Galaxy Z Flip 3 review.

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The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) for $500 is one of the best stylus-equipped phones you can get right now, especially for the price. You get Android 12, 5G connectivity, a large 6.8-inch screen and a spacious 256GB of storage. Unfortunately, the phone is only promised one software update and three years of security updates, which is a much shorter timeline than the four years promised by Samsung for the Galaxy A53.

Yet if you want a stylus-equipped phone, the next step-up option is the substantially more expensive Galaxy S22 Ultra at $1,200. Read our Moto G Stylus 5G review.

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OnePlus’s Nord range is sold exclusively in Europe, so people in the US will have to look on envy at this great-performing, budget 5G phone. The Nord 2T has power enough for all your everyday essentials, handles gaming perfectly well, has a decent camera setup for the price and comes with extra features including 80W fast charging, a 90Hz refresh rate and, yes, 5G speeds.

It’s a solid phone to consider if you’re looking for a flagship experience without spending top-end levels of cash.

Read more about the OnePlus Nord 2T.

More phone advice

Source: https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/best-5g-phones-to-buy-in-2022/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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