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Best 5G phone 2023: The finest 5G smartphones from Samsung, Apple, Motorola and more

The 5G revolution is well under way and these are the best 5G-equipped smartphones you can buy in the UK right now

The UK’s 5G network is still in its infancy, but there are all sorts of 5G-capable smartphones to pick and choose from at the moment. Promising far superior download speeds compared to their 4G-limited siblings, these 5G-equipped handsets from Apple, OnePlus, Samsung, Motorola and others are flooding shop shelves, but it can be tricky to choose which is best. It’s an even more difficult buying decision when you consider how much some of these 5G handsets actually cost.

With all of the UK’s major network operators switching on their 5G services in the UK, you can now begin to take advantage of all the niceties that 5G has to offer, that is if you’re lucky enough to live in a 5G-covered location. The coverage itself is still rather patchy, but if you do happen to live in one of the UK’s major cities, for instance, then chances are you will at least be able to find small hotspots nearby, no matter which network you’re on, provided you have a 5G SIM and phone.

The good news is that the 5G network continues to expand, and we’re seeing more and more locations gain access to the service. Before you decide to take the leap and buy a 5G phone, we recommend that you check the coverage map of your chosen UK network provider, just to make sure. If you wanted to find out which 5G network is right for you, then take a quick look at our rundown of the UK’s best 5G networks before you proceed.

What is 5G?

In simple terms, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet. With faster download and upload speeds than a typical 4G connection and with lower latency, 5G is a serious upgrade if you’re gaming or streaming video on the go.

As for the actual numbers, 5G connections can provide download speeds of more than 200Mbits/sec, with upwards of 1,000Mbits/sec in the right conditions. This is significantly faster than the UK’s average fibre broadband speeds and it’s no contest compared to the 20-50Mbits/sec you might typically receive with a bog-standard 4G connection, either.

Are you now fully on board with the 5G revolution? These are the best 5G smartphones you can buy in 2023.

The best 5G smartphones to buy in 2023

1. Moto G 5G Plus: The best-value 5G phone

Price: £230 l Buy now from Amazon

5G is (finally) getting cheaper, and the Moto G 5G Plus was the first 5G supported smartphone to drop below £300. Starting at just £230, the Moto G 5G Plus is significantly cheaper than any other 5G smartphone on this list, costing less than half the price of the previous well-priced champion, the Galaxy A90 5G.

If you’re looking at dipping your toes into the wondrous benefits that 5G has to offer, but are put off by sky-high prices from flashy handsets such as the Galaxy S21 and Huawei P40 Pro, then the Moto G 5G Plus is absolutely the right choice. Not only can it connect to all of the currently available 5G bands in the UK, but it’s also a tremendous smartphone in every other area. It’s fast, has a great set of cameras for the price, and its gigantic 90Hz screen is lovely too.

Read our full Moto G 5G Plus review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 765; Display: 6.7in 2,520 x 1,080; Storage: 64GB, 128GB; Camera: 48MP, 8MP (wide), 5MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 10

2. Samsung Galaxy S21/S21 Plus: The best 5G phone money can buy

Price: From £700 | Buy now from Argos

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If money is no object, and you’re after the absolute best that anyone has to offer at the moment (so long as it isn’t a foldable phone), then the Galaxy S21 or S21 Plus is your best bet. The good news is that you’re forced to pay a premium for 5G connectivity since all of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phones come with 5G as standard. What’s on offer here is absolutely tremendous, too, with Samsung’s fastest-ever mobile chipset (the Exynos 2100) on-board, alongside a cracking set of rear cameras, which includes an excellent 30x zoom camera.

The Galaxy S21 currently tops the list of our best smartphones article, and for good reason: it’s Samsung’s most well-rounded smartphone to date.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.9GHz Samsung Exynos 2100; Screen: 6.2in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 12MP, 64MP (zoom) and 12MP (wide); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 11

3. iPhone 12: Apple’s first 5G smartphone excels

Price: From £624 l Buy now from Argos

It’s been a long time coming, but Apple has finally entered the 5G arena with the iPhone 12. Apple succeeds, for the most part, too, with a well fleshed-out handset that’s filled to the brim with top-quality features. The new A14 Bionic chipset, for instance, takes the mantle as the fastest processor on the market, while its 6.7in HDR10+ display and video recording capabilities are pretty much unmatched, for the time being at least.

Of course, you might also need to have a think about which model to go for. With four different iPhones to choose from in 2022 – iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max – as well as a choice of internal storage options, the iPhone 12 costs between a wallet-friendly £624 to a frankly ludicrous £1,399 for the top-end model with the most storage. Whichever model you choose, though, you can rest assured that you’ll be picking up one of 2021’s finest 5G handsets.

Read our full iPhone 12 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 3.1GHz A14 Bionic; Screen: 6.1in, 2,531 x 1,170; Camera: 12MP, 12MP (wide); Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: iOS 14

4. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T: Low-cost 5G

Price: £249 l Buy now from Amazon

If you’re put off by the sky-high prices of some of the 5G-capable phones on this list, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T is a sublime alternative. At a fraction of the cost, the Redmi Note 9T costs less than most, and it’s hardly lacking features either. With a speedy MediaTek Dimensity 800U processor, a large 6.53in Full HD+ screen and a terrific triple camera array, Xiaomi’s low-cost 5G handset is no slouch.

Where it excels, of course, is in its remarkable value proposition. With handsets like the Redmi doing the rounds, why spend more when you can get the same 5G experience for a lot less money? If your buying budget is tight or you aren’t keen on spending oversized sums as you make the switch to 5G, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T should be your next smartphone.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review for more details 

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz MediaTek Dimensity 800U; Screen: 6.53in, 2,340 x 1,080; Camera: 48MP, 2MP (depth), 2MP (wide); Storage: 64GB, 128GB; Operating system: Android 10

5. OnePlus 9 Pro: A 5G flagship at a (slightly) lower price

Price: £829 l Buy now from Amazon

OnePlus is tapping further into the ultra-premium market with the OnePlus 9, its biggest and best phone to date, but it’s still a great alternative for those that want a flagship handset but don’t quite want to spend Galaxy S21-sized sums. It’s fitted with a 6.7in, bezel-less AMOLED screen with a refresh rate of 120Hz, it benefits from one of the fastest 5G chipsets around, the Snapdragon 888, and its battery life was excellent in our tests.

The OnePlus 9 Pro is your best bet if you’re after a top-end 5G phone without (quite) paying top-end prices.

Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.84GHz Snapdragon 888; Screen: 6.7in, 3,216 x 1,440; Camera: 48MP, 50MP (wide), 8MP (zoom), 2MP (depth); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 11

6. Samsung Galaxy A52 5G: Samsung’s best-value smartphone yet

Price: £399 l Buy now from Argos

A decent 5G Samsung needn’t cost the Earth, but thankfully the Galaxy A52 5G serves to scratch that itch for those that want a Samsung phone, but don’t want to spend four figures. Pitched as a mid-range phone that hopes to offer 5G performance to people that don’t need the very latest innards, the Galaxy A52 5G is yet another 5G Samsung that truly earns a recommendation, and it’s only just surpassed by the Moto G 5G Plus and Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T in sheer value terms.

It might not be as flashy on the inside, but it sells for much less than other phones on this list. Yes, you can buy cheaper 5G phones from Moto or Xiaomi, but if you’re willing to spend a bit more, then you’re getting a competent, well-rounded flagship-killing phone in the Galaxy A52 5G.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 750G; Screen: 6.5in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 64MP, 12MP (wide), 5MP (macro), 5MP (depth); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 11

7. Google Pixel 4a 5G: The best 5G camera phone

Price: £499 l Buy now from Argos

If you’re a snap-happy amateur photographer, then there’s nothing better than the Pixel 4a 5G. Google’s newest well-priced handset is its first with 5G connectivity, but it also comes with all of the other benefits of its Pixel lineup. The 4a 5G’s camera capabilities are sublime, for instance, and the fact that it shares the same shooting accomplishments as the Pixel 5 but at a lower price is nothing short of exceptional.

It also comes with Android 11 pre-installed, using a clean, stock version of Google’s mobile operating system. Battery life was also excellent in our tests, and performance was pretty darn good too. If you’re hoping to boost the quality of your Instagram snaps, then it doesn’t get much better than this.

Read our full Google Pixel 4a 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G; Screen: 6.2in, 2,340 x 1,080; Camera: 12.2MP, 26MP (wide); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 11

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: The best 5G phone for on-the-go working

Price: £1,050 l Buy now from Amazon

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is yet another top-tier 5G handset from the Korean juggernaut. Not only does it connect to all of the UK’s current 5G frequency bands, but it also has a few tricks up its metaphorical sleeves including a 120Hz screen. detachable S Pen stylus and a camera with a maximum zoom range of 50x. Samsung’s Exynos 990 processor is also pretty darn good, and the new ‘Mystic Bronze’ colour is a sight to behold. It’s not cheap, but if you can afford one, you likely won’t regret it.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.73GHz Exynos 990; Screen: 6.9in, 3,088 x 1,440; Camera: 108MP, 12MP (5x zoom), 12MP (wide); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 10

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