Maybe you're interested in a 5G smartphone because you've heard that they're capable of incredible download speeds that can replace your home broadband internet. Or, maybe you're trying to decide if it's all just a bunch of hype. The reality is, both of those assessments are at least partially true at this point. 5G is still new enough that it takes a little work to sort through the hype to get down to what it really means to you. Once you do, however, there are devices and plans that you can get to experience 5G.
Here's a complete guide to the smartphones and coverage areas available right now, and what's coming in the near future:
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
The S10 5G is exactly that, a 5G capable version of Samsung's popular S10 with a 6.7-inch display. Like several of the device makers on this list, Samsung's strategy has been basically to create a premium-priced version of its flagship devices with 5G capabilities. This one is priced at $1,299 with 256GB of storage. It also features an AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) display, 4K video, and 3D time-of-flight cameras.
Available on: Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G
Both the price and the strategy here is the same as the S10 5G--this is a Note10+ with 5G. Interestingly, Samsung is only adding 5G to its larger screen devices, perhaps to help justify the higher prices. In this case, Samsung's newest flagship includes 256GB of storage for $1,299 and also includes both ultra-wide and micro-zoom cameras.
Available on: Verizon
LG V50 ThinQ 5G
Unlike Samsung, LG built the V50 with 5G in mind. Still, unless you actually plan to use 5G, there's not a lot else here to make it a compelling device--especially compared to less expensive smartphones. The V50 is $999 with 128GB of storage, and includes wide-angle front and rear-facing cameras.
Available on: Verizon, Sprint
Motorola Moto Z4
The Moto Z4 is a relatively inexpensive phone at $500, but you'll have to add the 5G Moto Mod for an extra $350 if you want 5G. That still makes it one the least expensive 5G phones you can buy right now, but it's honestly probably worth spending a little more if 5G is a big draw for you. Even at $500 for the phone itself, you're probably better off with a Google Pixel 3A.
Available on: Verizon
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
It's only available on Sprint, but at $840 (with 256 GB of storage), the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is the least expensive 5G phone you can buy, beating the Moto Z4 by $10. And compared to that device, the OnePlus is a much better overall deal.
Available on: Sprint
5G Smartphones Coming 2020
Apple fans are hoping that the rumors of three new 5G iPhones next year are true. Apple's purchase of Intel's 5G modem business means that the company is definitely planning on building a 5G device, but it's not clear whether it will launch next year with a Qualcomm chip, or if Apple will wait another year to use its own.
There's also Huawei's Mate X, which is a foldable device available for pre-order in China. (It's expected to have a wider rollout next year.) Details on this one are sparse other than that it starts at $2,400.
Samsung is also believed to be bringing its Galaxy A90 to the US in the future, which is pitched as one of the cheapest 5G phones. It's a no-frills device with super-fast speeds, starting at a little over $800.
But what about coverage you ask? Here are the areas where each of the major carriers has started rolling out their 5G networks, and what they'll cost.
Current locations: Atlanta, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New York, Omaha, Panama City, Phoenix, Providence, St. Paul, Washington DC
Upcoming locations (2020): Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Des Moines, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Diego
Plans: $10/month add-on to Unlimited plans. Right now, Verizon is offering to waive that, making 5G free for new Unlimited customers.
Current locations: Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York. T-Mobile says its network will cover 200 million people before the end of the year.
Plans: A T-Mobile spokesperson told me the plans will be unlimited and be less than $70/line.
Current locations: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Louisville, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Waco
Plans: $70 per month at a cap of 15GB of data
Current locations: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Washington DC
Plans: Unlimited Plus - Starts at $70 per month/Unlimited Premium - Starts at $80 per month