Now that Apple has announced the newest iPhones, we finally have 5G flagship devices from every major smartphone manufacturer. I've spent quite a bit of time this year with 5G devices, and while the technology may not be quite ready for prime time, many of these phones are. As a result, it seems like a good time to review what we saw this year and provide a roundup of the best.
With that in mind, here are the top overall 5G smartphones for 2020:
Technically, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max have a few features the standard iPhone 12 lacks, but the non-pro version is still best for most people. With a redesigned form factor, as well the full range of 5G capabilities, Apple has simplified the decision about which device to get if you want 5G.
The iPhone 12 has a great camera system, the fastest processor in any smartphone, and manages to be more affordable than many of the options on this list, starting at $799. My recommendation, however, is to spend $50 more and double the storage to 128GB.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G, ridiculously long name aside, is the best Android flagship you can get. Sure, the Galaxy S20 is good as well, but the Note has features the S20 lacks, like the S Pen and a dynamic refresh rate that gives better performance depending on what you're doing with the device. The Note 20 Ultra also has a laser-guided autofocus feature, which is especially helpful for motion tracking and video. You will, of course, pay for all of that flagship-level performance. The Note20 Ultra 5G starts at $1,299.
Samsung Z Fold2
If nothing else, the Z Fold 2 gets the crown as the best foldable screen device of 2020. I've used the Z Fold 2 for a few months now, and honestly, aside from a few quirks, it's really quite good. Most of those quirks are related to the fact that Android isn't quite sure if it's a phone or a tablet, which leaves it in this in-between space that isn't ideal for either.
On the other hand, it manages to pack a 7.6-inch display into a device that you could actually carry in your pocket when folded. It's a little bulky, and more than a little pricey ($1,999). It also doesn't have quite the camera technology of the Note20 Ultra, but it's certainly the best example yet of what a foldable device could be.
OnePlus 8 Pro
It feels like the OnePlus 8 Pro came out a few years ago, but really anything that happened prior to May seems like it happened in another decade. The 8 Pro is the larger of the two devices OnePlus launched in April, and it represents the company's first real attempt to compete with Samsung's flagships. In many ways, it succeeds, while still managing to be more affordable.
It has a 6.78-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate and P3 color. It also has faster wireless charging than any of the other devices I tested this year. Finally, it has one of the nicest price points for a phone in this class: $799.
Google Pixel 5
The Google Pixel 5 doesn't really compete in the same class as most of the devices on this list, but it's still worth considering for two reasons. The first is the price. If you're willing to give up some of the higher-end features of the other phones on this list, the Pixel 5 is a great value. The second reason is the camera, which, despite using the same sensor as the Pixel 2, is still one of the standout performers overall. You also get the advantage of the cleanest version of Android, all for $699.
iPhone 12 Mini
If what you're after is a fully-featured 5G flagship smartphone in a smaller size, the iPhone 12 Mini is really the only option. The iPhone 12 Mini is like the iPhone 12 in every way, it's just smaller. As a result, anyone who is tired of playing finger yoga just to reach the far side of the display will appreciate the way the Mini fits in your hand. The one (and only) tradeoff is battery life, which on the iPhone 12 Mini is noticeably shorter if you use your phone a lot. You do save $100 compared to the non-mini iPhone 12, however.
iPhone 12 Pro Max
It seems strange to have three different iPhones on the same list, but hear me out. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has some benefits worth mentioning, and I'm not just talking about the size of the display. Apple dropped in a larger sensor and added optical image stabilization on the wide camera that shifts the sensor instead of the lens.
The result is that it's better equipped for low-light shots. It also has LiDAR for better portrait and low light shots. In fact, it can do both of those (night mode portraits) better than any other device on this list. Finally, the telephoto camera on this model gets a bump up to 65mm, which means you now get 2.5X optical zoom from the ultra-wide to the telephoto. The iPhone 12 Max starts at $1,099.