After years of announcements and press releases, 5G is finally here! For many people, that means it’s time to upgrade.
Not sure what 5G is or if you need it? Check out the explainer sections below. After that, check out some mini-reviews of the best 5G phones available right now, in early 2021.
What Is 5G?
5G is the next generation of cellular networks. The successor to 4G LTE, 5G promises to bring even faster speeds and more thorough coverage. There’s a lot of hype surrounding it, and all the major phone makers are beginning to release models that work on 5G networks.
That said, 5G infrastructure is still being rolled out. It isn’t available everywhere quite yet. Also, there are a few types of 5G coverage, and they don’t all perform the same.
Do You Need 5G?
Before you rush out and buy a new 5G phone, it’s worth asking the question: do you really need 5G yet?
If you follow tech news, you’ve probably heard that 5G would be a revolution in mobile connectivity. Of course you would want it as soon as it’s available, right?
But here’s the thing: the 5G rollout has been a little underwhelming, especially with certain US carriers. Is 5G the future? Unquestionably, yes. But that doesn’t mean that everyone necessarily needs it right now.
Some US companies are succeeding with their 5G rollout. T-Mobile, for example, has more thorough (and slightly faster) coverage in many cities on 5G than they do on their older LTE network.
Other networks have struggled to roll out 5G as effectively. In fact, many AT&T
users are better off turning off 5G completely. Shockingly, they can get better speeds on the older 4G network.
If your reason for getting a 5G phone is that you want mind-meltingly fast mobile internet, you might be slightly disappointed.
That said, buying a 5G phone now does have some advantages. You’ll future-proof yourself a bit, as it’s widely expected that the 4G LTE network will lose its edge over time. And on the right carrier, you might gain broader coverage than you have right now.
Best 5G Phones for 2021
Now that you’ve tempered expectations, there are still plenty of reasons to buy a 5G phone in 2021. If you’re in the market, here are the top options available.
iPhone 12 Series
If you’ve held an iPhone in recent years, you know what to expect here. Premium hardware and a slick yet controlled OS make for a compelling choice. New for all iPhones in the 12 series is MagSafe, an unusual magnetic wireless charging solution. It’s okay but not exactly revolutionary.
There are some trade-offs in this year’s iPhones. The first-gen 5G modems are battery hogs. Apple has done what it could to offset this in other ways, but you might notice weaker battery performance than previous years — especially on the new mini-sized model.
Speaking of: if you’re someone who wants to use their phone one-handed (or you have smaller hands in general), you should check out the iPhone 12 Mini. No flagship maker is making a phone this small anymore, and it’s a welcome relief if your current 6-inch-plus monster gives you hand pain or fatigue.
Galaxy S21 Series
Samsung’s latest flagship series includes the Galaxy S21, S21+
, and S21 Ultra
. All three phones are behemoths, with screens ranging from 6.2 to 6.8 inches, and all support every form of 5G network out there.
If you’re in the Android ecosystem and have the cash to spend, the S21 series is the best 5G experience available. These are fast, impressive, high-performing phones.
Pixel 4a 5G
If you’re looking for a slightly less stratospheric price tag, the Google Pixel 4a 5G
could be your ticket. At just $499, it’s half the price of the Galaxy S21 series.
It’s a respectable phone, but far from the premium build of the others reviewed here. It’s also the closest you can get to a pure Android experience since it’s made by Google itself.
Protect Your 5G Phone with Upsie
Above, you saw some of the top picks for the best 5G phones you can get right now. Whichever model you choose, protect your new purchase with a quality extended warranty from Upsie
. Gain two years of extended coverage — including accident protection — that’s easy to use and costs far less than competitor plans. Repairs can be completed same-day, in most cases, at certified repair shops including the Genius Bar for Apple devices.
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