We are inching close to a hyper-connected world thanks to the upcoming 5G technology. The fifth generation of cellular mobile communications would be a successor to the 4G network, that we are currently consuming. Although we are still a couple of years away (in India) from mainstream 5G availability and adoption, 5G-capable phones are already here.
5G brings the following improvements to the table:
- Greater speed, projected at 10-100x faster than 4G (Strictly speaking, the average speeds would be better than what we get with 4G).
- Better stability in connection
- Lower latency would make 5G useful for critical applications like self-driving cars, robotic surgeries, etc.
- Higher bandwidth will allow for a larger number of connected devices on a network.
Apart from faster and more stable, 5G will make the internet more reliable thus making it ready for prime time applications like Mixed Reality experience, edge computing, and better delivery of web-based services.
In case you are interested, we have covered 5G in detail in a separate article.
The term dual-mode 5G was marketed a lot last year and it will be the same in 2021.
All new 5G modems have full 5G support – both NSA and SA – and are being marketed as dual-mode 5G phones. In practice, dual-mode support doesn’t mean much as almost all 5G networks only support NSA architecture as of today. Perhaps having SA support makes your phone more future-proof. Perhaps not.
Integrated vs Discrete Modem
Another metric to decide between 5G phones is the use of a discrete or integrated modem. Having the modem integrated on the same SoC helps in reducing battery consumption and in reducing design complexity.
Kirin 990 5G was the first chipset with an integrated 5G modem. And since then the counterparts have also joined the club.
List of best 5G phones available in 2021
5G is not yet ready in India, but in case you plan on sticking with your phone for at least the next couple of years and don’t want to miss out on the next-gen cellular connectivity when it arrives, here’s a list of 5G phones that you may consider.
1. Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus (review), and S21 Ultra (review) come running on the Exynos 2100 with 5G capabilities. The supported bands on this Exynos model ate n28, n5, n8, n3, n1, n40, n7, n78, n77. But 5G is just one good thing amongst a load of features it packs.
The new Samsung flagships boast impressive camera hardware, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.1 storage, Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, Android 11 software, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, WiFi 6, IP68 ingress protection, etc.
2. Apple iPhone 12 Mini, 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max
Apple claimed on stage that ”5G is now real”. As millions of iPhone 12s hit the markets across the globe, that’s ought to be a much-needed catalyst in shaping the 5G landscape. Coming to the phones themselves, all four of them support both Sub-6 and mmWave (location-specific).
Rest, the new iPhones now feature Dolby Vision HDR video recording, night sight on front cameras, a flat design, stronger Ceramic Shield protection on the front, powerful A14 Bionic chipset, OLED display, and many other things.
3. OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 9, and OnePlus 9R
OnePlus 9-series phones – 9 Pro, 9, and 9R – are all 5G ready and available in India. The OnePlus 9 Pro and the OnePlus 9 come with n41 and n78 bands, while the OnePlus 9R supports just the N78 band.
Other perks include high-end processors, a 4500mAh battery, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.1 storage, an In-display fingerprint scanner, USB-C, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, dual stereo speakers, better camera hardware, Android 11, and smooth AMOLED displays.
4. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11X Pro, and Mi 11X
While 5G is powered by Snapdragon 888 chipset on the Mi 11 Ultra and Mi 11X Pro, the Mi 11X drives its 5G capabilities from a Snapdragon 870 SoC. The Mi 11 Ultra supports these bands – n1 / n3 / n5/ n7 /n8/ n20/ n28/ n38/ n40 /n41 /n77 / n78 / n79. As for the Mi 11X and Mi 11X Pro, the bands are n77/n78 Sub-6GHz.
They all feature Android 11 based MIUI 12 software, a pretty versatile camera setup, LPDDR5 + UFS 3.1 memory configuration, 120Hz AMOLED displays, among other things.
5. Asus ROG Phone 5
Being a bespoke gaming machine, ROG Phone 5 phones will particularly leverage 5G speeds and stability. The supported bands are N1, N2, N3, N5, N7, N8, N12, N20, N25, N28, N38, N41, N66, N71, N77, N78, N79. The phones are carrying top-rung specs such as Snapdragon 888, Android 11 based ROG UI/ ZenUI, 64MP triple camera setup, 6000mAh, 65W fast charging (included in the box), and LPDDR5+ UFS 3.1 memory combination.
Then there are things that would excite gamers such as fancy designs, side-mounted USB-C charging port to facilitate landscape maneuvering, Air Trigger 5 buttons, specialized heat dissipation measures, 3.5mm audio jack with HyperStream II Quad-DAC, Dual front-facing speakers with GameFX & Dirac HD Sound, and Quad noise-canceling microphones.
6. Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G
The software is Android 11 based on ColorOS 11.1. They sport swanky displays with punch holes for selfie camera(s), and quad-camera set up by the back. The phones also support 65W fast charging, FHD+ OLED 90Hz displays, under-display fingerprint scanners, among other things.
Oppo also launched a slew of other 5G phones like the F19 Pro+ (review) in the country.
7. Vivo X60 Pro+, Vivo X60 Pro and Vivo X60
We got 3 phones under the X60 family. The Vivo X60 and X60 Pro (review) are powered by Snapdragon 870 5G processor while the Vivo X60 Pro+ gets a Snapdragon 888 5G chipset. The two lower-end models come with 77, 78 SA/NSA bands while the Pro+ benefits from 41, 77, 78 SA/NSA bands.
Besides the 5G prowess, the phones also boast specs like FHD+ Super AMOLED 120Hz display, Zeiss optics, Gimbal Stabilization, 32MP selfie camera, LPDDR5 RAM, and UFS 3.1 storage, and fast charge support.
Other Vivo 5G phone worth considering is Vivo V21 5G.
8. Realme X7 Max 5G
Realme X7 Max 5G (review) is a flagship-grade device running on MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC. It is 5G capable with Sub-6GHz bands like NSA N1/N28A/N40/N41/N77/N78/N79. There’s even support for 5G Dual-SIM Dual Standby. Now, if you recall, the X50 Pro 5G (review) from Realme’s X lineup was the first 5G phone in India. So, the brand is keen on pushing the envelope when it comes to this next-gen connectivity.
On the front, the X7 Max 5G presents a 120Hz sAMOLED display with a 16MP punch hole camera. By the back, there’s a 64MP triple camera setup. Rest, the phone has got a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, Dual Nano Card Slot, Dual-band WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, Dual Frequency GPS, Android 11, UFS 3.1 storage, and 50W fast charging support.
9. iQOO 7, iQOO 7 Legend
The company jumped straight from iQOO 3 5G (review) to iQOO 7 (review). It is a heavily armed handset that brandishes cutting-edge performance hardware including octa-core Snapdragon chips, SA/NSA 5G, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.1 storage, and 66W fast charging.
Other highlights include a 120Hz AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution and central punch-hole, Funtouch OS 11.1 based on Android 11, and 48MP triple-rear cameras.
You could also check out iQOO Z3 5G (review) if you are looking for a good phone around ₹20,000 price.
10. Motorola Edge Plus
Edge+ is Motorola’s return to the flagship territory. Thus, it bags the high-end specs like Snapdragon 865, 5G (of course), a large 108MP main camera sensor, and a 5000mAh battery.
Those curved edges feature Edge Lighting for notifications, battery status, alarms. You can swipe up or down on the edge to quickly switch apps and check notifications. While gaming in landscape mode, you can use the two customizable buttons at the top and bottom as shoulder triggers.
So, there are plenty of 5G phones to choose from. But the real question is —
Should You Be Excited About 5G?
5G expansion would be a staged process that comes with its set of problems. The adoption by smartphone makers is just part of the puzzle. The real progress would depend on how quickly the band auction, as well as infrastructure-building, takes place. Speaking of auction, the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) should allocate not just Sub-6GHz, but also mmWave ultrawide bands.
Until all this is in effect, the Indian telecom operators won’t be offering 5G services. And this doesn’t seem to take place anytime soon. So, we don’t recommend it as a must-have feature. Still, if you are buying a phone keeping more than 3 years of the horizon in mind, you should consider buying a 5G phone.
Anyhow, just like you, we too wish for a trouble-less transition and can’t wait for the 5G utopia.
Meanwhile, here’s a quick recap of the –
List of best 5G phones to buy in India in 2021
- Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, S21 Ultra
- Apple iPhone 12 Mini, 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max
- OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 9, and OnePlus 9R
- Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11X Pro, and Mi 11X
- Asus ROG Phone 5
- Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G
- Vivo X60 Pro+, Vivo X60 Pro and Vivo X60
- Realme X7 Max 5G
- iQOO 7, iQOO 7 Legend
- Motorola Edge Plus