We are inching close to the hyper-connected smart world thanks to the upcoming 5G technology. The fifth generation of cellular mobile communications would be a successor to the 4G network we are currently consuming. In India, you can expect 5G to go mainstream by 2020 or 2021, but 5G phones are already here well ahead in advance.
What improvements do 5G bring to the table?
- Greater speed, projected at 10-100 x faster than 4G (Strictly speaking the average speeds would be better than what we get with 4G).
- Better stability in connection
- Lower latency indicating shorter response time from servers which would make 5G useful for critical applications like self-driving cars, robotic surgeries, etc.
- Higher bandwidth facilitates the handling of more devices in a network.
The implication goes beyond faster browsing and download speeds. 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 full detail in a separate article.
The term dual-mode 5G is being marketed a lot in 2020. This is because the first wave of Snapdragon X50 modem-based 5G phones in 2019 had single-mode 5G or support for non-standalone (NSA) deployment.
All new 5G modems in 2020 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 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. Most popular flagship chipsets like Snapdragon 865 and Exynos 990 still have a discrete 5G modem. On the other hand, mid-range chipsets like Snapdragon 765 and Exynos 880 have integrated modem. We will have to wait and see how much of a difference this makes.
List of best 5G phones available in 2020
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 on next-gen cellular connectivity when it arrives, here’s a list of 5G phones that you may consider.
1. Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, Galaxy S20+ 5G, and Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
Samsung’s first set of flagships is expectedly powered by 5G enabled chipsets. In the U.S., the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra are powered by Snapdragon 865 octa-core chipset with discrete X55 modem that supports 5G NR sub-6 (both SA and NSA) and mmWave.
In other regions, the Galaxy S20 troika employs Exynos 990 with Exynos Modem 5123 that supports NSA and SA 5G. The Exynos 5G modem is missing mmWave support, but that’s fine since Samsung would launch the Exynos variant only in regions where mmWave deployment isn’t on the cards. In India, S20-series will only support LTE for now.
The new Samsung flagships boast of impressive camera hardware and other impressive features like LPDDR5 RAM, 45W fast charging, and 120Hz refresh rate screens.
2. OnePlus 8 Pro 5G and OnePlus 8 5G
OnePlus 8-series phones – 8 Pro and 8 – are both 5G ready and are both available in India. The Pro model entails additional perks like Wireless charging, IP68 water and dust resistance, better camera hardware, and better display. The 8, on the other hand, is relatively more manageable.
Both of these phones have the same core performance hardware – Snapdragon 865 backed by UFS 3.0 storage and LPDDR5 RAM. In India, the OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 8 start at Rs. 54,999 and Rs. 41,999, respectively.
3. Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 5G and Xiaomi Mi 10 5G
Xiaomi’s first Snapdragon 865 phones – Mi 10 Pro and Mi 10 – are both 5G ready and will be coming to India in 2020. These phones also have 108MP primary rear cameras, LPDDR5 RAM, Wi-Fi 6 and 6.67” AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate.
The Mi 10 Pro 5G and Mi 10 5G house their selfie snappers in a punch-hole cutout within the display. Xiaomi has confirmed that it will be bringing these phones to India, but they will follow a different pricing model (which is to say that they won’t be priced aggressively).
4. iQOO 3 5G
This is the first iQOO phone in India and one of the first 5G phones in the country (top variant only). As with all SD 865 phones, the 5G part is handled by discreet X55 modem. Other highlights include a punch-hole display, 64MP quad-rear cameras, and Android 10-based software.
5. Realme X50 Pro 5G and X50 5G
Realme X50 5G was officially announced on January 7 in China, and the brand’s first 2020 flagship, the X50 Pro 5G was the first 5G phone in India. The X50 Pro 5G is powered by Snapdragon 865 octa-core chipset and support 50W VOOC fast charging.
The Realme X50 5G is the first Realme phone powered by Snapdragon 765 octa-core chipset. The handset includes a punch-hole display and a side-mounted fingerprint sensor.
6. Nokia 8.3 5G
Nokia 8.3 5G has been developed to support 5G in all markets which, according to HMD global, makes it first of its kind. The specs are comparable to most midrange phones, which is also why the 600 Euros price feels way to steep.
The Nokia 8.3 5g is powered by Snapdragon 765G, has a 4500mAh battery with 18W fast charging support, and has an array of rear cameras with 64MP sensor in the lead. Another plus point is stock Android software and the fact that Nokia has a good track record with updates.
7. Oppo Reno 3 Pro 5G and Reno 3 5G
The Pro model also gets a swankier display with side curves and a circular notch, and both phones run the latest Android 10 based color OS 7. Surprisingly, it’s the base model that gets a higher resolution sensor (64MP vs 48MP).
Oppo also launched a slew of 5G phones under the second generation Find X-series. These include Find X2 Pro 5G, Find X2 5G, Find X2 Neo 5G, and Find X2 Lite 5G. Most of these are available in Europe and are a tad too expensive.
8. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G is as the name indicates just a 5G fork of the regular Note 10. It carries the same specs dot to dot. The underlying processor is Snapdragon 855 (in the U.S.) and Exynos 9825 in other markets including India. The performance is backed by up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage.
There is a 10MP front snapper. And as for the back, like the regular Note 10 Plus, here too you get a quad-camera setup comprising of a primary 12MP sensor, coupled with a 12MP 2x optical zoom telephoto, a 16MP ultra-wide sensor and finally a 3D VGA ToF sensor.
Samsung also launched a 5G variant of Galaxy S10 last year which was released in select markets including US, South Korea, Australia and Europe.
9. Vivo X30 Pro 5G and X30 5G
The Vivo X30 Pro 5G and X30 5G are both powered by Samsung’s Exynos 880 chipset that comes with an integrated 5G modem that supports dual-mode 5G and can deliver up to 3.5Gbps download speed. Both of these phones have HDR compliant AMOLED displays with in-display fingerprint sensors underneath and are fueled by a 4350mAh battery with 33W fast charging support.
The only difference is that the Pro model has an extra 5X Zoom Telephoto lens on the rear.
10. Xiaomi Redmi K30 5G
The Redmi K30 5G has quad-rear cameras with Sony IMX686 sensor in the lead. The handset positions its 2 selfie cameras in wide hole-punch on its HDR10 AMOLED display. Other features include a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, 4500mAh battery, and 30W fast charging support.
11. Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G
The Galaxy Fold is a cutting edge phone from Samsung and it also has a 5G variant available in select countries. The phone opens like a book to reveal its bigger, flexible display.
The Galaxy Fold 5G is also powered by Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and is also the first phone with UFS 3.0 storage (512GB). It combines two batteries for a 4380mAh capacity, has dual front cameras, triple rear cameras, and one cover camera.
12. Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G
Huawei Mate 30 Pro is another phone that has a 5G compatible version. This Huawei 2019 flagship is known for its camera capabilities. It flaunts a quad-camera setup at the rear and dual camera at the front.
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G version is also driven by Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 990 chip which is coupled with Mali-G76 MP16 GPU, UFS 3.0 storage and up to 8GB RAM. It is other unique features are 720p@7680fp slow-mos and 27W fast wireless charging. Its shame to see such a powerful device ship without Google services.
13. LG V50 ThinQ 5G
The LG V50 ThinQ 5G is available for Sprint and Verison users in the US starting this spring. In fact, the phone has a wide 5G logo on the back that shines when the phone connects to Sprint’s 5G network. Further, it will hit the U.K. via EE telecom; Australia via Telstra and Europe via Swisscom.
Talking of specs, there is a 6.4-inch OLED display, Android 9.0 Pie, triple rear cameras, dual front cameras, 4000mAh battery, and of course, the Snapdragon 855 powering it all.
14. Vivo Nex 3 5G
Vivo jumped the 5G bandwagon with the new Vivo Apex 2019 prototype but made a dive into the mainstream with Vivo Nex 3 5G.
Besides the 5G prowess, the standout feature got to be its waterfall display in a 6.89-inch frame. Amongst other specs, you also get a 64MP triple rear camera setup, Snapdragon 855+ paired with UFS 3.0, and a huge 4500mAh battery with 44W fast charging support.
15. Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
This got to be one of the lesser-known phones from the Samsung stable. It is a 5G powered phone running on Snapdragon 855 chip. The phone ticks on a 4500mAh power source, which is backed by 25W snap charging. It is equipped with a 48MP led camera triplet on the rear and a 32MP sensor to the front.
Samsung has also stuffed in Game Booster, Dex, Microsoft’s My Phone as a part of the software experience. The phone was exclusive to South Korea upon its launch. Although it has spread its availability, still hasn’t made its way to India.
Similarly, Galaxy A71 5G and Galaxy A51 5G powered by Exynos 980 are available only in South Korea and few other select markets.
The biggest them of all, Apple is expected to headfast into 5G territory with the upcoming iPhone 12 series. These are likely to run on a 5nm A14 Bionic chipset roomed with Qualcomm’s 5G modem. Let’s see!
In 2020, almost all major Android flagships will be 5G ready.
So, Should You Be Excited About 5G?
If you’re an early adopter, then this year would turn out to be an exciting one for you. 5G enforcement would be a staged process that comes with minor problems. However, like you, we too wish for a trouble-less transition. The adoption from Smartphone makers would depend on operators’ infrastructure and progress to a great extent. OEMs would have to overcome some early design challenges too.
Here’s the complete list of best 5G Phones to buy in 2020 for early adopters:
|List of 5G Phones|
|Samsung Galaxy S20 series|
|OnePlus 8 Pro 5G and OnePlus 8 5G|
|Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 5G and Xiaomi Mi 10 5G|
|iQOO 3 5G|
|Realme X50 Pro 5G and Realme X50 5G|
|Nokia 8.3 5G|
|Oppo Reno 3 Pro 5G and Reno 3 5G|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G|
|Vivo X30 Pro 5G and Vivo X30|
|Xiaomi Redmi K30 5G and Redmi K30 Racing Edition 5G|
|Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G|
|LG V50 thinQ 5G|
|Vivo Nex 3 5G|
|Samsung Galaxy A90 5G|
In this article, we have listed all 5G phones highlighting their key features and specification.
In India, the Realme X50 Pro the cheapest 5G phone available today. Currently, the Realme X50 5G retails for ₹37,999 which is cheaper than OnePlus 8 5G and iQOO 3 5G variant.
Indian telecom operators won’t be offering 5G services anytime in 2020 or early 2021. Still, if you are buying a phone keeping more than 3 years of horizon in mind, you should consider buying a 5G phone.