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The best 5G phone in the US in 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

The best 5G phones allow you to use the mobile internet at the fast speeds possible. Well, assuming you have access to a 5G signal of course. But with 5G infrastructure fast improving across the country, even you don't right now, you probably will soon.

With 3G networks shutting down over the next few years (opens in new tab), it's certainly the best choice if you need to upgrade. And with more and more manufacturers bringing out 5G phones, there's a lot to choose from, at a range of prices. 

Below, we've gathered together the best 5G phones you can buy in the USA today. Meanwhile, to learn more about 5G, read our article What is 5G (opens in new tab). And if you're looking at 4G handsets too, don't miss our guide to the best camera phones (opens in new tab)

The best 5G phones 2022

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
The best 5G phone overall

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 40MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 228 g
Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm
Storage: 128/256/512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Superior telephoto capabilities
+
Terrific S-Pen functionality

Reasons to avoid

-
Hefty and expensive
-
Ultra-wide camera lacks AF

We'll start with the obvious choice, if money is not an issue. Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, is hands down the best 5G phone you can buy right now. 

Its telephoto unit manages a 10x zoom. And it's got beefed-up night capabilities thanks to its neural processor unit (NPU), which also allows it to capture 16-bit RAW files. While it's not much of a change in hardware terms from the S21 generation, Samsung's improved processing has made a real difference, and images on the S22 Ultra look fantastic. 

Also, in a welcome upgrade, the S22 Ultra introduces S-Pen integration, meaning it behaves more like a member of the Note family than a phone. It's big, it's pricey, it's maybe over-specced for most users – but if you want the best 5G phone available right now, here it is. For more details, read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
The best 5G phone from Apple

Specifications

Release date: September 2021
Rear cameras: 12MP 13mm f/1.8, 12MP 26mm f/1.5, 12MP 77mm f/2.8
Front camera: 12MP, f/2.2 TrueDepth camera
Dual OIS: Yes
Weight: 240 g
Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Clever Cinematic mode
+
Automatic Macro mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Huge
-
Pricey, even for Apple

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best phone Apple has to offer today, and as you might expect, it supports 5G. It's an exceptionally large phone, big enough to give pause to anyone with smaller-than-average hands, but it packs in some seriously impressive tech, and lightning-fast 5G speeds. 

The 13 Pro Max has a particularly dazzling rear camera array, with handy features such as the macro mode that kicks in automatically when you get close to a subject, and the Cinematic mode, which simulates large-sensor shallow depth of field, and even allows for focus adjustments after the image is captured. 

Like Samsung's flagship, above, it's big and pricey. But it really is a superb smartphone that can do just about anything. For more details, see our Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
The best 5G phone from Google

Specifications

Release date: October 2021
Rear cameras: 50MP (82° FOV wide lens, f/1.85), 48MP (23.5° FOV telephoto, f/3.5), 12MP (114° FOV ultra-wide lens, f/2.2)
Front camera: 11.1MP f/2.2
OIS: Yes
Weight: 210 g
Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
Storage: 128/256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image processing
+
Boosted camera hardware

Reasons to avoid

-
Fixed-focus ultra-wide lens
-
Can get hot in use

Google's Pixel 7 is expected this Fall, but if you can't wait that long, the Pixel 6 is still an utterly superb 5G smartphone, replete with sophisticated imaging tech and sublime image processing. 

It's a real jump from the Pixel 5, especially when you view the images it captures side by side – details are sharper, and dynamic range is noticeably improved. With its big gorgeous display and sleek physical design, the Google Pixel 6 Pro really does impress across the board. It's got RAW capture, and the Android OS means there's no shortage of third-party camera apps to play around with. For more details, see ourGoogle Pixel 6 Pro review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

4. Samsung Galaxy S22

A premium 5G phone for less

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Rear cameras: 50 MP, f/1.8 (wide); 10 MP, f/2.4 (telephoto), 12 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide)
Front camera: 10MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 167g
Dimensions: 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
Storage: 128GB/256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent camera
+
Lovely screen
+
Amazing value

Reasons to avoid

-
Less powerful than S22 Ultra

The Samsung S22 is significantly cheaper than the Samsung S22 Ultra, our number one pick. But while that means it's less well-specced, the differences aren't so great. 

For example, you get the same 120Hz refresh rate, but 1300 nits of brightness to the Ultra's 1750. The battery's is a less impressive 3,700mAh to the Ultra's 5,000mAh. The triple lens camera's similar, but with the main sensor offering just 50MP to the Ultra's 108MP. So while these things make it a less powerful phone, if you're looking to save around $300 they may well be compromises you're willing to make. For more details, see our Samsung Galaxy S22 review. And if you want to delve even deeper, also read Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S22 Plus vs S22 Ultra.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
The best mid-range 5G phone for value

Specifications

Release date: March 2022
Rear cameras: 64 MP, f/1.8 (wide); 12MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide); 5MP, f/2.4 (macro); 5MP, f/2.4 (depth)
Front camera: 32MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm
Storage: 128/256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely screen
+
Large battery
+
Reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for gamers

If the phones we've covered so far are too rich for your blood, Samsung has a new phone (launched this March), which should be just up your street. 

The Galaxy A53 5G benefits from a beautiful 6.5-inch AMOLED display, offering Full HD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 800 nits of brightness. The camera setup's impressive too, based on a 64MP main sensor, with OIS and an f/1.8 aperture, along with a 12MP fixed-focus ultra-wide, 5MP depth sensor, and a 5MP fixed-focus macro.

All this, plus a premium super-thin design, represents excellent value. On the downside, we did find the interface a little laggy at times, so we wouldn't recommend it for gamers. For more details, see our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
Last year's Samsung flagship is still impressive

Specifications

Release date: January 2021
Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 40MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 227 g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
Storage: 128/256/512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic camera zoom
+
Beautiful display

Reasons to avoid

-
A little pricey
-
No microSD card slot

The latest phones don't always offer the best value. Older models often get considerably cheaper over time, and so if you can find one at the right price, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra could be exactly what you're looking for. 

First released in January 2021, this camera phone features four rear cameras, including a 108MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and two 10MP telephoto cameras – one with an f/2.4 aperture and 3x optical zoom and one with an f/4.9 aperture and a huge 10x optical zoom. 

The Dynamic AMOLED 2X display features a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and gaming experiences, HDR10+ support, 1500-nit peak brightness and a 1440 x 3200 resolution. Be aware, though, that it's pretty big, offering a 6.8" screen size that users with smaller hands might struggle with. For more details, see ourSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Motorola)

7. Motorola One 5G

Another great budget option

Specifications

Release date: July 2020
Rear cameras: 48MP + 8MP + 5MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP + 8MP
Weight: 207g
Dimensions: 168.3 x 74 x 9.7mm
Storage: 64/128 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Great battery life
+
Good camera array
+
Super affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited storage

The Motorola One 5G is a super affordable way to get your hands on one of the best 5G phones. Featuring a large 6.7-inch display and a fingerprint sensor mounted on the side, the Motorola One 5G also offers a good array of cameras, including a 48MP main wide angle camera and two front-facing cameras (at 16MP and 8MP respectively). While we wouldn't expect the Motorola One 5G to perform as well as other more expensive handsets, you simply can't argue with the price.

Read more:

• The best camera phones (opens in new tab) you can buy today
• Which is the best iPhone for photography (opens in new tab)?
• The best flip phones (opens in new tab) and fold phones
• The best add-on lenses for iPhone and Android phones  (opens in new tab)

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Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq (opens in new tab), and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.

With contributions from