In 2020, major carriers kicked off their 5G deployment in earnest, and we'll continue to see 5G phones being released this year and next. In the United States, 5G is currently live in select cities for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and other regional carriers. The 5G networks for all four major carriers in the United Kingdom are live, too.
Apple's latest iPhone 12 phones all have 5G connectivity, and Samsung, the most popular manufacturer of 5G phones, has several under its belt.
Most people will likely experience the benefits of a robust 5G network only through a 5G phone. After all, the grand promises carriers and chipmakers are making with 5G coverage won't mean much if you can't access 5G service with your own device after the rollout. To give you an idea of what's currently at the top of the 5G heap, here are CNET's picks for the best 5G phones.
WHAT Apple iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max
THE COST $829 and up
AVAILABLE FROM apple.com
In October, Apple unveiled four iPhones, all of which are 5G phones. At the helm of the lineup is the iPhone 12, which features the A14 Bionic processor and dual rear cameras.
If you're looking for something smaller and cheaper, the iPhone 12 Mini is your best pick for a 5G capable phone. And if you want something more premium, the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are decked out with more features.
WHAT Samsung Galaxy S21
THE COST $800 and up
AVAILABLE FROM samsung.com
There's a lot to like about the Galaxy S21, but the best thing about it has got to be the price. (You can find it on Amazon right now for an extra $100 off.)
Samsung made some trade-offs to get to that price: The phone has 4 gigabytes of RAM less than its predecessor, the wall charger and headphones don't come in the box, and it doesn't have a microSD card slot for expanded storage.
But even with those sacrifices, you're getting a lot for your money, including a striking design, the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and 5G connectivity.
WHAT OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro
THE COST $699.99 and up
AVAILABLE FROM oneplus.com
The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro's premium experience comes at a relatively affordable price compared to its high-end Android competitors. As the more advanced phone, the OnePlus 8 Pro has a 120Hz display and a telephoto camera. But the OnePlus 8 is cheaper and still has 5G technology, a 90-Hertz display and the same top-of-the-line processor.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior associate editor Patrick Holland, former CNET editor Lynn La and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.