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The best 5G phones for T-Mobile

Since the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint last year, T-Mobile officially boasts the largest 5G network in the U.S. As 5G expands across the country, consumers are snatching up the latest 5G smartphones on the market. Thankfully, most GSM 5G smartphones will work on T-Mobile, and since the merger with Sprint, so will most CDMA devices — even if Sprint’s CDMA network is being shut down.

We’ve been reviewing all the best 5G phones on the forefront of the technology and covering what sets them apart — including performance, display quality, battery life, and their connectivity to 5G networks. With the recent rapid rollout of 5G networks, as well as the development of the 5G modem, there is a lot of ground to cover. We’re taking a look at the best 5G phones for T-Mobile including the best overall smartphone: The iPhone 12 Pro.

Here are the best 5G phones for T-Mobile currently available. Once you know which phone you want, you can check out the latest 5G phone deals for savings.

Best T-Mobile 5G smartphones at a glance

Best T-Mobile 5G phone overall: Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Why you should buy this: The iPhone 12 Pro features a stunning display, an excellent camera, and 5G connectivity to give you breakneck speeds on the cutting edge.

Who it’s for: The iPhone 12 is the every-man phone. It’s intuitive, sleek, and will function well with an existing Mac ecosystem.

Why we picked the Apple iPhone 12 Pro:

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro represents a design throwback to the beloved metal frame iPhone 5 design, but it’s updated with the bezel-less display we’ve come to love on iPhones since the iPhone X. Along with one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, the A14 bionic processor offers maximum speed and performance.

It’s important, though, to highlight its 5G capabilities. The iPhone 12 Pro supports major bands of 5G connectivity, from sub-6 to mmWave. What this means, in a nutshell, is that you can take your iPhone 12 to all major U.S carriers regardless of which 5G network they have built out, including T-Mobile.

The iPhone 12 Pro is sporting an OLED Super Retina XDR display. This display brings bright colors and dark, true blacks the way only OLED can. Apple also decided to bring back MagSafe for the iPhone 12 series, launching a slew of accessories to take you back to those MagSafe charging days from the old MacBook laptops.

As previously noted, the iPhone 12 has wireless charging, a powerful multi-lens camera, all the power of the A14 bionic processor, and the kind of sleek hardware we’ve all become accustomed to from Apple. It’s the best 5G phone you can get on T-Mobile, and a notable step up from other 5G-capable iPhones, like the iPhone 12 Mini.

 Read our full Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

Best 5G Android phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: If you’re a fan of the Android ecosystem, then Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S21 Ultra is the pick for you.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants the best Android phone they can get that also supports 5G.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is currently the highest-end offering from Samsung. It features a gorgeous display, fast performance, and, of course, 5G connectivity across the spectrum.

Unlike the competition from Apple, this isn’t Samsung’s first rodeo with 5G connectivity, and as such, you’ll find that Samsung’s fine-tuned 5G chips keep you connected anywhere 5G is available.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, together with up to 16GB of RAM and a 5,000mAh battery, put this 5G device firmly at the high-end of flagship phones in terms of battery life, speed, and processing. Whether you’re playing advanced graphics games or using your phone for work all day long, the Galaxy S21 Ultra proves to be the workhorse among the pack.

For the budding amateur photographer, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a ridiculous 108-megapixel rear camera, with not one but two 10MP telephoto sensors, offering both three times and 10 times optical zoom.

Though this offering from Samsung may be a tad pricey, you certainly get what you pay for in build, connectivity, and performance. We can confidently say that the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the best 5G phones out there.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Best value 5G phone: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Christian De Looper/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE hits all the high notes of last year’s Galaxy S20 but at a much lower price.

Who it’s for: Anyone seeking a 5G-capable phone with high-end specs that doesn’t break the bank.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE:

The aforementioned Galaxy S21 Ultra is an absolute powerhouse and, in fact, may be a bit overpowered for the casual daily user. If you’re open to a somewhat less premium build and just a tad less RAM, you’ll find the rest of your day-to-day experience almost identical with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.

Since we’re focusing on 5G, it’s important to mention that T-Mobile’s Galaxy S20 FE does not come enabled for faster, cutting-edge, mmWave 5G technology. T-Mobile currently uses the slightly slower, cheaper to roll out, sub-6 5G technology. So, the Galaxy S20 FE will work on T-Mobiles current 5G build-out, but you’ll be missing out on the mmWave standard that is already found in some major cities and other dense urban areas on T-Mobile’s 5G network.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor inside the 5G smartphone is nothing to sneeze at, and coupled with your choice of 6GB or 8GB of RAM and a 4,500mAh battery, you should be more than happy throughout a full day of normal use.

The camera isn’t quite up to par with higher-end offerings like the iPhone 12 Pro or Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it’s still a fantastic camera for a phone in this price range. You’ll get a 12MP wide camera paired with an 8MP telephoto camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera. You’ll be able to capture fantastic photos to share with friends and family — just maybe not ones ready for the print shop.

The Galaxy S20 FE is an all-around great option for T-Mobile’s 5G network and comes with great features for the price.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review

Best cheap 5G phone: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Why you should buy this: The Google Pixel 4a 5G is a great budget option for Android users/

Who it’s for: Anyone who is a fan of Google or the Android platform but doesn’t want to pay for frills they won’t use.

Why we picked the Google Pixel 4a 5G:

The Google Pixel 4a is hands-down the best Android phone on the market under $400. But you might want the 5G version of the phone, which brings with it a more powerful processor, an upgraded camera, and a larger display.

Just like with the Galaxy S20 FE, you won’t have access to the full spectrum of 5G network technologies. The standard Pixel 4a 5G supports sub-6 5G, which comprises most of T-Mobile’s current 5G network. The Pixel 4A 5G features a modern design with an edge-to-edge display and front hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera that we’ve become accustomed to in modern smartphones. It also features a fingerprint scanner on the back for biometric security. Despite the price, the Pixel 4a 5G comes loaded with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, which should stand up to most any normal daily tasks. The 3,885mAh battery isn’t the largest among its peers, but it’s enough to get you through the day.

The Pixel 4a 5G proves to be an affordable and practical entry for many into the world of 5G-connected devices.

Best foldable 5G phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G

Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: To say you have a foldable phone with 5G.

Who it’s for: Anyone who carries their phone and tablet with them at all times and anyone who wants to say their phone folds in half.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G:

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G is absolutely a luxury product, and foldable phones remain an expensive, flashy, and some would argue unnecessary part of the space. Now that they come 5G-ready, they might be worth a look.

As one would expect for the price, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 supports both sub-6 and mmWave 5G technology, so it’s compatible with every major U.S. carrier’s network, including T-Mobile. This makes it a true traveler and comes with the comfort that you’ll get the best speeds your area’s coverage has to offer.

We should probably talk about why you’re really looking at this phone: The foldable display. This isn’t like your old flip phone, and it’s not meant to be passive-aggressively shut to hang up a call. Inside the fold, you’ll find a stunning and pricey 7.2-inch AMOLED display. While not all apps are optimized for foldable screens, it’s still a sight to behold and proves useful for multitasking. If the inner display just isn’t enough for you, then you’re in luck because there’s a display on the outside as well — a 6.23-inch AMOLED display that’s just as useable and useful. Any apps running up front in your operating system will toggle between the front and inner screens whenever you open and close the phone.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, which is an absolute powerhouse of a processor. You’ll have the choice of 12GB of RAM with either 256GB or 512GB of storage. With all that said, there’s not a lot this phone can’t do. Keeping you going through the day is a generous 4,500mAh battery.

One piece of its hardware that can be found of equal measure in cheaper competing devices is the camera. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 sort-of phoned it in on this one with one 12MP main camera, one 12MP telephoto camera, and one 12MP ultrawide camera. But let’s be honest, you bought it for the folding display, not the camera.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

Research and buying tips

Where can I get 5G?

T-Mobile was the first to launch a nationwide network, built on its sub-6 spectrum, and has only grown its 5G coverage since its merger with Sprint and its acquisition of Sprint customers.

If you live in a major city, you should have access to some kind of 5G network, and chances are that you have coverage under T-Mobile. If you live in a rural area, though, your odds still aren’t very good — though it might still be worth picking up one of the best 5G phones now if you’re worried about future-proofing yourself.

The different kinds of 5G

5G isn’t just 5G. If you have 5G service right now, chances are you’re on what’s called a sub-6 network — which are much more available around the country.

But there’s another kind of 5G technology, too, called mmWave. And how it performs is drastically different from sub-6. MmWave networks are far faster than sub-6 networks in terms of 5G speed and offer multi-gigabit speeds at times — which is enough to download a 4K movie in a matter of seconds. But mmWave connections are extremely limited in that they rely on frequencies that can only travel very short distances and can’t really go through obstacles, thus limiting 5G access. T-Mobile has said they will continue to build out their mmWave network in mostly dense urban areas.

That’s where sub-6 networks come in. Like 4G LTE, sub-6 relies on frequencies that can travel much further, sometimes a matter of miles. The downside to that, however, is that those connections can’t quite reach the same speeds as mmWave connections.

5G may not be widely available just yet, but it's getting there. Here's where you can find 5G in the U.S.
5G Map

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