Mobile network operators around the world are sprinting to fortify 5G network deployments to more efficiently serve the increasing number of 5G-comparable phones users and businesses are connecting to mobile networks.
Though smartphones are already ubiquitous, the increased use of mobile broadband adapters, always-connected computers, and consumer and enterprise IoT (Internet of Things) devices require more data than previous 4G networks could sustainably supply.
Naturally, smartphone manufacturers are eager to continue to incorporate 5G in quality and popular phone offerings.
This cheat sheet for 5G-compatible smartphones is an overview of smartphones marketed as being 5G capable as well as a forecast of when manufacturers will release new devices. This article will be updated periodically as new announcements and products are released. It is also available as a download—5G compatible smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF).
SEE: Hiring Kit: 5G Wireless System Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)
Technical details of 5G
5G refers to the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications. Strictly speaking, the industry standard is called 5G NR (New Radio). Unlike the fourth generation of cellular mobile communications, which had two competing standards—LTE and WiMAX—there is no competing standard to 5G NR. However, the 5G NR standards are designed to be quite versatile in order to accommodate a diverse range of use cases.
5G NR allows for networks to operate on a wider variety of frequencies, recycling frequencies vacated from the decommissioning 2G and 3G networks as well as the digital dividend of spectrum vacated from the transition to digital TV broadcasts, and previously unused extremely high frequency (EHF) or millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies, which comprise the 30 to 300 GHz range.
The 5G NR standard allows for speeds up to 20 gigabits per second, though this is a theoretical maximum based on laboratory testing of proof-of-concept hardware. While initial rollouts may only reach speeds already attainable on current 4G networks, 5G is engineered to minimize latency compared to 4G. Further, mature 5G modems are anticipated to have modestly lower power requirements than 4G, thereby extending the battery life of 5G-powered smartphones.
It is important to note that 5G is not an incremental or backward-compatible update to existing mobile communications standards. 5G is separate from 4G standards like LTE or WiMAX and cannot be delivered to existing phones, tablets or wireless modems by means of tower upgrades or software updates.
Mobile network operators are deploying upgrades to its LTE infrastructure, including technologies like LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro, which allow for download speeds over one gigabit on smartphones. While these are worthwhile and welcome advances, these are ultimately transitional 4G technologies and do not provide the full range of benefits of 5G NR.
For a technical overview of 5G networks, when and where 5G networks are being deployed, and how businesses and consumers can benefit from 5G technologies, check out TechRepublic’s cheat sheet for 5G mobile networks.
- 5G Research Report 2019: The enterprise is eager to adopt, despite cost concerns and availability (TechRepublic Premium)
- IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Qualcomm, Ericsson and Thales look to make 5G available everywhere (TechRepublic)
- Qualcomm announces two major RFFE developments (TechRepublic)
- Cisco partnering with GDIT to provide private 5G to government agencies (TechRepublic)
What are the benefits and drawbacks of 5G compatible smartphones?
The two most obvious benefits of 5G smartphones are reduced latencies compared to 4G networks and resilience against performance degradation in densely packed areas.
Structures that have been historically difficult to serve via cellular networks are often subject to network degradation or service disruption due to the number of devices connected to the available infrastructure. Examples include high-rise office buildings, which are architecturally difficult to serve due to the physics of radio waves, and large stadiums intended to accommodate tens of thousands of spectators.
SEE: 5G: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic Flipboard magazine)
As 5G extensively utilizes small cell towers communicating on mmWave frequencies, these towers can more effectively serve customers in these types of structures.
The use of mmWave frequencies is also a significant drawback, as early antenna and modem designs cause excessive heat in smartphones, which can deplete the battery charge quickly. Likewise, for traditional lithium-ion batteries, excessive exposure to elevated temperatures can shorten the lifespan of the battery.
- Tech experts rank cloud, AI, and 5G among technologies that will be important in 50 years (TechRepublic)
- 5G subscriptions projected to surpass one billion this year (TechRepublic)
What devices are 5G compatible and what hardware is needed?
Just about every major phone manufacturer produces 5G compatible phones including Apple, ASUS,Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus, Samsung, Sony, TCL, Xiaomi and ZTE. Below is a forecast of current popular vendor 5G-capable phone offerings as well as when new 5G-capable phones will be released.
SEE: Mobile Device Security Policy (TechRepublic Premium)
|iPhone 13||5.4" / 6.1"||4GB||128–512GB|
|iPhone 13 Pro||6.1"||6GB||128GB–1TB|
|iPhone 13 Pro Max||6.7"||6GB||128GB–1TB|
|iPhone 13 Mini||5.4"||4GB||128–512GB|
Apple’s next wave of 5G smartphones are expected to be launched in the fall of 2022, though this has not been made official. These include the iPhone 14, the iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone 14 Max and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Below are the specs we were able to obtain at present; full details remain unclear, as Apple hasn’t posted an official specification guide.
|iPhone 14 Pro||6.1"||6GB||128GB–1TB|
|iPhone 14 Max||6.7"||6GB||128GB–1TB|
|iPhone 14 Pro Max||6.7"||6GB||128GB–1TB|
|ROG Phone 5s||6.78"||12–18GB||128–256GB|
|ROG Phone 5s Pro||6.78"||18GB||512GB|
|Zenfone 7 Pro||6.67"||8GB||256GB|
|Zenfone 8 Flip||6.67"||8GB||128–256GB|
ASUS is releasing its ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro 5G phone later in August, 2022 with these specs:
|ROG Phone 6||6.78"||8–16GB||256–512GB|
|ROG Phone 6 Pro||6.78"||18GB||512GB|
|Pixel 6 Pro||6.7"||12GB||128–512GB|
The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are coming in October with these specs:
|Pixel 7 Pro||6.7"||12–16GB||256–512GB|
|HTC Desire 21 Pro||6.7"||8GB||128GB|
|HTC Desire 22 Pro||6.6"||8GB||128GB|
|HTC U12 Plus||6"||6GB||64–128GB|
As of August 2022, no upcoming devices from HTC have been announced.
As a major vendor of networking equipment to network operators, as well as manufacturing its own Kirin SoCs for use in smartphones, Huawei would have theoretically been well-positioned to be among the first vendors to release 5G-capable products.
Due to sanctions from the U.S. government, which are still in place, Huawei phones are not eligible to be sold in the U.S. and thus are not covered by this article.
As LG shut down their smartphone division in 2021, there will be no new LG phones on the scene.
|Moto G Stylus||6.8"||6GB||128GB|
|Edge 30 Pro||6.7"||8–12GB||128–256GB|
|One UW Ace||6.7"||4GB||64GB|
In August 2022 Motorola is expected to release these devices:
Nokia is expected to release these upcoming phones; the first two are in “coming soon” state with the XR21 projected to ship in mid-2023.
The 10T and the Nord N20 SE were just released in August of 2022.
|Nord N20 SE||6.56"||4GB||64GB|
|Nord CE2 Lite||6.59"||6–8GB||128GB|
As of August 2022, no upcoming devices from OnePlus have been announced.
|Galaxy Z Flip3||6.7"||8GB||128–256GB|
|Galaxy Z Fold3||7.6"||12GB||256–512GB|
|Galaxy S21 FE||6.4"||6–8GB||128–256GB|
|Galaxy S21 Ultra||6.8"||12–16GB||128–512GB|
|Galaxy S22 Ultra||6.8"||8–12GB||128GB–1TB|
|Galaxy Note20 Ultra||6.9"||8–12GB||128–512GB|
Samsung is expected to release these phones later in August 2022:
|Galaxy Z Flip4||6.7"||8GB||128–512GB|
|Galaxy Z Fold4||6.2"||12GB||256GB–1TB|
|Xperia 1 III||6.5"||12GB||256–512GB|
|Xperia 1 IV||6.5"||12GB||256–512GB|
|Xperia 5 II||6.1"||8GB||128–256GB|
|Xperia 5 III||6.1"||8GB||128–256GB|
|Xperia 10 III||6"||6GB||128–256GB|
|Xperia 10 III Lite||6"||6GB||64GB|
|Xperia 10 IV||6"||6GB||128GB|
As the above lineup contains many recently released phones such as the Xperia 1 IV, I was not able to locate any information about upcoming Sony 5G phones.
|TCL 30 XE||6.52"||4GB||64GB|
|TCL 30 V||6.67"||4GB||128GB|
As the above lineup contains many recently released phones such as the TCL 30 series, I was not able to locate any information about upcoming Sony 5G phones.
|12 S Pro||6.73"||8–12GB||128–512GB|
|12 S Ultra||6.73"||8–12GB||128–512GB|
|Mi 9 Pro||6.39"||8–12GB||128–512GB|
|Mi 10 Lite||6.57"||6–8GB||64–256GB|
|Mi 10 Pro||6.67"||8–12GB||256GB–1TB|
|Mi 10 Youth||6.57"||6–8GB||64–256GB|
|Mi 10T Lite||6.67"||6GB||64–256GB|
|Mi 10T Pro||6.67"||8GB||128–256GB|
|Mi 11 Lite||6.55"||6–8GB||64–256GB|
|Mi Mix 3||6.39"||6GB||64–128GB|
|Poco M3 Pro||6.5"||4–6GB||64–128GB|
|Poco X4 Pro||6.67"||6–8GB||64–256GB|
|Redmi 10X Pro||6.57"||8GB||128GB|
|Redmi Note 9||6.53"||4–6GB||64–256GB|
|Redmi Note 9 Pro||6.67"||6–8GB||128–256GB|
|Redmi Note 10||6.5"||4–8GB||64–256GB|
|Redmi Note 10G||6.5"||4–6GB||64–128GB|
|Redmi Note 11 Pro||6.7"||6–8GB||128–256GB|
|Redmi Note 11S||6.6"||4–6GB||64–128GB|
|Redmi Note 11T||6.6"||4–8GB||64–128GB|
Later in August Xiaomi is scheduled to release the Redmi 10, which offers a 6.58″ screen, 4–6GB RAM and 64–128GB storage.
|Axon 10 Pro||6.47"||6–12GB||128–256GB|
|Axon 10 S Pro||6.47"||6–12GB||128–256GB|
|Axon 11 SE||6.53"||6GB||128GB|
|Axon 20 Extreme||6.92"||12GB||128GB–1TB|
|Axon 30 Pro||6.67"||6–8GB||128–256GB|
|Axon 30 Ultra||6.67"||8–16GB||128GB|
|Blade 20 Pro||6.47"||8GB||128GB|
The above lineup contains many recently released phones, such as the Axon 30 series, so I was not able to locate any information about upcoming ZTE 5G phones.
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- Smartphones and mobile tech: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)
Editor’s note: The original reporting for this article was by James Sanders and was later updated by Brandon Vigliarolo to include the latest information on 5G smartphones. The most recent update was completed by Scott Matteson to include the latest updates on 5G smartphone models and upcoming releases.