We're looking forward to the launch of 5G in the UK. It's around 20 times faster than 4G, with the potential for even better speeds. With 5G, you'll be able to stream video in 4K, and make 4K video calls. There are also benefits for mobile gaming because of 5G's lower latency.
But we're in a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation here, in that you won't be able to actually use 5G until both your network and your smartphone support the next-gen connectivity standard. So do you buy a 5G phone now and wait for the networks to catch up, or do you go for a network that promises 5G support and wait until it's ready to buy the hardware?
Though many of the phones covered here are launching this summer, widespread availability of 5G is not expected until well into 2020.
EE, for example, promises to launch 5G for users of the yet-to-be-announced OnePlus 5G phone and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G in the second half of 2019 across 16 UK cities. This will be achieved in two phases: first in Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester; second in Newcastle, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
If you're an EE customer and you don't opt for one of those two phones AND live or work in one of the 16 cities, you will not be using 5G in 2019. In the meantime, the phones listed below will max out at 4G (or 4.5G if you believe the marketing hype), so it is worth carefully considering whether you should upgrade now or wait a little longer.
Vodafone has also announced its 5G plans, which it says will cost the same as its 4G tariffs. Its 5G network will go live in seven UK cities on 3 July 2019, and says 5G roaming will be available this summer. Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and London will be first to get Vodafone 5G, followed by Birkenhead, Blackppol, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton by the end of the year.
Vodafone will exclusively sell Mi Mix 3 5G from 23 May, and says it has four 5G phones and a 5G router coming soon. Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X 5G has also been confirmed for a June on sale date.
Despite this, IDC forecasts that only 0.5% of phones shipped in 2019 will be 5G-ready.
At first 5G will be supported in only the most expensive, top-spec phones, but it will gradually filter down to the mid-range- and eventually budget markets, as we saw with 4G. Twenty-two manufacturers have promised 5G phones in 2019, mostly using Qualcomm's X50 modem.
One phone maker you won't see a 5G phone from any time soon, however, is Apple. Its own 5G modem is still reported to be some five years away, so if it doesn't make peace with Qualcomm we could be waiting for a long time for a 5G iPhone.
For more details on the technology, see our guide to What is 5G? If you decide to wait, we've tested some great 4G smartphones at various price points. Check out the best flagship, mid-range and budget phones available now, as well as some great phones coming soon (some are even foldable, which for now is arguably more cool than supporting 5G).
But for those who want to make the leap to 5G nonetheless, here are the best 5G phones that are confirmed to arrive this year:
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
Xiaomi announced its first 5G phone at MWC 2019, and it went on sale in Switzerland on 2 May at €599. In the UK it will be a Vodafone exclusive from 23 May. Right now that makes it the cheapest 5G phone to have been announced.
This is an upgraded version of the Mi Mix 3 that launched in October (January in the UK), with its Snapdragon 845 chip swapped out for the Snapdragon 855 and X50 modem. It will be available in Onyx Black and Sapphire Blue.
Mi Mix 3 is notable as being the best implementation of a slider phone we've seen yet. By hiding the twin (24Mp + 2Mp) selfie cameras behind the screen it is able to achieve an incredible 93.4% screen-to-body ratio.
Mi Mix 3 also includes all the latest hardware you'd expect in a 2019 flagship, with wireless charging now bumped up to a super-fast 20W. All you really sacrifice in return for the lower price is a Quad-HD+ display and waterproofing.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
The Galaxy S10 5G was announced alongside the standard, Plus and 'e' variants of Galaxy S10 at an Unpacked event on 20 February, and went on sale in South Korea on 5 April. In the UK it goes on sale on 7 June, and you'll be able to pre-order from 22 May.
In essence the Galaxy S10 5G is simply a larger version of the Galaxy S10 with 5G support, but it also adds an extra 12Mp camera lens at the rear resulting in a quad-lens setup. The battery is also higher in capacity at 4,500mAh (vs 3,400mAh).
With a 6.7in Quad-HD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O panel, this is the largest Samsung phone to date. It measures 77.1x162.6x7.94mm and weighs a colossal 198g.
The S10 5G has the same core hardware as the rest of the range, with an Exynos 9820 or Snapdragon 855 processor, but a fixed 8GB of RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage.
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
Going on sale in the UK in June at £999, Huawei's first 5G phone will be a variant of the Mate 20 X, with the addition of a Balong 5000 chipset and SuperCool graphene heat pipes, but a slightly lower-capacity 4200mAh battery with 40W SuperCharge.
Available in Emerald Green, the Mate 20 X 5G has a 7.2in FullView IPS display and runs the same Kirin 980 chip as all Huawei's current flagships. In common with the rest of the Mate 20 range there's a triple-lens camera at the rear, comprising 40Mp, 20Mp and 8Mp lenses.
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
A 5G variant of the OnePlus 7 Pro that was announced on 14 May, the upcoming OnePlus 5G phone has the same features, including the pop-up selfie camera, triple-lens rear camera and 6.7in 90Hz all-screen display.
OnePlus has confirmed its 5G phone will run the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with an X50 modem, and that EE will be a stockist in the UK.
CEO Pete Lau has publically stated that he’s intending to keep the phone ‘affordable’, which reportedly means below the £800 ($1000) mark.
Read more about the OnePlus 7.
Oppo Reno 5G
Oppo announced a 5G version of its Reno smartphone in April, which costs €899 and will go on sale in the UK this summer, exclusively through EE.
The Reno 5G has the same high-end specs as the 10x Zoom Reno but is equipped with a 5G-ready Qualcomm X50 modem.
It has a 6.6in AMOLED display, 128/256GB expandable storage and 6/8GB RAM, and dual rear 48Mp and 13Mp cameras on the back.
Read more about the Oppo Reno 5G.
Huawei Mate X
The Mate X is Huawei's upcoming foldable phone, and it stole possibly more column inches than any other smartphone following its successful MWC 2019 launch. This phone truly has the wow factor, yet cries of "I want one" are immediately followed by "How much?" The Mate X will cost a staggering €2,299 when it arrives.
The Mate X does not have a confirmed release date, though both EE and Vodafone have confirmed that they will be stockists.
When laid out flat the Mate X has a magnificent 8in tablet-like display with a 2480x2200 resolution. It folds in the opposite direction to the Galaxy Fold, which has a second display on the other side. This means you have in effect a 6.6in, 2480x1148 (19.5:9) smartphone that has a second 6.4in, 2480x892 (25:9) screen on the rear.
You might be wondering where this leaves space for the four Leica cameras, and the ingenious solution is found in the bar grip to one side.
With so much screen battery life could be an issue, but Huawei specs a single 4,500mAh cell with support with stupidly fast 55W charging.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G
The LG V50 ThinQ 5G was something of a surprise when it was announced at MWC 2019: we weren't expecting it to arrive until October. We still don't have a release date for the upcoming phone, though it's expected in the second half of 2019.
LG has decided to hold off on its proper foldable phone for now, offering its V50 ThinQ as a sort of halfway house that serves up 5G and similar functionality to a foldable device with an optional second display.
Even without the second screen the V50 is something of a chunk, which is necessitated by the extra hardware required by 5G. It also packs a whopping 4,000mAh battery and is fitted with a 6.4in 19.5:9 Quad-HD+ display.
LG's 5G support is provided by this year's flagship processor of choice, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with X50 modem. In comparison to the 2018 845 it promise a 45% boost in general processing power and 20% uplift in games. This is paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage as standard.
Audio is a particular standout for LG, and the V50 ThinQ 5G offers the best wired audio of any smartphone thanks to the high-quality DAC. Photography is also noteworthy, with a triple-lens (16Mp + 12Mp + 12Mp) setup at the rear, and dual-lens (8Mp + 5Mp) at the front.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G
Given that the Galaxy S10 was announced alongside a 5G version, it perhaps shouldn't be a surprise that the same will happen for the upcoming Note 10, expected to arrive in August.
The Galaxy Note 10 is Samsung's flagship phablet for 2019, slightly larger than the Galaxy S10 Plus (we reckon it could go as high as 6.7in) but also packing enhanced hardware and an S Pen stylus. The Note 10 is thought to include the new Infinity-O panel with two cameras at the front and four at the rear, just like the Galaxy S10 5G, as well as its in-display fingerprint sensor.