5G—the next-gen wireless data technology that will allow you to download full-length movies in a matter of seconds—is finally here. Well, it's here and there, but definitely not everywhere. As is the case with every emerging technology, the deployment of 5G is taking some time, with the major US carriers gradually rolling out support for the super-fast internet standard in major cities across the country.
That said, 5G isn't only about fast mobile data. It also has extremely low latency, which makes streaming 4K content on the go—or even streaming entire games in real time—a breeze! 5G is important not only for phones, but for smart cars, industrial complexes, and even your home (eventually). But this gradual introduction is creating some confusion, with many people not knowing what phone they need for 5G, which carriers offer the service, and what regions are covered by the super-fast network.
We are here to answer all these questions, and more!
What 5G phones can you get in the US right now?
There's a very limited choice of 5G smartphones right now. The number is going to increase in the coming months, and especially next year, but right now, we have only a handful of devices to choose from worldwide. Narrow it down to the US and the options are even scarcer.
Devices like the Moto Z3
and Z4 are not even 5G-capable out of the box, but this can be amended by using Moto's 5G Mod, which snaps onto the back of compatible phones and provides 5G connectivity. The problem is (depending on how you look at it), that the 5G Moto Mod is available through Verizon only, which restricts your choice of carrier. The Moto Z3 Play
with the 5G Mod is, perhaps, the cheapest 5G phone you can get right now in the US – totaling up to $700 (5G Mod included).
Then we move on to the LG V50 ThinQ
, which was a Sprint exclusive in the beginning, but is now also available through Verizon at $1000. And then we have the most expensive option – the Galaxy S10 5G
, which is available on all major carriers, and costs a whopping $1300.
Phones like the OnePlus 7
Pro 5G and Oppo Reno
are not yet available in the US, and may never be in the case of the Oppo. The regular OnePlus 7 Pro
can be bought in the US, though the 5G version is currently sold only in Europe.
Here's a list of all 5G phones that you can get in the US right now:
|Phone||Availability by carrier||Price|
|Moto Z3 Play + 5G Moto Mod||Verizon only*||$700, incl. 5G Moto Mod|
|Moto Z3 + 5G Moto Mod||Verizon only*||$800, incl. 5G Moto Mod|
|Moto Z4 + 5G Moto Mod||Verizon only*||$850, incl. 5G Moto Mod|
|LG V50 ThinQ||Verizon, Sprint||$1000|
|Samsung Galaxy S10 5G||Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T**||$1300|
* The 5G Moto Mod is available only through Verizon.
** AT&T is offering the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G only to Business customers and 5G developers through the AT&T Developer Program.
5G coverage map of the US
This is a map of 5G coverage in the US, by carrier. Keep in mind that the marked locations are not fully covered by 5G networks, meaning that only certain neighborhoods will have access to 5G. This is going to change, as more 5G infrastructure is deployed across the country.
Verizon vs Sprint vs T-Mobile vs AT&T: 5G plans compared
Aside from getting a phone that supports 5G, you'll also need to take a look at what plans the carriers have on offer. All four major carriers in the US already support 5G to some extent, but as you'll see, their conditions and offers are quite different.
Verizon Above Unlimited
– $95 for 1 line | $60 per line for 4 lines
Verizon Beyond Unlimited
- Unlimited 5G data + Hotspot
- Unlimited 4K HD streaming
– $85 for 1 line | $50 per line for 4 lines
- Unlimited 5G data + Hotspot
- Unlimited 4K HD streaming
There is no difference between the two plans, as far as 5G connectivity is concerned, but choosing Above Unlimited will also net you 5 TravelPasses per month for use in more than 130 countries, as well as 500GB of Verizon Cloud space.
T-Mobile still hasn't officially announced any dedicated 5G plans, but we do know that they are coming soon. Furthermore, the carrier has gone on record to say that it is “committed to offer customers the same or better rate plans” as what is currently being offered. This means that T-Mo’s 5G plans will be unlimited and won’t cost more than the current $70 per line monthly rates.
Previously, with the roll-out of 4G, T-Mobile simply updated it's existing plans, so we are inclined to believe that the same will happen with 5G. Customers on T-Mobile's current Magenta and Magenta Plus plans already have access to 5G, provided they are within range of the carrier's high-speed network, which is available in 6 major cities (though not fully covering them). Here's the plans:
T-Mobile Magenta – $70 for 1 line | $40 for 4 lines
- 3GB of 4G mobile hotspot data
T-Mobile Magenta Plus – $85 for 1 line | $43 for 4 lines
- 20GB of 4G mobile hotspot data
Sprint has 5G live in a modest four cities, but if the merger with T-Mobile comes through, the network is going to expand. Both carriers are waiting on approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, which should be granted (or denied) by July 29. Sprint's only current plan with 5G data is the Sprint Unlimited Premium (and it doesn't come cheap):
Sprint Unlimited Premium – $80 for 1 line | $180 for 4 lines
- Unlimited 5G + 100GB LTE hotspot
AT&T is currently targeting business customers only with its 5G offers. The carrier hasn't announced when 5G will be available to regular customers, but this is likely going to happen in the coming months or the first half of next year. Currently, AT&T has the biggest 5G coverage in the US, though it's for hotspot only.
AT&T Business Unlimited – $90 for 1 line | $490 for 10 lines (businesses only)
- Unlimited domestic data + 20GB hotspot
5G speeds comparison between the four major US carriers:
|Carrier||Peak download speed||Location||5G technology||Device|
|Verizon||1.3 Gbps||Chicago||mmWave||Galaxy S10 5G|
|AT&T||1.8 Gbps||Los Angeles||mmWave||Galaxy S10 5G|
|T-Mobile||583 Mbps||New York||mmWave||Galaxy S10 5G|
|Sprint||484 Mbps||Dallas||Sub-6GHz||LG V50|