Top Pick for
Finder's reviewers have extensively tested and reviewed every phone on this list, including 5G compatibility for Australia's growing and expanding 5G networks.
Our editorial team chose the phones in this list on a weighted balance of features, quality and our experiences when testing them, compared to other phones available in the market. The selection and order are not based solely on review scores.
If you're considering 5G handsets in the premium space, Google's Pixel 6 Pro is the easy winner for one very simple reason.
It's the only handset currently available in Australia that works across both sub-6Ghz 5G and the faster mmWave standard. While it's true that the spread of mmWave 5G specifically is pretty low across the nation so far, if you're looking for 5G speed, why wouldn't you opt for the best you can get now and in the future?
It also helps that it's a great handset across most other metrics as well. Its 6.7-inch 120Hz display is superb to look at and use on a daily basis. Fast refresh rates can often be battery killers, but with the ability to drop as low as 10Hz when needed, the Pixel 6 Pro only gently sips at its battery.
The Pixel 6 Pro also has great triple lens cameras accentuated with some truly smart AI giving it great low light capabilities and some neat in-phone editing tricks such as "Magic Eraser" for eliminating objects automatically. As a Pixel phone, it's also first in line for new Android updates.
There are some caveats. Google's using its own Tensor processor for the Pixel 6 Pro, and it's not quite as nippy as Google claims, though it's plenty powerful enough for most users. It's a physically big phone, and it can be slippery if you don't put it in a case.
Apple took its time to bring 5G to the iPhone, but if you're on the iOS side of the smartphone space, the best phone with 5G you can buy right now is the iPhone 13 Pro. That's because you get all the advantages of the iPhone 13 Pro Max – the same processor, the same cameras exactly – with a slightly more hand-friendly design and a lower price point.
It is annoying that Apple does have a dual sub-6Ghz 5G and mmWave 5G model for this handset, but it's instead opted to only bring the sub-6Ghz model down under. We're likely less than 6 months from the reveal of 2022's iPhone family, and maybe Apple will reverse that trend this year. We live in hope.
Meanwhile, if you do buy an iPhone 13 Pro, you're in for one of the best smartphones money can buy outside its 5G capabilities. It's still an easy recommendation for photography pros, but also those who can enjoy its fast ProMotion display and the wide array of iOS apps and services.
Like just about anything Apple, there's still a price premium at play here, even if it is cheaper than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Samsung's latest flagship phone is 5G capable – that should be absolutely assumed at this stage – but it switches the focus for 5G more towards a productivity side. While the Galaxy S21 Ultra brought S Pen-compatibility to the Galaxy S range for the first time, the S22 Ultra is the first phone to properly embrace it, with an included S Pen that rests within the body of the phone. Whether you want it to jot down business notes or make photo adjustments, it's a neat tool to use.
The S22 Ultra also benefits from some of the best telephoto performance of any flagship right now, although like prior models its 100x "Space Zoom" still isn't great. In Australia, we get the models of the Galaxy S22 Ultra with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a nice step up from the usual Exynos-based models we've had in prior years.
Battery life is always a concern with 5G handsets, as the use of faster data networks has a profound battery sapping effect. This is where the Galaxy S22 Ultra falls below the iPhone 13 Pro or Pixel 6 Pro, as its battery life is only average compared to them.
The Pixel 6 Pro's smaller sibling, the Pixel 6, is also 5G compatible, and has some appeal simply because it's a flagship phone selling for under $1,000. That's a rare combination, although the 5G price you pay here is rather explicit. Where the Pixel 6 Pro offers mmWave and sub-6GHz compatibility, the Pixel 6 is sub-6GHz only.
Still, you get the same clean Android interface with guaranteed upgrades, the same good-but-not-quite-the-best Tensor processor and the same good battery life. 5G can still sap the battery fast if you're using it extensively, the same as any other phone.
While it has the same AI camera upgrades as its bigger sibling, it does omit a true telephoto lens, which is slightly limiting; if that's important to you, budgeting for the bigger Pro model would be wise.
A big challenge to the Pixel 6's value proposition is the incoming Pixel 6a , which shares the same processor, but slightly less RAM. If you're after that Googly goodness with an even lower price tag, it may be worth waiting for.
The biggest of the iPhone family for 2022 is, like the 13 Pro, a 5G phone with support only for sub-6Ghz frequencies in Australia. That's a pain point at its price, because Apple does make a mmWave compatible model, but not for us folks down under.
You do otherwise get a great phone for your great deal of money, starting with its 6.7 inch "ProMotion" 120Hz capable display, going through its easy-to-use but very powerful camera array and, of course, the unparalleled performance of Apple's own A15 Bionic processor.
Where the iPhone 13 Pro Max stands out for 5G users is in its battery life. 5G can kill a phone dead faster than just about anything, and iPhones historically have not had great power packs to start with. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has the best battery endurance of any iPhone we've tested to date – it helps having a bigger space to pack in more battery cells, clearly – and that translates to more 5G battery life too.
Still, it is a ferociously expensive handset, and we're 6 months or less away from the release of its successor.
Typically the "Lite" phone of a given series is the one you buy purely on financial grounds, because what's cut out of the "Lite" variant leaves you with all sorts of compromises.
For 5G phone enthusiasts, that's not the story of the Oppo Find X5 Lite, primarily because of its exceptional battery life. 5G is great for pulling down data fast, but that only lasts as long as your phone does. Within its mid-range price space, there's just nothing to match the Oppo Find X5 Lite for battery endurance. That means even the heavier duty needs of 5G networks will last longer.
The good power news doesn't stop there, either, because the Find X5 Lite also benefits from Oppo's incredibly quick SuperVOOC charging, allowing you to top it up very rapidly when needed. There is a slight downside here, because while it will charge fast from its supplied charger, there's no wireless charging capability on board. You're also missing out on water resistance as well, and for an Oppo phone, its camera capabilities tend towards the ordinary.
Oppo's current flagship phone is 5G ready, as you'd expect, but only sub-6GHz as most of its competitors are as well. As it is wont to do, Oppo's done a few things differently with the Oppo Find X5 Pro to make it stand out, though not all of them are winners.
The smooth design gives it a real standout look, whether you opt for the black or white models, and like so many of Oppo's prior flagships, camera features are a priority. In low light, for portrait and landscape shots it's a standout performer, although we did find it a tad lacking for telephoto at its price point.
Like the cheaper Find X5 Lite, battery life is very good, and it benefits from fast wired or wireless charging, although you'll need to pay extra for Oppo's astonishingly quick fast wireless charger.
The biggest strike against the Find X5 Pro is its price point, sitting in the same company as the Apple iPhone 13 Pro, which is more powerful, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which is more flexible, or the Pixel 6 Pro – which is cheaper and more flexible as a 5G handset specifically.
You're not awash with choices if you like the idea of a foldable phone, but if that's where you want to put your money down, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the phone to buy.
The 3rd generation of its phone-to-tablet hybrid foldable adds water resistance and S-Pen compatibility, which means it's more durable and more practical to use as an everyday productivity device to boot. We still wouldn't advise going swimming with it, mind you.
Folding still attracts a price premium, and the one big catch here beyond that sticker shock is that the Z Fold 4 will likely break cover this year. Every year, Samsung's managed to bring the price of its foldable phones down ever lower, and it may be worth waiting to see what happens with the Z Fold 3's asking price once more is known about it.
Apple's iPhone SE line got blessed with 5G this year, which is great if you're looking for a phone with future proofing more or less built in. That's because besides 5G, you're also likely to see many years of iOS upgrades as well. It's built on the same A15 Bionic processor that you'll find in the much more expensive iPhone 13 handsets, which means it's also easily the fastest and most powerful mid-range phone you can buy right now.
So how does Apple make the iPhone SE 2022 for this kind of price? By compromising just about everywhere else. It has a small display, only a single rear camera and a small battery that provides some genuinely poor battery life even just on 4G. Hit it hard with 5G, and you'll need to recharge it before lunchtime most days.
Motorola's had a few pitches at the flagship space of late, mostly through its rather odd RAZR line of foldables. That's not where we'd spend our money if you like Motorola as a brand, especially not when the Motorola Edge 30 Pro is right there.
The Edge 30 Pro combines the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor with a 144Hz display screen for a very appealing price of just $999. So what you get is a fast screen and a fast phone, and that might make you think that it's going to suck for battery life.
Surprisingly, it doesn't. Sure, if you hit 5G hard on the Edge 30 Pro you can sap its battery down more quickly, but it's still a top contender within its space for overall battery life, aided by fast wired and wireless charging.
Where the Edge 30 Pro doesn't compare quite as well is in camera features. For a $999 phone it's surprisingly lacking any kind of true telephoto lens, and it simply can't compete in low light shooting contests either.
5G as a network technology is one that we've covered and written about for many years, but the reality is that it's still a technology in its infancy in terms of network rollouts and device availability.
The reality for 5G right now is that the big 3 networks – Telstra, Optus and TPG/Vodafone – are still building out their 5G networks largely using sub-6Ghz frequencies. We're starting to see limited rollouts of faster mmWave networks as the telcos gain access to spectrum, but there are still very few mmWave capable devices available to everyday Australian consumers.
The vast majority of 5G phones you can buy right now are typically not capable of the faster 5G we should see out of mmWave 5G. Still, there's some logic in picking up a 5G phone now because it'll keep you up to date with networks over the next 5–10 years at the very least.
It's also really important to note that 5G isn't and shouldn't be the defining factor that decides the "value" of a phone, especially right now as 5G networks are still coming on line. So far, we've seen 5G handsets built on a handful of chip designs, mostly from Qualcomm with just a few MediaTek and Huawei designs to provide a point of difference.
As such, actual 5G network performance on these phones is generally far more dependent on prevailing network conditions than the handsets themselves.
We've chosen our list based not only on the inclusion of 5G in a phone but also on what other features it brings to market to justify its existence. When the first 5G phones launched, they were premium-priced models only, but we're now seeing an expanding number of mid-range 5G capable options.
Both Qualcomm and MediaTek have 5G chipsets and modems available to cover both the premium and mid-range markets, although we're yet to see a real "budget" 5G handset. That will come with time, or possibly just as the older models get cleared out of retailer inventories at serious discount prices.
While we wait for the influx of mmWave capable devices, it's quite likely that we'll see the differentiating point between the premium and mid-range 5G phones split on that mmWave/sub 6Ghz question. The cheaper phones will likely stick to simpler and lower cost sub-6Ghz only modems, while the premium models will offer best in breed – and best at speed – mixed sub-6Ghz/mmWave modems instead.
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