5G is still a relatively new technology but we’re already seeing more affordable smartphones that support these new super-fast data speeds.
When 5G phones first started hitting the market they arrived as special iterations of existing devices (like the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Oppo Reno 5G) and were priced highly because of this.
This was partly down to the fact that these were the first phones to support a new feature in 5G, which from a manufacturing standpoint came with added costs in research and development, as well as tooling, not to mention the premium marketers could slap on a phone just by being among the first to offer 5G support.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G cost £1099 at launch
Thankfully, while you still pay extra for the added benefits of 5G, the cost of implementing the technology is rapidly dropping and we’re seeing a growing number of handsets that don’t command a flagship price for what is still considered a flagship feature.
Although the phones in this roundup aren’t quite as affordable as the devices in our ‘Best mid-range phone’ and ‘Best budget phone’ rundowns, they’re still considerably cheaper than the flagships that currently make headlines, and yet all still deliver a great experience – each for under £600.
There are also a handful of affordable 5G phones waiting in the wings that either haven’t yet made it to retail or we’re yet to review. Phones like the Oppo Find X2 Neo, Find X2 Lite and Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G – all of which will likely find a place on this list once we’ve tested them ourselves.
Best cheap 5G phones
1. OnePlus 8
Colour quirks aside, the OnePlus 8 is a fantastic flagship smartphone at an amazing price. You rarely get this quality level of design, features and performance at such good value.
When the biggest let down is that the main camera can do a better job of close-ups than the macro lens, you know you have an excellent phone. The main thing is whether the Pro is enough to tempt you to splash out.
Read our full OnePlus 8 review
2. Realme X50 Pro
Realme’s first 5G flagship (and second-ever flagship phone) is an impressively affordable device that doesn’t skimp on high-end specs and features.
The Realme X50 Pro forgoes aspects like IP water resistance and a thin body, but in return sports the latest and greatest Snapdragon 865 chipset, 5G, up to 12GB of RAM, fast UFS 3.0 storage and insane 65W ‘SuperDart’ fast charging, which delivers 60% charge in just 15 minutes and a full charge in only 35.
Best of all, with an initial starting price of £569, the X50 Pro costs nearly half that of most top-tier Android flagships on the market in 2020.
Read our full Realme X50 Pro review
3. Red Magic 5G
The Red Magic 5G is undeniably one of the best gaming phones on the market. Its 144Hz display and stereo speakers are among the best in their class, while the camera enjoys a notable upgrade over the Red Magic 3S.
The phone is targeted squarely at mobile gamers and as such, some aspects are less well suited to mainstream users. These include its imposing industrial design and some unimpressive software tweaks – the frustrating in-display fingerprint scanner chief among them.
All things considered, however, the Red Magic 5G offers everything budding gamers are looking for, not to mention 5G speeds, at a price that means it’s hard to resist.
Read our full Red Magic 5G review
4. Motorola Edge
Though it looks the same as the flagship Edge Plus, the Motorola Edge is a more budget-friendly offering. It features the same 6.7in OLED Endless Edge display as the Plus model, giving the phone a high-end look, although the palm rejection tech isn’t the best we’ve seen.
That’s backed up by a large 4500mAh battery that has the potential to comfortably last up to two days on a single charge.
There’s a downgrade in terms of performance, sporting a Snapdragon 765 where most rivals feature the flagship 865, and the trio of rear cameras do a decent job, but it’s not what we’d class as industry-leading. It might not be perfect, but it’s still a stunningly good looking, wallet-friendly 5G smartphone.
Read our full Motorola Edge review
5. Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
Despite originally hitting the market over our £600 threshold, the A90 5G has quickly come down in price. Nowadays costing below £500 from sources like Amazon, John Lewis and Argos.
The A90 feels like a flagship in most of the ways that matter – slick design, fast specs, and a whopping big 6.1in AMOLED display – and the omissions mostly make sense too – a lack of wireless charging, waterproofing and curved edges are the sort of nice-to-haves that most can live without.
The only major letdown is the camera, which is less versatile than it may at first seem with its triple-lens array (48Mp main, an ultrawide and a depth sensor). It’s fine in good light and has a few extra modes like super slow-mo, but this is nowhere near a flagship camera, unable to even match other cheaper phones from rival companies.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A90 5G review
If you want to know about the benefits of 5G support in a phone and what you need to make sure you get the most out of a 5G phone, check out our ‘What is 5G?’ guide and our Best 5G phone roundup for more details.
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