The best cheap 5G phones of 2020: 5G for less
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.
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.
Best cheap 5G phones
The Black Friday sales season is here! The prices shown below are the best available on our top recommended products, but similar products may also be discounted. See our guide to the best Black Friday deals.
1. OnePlus 8T
Colour quirks aside, the OnePlus 8T 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 8 Pro is enough to tempt you to splash out.
Read our full OnePlus 8T 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. OnePlus Nord
An outstanding affordable buy for 2020 with great performance, 5G, OnePlus’ signature Oxygen OS user experience and a more diverse camera setup than the company has ever used on a phone. What’s not to love?
What the OnePlus Nord really demonstrates is the company’s ability to prioritise the features that users are looking for right now and wrapping them up in an attractive package with a compelling price point.
Read our full OnePlus Nord review
4. Realme X50 5G
The standard Realme X50 does the same thing for the mid-range market as the Pro model does in the flagship space.
A 120Hz display, the excellent Snapdragon 765G, superb battery life and a surprisingly-capable main camera collectively render the X50 a far better phone than anything you’d expect at this price.
Read our full Realme X50 5G review
5. Nokia 8.3 5G
Despite a delayed release, the Nokia 8.3 5G proves to have been worth the wait, with superior 5G band support than any other phone so far, along with a flair for videography – all at a competitive price.
HMD Global’s clean take on Android, along with multiple years of software and security updates make the Nokia 8.3 a great mid-range 5G proposition.
Read our full Nokia 8.3 5G review
6. Nubia 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 Nubia Red Magic 5G review
7. Black Shark 3
The Black Shark 3 hardly reinvents the wheel when it comes to gaming phones, but there are some useful upgrades here.
Of course, a Snapdragon 865 processor and 8 or 12GB of RAM means performance is truly excellent, while some thoughtful touches in Shark Space should make it a hit with gamers. Other highlights include some significant camera improvements and staggeringly fast charging speeds.
My main frustration is the accessories, with a bulky fan and expensive gaming pad adding little to my experience. The magnetic charging cable is a great idea, though.
It certainly isn’t what most people have in mind when considering a new smartphone, but Xiaomi has plenty of phones that cater to mainstream interests. With the Black Shark 3, it hopes gaming fanatics will buy into its vision for the future of mobile gaming.
With the baseline model priced identically to the Red Magic 5G, it gives people serious about mobile gaming a big decision to make.
Read our full Black Shark 3 review
8. 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
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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