We have come a long way since the first 5G phone hit the store shelves in 2019, and the markets are now awash with premium and budget models.

Your first 5G phone

Over the last few years since the first 5G phone hit the market, there has been release after release of 5G smartphones to meet up with demand as carriers and operators around the world rolled out the 5th generation of mobile technology.

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5G rollout is still ongoing everywhere, but some countries are well ahead of the pack, while many others are yet to get on board. However, the momentum is strong, and 5G wireless networks are showing up everywhere you turn. In the next 5 years, we will certainly see many more countries join the 5th generation.

Which countries are leading the 5G race?

According to the Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF), 5G networks now exist in 176 countries.

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The countries currently in the lead of 5G wireless rollout include: China, USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Australia, and South Korea. Many European and Asian economies are already rolling out 5G networks too.

Which was/is the first 5G phone in the world?

That was the Galaxy S10 5G, which was released in May 2019. While there had been prototypes, the S10 5G was the first commercially available 5G smartphone in the world.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 5G was quickly followed by LG V50 ThinQ 5G, and OPPO Reno 5G, among others that hit the shelves in 2019. Of course, these were all flagship products, following the well-known pattern: premium flagships get the latest technology first, before it trickles down to the mid-range, and later to entry-level devices.

5G: from premium flagships to budget smartphones

Between 2019 and 2021, enough traction has happened such that there is now a large catalogue of 5G smartphones that budget hunters can pick from.

For example, Samsung Galaxy A52s and Galaxy A52 5G are proving to be popular in the budget range. The OnePlus Nord 2 is also a value-packed 5G smartphone. And if you are a fan of purist software, Google Pixel 5a with 5G is a potent package. Apple has a catalogue of 5G iPhones too, but none of them can be exactly classified as budget outside of the United States.

But the point is that if you are looking to buy a 5G smartphone in 2021, you are spoilt for choice. There is something for everyone with a budget of $200 and above. And you can pick from several manufacturers and brands, including the world’s most popular names in mobile, like: Samsung, Apple, OnePlus, OPPO, Google, Xiaomi, and Nokia, among others.

For example, if you really want a rock-bottom cheap 5G smartphone, T-Mobile’s REVVL V+ 5G sells for $199.99 in the USA. It is made for T-Mobile by TCL, the Chinese brand behind some of the Alcatel.and BlackBerry models you may, or may not, know.

T-mobile REVVL V+ 5G is rock bottom and makes for a first 5G phone
T-mobile REVVL V+ 5G is rock bottom and makes for a first 5G phone

But beyond years of making art phones for other brands, TCL makes phones under its own brand too. An example is the TCL 10 5G, which appears to be the model that one of T-Mobile’s REVVL models is based on. While the brand is Chinese in origin, it has its feet well planted in the USA, and sells phones (mostly budget/mid-range models) in the US, UK, and Australia.

As a matter of fact, if you look to some Chinese phone brands, you will find 5G phones that cost significantly less than $200.

Perhaps you are looking to buy your very first 5G phone, or you are shopping for a replacement for an existing one, there is something for you out there.

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If you have already experienced the world of 5G mobile internet, do share with us: what is the name of your first 5G phone, and how did it perform? Did it meet your expectations? Were you disappointed in any way? I’d love to hear from you.

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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi's journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.

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