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5G phones on test: Google Pixel 5, Samsung A42 and Oppo Reno 4 Pro

You no longer have to pay a packet for a 5G phone – find out what's on offer from some of the most recent releases

5G phones on test: Google Pixel 5, Samsung A42 and Oppo Reno 4 Pro

With the wider rollout of 5G across the UK and new, cheaper 5G phones hitting the market, now might be a good time to invest in a new handset.

5G first launched in the UK in late 2019, promising huge improvements on download speeds, a more reliable network and better signal strength indoors than 4G.

Not everyone has access yet, but the four major mobile networks (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) plus Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile have all launched in major cities and have plans to roll out further across the UK in the near future. Find out if you have 5G in your area with our mobile network coverage map.

As the network expands, smartphone manufacturers are getting in on the action too, releasing cheaper and cheaper models with 5G connectivity. See below for our pick of three new mid-range smartphones with 5G.

Compare all the 5G phones we’ve tested to see which come out on top.

Latest 5G phones compared

When it comes to specs, the three phones are fairly similar, though there are some crucial differences.

Google Pixel 5 Oppo Reno4 Pro Samsung A42
Screen 6-inch OLED 6.6-inch OLED 6.6-inch OLED
Battery 4000mAh 4000mAh 5000mAh
Internal storage 128GB 256GB 128GB
Rear cameras 12Mp wide, 16Mp ultra-wide lens 48Mp wide, 12Mp ultra-wide, 13Mp telephoto lens 48Mp wide, 8Mp ultra-wide, 5Mp macro, 5Mp depth lens
Front cameras 8Mp wide lens 32Mp wide lens 20Mp wide lens
Waterproofing IP68 N/A N/A
Cost £599 £649 £349

The main difference is cost – the Pixel 5 and Oppo phones will set you back a fair bit, whereas Samsung steals in with the cheapest 5G phone we’ve tested.

If you need a lot of storage the Oppo could be your best bet, especially considering that the Pixel 5 doesn’t have the option to extend it. If lasting the day is your priority, Samsung’s larger battery might be tempting, though our testing shows that bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Reno4 Pro and A42 have gone for the super-large screens we’re used to seeing on recent launches. They’re great for gaming, but they may be too large for those used to a smaller phone.

Google Pixel 5 review – £599

Google has resolutely kept its handsets smaller than the major launches from Apple and Samsung, but the new Pixel 5 has one of its largest ever screens, at 6-inches.

Besides the 5G, there isn’t much in the way of major updates from last year’s Pixel 4. It does have a more powerful processor though, plus a bigger battery and more internal storage.

It’s more expensive than the latest Oppo and Samsung 5G offerings, but it does have some extra features to tempt you, such as wireless charging and an IP68 rating (which means it’s protected from dust and water submersion up to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes).

Read our full Google Pixel 5 review to see if it’s worth investing in.

Oppo Reno4 Pro review – £649

Oppo Reno4 Pro

One of two recent 5G launches, the Oppo Reno4 Pro offers a large amount of storage, plus a pretty hefty processor that should make it quick and easy to flit between all your different apps.

The addition of a telephoto lens should increase the quality of your zoomed-in photos, but you’ll have to check our review to see how well the cameras performed overall.

Read our full Oppo Reno4 Pro review to see if we think it’s worth shelling out for.

Samsung A42 review – £349

Samsung A42
The A42 is the cheapest 5G enabled Samsung phone you can buy. It’s missing some of the fancier features you find on premium phones, like a waterproof rating and the very latest processor, but it still offers a fair amount for the money, with a quad camera setup and huge 6.6-inch display.

You also get a headphone jack, so you won’t need an adaptor for a pair of wired earphones, plus a choice of fingerprint sensor or face scanner for unlocking the phone.

Read our full Samsung A42 review to find out if it can keep up with the brand’s pricier phones.

How we test mobile phones

Your smartphone is likely your most used and most relied on piece of tech, so you want to know that it’s the perfect model for you before you buy.

That’s where our tests come in. We put each phone through its paces in our test lab, assessing every aspect to make sure it’s a solid all-rounder. These include:

  • Battery. Our phone test simulates a full day’s phone use, including making calls, taking photos, watching videos and navigating through a map app. The best batteries last for 35 hours or more on a full charge, and won’t leave you high and dry if you can only charge for 15 minutes.
  • Cameras. We check how well your pictures and videos come out on both the front and rear lenses, looking at colour accuracy, flash uniformity and the quality of the zoom. We test in 10 different shooting environments to make sure the cameras are consistent and use mannequins with different skin tones.
  • Display. You want a phone with a vivid, detailed and easily readable display, so we check how the screen looks in different light conditions and use microscopes to asses sharpness and resolution.
  • Ease of use. This covers a range of tests from how well the menu is laid out to how easy it is to unlock the phone and the sensitivity of the touchscreen, so you won’t be left with a phone that’s frustrating to use.
  • Durability. We check the build quality of each phone by seeing how well the screen copes with being scratched and if it can survive a sudden burst of rain. If it’s waterproof, we also put the manufacturer’s claims to the test.
  • Security. Nothing you own knows as much about you as your phone, so you need to trust that it will keep your information safe. Our security tests check how well each phone guards your data, and monitor phones for crucial security updates that keep your phone secure.
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