The launch of 5G networks in India is still a year or two away. So at the moment, it makes little sense to invest in a 5G smartphone, unless your favourite smartphone brand does not provide a regular (low-priced) 4G variant.
Thankfully, the state of 5G in India won’t be as complicated as it is in the US, where operators have opted for a mix faster than 4G/LTE networks (Sub 6GHz) and blazing fast gigafiber like networks (mmWave). India went for the slower option (Sub 6GHz), so all you will have to check when buying a 5G smartphone today is whether it supports an NSA (Non Standalone Access 5G) network. Thankfully, almost every premium 5G flagship smartphone available for purchase will let you hook up to 5G networks when they go live, so there’s not much confusion here.
You do have to keep in mind that some manufacturers have not included 5G radios in their premium flagships. As the trend goes, it’s the Chinese brands like Realme, Vivo’s IQOO, OnePlus and Xiaomi that have currently launched 5G smartphones in India and, oddly, all of them fall in the premium flagship segment that starts from ₹39,000 and ends at ₹59,999.
EXPLAINER: Should you buy a 5G smartphone today?
As you may have guessed, all of Samsung’s arsenal does not feature a single 5G smartphone, including the ultra premium Samsung Galaxy Ultra (₹97,999), Galaxy Z Flip (₹1,15,999) and the Galaxy Fold (₹1,73,999). And it’s probably for good reason, because you don’t need one right now. 5G phones are expensive and you will get better performing hardware to match your 5G network in a year or two from now.
Premium 5G smartphones
Yes, 5G phones so far in India have only been reserved for the premium segment. But the mid-range devices will come sooner or later, so don’t fret if you can’t afford one today.
Now that you know whether to buy one or not, let’s take a look at 5G smartphones that have been launched in India.
Realme X50 5G (From ₹39,999)
No matter what you get with it (there’s a lot BTW), Realme will get the credit for launching India’s first 5G smartphone. The Realme X50 is also one of the few premium devices from the brand and you will get your money’s worth of flagship hardware as with its other smartphones. There’s a 6.4-inch SuperAMOLED FHD+ HDR10+ enabled display with a fast enough 90Hz screen refresh rate. Inside, there’s a top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset that’s paired with 6GB/8GB RAM + 128GB storage or 12GB RAM + 256GB storage that sells for ₹47,999. And there’s plenty of cameras! Two at front (8MP + 32MP) and four at the back (12MP + 64MP + 8MP + B&W camera). This one packs in a 4200mAh battery with super fast 65W charging. We haven’t got our hands on this one yet, but it’s safe to say that it’s good value for money.
IQOO 3 5G (₹44,990)
Just a day after Realme launched its 5G smartphone, Vivo launched its IQOO 3 smartphone, which had a 5G variant. The 5G variant gets a Snapdragon 865 chipset paired with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. This one does not pack in a 90Hz display but gets you a 60Hz one with 180Hz touch sensing, which works better if you play a lot of games. Also gamer-friendly are the shoulder touch triggers that can be customised to the game and the gamer’s needs. There’s a quad-rear camera setup with 48MP + 13MP + 13MP + 2MP sensors and 16MP hole-punch camera for selfies. All of the above is powered by a 4440mAh battery that can be charged up mighty quickly using the odd-looking, pill-shaped charging port that is connected to a 55W charger. This one’s for the gamer indeed!
OnePlus 8 series (From ₹44,999)
Yes, both of OnePlus’ bad boys get you 5G this year and it is possibly the reason why the usually accessible OnePlus 8 (or the standard model) is priced at a hefty ₹44,999 for the base variant. And yes, that’s more expensive than the iPhone SE 2020! But you really cannot go about comparing Apples to oranges, as OnePlus has loaded its 8 Series with the latest Snapdragon 865 chipset and oodles of RAM and storage variants. In short, the iPhone SE is still a budget Apple iPhone at best, while the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are solid flagship Android phones. But there are plenty of differences between the siblings.
At that high ₹44,999 base price, you are stuck with a 90Hz FHD+ display on the 8, while the 8 Pro gets you a 120Hz QHD+ unit. At ₹54,999, you also get goodies like 30W wireless charging and an IP68 design that’s dust and water resistant. While not much has improved with the OnePlus 8’s cameras, the OnePlus 8 Pro gets an 8MP + 48MP + 48MP + 5MP rear camera setup along with a 16MP selfie camera, which makes this a good and future-proof allrounder given OnePlus’ timely software updates.
Xiaomi Mi 10 5G (From ₹49,999)
Realme has plenty of cameras, IQOO is built for gaming and OnePlus 8 Pro has a buttery smooth 120Hz display. Xiaomi’s claim to fame is its 108MP rear camera (which has been borrowed from Samsung). No! It’s not promising you 100x Space Zoom (thank god for that!) but it does claim to click some really good pictures and crisp 8K video recording. There’s also a 13MP (tele) + 2MP (macro) and a 2MP depth sensor to go with the 108MP camera. Apart from that, you pretty much get everything you would expect from a flagship 5G smartphone. A Snapdragon 865 chipset, up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. There’s also goodies like 30W wired and wireless charging, Wi-Fi 6 and dual-SIM support, and let’s not forget the 1080p 90Hz Super AMOLED display that’s flanked on both sides by two equally powerful stereo speakers. Did I mention that it also looks good in the Coral Green finish? Also, you need to keep in mind that you are getting a full-fledged premium smartphone at ₹49,999, which is a lot cheaper than the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Whether you are upgrading to a 5G smartphone or not. We will be updating this article as new 5G smartphones are launched in India. So we’d recommend keeping this page bookmarked.
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