Reliable Phones for a Reliable Network
Verizon took first place in our 2020 Fastest Mobile Networks tests thanks to having both an excellent 4G network and by far the fastest 5G network. Verizon’s “5G UW” is an odd beast. It’s thunderingly fast, up to over a gigabit per second, but generally only available in city centers. Verizon is spreading it quickly to new cities, but not to more outlying parts of those metro areas; you can check on Verizon’s coverage map.
We put dozens of phones a year through rigorous testing in PC Labs to find out which ones live up to their ad copy, and which ones are just phoning it in. If you’re buying a phone on Verizon right now, these are the best you can get.
See How We Test PhonesSee How We Test Phones
Verizon, like the other major carriers, has been moving away from two-year contracts and subsidies in favor of monthly phone payment plans. That has made many phones “zero dollars down,” though you’ll end up paying full price for them in the end.
Almost all Verizon phones are bought through the carrier, and many unlocked phones now work on its network as well. You can’t bring just any foreign phone to Verizon—they have to be pre-approved—but phones from big unlocked brands sold in the US (including Apple, Google, OnePlus, Razer, and Samsung) as well as most phones sold unlocked on Amazon will work fine on Verizon now.
The phones listed here are the best we’ve reviewed that run well on Verizon’s network. They include Android and iOS smartphones, and our favorite of a batch of simple voice phones.
proven no faster than Verizon’s 4G system in our tests.
This situation is unlikely to change before the end of 2021, when we think Verizon will get access to new “C-Band” airwaves allowing for faster, citywide 5G. Currently, the iPhone 12 series phones are the only phones government-certified for C-Band. The Google Pixel 5 has C-Band in its hardware but isn’t yet certified.
At the moment, though, 5G UW is where it’s at—if you’re where 5G UW is at. Aside from the iPhone 12 series and the Pixel 5, we’d like to call out the TCL 10 5G UW, which is a great lower-cost option if you want to play around with Verizon’s new super-high-speed network.
For more, see our list of the best 5G phones.
DuraXV LTE. The DuraXV Extreme is our new Editors’ Choice, and it’s worth the investment thanks to its rugged design and loud speakers.
If you need more help buying a phone, check out our story on The Best Cheap Phones for our favorite low-cost picks. While you’re at it, take a look at our lists for the best phones on AT&T and T-Mobile, and head over to our Readers’ Choice picks for 2020’s top mobile carriers.
About Sascha Segan
PCMag.com’s lead mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, has reviewed hundreds of smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 9 years with PCMag. He’s the head of our Fastest Mobile Networks project, one of the hosts of the daily PCMag Live Web show and speaks frequently in mass media on cell-phone-related issues. His commentary has appeared on ABC, the BBC, the CBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and in newspapers from San Antonio, Texas to Edmonton, Alberta.
Segan is also a multiple award-winning travel writer, having contributed to the Frommer’s series of travel guides and Web sites for more than a decade. Other than his home town of New York, his favorite …