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 are just phoning it in. If you’re buying a phone on Verizon right now, these are the best you can get.
Verizon fell to third place in our Fastest Mobile Networks results, but that could just be a blip. The carrier is retrenching before a big rollout of C-band 5G next year, which could help it catch up to the performance of T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G network.
At the moment, Verizon’s “5G UW” is an odd beast. It’s thunderingly fast, up to three gigabits per second, but generally only available in parts of some city centers. You can check its availability on Verizon’s coverage map. The carrier’s “nationwide” 5G is slightly faster than its 4G network, but not enough to really matter.
Speed probably isn’t why you’re coming to or staying with Verizon, though. The carrier’s comprehensive nationwide coverage, including in rural areas, is legendary, and our Fastest Mobile Networks drive test bore out that reputation.
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 preapproved—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. Any iPhone will do well on Verizon’s network; here’s how to choose the right iPhone.
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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.
The Best 5G Phones for Verizon
Verizon now has two kinds of 5G. Its “5G UW” system, which works outdoors in parts of several dozen cities, is amazingly fast and powerful, like a wireless fiber connection. But our drive tests only found it available less than 4% of the time. Its “nationwide 5G” is a little faster than its 4G, but not enough to really matter.
This situation is likely to change next year, when Verizon will get access to new C-band airwaves that allow for faster citywide 5G. In general, new 5G phones that Verizon launched recently can access C-band, including Apple’s iPhone 12 and 13 series, the Google Pixel 5, the OnePlus 9 series, and this year’s Samsung phones. Verizon plans to cover up to 100 million Americans with C-band by next March.
At the moment, though, 5G UW is where it’s at—if you’re where 5G UW is at, that is. Along with the iPhone 13 series and the Pixel 5, we’d like to highlight 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 right now.
For more, see our list of the best 5G phones.
The Best Verizon Flip Phone
Verizon still has a selection of voice phones, which it calls “basic phones.” Many of these are off-brand devices that were custom-built for Verizon; they’re inexpensive, but most of them aren’t very good.
The primary exceptions are more expensive: the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme and the Sunbeam F1. The DuraXV Extreme is rugged and loud; the F1 comes in three feature-restricted versions for folks who really don’t want web browsing or email on their phones. Both are good choices.
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 2021’s top mobile carriers.