Reliable Phones for a Reliable Network
After five years at number one, Verizon slipped behind AT&T to take the number two position in our Fastest Mobile Networks tests last year. It’s still America’s largest wireless carrier and got top marks in many of the individual cities we surveyed. Verizon has maintained its excellent nationwide coverage, and quietly put into place new 4G LTE features every year. That means if your phone is two or three years old, you’ll find significantly better Verizon LTE speeds by upgrading to one of the latest models.
We’re here to help. 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.
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,” although you’ll end up paying full price for them in the end.
Almost all Verizon phones are bought through the carrier, although 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 big unlocked brands sold in the US, including phones from Apple, Google, OnePlus, Razer, Samsung, and most phones sold unlocked on Amazon, 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.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is our favorite 5G phone for Verizon
The Best 5G Phone for Verizon
As of this writing, Verizon has 5G in 34 cities, and it sells several 5G phones. The best 5G phone available for Verizon right now is the Samsung Galaxy S20+, which can handle both Verizon’s high-band 5G and dynamic spectrum sharing, a technology the carrier will start using later this year to share 4G airwaves with 5G.
The OnePlus 8 is a less expensive alternative. It has the same network capabilities as the Galaxy S20+, but doesn’t quite match up in camera capabilities. On the other hand, it saves you $400.
For more, see our list of the best 5G phones.
Yep, we still review flip phones too
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 exception is more expensive—the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme, the follow-up to our Editors’ Choice 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.
Where To Buy
Small, one-hand-friendly form factor
Cons: No camera night mode
Bottom Line: The 2020 Apple iPhone SE is a petite powerhouse with no-compromise performance for hundreds of dollars less than other recent iPhones.
Pros: Amazing screen color and clarity.
Industry-leading processor and modem.
Just the right size for most hands.
Cons: Low-light camera performance not as good as the Google Pixel 3.
Fingerprint sensor could be more accurate.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy S10e has the best overall price, performance, and size for a flagship smartphone today.
Pros: Best 5G of any phone available today. Fast. Solid camera. Attractive design.
Cons: Expensive. In-display fingerprint sensor can be a bit picky. No headphone jack.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is pricey, but it’s the first phone that’s a solid investment in the 5G future.
Pros: Three cameras for great flexibility.
New Night mode for low-light photos.
Excellent LTE options, including dual SIM.
Long battery life.
Next year’s iPhone will probably bring much bigger changes.
Bottom Line: The pricey iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max bring more cameras, longer battery life, and better LTE capabilities to Apple’s flagship phone line.
Pros: Ultra-rugged build
Good call quality
Cons: Poor camera
No non-SMS messaging options
Bottom Line: Verizon’s best simple voice phone, the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme will carry you through the next few years with clear, loud calls.
Pros: Solid performance for the price
Excellent battery life
Good audio and call quality
All networks bands for global usage
Cons: Mediocre camera performance
Bottom Line: Solid performance, multi-day battery life, and a gorgeous 6.4-inch display make the $249 Moto G Power the best budget-friendly phone you can buy right now.
Pros: Global 5G compatibility
Excellent battery life
3.5mm headphone jack
Cons: Camera performance doesn’t match up to other flagships
Bottom Line: Motorola’s Verizon-exclusive Moto Edge+ features top-of-the-line hardware, fantastic battery life, and global 5G wrapped up in a stylish design.
Pros: Most affordable 5G phone
Cons: Camera not quite as good as more expensive phones
Lacks millimeter-wave 5G on T-Mobile
No wireless charging
Bottom Line: The OnePlus 8 delivers 5G flagship performance at a fair price, making it the right phone to buy for a new network in an economically uncertain time.
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