Which Galaxy S20 models support 5G?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Series All Three
Samsung Galaxy S20 Series All Three (Image credit: Android Central)

Best answer: All of the Galaxy S20 phones support 5G in the sub-6 bands, but only the larger Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra support mmWave 5G.

Everybody gets 5G

Last year Qualcomm announced that its next big chipset, the Snapdragon 865, would only ship with the X55 modem onboard that enables 5G networking. There was no need to speculate about whether Samsung's next flagships would include 5G, Qualcomm had already sealed the deal. Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy S20 family arrives with 5G capabilities on every model, but not every model is the same.

In a nutshell, all of the Galaxy S20 phones use the sub-6 bands for 5G networking, but only the two larger Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra will be capable of using mmWave 5G networks. In the U.S., 5G networks are still in their infancy and carriers are expected to expand beyond their initial deployment concepts, but this is what we have right now.

Right now, T-Mobile is dominating sub-6 coverage with a network that is far-reaching but not much faster, and occasionally even slower, than the fastest local LTE networks. Verizon and AT&T are both using mmWave for their 5G coverage, which is much faster but also has serious limitations on distance and obstacles. That mmWave 5G is a power hog, which is likely why it's only enabled on the larger phones, though the Galaxy S20 is no slouch with its 4,000 mAh battery.

As for Sprint? The network is using its own middle-of-the-road bandwidth for longer distance than mmWave and faster speeds than sub-6. The recent approval of the merger with T-Mobile will surely call all of the smallest carrier's future network plans into question.

Not the best thing in the Galaxy

It's nice to see Samsung make an aggressive push into 5G with Qualcomm acting as the wind in the sails because more customers clamoring for 5G access will accelerate development of the network. It's still so early in the 5G rollout, however, that the eventual 5G networks we will know and love in five years will look very different than what we have today. The Galaxy S20 seems future-proof with support for all current flavors of 5G, but this only highlights how early we are in the new network days.

It's probably too early to buy a phone primarily because you want 5G, and it's also not time to reject phones because they lack 5G. The Galaxy S20 will arrive with a ton of innovation, enough that Samsung skipped nine whole numbers. The 5G networking capabilities will offer a glimpse of the future, but the future is likely to change.

Philip Berne