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. 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 ten 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.
There’s one phone you may think is missing: the latest Google Pixel. That’s because we’re updating this a week ahead of Google’s latest phone announcement. We think the Pixel 4 will be worthy of this list, we just haven’t used it yet.
The Best 5G Phones for Verizon
As of this writing, Verizon has 5G in 12 cities, and it sells five 5G phones and a hotspot. The Motorola Moto Z3 and Moto Z4 both work with an optional 5G Moto Mod that gives the 4G phone next-level abilities. The Z4 is the best deal for early 5G right now: You can get the phone plus the Moto Mod for $439 with a new line, which is a much less painful introduction to 5G than the more expensive phones, such as the $1,299.99 Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
With 5G coverage very limited so far, you can leave the Moto Mod at home when you don’t need it. And keeping your initial 5G investment low now means you’ll have more money available when better 5G phones hit the market down the line.
We’d advise holding off at the moment, though. Verizon has said that next year, it will turn on a form of low-band, broad-coverage 5G that current phones don’t support. The first phones to support both low band and high band will come early next year, probably with the Samsung Galaxy S11.
The carrier’s 4G network is comprehensive, and given that millimeter wave isn’t going to have broad coverage, you shouldn’t stress out about transitioning over to 5G this year.
If you need more help buying a phone, check out our cell phone product guide for the most recent reviews. While you’re at it, take a look at our lists for the best phones on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. And head over to our Readers’ Choice picks for 2019’s top mobile carriers.
Best Verizon Phones Featured in This Roundup:
Pros: Best-in-class camera. Gorgeous OLED display. Solid performance. Excellent battery life.
Cons: Not waterproof. No microSD slot.
Bottom Line: Google’s well-rounded Pixel 3a is quite simply the best Android phone you can buy for $399.
Pros: Great value for money. Fastest Android phone available. Smooth software. Notchless screen. Lots of camera options.
Cons: Camera photos are slightly undersaturated. No 802.11ax Wi-Fi. Still no headphone jack.
Bottom Line: The OnePlus 7 Pro is by far the best value for a premium smartphone on the market today, giving you the features of a $1,000 phone for $300 less.
Pros: Amazing screen color and clarity. Industry-leading processor and modem. Wide-angle camera. Headphone jack. 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: Excellent battery life. Solid performance. Sleek design. Ships with Android 9.0 Pie.
Cons: Not waterproof. Mediocre camera. No NFC.
Bottom Line: The Motorola Moto G7 Power offers excellent performance, two-day battery life, and an attractive design for a budget-friendly price.
Pros: Reasonable price. New wide-angle camera option. Fastest processor available. Accurate display colors.
Cons: No big increases in wireless performance. Next year’s iPhone will likely mark a major change.
Bottom Line: The iPhone 11 offers solid camera performance and power to spare for a relatively reasonable price. It isn’t exciting, but it’s a good replacement for older iPhones.
Pros: Three cameras for great flexibility. New Night mode for low-light photos. Excellent LTE options, including dual SIM. Long battery life.
Cons: Expensive. 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: Useful S Pen stylus. Top-notch performance. Long battery life.
Cons: Expensive. Huge. No headphone jack. Confusing 5G situation.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is a big, powerful phone that’s good for artists and note-takers.
Pros: Wireless charging. Powerful new processor.
Cons: Lacks the latest modem features and bands. Single camera is a disadvantage for AR. Not a huge upgrade over last year’s model, which is still available.
Bottom Line: The iPhone 8 anchors Apple’s 2017 phone line, but it isn’t where the future is.
Pros: Waterproof and rugged. Versatile network coverage. Flashlight function.
Cons: Expensive. Poor camera.
Bottom Line: The Kyocera DuraXV LTE is the most rugged, powerful voice phone on Verizon, but it’s more than most voice phone users need.
Pros: Supports 5G with Moto Mod on Verizon. Excellent battery life. Good overall performance.
Cons: Inaccurate display colors. Hit-or-miss fingerprint sensor. Poor speaker quality. Not waterproof.
Bottom Line: The Motorola Moto Z4 is a solid phone for die-hard Moto Z-series fans or 5G early adopters, but the Google Pixel 3a XL is a far better value for everyone else.