4G is now widely available, but the speeds you’ll get aren’t just dependent on your network, they’re also dependent on your phone.
With that in mind we’ve created a list of the fastest 4G phones available. But to make the list they have to be more than just fast, they also have to be great phones in other ways, which is why top-end flagships like the iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10 are included.
Read on for the full selection, ranked from worst to best, complete with details of the speeds they can reach.
The Sony Xperia X isn’t quite a flagship, but that also makes it one of the cheapest phones in this list and it’s got a lot going for it beyond price.
For one thing it supports Cat 6 4G, for speeds of up to 300Mbps, which is far higher than most networks offer. Right now you only have much chance of reaching those sorts of speeds on the LTE-A services offered by EE and Vodafone, so the Xperia X is fairly well future proofed.
It's a stylish phone too, with a brushed aluminium back and a slim build. The Xperia X also has an impressive 23MP rear camera and a high-spec 13MP front-facing one, for great shots whatever you’re taking a photo of.
A fingerprint scanner makes security a breeze and the phone has quite a lot of power, with a hexa-core processor and 3GB of RAM.
Add in a 5.0-inch 1080p screen for crisp visuals and this is an impressive handset, especially for what it costs.
The Huawei P9 is another Cat 6 device, so you can theoretically reach download speeds of up to 300Mbps, but it’s a true flagship in other ways too.
The P9 has a slim aluminium shell and a fingerprint scanner, a bit like the Xperia X, but it stands out with a dual-lens 12MP camera on the back, allowing you to take either monochrome shots or richly detailed colour images. There’s also a decent 8MP camera on the front.
Away from the camera, other highlights include a sizeable 3000mAh battery and plenty of power, thanks to an octa-core processor clocked at up to 2.5GHz, and backed up by 4GB of RAM.
The Huawei P9 also has a 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 display, up to 64GB of storage and a microSD card slot, yet still undercuts most flagship phones.
The LG G5 is one of the more innovative handsets you’ll find, with a dual-lens camera, allowing you to take 16MP normal shots or 8MP wide-angle ones.
The innovation continues with an accessory slot, allowing you to connect hardware accessories, like a camera grip or a battery pack, to add new features to the phone.
In other ways the LG G5 is fairly standard but no less impressive, with a metal build, a fingerprint scanner and a crystal clear 5.3-inch 1440 x 2560 screen. Plus it’s a very powerful phone, with a flagship-class Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM.
Of course the LG G5 wouldn’t be in this list if it wasn’t great for 4G, and with Cat 6 support it is, with speeds of up to 300Mbps theoretically achievable.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 was one of the first flagships of 2016 and it’s still one of the best, combining a slim, water and dust resistant metal and glass build, with a brilliant 12MP camera, complete with optical image stabilisation, a super sharp 5.1-inch QHD screen, and an enormously powerful octa-core processor.
Add in decent battery life, fast charging, a fingerprint scanner and a microSD card slot and the Samsung Galaxy S7 begins to feel like a near perfect phone.
It’s also a near perfect 4G phone, as it’s one of the few handsets on the market with support for Cat 9, enabling speeds of up to 450Mbps.
In reality only EE is capable of even approaching these speeds, and currently only in Wembley Stadium, but it means the S7 will be one of the fastest 4G phones for years to come.
Apple’s latest phone isn’t a huge upgrade on the iPhone 6S, but the iPhone 7 does better its predecessor in a number of key ways, including 4G, as while the iPhone 6S is Cat 6, the iPhone 7 is Cat 9, potentially enabling download speeds of up to 450Mbps.
As with other Cat 9 devices the networks and locations where you can get anywhere close to this are currently very limited, but you can expect coverage and availability to grow over the next couple of years.
The iPhone 7 is one of the best phones around in other ways too, with a stylishly curved metal body, a massive 256GB of storage in the top size, and an improved 12MP camera, complete with optical image stabilisation.
The iPhone 7 is also seriously powerful, with a new A10 Fusion processor that delivers impeccably smooth performance.
Plus the screen is the best it’s ever been. It’s fairly compact at 4.7 inches, but it sports bright, natural colours.
The iPhone 7 also has a fingerprint scanner and runs iOS 10, complete with a rich selection of apps.
The HTC 10 was among the first phones to support Cat 9 4G and it’s with this phone that EE has achieved speeds of 360Mbps in a real world environment.
Insane 4G speeds aside, the HTC 10 also has a stunning metal build and is unusual in offering optical image stabilisation for both front and rear cameras – so you can avoid blur in both your selfies and landscape shots.
It’s powerful too, of course, with a top-end Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, plus a beautiful 5.2-inch 1440 x 2560 screen and a fingerprint scanner.
Where the HTC 10 really stands out though is in its audio skills, as it has powerful BoomSound speakers delivering stereo sound, and support for Hi-Res audio when listening through headphones.
The iPhone 7 is a great phone, but the iPhone 7 Plus is even better. Like the standard iPhone 7 it supports Cat 9 LTE, so it’s just as good for 4G.
But it has a bigger, sharper 5.5-inch 1080p screen, so when you’re streaming films over 4G or playing games online everything will look better.
It also has a larger, longer lasting battery, so you can stream and download all day and with its dual-lens camera you can get true 2x optical zoom, for great shots even when you’re far away from the subject.
In other ways it’s just like the iPhone 7, with a premium metal build, loads of power and loads of built in storage.
This is it, the best 4G phone you can buy. Like the previous few entries on the list the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a Cat 9 device, allowing for blistering speeds of up to 450Mbps, but it’s also a near perfect phone in other ways.
It’s essentially a larger 5.5-inch Galaxy S7, with a stunning curved screen and a bigger battery, giving you two days of life between charges.
Like the S7 it also has a bright and vibrant QHD display, a massively powerful octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, fast charging, a water and dust resistant build, a stylish metal and glass design and a microSD card slot, ticking just about every box you could want from a smartphone.
So there you have it, the best 4G phones that money can buy. These are almost all top-end flagships, as the best 4G tech and other features are typically reserved for such phones, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, with the Sony Xperia X and Huawei P9 edging into the list at slightly sub-flagship prices.
Next up there’s the innovative LG G5, but it’s with the fifth place entry of the Samsung Galaxy S7 that things really heat up, as from here on out it’s all Cat 9 devices. Edging ahead of the S7 there’s the stunningly premium iPhone 7, with the HTC 10 coming out slightly further ahead still for its proven 4G performance.
The iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge lead the pack with their truly no-compromise design and feature sets, plus blistering 4G speeds.
On current UK networks any of these phones will see you well served for 4G speeds, but the top five entries are the most future-proofed.
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