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Verizon and T-Mobile win 5G awards, but do they cover your area?

Verizon and T-Mobile win 5G awards, but do they cover your area?
(Image credit: Verizon)

Verizon Wireless customers can sit safe in the knowledge that they chose the best cell phone provider, at least when it comes to 5G download speeds, as Verizon has scooped up the Opensignal 5G Download Speed award, with an average real-world speed of 494.7 Mbps. According to Opensignal, Verizon blew the competition out of the water, offering speeds up to ten times faster than other providers.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the other cell phone carriers though. T-Mobile picked up the award for 5G availability, with its customers spending an average of 22.5% of their time connected to 5G service - much higher than second place AT&T Wireless which had customers on 5G connections just 14.1% of the time, with the other networks trailing even further behind. 

So while you get the best speeds with Verizon, you’re going to be able to get 5G in a wider area with T-Mobile.  In fact, Verizon customers only spend 0.4% of their time on 5G networks, which is staggeringly low compared to the other networks.

Which cell phone network is actually best for you?

Of course these are just averages, so while T-Mobile comes out better nationwide, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best 5G coverage with it in your area. Likewise, Verizon’s 5G might not cover a huge area, but if you can get it, it’s lightning fast. Check out our article on cell phone coverage maps to see which carrier offers the best signal in your area.

Weirdly, AT&T and Verizon tied for the Download Speed Experience – 5G Users award, which we would have assumed went to the network with the fastest 5G speeds. But pump your brakes there buster, because it’s slightly more complicated than that. The Download Speed Experience Award is given to the network with the fastest average speeds, when accounting for 4G and 5G speeds, along with the average time users spend on both. So while Verizon has the fastest 5G network, AT&T makes up some ground by having faster 4G speeds.

For those of you wondering who Opensignal are and why its awards matter, Opensignal is an independent company that analyses consumer mobile experiences to help customers understand exactly what they’re getting from their networks. 

Now, none of this 5G chatter will do you any good if your device isn’t 5G ready too, so you’re going to need to upgrade to one of the best smartphones and make sure it’s 5G enabled. The Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 are both fantastic options, and the upcoming iPhone 12 is heavily rumored to be 5G compatible too.

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.