Buying a new Android smartphone from T-Mobile or buying one for using on the Magenta carrier can be a tough task. Even when one has a clear idea of the desired device they intend to commit to, a minute’s perusal of all the other smartphones available may quickly undo weeks worth of confidence. There are just too many excellent devices out there, and with T-Mobile offering several of them with similar specs, the choice becomes even more difficult. Luckily, we have created this handy-dandy reference post to help make your mind up (or reaffirm your existing decision).
It should be pointed out that T-Mobile doesn’t exactly have a large selection of smartphones to choose from. Thankfully, the Magenta carrier allows for unlocked devices to be used on its network as long as they support the pre-requisite bands and are of GSM configuration. To this end, we’ve also included some off-carrier considerations that might interest you.
The best of the best [March 2019]
We have provided a summary of popular T-Mobile phones right below along with their prices. Some of the devices like the Pixel 3 sets, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ3 and HTC U12+, among others, aren’t sold directly by T-Mobile, but they have been linked to their respective store pages. As for the rest, they are all links to the official T-Mobile online shop.
Now, let’s talk about the best Android phones under some of the popular categories based on what feature you want the most. Like, camera, phablet (screen size), design, battery life, etc. We would give you what we think is the best phone in each category, along with an honorable mention for a few other Android phones that are mostly sold as unlocked models via retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo, among others.
Let’s get down to business.
The best most valued phone
Samsung Galaxy S flagship phones have heavily featured in our segment of the best most valuable phone on T-Mobile and this doesn’t change this year, only that we have up to three variants namely Samsung Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10e, all of which are easily attractive depending on your preferences.
If you don’t want to skimp on anything, the standard Samsung Galaxy S10 has it all. It takes everything the Galaxy S10e has and improves on it. The screen is a Dynamic AMOLED panel but curved on the edges. The 6.1-inch panel houses a selfie sensor of 10 megapixels and an in-display fingerprint scanner in the bottom third. The back gets a tri-lens camera array and due to its size, the battery is also bigger at 3400mAh.
On the inside, the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset runs the show and the base RAM is bumped to 8GB, with storage going all the way to 512GB. If this isn’t enough, there’s room to insert a 512GB microSD card. Alternatively, Samsung Galaxy S10+ should take care of business with its 1TB of internal storage alongside a massive 12GB RAM, but there are other lower memory options of 8GB RAM and either 128GB or 512GB of onboard storage.
The S10+ also gets a bigger 6.4-inch screen, a bigger 4100mAh battery and a second lens on the front-facing camera. As for the rest of the specs, it keeps everything you find on the standard Galaxy S10, including fancy features like fast wireless, and reverse wireless charging, Wi-Fi 6, in-display fingerprint scanner, IP68 dust and water resistance, and so on.
- Samsung Galaxy S10 | Samsung Galaxy S10+ software update news
- Best Samsung Galaxy S10 screen protectors and tempered glass
- Official cases and accessories for Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10e
If, however, you are looking to buy a compact smartphone that boasts all the bells and whistles of a premium 2019 flagship while at the same time saving a few hundred dollars, the best option is Samsung’s smallest offering, the Galaxy S10e, which comes with a 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen and measures just 142.2mm tall. It’s a big-screen phone that is not too big physically owing largely to the fact that it has such small bezels. The usually space-consuming front-mounted fingerprint scanner now sits on the side of the phone and the selfie camera has a new home on the display screen, thus eliminating a significant chunk of the bottom and top bezels.
You are getting the same performance specs as the premium Galaxy S10, but instead of three camera lenses on the back, you get two on the S10e. Also, as a consequence of its physical size, you get the smallest battery capacity in the S10 series, but still significantly big at 3100mAh.
- Galaxy S10e software update news
- Best Samsung Galaxy S10e screen protectors and tempered glass
- Best Galaxy S10e cases in 2019
The 5.5-inch Google Pixel 3, which measures 145.6mm tall, is your second best option if you are shopping for a compact phone. Although it ships with a 2018 flagship processor, the impressive software optimizations from Google make the device zippy in performance. Even better is that time and again, Google has proven that its camera software is unmatched.
What makes the Pixel 3 an even more interesting proposition is the promise of three major OS upgrades and early access to this software, just like it is already happening with Android Q beta. Unfortunately, you won’t find this device in T-Mobile stores, but the good thing is that Google also offers a financing option.
Alternatively, you can shell out about $500 outright on the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, which is also a great compact phone. It’s the smallest with a 5-inch screen and measures a mere 135mm tall, but it’s big on specs, equalling what the Google Pixel 3 has on board, including a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage. You also get fancy features like IP6X dust and water resistance, NFC, Quick Charge 3.0, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, etc., but it misses out on the 3.5mm audio jack.
By today’s standards, the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 can easily be classified as a compact smartphone, although the larger bezels result in a slightly taller body measuring 147.7mm. The phone shares the same hardware configuration as the Xperia XZ2 Compact and Pixel 3 on this list, but the pair is nowhere near the S9 when it comes to looks and feel.
You can also look at the S9+, which comes with a larger screen size of 6.2 inches, and slightly larger battery too, while other specs (mostly) remain the same as the standard S9: a QHD Super AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 64GB storage, Android 9.0 (after an upgrade), and a fantastic camera. Similar to this year’s S10 and S10+, the sides of the screen are also curved, which gives the phone a very distinctive look and is sure to turn heads.
Outside of the Galaxy world, there is the Nokia 9 PureView and its 5-lens camera array on the back, in-display fingerprint scanner, wireless charging, and plenty of other premium features. Although unveiled in 2019, it has a 2018 processor, the Snapdragon 845, which shouldn’t be a concern for many considering the phone’s price.
The best part of the Nokia 9 PureView is that it runs clean Android One software, meaning you are in for a Google Pixel-like treat that includes timely software updates. Unfortunately, you won’t find it in any T-Mobile store, but the likes of Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon have it in stock.
And if you have some more cash to burn, have a look at the Pixel 3 XL. At a discounted price of $699, it’s a very compelling device if you are okay with buying outside the T-Mobile stores. The performance is one of the best there is, the camera is among the best there is, if not the best, while the battery and the display do not disappoint at all. It has a huge display screen, you are guaranteed to receive Android OS updates until Android S and has Pie out of the box with a ready upgrade to Android Q beta, an OS that’ll take ages to arrive on S10 and S10+.
Another exciting proposition is the LG G8 ThinQ. Its another 2019 flagship phone, meaning you get equally flagship hardware to match the likes of Samsung Galaxy S10, among them Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB RAM, IP68 dust and water resistance, wireless charging, MIL-STD 810G certification, and so on. The Magenta carrier is also expected to bring the 5G-based LG V50 ThinQ to the U.S. later in Q2 2019, although pricing is still unknown.
Sonys Xperia XZ3 also presents another compelling alternative, but like many others not sold directly through T-Mobile, the one-time price might prove to be a stumbling block. The phone has all the premium hardware specs from 2018 and ships with Android 9 Pie pre-installed. The 6-inch panel doesn’t have a notch, making it one of the few flagship phones without this design.
Finally, there is also the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, which is basically an S8 in a rugged body but with a flat display rather than a curved Edge variant. Why Samsung didn’t release a Galaxy S9 Active (and it probably won’t release an Active variant of the S10 too) is beyond our knowledge, but for now, the S8 Active is available for $750 or $30 upfront and 24 monthly payments of $30.
The best phablet
A good number of people who buy phablets have multitasking on top of the checklist. Granted, the leader of the pack in T-Mobile’s stable is decidedly the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, released in 2018 and available for $899.99 outright or $20.84 per month for 36 months, but with $149.99 upfront. What makes the Note 9 the go-to option in this category is the world of new possibilities the S Pen stylus opens up, something that is exclusive to this device.
But if you still want a phablet yet there is no interest in the S Pen, Samsung Galaxy S10+ is what you are after. The phone matches the Note 9’s 6.4-inch display screen, but being the newest kid on the block, it packs the latest display technology, including what Samsung calls Curved Dynamic AMOLED and Infinity O. The S10+’s display screen gets further ahead of the Note 9 by including an in-display fingerprint scanner. The cutout housing the dual-lens selfie camera is a result of the Infinity O design.
The S10+ further skids past the Note 9 in terms of performance thanks to not only having a new Snapdragon 855 processor but also boasting up to 12GB RAM and a massive 1TB of internal storage that can still be expanded via a microSD card of up to 512GB. You won’t find a better camera on another device either, with Samsung going with a tri-lens shooter and to keep it alive, a solid 4100mAh battery is on board.
- Samsung Galaxy S10+ All you need to know
- Best Clear Cases for the Galaxy S10 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S10: First things to do!
Another masterpiece of a phablet and an all-round device is the OnePlus 6T, the first OnePlus phone to be sold through T-Mobile and even better is that it’s available for financing.
OnePlus is quite known for producing the best value-for-money devices year after year — and it has done it again with the OnePlus 6T. The OnePlus 6T is undoubtedly the best smartphone on T-Mobile at its price point. It runs fast, features a great display and camera, a big battery, and best of all, it comes pre-installed with Android 9 Pie out of the box. It’s designed pretty well, even if there is nothing new and breathtaking here, and runs the show all day long without crying for a need to charge.
At $550 or $22.92 monthly installments for 24 months, the OnePlus 6T is an incredible phone that gets you flagship-level specs and performance (features a huge 6.4-inch AMOLED display screen and the Snapdragon 845 SoC, BTW, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage!), even though it cuts out on IP6X certification, 3.5mm audio jack, and wireless charging, which are not essential to many, especially the latter.
While T-Mobile doesn’t actually sell the Google Pixel 3 XL, it’s worth mentioning that nothing stops customers from buying one via the Google Store and using it on Magenta’s network. It houses one of the best cameras on any mobile phone today and performs mind-blowingly fast, easily the best among all Android phones. Add to that quickest Android updates (Android Q beta is already available, BTW), whether that be about monthly security patches or Android OS — Google has promised 3 years of updates, till Android S — and you have a complete phone, which is only hurt by the largely unimpressive design compared to the competition, something many agree Google has yet to master.
The Pixel 3 XL is quite huge featuring a big 6.3-inch display. Owing to the fact it has two front-facing speakers: one on the top and the other on the bottom and two cameras on the front too, the device is also very tall. These go a long way to improve the listening experience and deliver great selfies, respectively.
Another great phablet that isn’t sold through T-Mobile but can be found on Amazon is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The company has a share of its own problems with the U.S. government, but if this doesn’t concern you, the Mate 20 Pro is one great piece of hardware that you’ll have little to regret about even at its hefty price tag of about $870.
There is a 6.4-inch notched AMOLED display screen with a QHD+ resolution and in-display fingerprint scanner, the worlds first 7nm processor, Kirin 980, a triple-lens main camera totaling up to 68MP, comes with a 3D face unlock mechanism, a 4200mAh battery that will last a full day on a single charge and then some, has an IP68 certified body, runs Android Pie out of the box, and also supports reverse wireless charging technology, among other premium features.
For the audiophiles and fans of video shooters, there is also the LG V40 ThinQ to consider, which has specs comparable to the Galaxy Note 9 but with a larger focus on media via its dedicated DAC audio. With the new LG V50 ThinQ around the corner, though, fans of LG V series might want to hold on for a little longer, especially since this phone is future-proof thanks to the 5G support it comes with. The V50 also ships with a bigger battery to match the big boys from Samsung.
The V40 ThinQ currently goes for It is available for $600 outright, or 36 monthly payments of $16.67 each with no upfront payment. The product comes with 64GB of storage and microSD support, where up to 2TB of external storage can be accommodated.
The best designed
Ask 10 people what they think looks good, and you are likely to get 10 different answers, though inevitably with some overlap and consensus. The overall trend in 2018 among flagships was a significant reduction in the bezel around displays, and as such, all their successors are taking things a notch higher with even more thinner bezels. Selecting a phone will ultimately depend on what you like.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10e basically share a similar design language, but their sizes vary. Also, the Galaxy S10e slightly differs with its flatscreen design as opposed to the curved, edge-to-edge design on the S10 and S10+. The selfie camera cutout in the display screen and in-display fingerprint scanner make the latter pair unique, but of course, the size you pick depends on your preferences.
Overall, either of the three devices would definitely be a good-looking choice for lots of people. All phones feature a glass front and back, as well as a metal frame that blends subtly with the front and back of the body to give you a really smooth slab to hang on to. You must grab one of these in your hand to get a good idea of what these devices feel like — a premium smartphone, in all sense.
If you are not into the Infinity O and in-display fingerprint scanning technology, last years Galaxy S9 and Note 9 and their Infinity Display screens should be your next stop. The fact that the pair is getting cheaper with time makes either a good deal, but of course, you’ll be missing out on some of the S10’s impressive features like reverse wireless charging, Wi-Fi 6, and so on.
Alternatively, the OnePlus 6T and its teardrop-style notch and glass finish really impress and the fact that its available for financing makes it an even better deal. The Google Pixel 3 may come in for consideration, but the bigger Pixel 3 XL is just a no. But then again, it’s down to personal preference.
All of these phones pack in awesome specs and features that you’d expect to find in any high-end Android phone depending on the time of release.
The best camera
This is another tough issue, as all the flagships in 2018/9 basically have fantastic cameras. The Google Pixel 3 has been the champ in this segment, but the arrival of Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ has a serious impact here. The Galaxy Note 9 and S9+ put up a great fight against the Pixel 3, but the S10 and S10+ take things a notch higher by adding a third-lens for super wide-angle shots. This is the game changer, making the S10 pair the best when you want to take close-up shots and basically the most flexible photography smartphones at T-Mobile.
While the Pixel 3 is still the best with portrait mode despite having a single-lens camera, the S10 and S10+ are also great at this thanks to the dedicated telephoto lens. It gets even better with the selfie shooter on the S10+, where Samsung added a depth-sensing lens for better portrait shots for your selfies. The Korean company has also included some cool stuff like the built-in Instagram mode to spice things up, but the Pixel 3 has Pixel Visual Core that improves the camera captures of more third-party apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and any other app alongside lots of AI and software tricks.
As already pointed out, the Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy S9 are still great photography companions, so be sure to check them out, especially now that they are available at slightly discounted price points.
If you are particularly into video-shooting, the LG V40 ThinQ is even better and given its tri-lens camera setup on the back, you can also expect plenty of great photography. The story shouldn’t be different with the upcoming LG V50 ThinQ, which further spices things up with support for 5G network.
Alternatively, the even more affordable OnePlus 6T can be a worthy alternative. The phone has what the company calls Nightscape and Studio Lighting, features that are aimed at making the 6T’s camera a much better proposition compared to the original OnePlus 6 as well as the competition. Of course, don’t expect Google Pixel 3-like photos, but at more than $200 less, the quality of photos on the 6T will blow you away.
For those open to stepping out of the official T-Mobile shops, your first stop should be Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The device picks up from where the P30 Pro left off with its tri-lens camera that boasts some of the best photography results in any smartphone.
The best performance
Arguably the best phone to select for performance is Google’s Pixel lineup, however, the latest Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are simply unmatched thanks to the more powerful Snapdragon 855 processor and at least double the RAM on the latest Pixel 3 pair. On top of this, Samsung has really stepped up its software game with the new One UI that runs on top of Pie, making it smooth and intuitive to use than ever before.
With the likes of LG G8 ThinQ and LG V50 ThinQ boasting a similar processor, you can’t go wrong with either. In fact, you simply can’t go wrong with any flagship processor rocking the newest Snapdragon 855 processor, at least 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and the latest Android 9 Pie software. These are the basic specs for any 2019 flagship phone, although others like the S10+ takes things above the skies with up to 12GB RAM and 1TB storage.
Also, you can’t go wrong with any of the OnePlus 6T, Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9 or S9+ because of their powerful processors – the Snapdragon 845. But as always, software is king when it comes to performance, which is where Google rules. But as noted, Samsung, OnePlus, and even LG have really improved their software experience and are nearly dancing to the same tune as the big G.
The best battery life
Big battery phones are your best bet if looking for a phone that lasts the longest. On top of this list of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, unfortunately, you’ll have to part with a one-time fee of more than $800 to get your hands on this 4200mAh-battery phone. On the brighter side, you have the Galaxy S10+ with a huge 4100mAh battery, slightly bigger than the 4000mAh unit used in the Galaxy Note 9.
Given the S10+ is a better a device overall at the moment, it is the one device you should go for, but at $100 cheaper on top of the productivity features that come with the S Pen, the Note 9 is still a contender for the best Android phone with the best battery life on T-Mobile.
You can also consider any of the OnePlus 6T, Galaxy S9+, and Pixel 3 XL if you want the battery to last long, under the premium segment of smartphones. The upcoming LG V50 ThinQ has a 4000mAh battery, which makes it a solid alternative, although we still don’t know just how much of a battery hog the added 5G support is compared to the LTE modems in other phones.
Of course, how long your battery lasts will eventually depend on your usage patterns, but you can’t go wrong with any of the big-battery phones mentioned above.
Mid-range Android phones (T-Mobile)
Smart buyers will know that shopping for a flagship phone soon after its successor arrives on the market is a boon. This is exactly why the midrange smartphone segment has some interesting options. The top of the line offering here is definitely the Samsung Galaxy S9, which has now been discounted to just $600 following the release of the Galaxy S10. Even better is that you can spend about $50 less and still walk away with another great smartphone from 2018 – the OnePlus 6T. If this amount is too much to part with one-time, the phone is available for financing as well, just like the S9.
Google has been running some cool discounts on the Pixel 3, pulling down the price to $599 for the base model. For what you get on this phone, this isnt such a bad price. Not only is the Pixel 3 one of the best in photography, but it’s also one of the best compact phones out there with the Galaxy S10e and Xperia XZ2 Compact promising flagship-level hardware and software support.
Drop your price further lower and you may have to settle for the Samsung Galaxy A6, which goes for $400 but, honestly, it is a bit underwhelming spec wise. In fact, the slightly cheaper Nokia 7.1 is a way better buy if you can’t go past the $400 mark, but then again, this price can easily nail you a new Samsung Galaxy S8 on platforms like Amazon. The only reason you should get the A6 is if you want the financing option.
At $300, the Moto G7 is also a great midrange phone that lies on the lower end of the spectrum, but if you can find the Moto G7 Plus through Amazon, you will be scoring yourself a great deal, although at a slightly higher price.
LG Stylo 4 presents a great option in the budget segment. In addition to coming in with plenty of interesting specs and features on a budget, the Stylo 4 also happens to be your only other route to enjoying the stylus experience outside of Samsung’s realm. At $250 outright or $10+$10/mo. for 24 months, the Stylo 4 won’t disappoint you.
Another LG smartphone worth looking at is the LG Q7+. In addition to coming in with the trendy 18:9 aspect ratio on a 5.5-inch FHD display screen, the LG Q7+ also happens to tag along most of the premium features we are used to seeing in the likes of LG G7 and LG V30, among them IP68, MIL-STD 810G certifications, fast battery charging, USB-C port, facial recognition, NFC, and support for Hi-Fi Quad DAC audio technology.
Related: LG Q7 series: All you need to know
Other devices that are also worth looking at in this segment include the Moto G7 Play and Moto G7 Power priced at $200 and $250, respectively, and they’ll be available in the U.S. pretty soon, as well as the Nokia 6.1 that goes for about $230. The Moto E5 Plus, and if you do mind, the LG K30 and LG Aristo 2 Plus, are also great budget phones.
Fans of Motorola will be glad to learn that the Magenta carrier also has a cheaper alternative to the Moto E5 Plus – the Moto E5 Play, which can be yours at just $150. Both phones are also available on contract.
Clearly, there is no shortage of top-quality smartphones to be had from T-Mobile and given that the OnePlus 6T is now available through the carrier, your best choice may not have to come in the form of an unlocked device. Besides the 6T, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 trio, the Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9, and Galaxy S9+ offer you plenty in the range of $600-$1000.
By far the best option would be the Galaxy S10 and S10+, given their specs, features, and a design that is often found very pleasing. But of course, you can only walk away with what you can afford.
Let us know if you have any queries regarding T-Mobile Android phones in the comments section below. And also do share your experience and thoughts on these phones.