The best T-Mobile Android phones

Samsung Galaxy S9 Titanium Gray

Buying a new smartphone is a tough task: even when one has a clear idea of the desired device they intend to commit to, a 1-minute perusal of all the other products on store shelves may quickly undo weeks worth of confidence. There are just too many excellent devices out there, and with so many offering similar specs the choice becomes even more difficult. Luckily, we have created this handy-dandy reference feature to help make your mind up (or reaffirm your existing decision). This week we tackle the formidable T-Mobile.

It should be pointed out that T-Mobile doesn’t exactly have a large selection of smartphones to choose from. Of the recent releases, almost half are Apple products. Thankfully, Magenta 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 will also include some off-carrier considerations to have at.

The best of the best [November 2018]

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, OnePlus 6 and HTC U12+ aren’t sold by T-Mobile, but they have been linked to their respective store pages — rest all are T-Mobile pages.

Android Phone Online Store Link
Google Pixel 3 $33.29/mo. | $799.00
Google Pixel 3 XL $37.46/mo. | $899.00
Samsung Galaxy S9 $30.00/mo.| $720.00
Samsung Galaxy S9+ $32.50/mo. ($60 upfront)| $840.00
OnePlus 6T $24.17/mo. | $580.00
Samsung Galaxy S8 $25.00/mo. | $600.00
Samsung Galaxy S8+ $130+$30.00/mo. | $850.00
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active $130+$30.00/mo. | $850.00
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 $24.17/mo. (36) | $870
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 $30.00/mo. | $720.00
OnePlus 6 $530.00
LG V40 ThinQ $38.34/mo. | $920
LG G7 ThinQ $30+$30.00/mo. | $750.00
HTC U12+ $34.00/mo. | $799.00 [HTC.com]
HTC U11 Life $59/mo. (6 months) | $349.00 [HTC.com]
Motorola Moto Z2 Force $20.83/mo. | $500.00 [Motorola.com]
LG Stylo 4 $10+$10/mo. | $250
Samsung Galaxy J7 Star $10+$10/mo. | $250
Moto E5 Plus $9+$9/mo. | $225
Moto E5 Play $6+$6/mo. | $150
REVVL 2 | 2 Plus $7/mo. | $168 | $10.50/mo. | $252
Samsung Galaxy J3 Star $7+$7.00/mo. | $175.00
LG K30 $9+$9.00/mo. | $225.00
LG Aristo 2 Plus $6.00+ $6.00/mo. | $150.00

We will talk about the best Android phone under some of the popular categories, which are based on what feature you are the most about. Like, camera, phablet, display, design, battery life, etc. We would give you what we think is the best phone in that section, along with an honorable mention for a few other Android phones.

Let’s see to this.

The best most valued phone

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Ironically the idea of a 5.8-inch display – once unquestionably a phablet in the yesteryears – is now being deemed a normal sized phone. For those looking to buy such a “standard” smartphone, which is good at everything, the best option is Samsung’s smaller Galaxy S9. It’s a big phone but not too big owing largely to the fact that it has such small bezels. 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 between the two: a QHD Super AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 64GB storage, Android 8.0, and a fantastic camera. Similar to last year’s S8 and Note 8, the sides of the screen are also curved, which gives the phone a very distinctive look and is sure to turn heads.

Speaking of the Note 8, this year’s S9+ borrows a leaf from its counterpart, coming in with a dual-lens camera that also rocks a telephoto lens. The S9+ is also more powerful with a standard RAM of 6GB as opposed to the S9’s 4GB, but the rest of the stuff remains the same. These include dual stereo speakers, an 8MP selfie camera, USB-C and 3.5mm audio jack, wireless charging and IP68 dust and water resistance, among others.

The outgoing Galaxy S8 might have been replaced by the better S9, but the former is still a great phone, especially now that it’s going to be available on the cheap. But why get an older device when the same price (or maybe cheaper) can get you an even better phone with the latest hardware tech, software, and top-notch features? Well, folks, meet the OnePlus 6T, the first Oneavailablertphone to be sold through T-Mobile and is available for financing.

OnePlus-6T-official-1

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 the best smartphone on T-Mobile at its price point, and we say that because it runs fast, features a great display and camera, a big battery, and best of all, it runs the latest 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 $580 or $24.17 monthly installments for 24 months, the OnePlus 6T is an incredible phone that gets you flagship-level specs and performance (features the Snapdragon 845 SoC, BTW, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage!), even though it cuts out on IP6X certification, wireless charging and 3.5mm audio jack, which are not essential to many, especially the latter.

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And if you have some more cash to burn, have a look at the Pixel 3. At $799, it’s a very compelling device if you can find a way to ignore the seemingly hefty price tag. The performance is 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’s super-lightweight and at just 5.5 inches, it feels more comfortable in hand than any other phone mentioned here. You are guaranteed to receive Android OS updates until Android S and has Pie out of the box, an OS that’ll take ages to arrive on S9/Note 9/G7/U12+ etc.).

Another exciting proposition is the LG G7 ThinQ. Its price is up there with other flagships and even though it features a design similar to the iPhone X aka notch, the G7 is still a powerhouse, one that features bezel-less LCD display, which means there will be a noticeable lack of color depth and saturation when compared to something like the Galaxy Note 9 or Galaxy S9 Super AMOLED panels. Still, it’s a 6.1-inch QHD+ IPS panel that promises a great viewing experience. Do check out the Raspberry Rose color because it looks pretty good, and given the price it comes with on contract, the LG G7 ThinQ is one of the best there is at the moment.

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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 hasn’t released a Galaxy S9 Active is beyond our knowledge, but for now, the S8 Active is available for $850 or $130 down and 24 monthly payments of $30. If and when the Galaxy S9 Active comes around is unknown, but if you want a great rugged phone, the S8 Active is your only option at the moment.

The best phablet

Galaxy-Note-9

Large displays have become mainstream mainstays as what were once “mini tablets” are now sensible smartphones. The leader of the pack in T-Mobile’s stable is decidedly the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, released just a few weeks back and available for $0 upfront with 36 monthly installments of $24.17. That’s 870 bucks in the end.

The Note 9 has a fantastic 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display along with top specs across the board and comes standard with 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage, but there’s a superior variant with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage, which is still expandable via a microSD card of up to 512GB. The device has received almost universal praise, but what’s even more troubling about the Note 9 is the price tag. Well, worry no more because in OnePlus 6T, you have a device that matches the screen size of the Note 9, has equally powerful hardware specs, a decent camera, much better software, a big battery, yet it goes for nearly half the price of the Samsung Note flagship.

Those looking for a slightly smaller screen would also do well with the Galaxy S9+, which has a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display but rocks much more superior specs than its counterpart minus the crucial S-Pen. As expected, T-Mobile has given the S9+ a slightly cheaper price tag than the Note 9, so there is that to consider. Both the Note 8 and S8+ are also available at discounted prices and offers.

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 the best camera on any mobile phone today and performs mind-blowingly fast, easily the best among all Android phones. Add to that quickest Android updates, 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 its astonishingly huge display notch, luckily, this notch can be hidden, but it’s not easy to unsee it once you see it.

The Pixel 3 XL is actually quite a long phone thanks to the 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. This goes a long way to improve the listening experience and deliver great selfies, respectively. Other than the divisive notch, the device has been extremely well received by the media and fans alike.

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. It is available for $920, or 24 monthly payments of $38.34 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 pre-installed effects LG V40 ThinQ comes with make it the best phone to have if you are into shooting videos from your mobile phone.

The best designed

Samsung-Galaxy-S9-business-phone

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 the devices listed in this piece make use of the new approach. Selecting a phone will ultimately depend on what you like.

Samsung’s Galaxy S9, S9+, Note 9, Note 8, S8+and S8 all share a similar design language, but their sizes vary. While the size situation might depend on individual preference, any of the six Samsung smartphones 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 Galaxy S9 and Note 9 and their Infinity Display screens, then the OnePlus 6T and its teardrop-style notch and glass finish does really impress, but so does the likes of HTC U12+, LG G7 ThinQ, and the V40, all of which will impress you with their own special kind of beauty. Have a look at HTC U12+, which even though is not available on contract from T-Mobile, can be bought from the HTC’s website directly, for use on T-Mobile. Its back makes it a stunner in looks, while it is certainly able to deliver strong, smooth performance without batting an eye. Add the impressive quad-lens camera system to all that and you’ll have little to cry foul about.

All of these phones pack in awesome specs like the Note 9 and S9, come with the bezel-less display with a notch that can be disabled and give you a peace of mind in the design department too. LG’s G7 and V40 both have familiar, LG-esque designs and look like slightly more modest versions of Samsung’s S/Note series. The front and back panels are made of glass and a metal frame is sandwiched between.

When we’re talking a seriously well-looking phone that can become a darling of your eyes, probably the smaller Google Pixel 3 may have a case but the bigger Pixel 3 XL just can’t fit the bill. But then again, it’s down to personal preference.

The best camera

Is-pixel-3-worth

This is another tough issue, as all the flagships in 2018 basically have fantastic cameras. Until recently the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9 were top-ranked, but the Pixel 3. Many felt Google’s Pixel 2 phones had the best cameras among the assortment of Android phones in the market and numerous experts around the world agreed. Add to that the Pixel Visual Core that improves the camera captures of even the third-party apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and any other app, you have a winning phone in Pixel 2 XL, by any means. Now, in the Pixel 3, Google takes all the above goodies and stepped things up to give you an even better camera experience that is backed by lots of AI and software tricks.

Assuming you don’t want to buy an off-carrier unlocked device, however, the choice is ultimately the Galaxy Note 9 (if you can deal with the 6.4-inch display), but the Galaxy S9+ and the standard Galaxy S9 are not far off the pace. Last year’s Note 8, S8 and S8+ are still great options in photography, too.

The LG G7 ThinQ also has a fantastic camera setup with dual rear offerings and is another good consideration for buyers. And if you are into video-shooting particularly, 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. OnePlus 6T has what the company calls Nightscape and Studio Lighting, features that are aimed at making the 6Ts camera a much better proposition compared to the original OnePlus 6 as well as the competition. Of course, dont expect Google Pixel 3-like photos, but at more than $200 less, the quality of ohotos on the 6T will blow you away.

The best performance

Google-Pixel-3-XL-9

Arguably the best phone to select for performance is Google’s Pixel 3 XL, or even the smaller Pixel 3 (though the latter comes with a smaller 5.5-inch screen with a lower resolution). However, 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. The Samsung software, as usual, may end up being a letdown, which is where the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL come in.

Google makes Android, and it is Google’s Android products that receive the quickest updates and new software additions. The lack of a heavy custom UI skin over Android’s base means not only is it more eye-pleasing, but the system will also run hell-lot-of smoother, too. However, given that the Pixel 3 isn’t available straight frm T-Mobile, the best in class there is at the moment is the OnePlus 6T. Unlike others, OxygenOS is light, smooth, and ensures stability over a long time. There are minimal tweaks that you might be surprised at how you have been living without them all this time. Like the Pixel 3, the 6T has Android 9 Pie preinstalled and is guaranteed fast updates, but of course, not as fast as the Pixels.

Samsung’s offerings have improved in recent years and now have less bloat with Samsung Experience (formerly TouchWiz). There is still lots of overlay and tinkering to be had, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as it once was. It also needs to be clarified that many of the features and enhancements Samsung brings to Android are actually good additions that millions upon millions of customers really enjoy using. Google itself has adopted some of Samsung’s enhancements over the years and brought them to stock Android.

Ultimately, the Snapdragon 845 processor powers all these devices so the basic benchmarks and overall performance will be top-notch, but yes, you will find the Google Pixel 3, OnePlus 6T, Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9 and S9+, as well as the new LG G7 ThinQ and LG V40 ThinQ, outgun the likes of Galaxy Note 8, S8, and S8+ by a mile purely because of the new Snapdragon 845 chipset.

The best battery life

samsung-galaxy-note-9-display

You have to consider any of the Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 6TGalaxy S9+ and Pixel 3 XL if you want the battery to last long, under the premium segment of smartphones. Between these four choices, if you want a very good-looking all-rounder phone, go for the Note 9, no doubt.

But if you want a smartphone which is really smart, runs super-smooth, performs tasks superfast, never gives a lag/jerk/anything like that, besides getting you timely updates (not necessarily the first) and is also affordable, get the OnePlus 6T, but this depends on how good you can get at ignoring the notch. You might be compromising on looks here a bit, but this is way better than the OnePlus 6 or Google Pixel 3 XL, although the latter is much better in the imaging department than not just the 6T, but also the Note 9 thanks to Google’s super-cool AI at work in its camera.

Of course, how long your battery lasts will eventually depend on your usage patterns, but you can’t go wrong with the big Note 9 and its monstrous 4000mAh battery.

The best in multi-tasking

With split-screen mode, every Android phone is a great multi-tasker, but the screen size plays hands-down the biggest role in this arena. There are two prime contenders for this field. The more obvious, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, comes with a built-in stylus called the S-Pen which opens up an enormous amount of creative capabilities. Sketching, note taking, picture editing, scrapbooking… there is a venerable laundry list of all the potential possibilities that one could use the pen input for, and as such the Note has remained a popular “professional” device in the years since its first introduction.

In addition to rocking very powerful hardware specs, the productivity features you get on the Note 9 are invaluable, more so the S-Pen.

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However, if the stylus is not important for you — it isn’t for us, actually! — then you just basically need a very fast phone to effectively and efficiently multi-task, where switching between the apps is blazing fast, or that phone shouldn’t stumble when you load your Maps and Spotify apps together with split-screen feature. Well, the OnePlus 6T and Pixel 3 XL are the answer. Even the mighty Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t come anywhere near to these ones. The big screens on the duo (6.41-inch on 6T and 6.3-inch on Pixel 3 XL) mean there is plenty of space for loading two apps together for multitasking. But since the Pixel 3 XL isnt sold through T-Mobile, your best bet here is the 6T and given its price tag, you can’t go wrong on this one.

However, if you are looking to add modules that make your phone do extra stuff than what any of the phones could do out of the box, then you have to look at Moto Z2 Force, which can use the power of — costly! — Moto mods to do some awesome stuff. Available for just $375 full retail price or $15 down and 24 monthly payments of $15, this modular wonder makes use of swappable back panels that can enhance the core device in ways that no other product natively can.

Accessories include a JBL speaker, a 360-degree camera, a projector, a battery pack, a zoom camera module and more. While somewhat pricey, the ability to simply pop off a back plate and instantly add new functionality is a fantastic idea. For what it’s worth, the Android 8.0 Oreo update is now available on the T-Mobile Z2 Force and an update to Pie is also expected.

Mid-range Android phones (T-Mobile)

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Within the range of $300-$500, do have some solid options. If your budget stretches to $530, it’s hard to tell which device could best the OnePlus 6 here. The 6 ticks every box just right — the performance, the camera, the design, the battery life, and the software. Everything is solid good with this device, even if not the best. Its performance is kind-of matchable to Pixel 3 – or even better – which is a big statement in itself.

Unfortunately, OnePlus 6 isn’t available through T-Mobile stores, but the new OnePlus 6T is, although its a little pricier coming in at $580. But at $24.17 monthly installments for 24 months, this should still be a great deal. There is a $549 6T, although this can only be purchased via the official OnePlus store without the financing option.

Only if you are not interested in OnePlus 6 or 6T, whether that’s because of your budget, or a sheer unlove for Chinese OEMs (they often do things which we don’t like), check out the LG G6, which also gets you a pretty good camera, decent 5.7″ bezel-less display, design, performance and battery life, while costing just $500 (much less under the deals that often show up).

Those eager to get away from Samsung could buy the HTC U11 LifeLG Stylo 3 PLUS, or LG K20 Plus all of which run for the $200-300 range. Oh, the U11 Life is a looker, BTW, and it can perform better than the rest of the lot, really, thanks to it running Android Oreo now, and also because of the better software optimization by HTC. And So, do give it a serious consideration before making a final decision.

T-Mobile also has a pair of in-house budget phones dubbed REVVL 2 and REVVL 2 Plus. These two will wow you with their latest 18:9 display designs on both 5.5-inch and 6-inch panels, with the latter stepping up the resolution to 1080p. You also get sizeable battery units on both handsets, Android Oreo, a dual-lens selfie camera on the Plus variant, and much more.

Budget-friendly phones

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T-Mobile has quite a few budget-friendly phones available from mainstay OEMs, including the Samsung Galaxy J3 Star, Galaxy J7 Star, LG Stylo 4, Motorola Moto E5 Plus, and others.

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

If you don’t mind spending $225, then the Motorola Moto E5 Plus is the best on this list. However, if you do mind that, look at LG K30 at about the same price or the cheaper LG Aristo 2 Plus, which despite mere 16GB ROM, is a good deal at just $150 or $6 per month for two years. Also, you can always opt for Samsung’s Galaxy J3 Star, which is basically the successor to the Galaxy J3 Prime.

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.

Wrap Up

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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 Note 9, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, the S8/S8+ and Note 8 offer you plenty in the range of $600-$950.

By far the best option would be the Galaxy S9 and S9+, given their specs and design, often found very pleasing thanks to both coming frequently on sale or as a part of BOGO campaign. But of course, OnePlus 6T wins on the basis of the best value for money.


Do 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.

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Life-long tech enthusiast based in Tokyo, Japan. Enjoys spicy food (especially Indian curry), mobile devices, exploring new places, and video games. If there's a mobile phone or tablet out there, he's probably used or owned it.