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The Best Smartphones on T-Mobile USA – A TechnoBuffalo Guide

Best T-Mobile Smartphones - 2012

We recently brought you our guides to the best smartphones on AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint and now it’s time for the next installment in our series: the best smartphones on T-Mobile USA. Unlike those three aforementioned carriers, T-Mobile still doesn’t have a 4G LTE network. Instead, you’ll find its speediest phones run on a 42Mbps HSPA+ “4G” network – still, we’ve seen speeds that are on a par with LTE in some areas, so there’s plenty to be excited about. T-Mobile might not offer the iPhone, but it does sell a robust portfolio of Android smartphones that will suit most needs. Let’s take a look at which smartphones on T-Mobile USA we think are the best, and one we think you should steer clear of entirely.


1. Our Favorite: Samsung Galaxy S III


This is the fourth guide we’ve written and, again, the Samsung Galaxy S III takes the cake as our favorite smartphone. T-Mobile’s version runs on the carrier’s HSPA+ network and offers all of the top-notch features that the Verizon, Sprint and AT&T’s models offer. It’s equipped with an amazing 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, NFC, a stellar 8-megapixel camera capable of taking photos in rapid fire and recording 1080p HD video, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and more. Our biggest issue with T-Mobile’s Galaxy S III is that it’s more expensive than the same phone offered by its competitors. T-Mobile charges $279 for the entry-level 16GB model, which is $79 more than the $199 price point the phone is sold at on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Still, the hardest decision will be choosing between the white or the pebble blue models — both of which are incredibly attractive color schemes.

2. Closest Alternative: HTC One S


The One S is one of the most gorgeous handsets we reviewed this year. It might not offer all of the features of HTC’s flagship One X, which T-Mobile passed on, but it’s super thin at just 0.31-inches and packs a serious hardware punch. The phone runs on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42Mbps network and is equipped with Android 4.0 with HTC’s awesome Sense 4 user interface, 1GB of RAM, a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display with a sharp 960 x 540-pixel qHD resolution, a backlit camera sensor with HTC ImageChip technology for enhanced photography, an FM radio and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. It’s more affordable than the Galaxy S III at $199.99 with a new two-year contract, but you can’t add additional storage or remove the battery. The gradient blue color scheme is so first-class that you’ll never want to fly coach again.

3. Best Smartphone for first-time Smartphone Buyers: Nokia Lumia 710

Lumia 710 Giveaway

This was a tough choice for us, since we’ve typically said the iPhone 4S is the best smartphone for first-time smartphone buyers due to its massive app store. T-Mobile doesn’t officially offer the iPhone, but there are plenty of people using the device on its network. Our best choice for first-time smartphone buyers is the Lumia 710. It offers Windows Phone’s drop-dead easy user interface, free turn-by-turn navigation provided by Nokia, a 5-megapixel camera, 8GB of internal storage, a 1.4GHz processor and a 3.7-inch 800 x 480-pixel display. T-Mobile has already said it’s going to offer the newest Windows Phone 8 handsets, however, so you might want to hold out until the holidays if you have your heart set on a new Windows Phone device. Still, the Lumia 710 is free with a new two-year contract, so it won’t break the bank.

4. Don’t Buy: BlackBerry Bold 9900 4G

BlackBerry Bold 9900

If you must buy a BlackBerry, grab one of T-Mobile’s free models. The BlackBerry Bold 9900 may offer one of the best industrial builds and keyboards on a BlackBerry ever, but its software is so outdated it makes us cringe. Worse, it’s more expensive than the much more capable Galaxy S III and HTC One S smartphones. We can’t imagine why anyone would want to drop $299.99 with a new two-year contract (and after a $50 mail-in rebate) on any BlackBerry at this point. It does, however, offer a 5-megapixel camera, support for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network and BlackBerry OS 7.1. It will never get upgraded to RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 operating system, however, so you’re basically buying a super outdated phone for the same amount you could pay for more powerful phones.

Wild Card: Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note Front

There are loads of reports out there suggesting that T-Mobile is prepared to offer the Galaxy Note with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich this August. You might want to hold out for it if you’re looking for a monster of a smartphone (or phablet, if you will) that’s packed to the gill with fun note-taking features. We don’t know what specs the device will offer on T-Mobile, but we’re expecting support for the carrier’s HSPA+ 42Mbps network and similar hardware features as AT&T’s model. Expect a 5.3-inch HD Super AMOELD screen, an S Pen accessory for sketching, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, an 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p HD video, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, a large 2,500mAh battery and 16GB of storage. We prefer the Galaxy S III over the Galaxy Note, but if you’re a media maven and crave the largest smartphone screen in the U.S. market, then the Galaxy Note will be right up your alley.

Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...