T-Mobile has stepped up its game recently in an effort to compete with Verizon, AT&T and Sprint in the United States. The carrier recently announced 4G LTE service in seven markets, and many customers will find that their phones will fall back to its still fast HSPA+ network where LTE isn’t available. In addition, several of its new handsets offer HD voice support to other HD-voice enabled devices, and calling over Wi-Fi networks. That’s not all, T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice plans allow you to purchase a device with a low down payment and sequential monthly payments of a pre-determined amount. In other words, you don’t need as much cash up-front as you do on some competing carriers.
T-Mobile also recently boosted its portfolio of smartphones to include some of the very best options available on the market today. Better yet, some of them aren’t as expensive as you might expect. Let’s take a look and our top five favorites now – oh, and keep in mind that this list is in no particular order, but is a representation of our top choices altogether on T-Mobile right now.
The HTC One is a first-class device from both a hardware and a software perspective, though T-Mobile’s model offers some unique features of its own. It supports Wi-Fi calling, which means you won’t waste minutes if you’re calling from a Wi-Fi network (or can place calls where you otherwise might not have T-Mobile signal). It also offers support for HD voice calls, a technology that offers amazing clarity if the receiving end also supports HD voice. On top of that, you’re treated to everything else that makes the HTC One a winner, including a 4.7-inch 1080p display, a 2,300mAh battery, 4G LTE support, BoomSound front-facing stereo speakers, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz and more. The HTC One is available for $99 down in addition to 24 monthly payments of $20.
The Galaxy S4 has secured a spot in our top five lists for each of the big four wireless carriers in the United States, and for good reason. It offers one of the most amazing 5-inch 1080p displays we’ve ever seen, expandable storage with a microSD card slot, a removable battery, 2GB of RAM and a blazing fast 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. Like the HTC One, it also offers support for HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling where T-Mobile’s network isn’t available, in addition to the carrier’s 4G LTE network. Other features include a 13-megapixel camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, Android 4.2.2 and a whole suite of software that was added by Samsung to improve the user experience. We’ve found that the Galaxy S4’s 2,600mAh battery can hold up through a full day’s use, and there are plenty of accessories to expand your experience, including a wireless charging cover and plate.
T-Mobile only just started offering the iPhone 5 a few months ago, so it’s still a great option for any T-Mobile customer. You can get the 16GB model for $149.99 down on a new Simple Choice plan and an additional $20 per month for 24 months, which makes it nice and affordable up front. Features include a 4-inch Retina display, an A6 processor and iOS 6 out of the gate, but you’ll be treated to Apple’s brand new iOS 7 operating system this fall. The iPhone 5 supports T-Mobile’s new LTE network in the current seven markets it’s available in, and also offers HD voice support and more than 800,000 applications. T-Mobile also sells the 32GB option for $249 and the 64GB model for $349.99.
T-Mobile has only said that it will be the exclusive carrier of the Xperia Z in the United States, and that it will offer the phone in purple or black. It’s not available yet, but we know from our experience with the device during CES (where we gave it a Best of CES award), and in our unlocked review, that this phone is bound to be a winner. It’s water and dust resistant, which means you can take it in the pool up to a depth of three feet for 30 minutes, making it a great summer smartphone option. It also has a 5-inch 1920 x 1080p display, support for T-Mobile’s LTE network, 2GB of rAM, a 13-megapixel camera, a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and more. We’ll keep you in the loop when it launches on T-Mobile, but we imagine you won’t have to wait much longer since it’s already on T-Mobile’s website.
Editor’s Note: The above gallery was created using our review unit from Sony. T-Mobile will not offer the white variant.
The Nexus 4 is precious in its own right: it currently has the latest version of Android and will continue to be updated to the most recent releases for the foreseeable future. You’ll need to drop a pretty penny for the phone, it costs $477.99 and isn’t available with a Simple Choice plan, but you’re not tied down to any sort of contract. The phone runs Jelly Bean, has a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, support for T-Mobile’s 42.2Mbps network (no 4G LTE, unfortunately), a 4.7-inch display with a 1280 x 769-pixel resolution, 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. You might be better off with the options above, but if you’re an Android purist the Nexus 4 is an excellent pick.
Several rumors suggest that T-Mobile is about to introduce the Lumia 925, an amazing new Windows Phone 8 device with an aluminum body and a great camera, though the carrier has not yet confirmed that. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the iPhone 5S this fall, too, or perhaps even the entry-level budget iPhone that will also hit emerging markets. The Samsung Galaxy Note III is yet another possibility, though again you’ll need to wait for this fall at the very earliest.