The 7 Best T-Mobile Smartphones to Buy in 2017

Pick out which T-Mobile phone is best for you and your budget

T-Mobile is a disruptive force in the cell phone market, and they have swelled their ranks with discontented customers from the other major providers. While T-Mobile’s fast LTE network and affordable prices make it a no-brainer for Americans living in urban areas, if you're living in rural spot you might be left with zero bars because coverage there still lags behind.

On the upside, the company also offers no-interest two-year payment plans, so you don’t have to fork over the full amount for the latest phone up front, and there's no data for watching videos and playing Pokemon Go. With so much to consider, here are the best phones currently available in T-Mobile’s impressive arsenal.

1
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Courtesy of T-Mobile.com

Android fans have a phone that can stand toe-to-toe with the iPhone and emerge victorious. The 2016 iteration of Samsung’s flagship phone has a sleeker design, sharper screen, better camera and equivalent processing power to the iPhone 6S Plus.

In fact, it is equal or superior to the Apple product in most categories. This isn’t true for the Operating System, as Apple’s UI  and app ecosystem still allows for superior syncing between devices, plus comes with a lot less bloatware and random crashes. Android 6.0 Marshmallow is an improvement over past OS’s and sports greater customizability, but is still the clunkier of the two.

So what makes the Galaxy S7 Edge the best product in T-Mobile stores? The curved design makes the screen melt at the edges, blending chassis with the 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display. And what a display it is. At a stunning 2560 x 1440 (QHD) resolution, this phone packs a best-in-store 534ppi. This results in a sharper picture with colors as vibrant as your expensive TV. And you don’t have to worry if you jump into the pool with the phone still in your swimsuit. It has an IP68 certification, meaning it is protected against water and dust ingress.

Behind the hood is either Exynos 8 or Snapdragon 820 quad-core CPU and 4 GB RAM. That means that this phone is as fast as they come, a relief for Android users that dealt with frustrating lag in the past. It also has one of the best cameras on the market: 12 megapixel f/1.7 out-facing camera that works amazing in dim lighting. And it packs a remarkable five megapixel front-facing camera for some next-level selfies. 

2
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Apple iPhone 6S Plus

Apple iPhone 6S Plus
Courtesy of T-Mobile.com

If you are an Apple devotee, the iPhone 6S Plus is still one of the absolute best phones you can buy today, and it’s intuitive UI and app ecosystem are unparalleled. Apple-exclusive 3D touch is also one of the coolest features out there, with no Android equivalent.

The latest generation of the iPhone sports an anodized aluminum back that is either gray, silver, gold or rose. The simple curves and large 5.5-inch LCD screen aren’t the most iconic look Apple has ever put out (that crown goes to the 4S), but the specs and usability are an upgrade over previous models in every way.

The LCD screen is 1920 x 1080p is true HD, and it's protected by an Ion-X glass screen. It is also a .4mm thinner than its Samsung rival. Inside is an Apple A9 64-bit dual-core 1.84Ghz CPU and 2 GB RAM, which loses to Samsung in some benchmarks but outshines it in others. The much-touted iPhone 6S 12 megapixel camera has a smaller aperture lens that doesn’t let in as much light as Samsung, but stands toe-to-toe in daylight conditions.

3
Best Budget: HTC Desire 530

HTC Desire 530
Courtesy of T-Mobile.com

Budget smartphones caused a lot of headaches early on in the smartphone revolution. Previous generations of budget phones lagged, took lackluster pictures and couldn’t hold a WiFi signal to save their life. Things are different in 2017. The HTC Desire 530 leads the pack in the latest line of ambitious budget phones that give you a taste of the good life without costing an arm and a leg.

The HTC Desire is LTE capable and has a 1.1 GHz quad core processor, which, combined with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, is good enough for any and all of your streaming and gaming needs. The phone is similar in size to the iPhone, with a 5” display and a bright 1280 x 720 HD screen. It is slender, lightweight and has a built-in dotted case that will capably protect the phone. You also get a nice eight megapixel rear-facing camera and a five megapixel front-facing camera, which is more than enough to fill your Instagram feed with gorgeous shots. A six-hour battery life is disappointing, but that’s really the phone’s only main downside.

4
Best Camera: LG V10

LG V10
Courtesy of T-Mobile.com

As the iPhone 6S Plus and Galaxy S7 Edge duke it out to be the best smartphone on the market, the LG V10 emerges victorious in at least one category: its camera. Like its more popular rivals, this monster of a phone sits squarely in the “phablet” category that has dominated this generation of phones.

In fact, its 5.7-inch Quad HD main screen (yes, it has two screens) is even larger than its competitors, and offers a stunning image. The phone also weighs quite a bit more, and don't expect it to fit in your pair of skinny jeans, but that’s a buyer-beware scenario. LG thoroughly outfitted the chassis with Dura Skin, a material 10 times stronger than aluminum. The hatched black diamond design is more tactical than fashion-forward, but the phone grips very nicely in the hand and is slim for its size.

But the true advantages of the phone are its camera(s) and audio. If you use your phone to produce a lot of media, you will love the manual shooting mode. Take full advantage of the 16-megapixel f/1.8 lens to adjust frame rate, pick your resolution and stabilize your image. And the phone has two two-megapixel selfie cameras above the screen, including a wide angled lens for group shots. For video, Manual Video Mode lets you put in features normally included on pricey camcorders.

This phone will also make audiophiles smile: a 32bit ESS Saber Digital to Audio Converter produces the best mids and highs to ever grace your ears from a smartphone. 

5
Best Small Screen: iPhone SE

iPhone SE
Courtesy of T-Mobile.com

The iPhone SE is the perfect phone for everyone tired of the phablet fad. It harkens back to a bygone era (2011) when phones could fit in pockets and be operated easily one hand. Although Apple went all-in on the large screen for its flagship product, they have also cornered the market on the four-inch screen with the iPhone SE.

Design-wise, the SE looks similar to the 5S, with flat sides and a matte finish. The phone uses the same powerful A9 processor and 2 GB RAM that is housed in the iPhone 6s, which means you get the exact same powerful speed for hundreds of dollars less. You also get a bright and colorful 1136 x 640 resolution. The 12 megapixel camera is barely a downgrade from the premium, and it captures gorgeous 4K video. The 1.2 megapixel FaceTime HD Camera is a pretty serious downgrade from other phones in the category, but it is adequate.

6
Best Phablet: Galaxy Note 7

Galaxy Note 7
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If the 5.5-inch screen on the Galaxy 7 Edge isn’t big enough for you, the Galaxy Note 7 is available for pre-order now. It has a massive 5.7” dual-curved screen on a razor-thin .31” body. The extra screen size is perfect for those who want to use a stylus. Speaking of the stylus, the S Pen has some new features this time around. It can write on a (nearly) blank screen, has a GIF maker and can magnify the screen. If you were unsold on a stylus before, these updates aren’t going to be enough to bring you around. But stylus fans have the most responsive and most useful one in the Note 7.

The device runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and has 4 GB RAM, so you are never going to get anything but the fastest and most responsive performance. You also get the same water resistant IP68 certification and high quality camera that the Galaxy S7 Edge has. Unfortunately, Samsung still hasn’t figured out how to maximize the potential of the curved edge screen. Notifications pop up on the side, but this function is offset by the maddening cost you would have to pay if you need to repair the screen.

A few neat functions are added to the phone: you get an iris scanner for added security, as well as a USB TYPE-C port. This is also is the first 4x4 MIMO capable commercial device, which means better connection and phone quality during inclement weather.

7
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy J7

Samsung Galaxy J7
Courtesy of T-Mobile.com

The pared-down version of the Galaxy is a bit pricier than other budget options, but the extra money is totally worth it. You get a huge 5.5” HD Super AMOLED screen and a 13-megapixel camera that takes better pictures than any other budget phone on the market (although it doesn’t have flash). The 1.5 GHz Octa-core processor is fast enough to handle all apps and browsing without lagging, and the phone has over 10 hours of battery life. Its biggest downside is that it only comes with 16 GB of memory, which is simply not enough in a world of memory-hogging apps and HD pictures. Luckily, the phone comes with an SD slot so you can upgrade memory if you need to. 

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