Feb 17 AT 3:18 PM Taylor Wimberly 40 Comments

T-Mobile Android buyer’s guide: February 2012

t-mobile-girl-holding-phone

Welcome to a new weekly column where we break down each carrier to let you know the best devices and current promotions. T-Mobile was voted the number two carrier in our Android Bowl , so we thought we should cover them next after our Verizon Buyer’s Guide last Friday. Each week we will rotate between the big four US carriers, so that each buyer’s guide gets refreshed every month. Read on for T-Mobile’s best devices and deals.

Current Promotions and News

My First Smartphone sweepstakes: T-Mobile is giving away free smartphones on their Facebook page with the My First Smartphone sweepstakes. Unfortunately, it’s a Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 710), but free is free. Contest ends 2/17/12.

500,000 fans promo: To celebrate 500,000 fans on their Facebook page, T-Mobile is giving away coupon for 30% off any one accessory at a T-Mobile store. Offer expires 6/30/12.

President’s Day Loyalty offer: Our friends at TmoNews are reporting T-Mobile will offer a special loyalty promo this weekend only. Not all customers qualify, so check with your local store. You could score a free phone with mail-in rebate.

T-Mobile offers Square: At select T-Mobile stores, you can now find the Square card reader. This awesome accessory in combination with the Square app allows users to accept credit cards on their Android device. See this T-Mobile blog post for additional details.

Continued commitment for WiFi Calling: T-Mobile has offered WiFi calling on most of their Android lineup for awhile, but they don’t advertise it much. Some wondered about the future of the service, but T-Mobile responded that it is here to stay. See The Verge for more info.

Even more deals: If you are not quite ready to buy yet, make sure you follow @TMobile on Twitter and like T-Mobile on Facebook for the latest offers.

Best Android Phone: Galaxy S II

This pick was easy. The Samsung Galaxy S II is the best Android phone available on T-Mobile. We polled our staff, readers, and even some T-Mobile employees who all unanimously agreed upon the Galaxy S II as their favorite device.

T-Mobile normally sells the Galaxy S II for $229 with 2-year contract, but you can find better deals if you look around online. Our favorite online store Amazon currently has it for $199 with new service or upgrades.

The Galaxy S II was one of the best Android devices of 2011 and most of the team here uses one of the versions as their daily phone. Our very own Angie has this model on T-Mobile and she loves it. The main selling points of this device are the gorgeous 4.52 inch Super AMOLED Plus display, stellar 8 mepapixel camera, support for 4G HSPA+ 42 Mbps, and Samsung’s excellent build quality.

We never posted a full review of the T-Mobile version, but we did review the Sprint model and I suggest you check that out. The major difference is that the Sprint model used a dual-core 1.2 GHz Exynos processor which has a faster graphics processor, and the T-Mobile model has a dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor.

The Snapdragon processor doesn’t have as fast a GPU as the Exynos, but it has other unique benefits like GLONASS location services and support for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 Mbps network.

Currently the Galaxy S II ships with Android 2.3, but Samsung has already promised that upgrades to Android 4.0 will begin in Q1. T-Mobile’s model might not be the first with the update, but it will eventually receive it.

Runner up: We absolutely love the Samsung Galaxy S II, but if you are partial towards HTC then go with the Amaze 4G. It also supports T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 Mbps network and features an equally amazing camera. The only downside to this phone is the sub-par battery life. Check out Edgar’s review of the Amaze 4G for more info.

Alternative pick: T-Mobile does not sell the Galaxy Nexus, but if money is no object you can buy one online and use it on their network. The Galaxy Nexus is the best Android phone available thanks to shipping with Android 4.0. Amazon currently has the GSM Galaxy Nexus listed for $629. Check out Anthony’s review of the Galaxy Nexus for more info.

Comparison of top T-Mobile phones: To see a complete comparison of the Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC Amaze 4G, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus head over to gdgt.com.

Best Android Phone with Keyboard: MyTouch 4G Slide

If you have a thing for QWERTY keyboards, then the myTouch 4G Slide is your device. T-Mobile currently sells this device for $199 on contract, but you might find a better deal if you shop around.

Notable features of the myTouch 4G Slide include 3.7 inch Super LCD, 8 megapixel camera, front facing cameara, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, and support for T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ network.

When this phone launched last year, T-Mobile advertised it as having the most advanced smartphone camera. Highlights include improved low-light performance, zero shutter lag, SweepShot, ClearShot HDR, and burst shot. Comparisons against other high-end devices even showed it bested the iPhone 4S by a slim margin.

This device still ships with Android 2.3, but it is expected to eventually receive Android 4.0.

Best Android Tablet: Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus

Let me repeat what I said in my Verizon buyer’s guide. Because of the current data plans, I’m not a huge fan of carrier branded Android tablets. However, if you need an Android tablet with wireless connectivity, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus should be your pick.

T-Mobile currently sells the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus for $249 with 2-year contract. Monthly data plans include 2 GB for $39, 5 GB for $49, and 10 GB for $79.

When it comes to 7-inch Android tablets, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is our current favorite. Just ask Clark, this is his mini tablet of choice. It features a dual-core 1.2 GHz Exynos processor that turned in some of the fastest web browsing scores we have ever seen. Another selling point is the IR port, which works with applications like Peel Smart Remote to control all the gadgets in your living room.

Check out our hands-on with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus for additional details.

Best Android Phone on a Budget: Exhibit II 4G

Now that online stores offer high-end devices for $99-199 with new 2-year agreement, it is becoming harder and harder to suggest a budget phone. The lower priced devices generally don’t receive major software updates to newer versions of Android and are outdated as soon as you buy them.

If you wait for a big T-Mobile sale, you can normally score one of their high-end phones for free. They just had their Valentine’s Day sale, and I’m sure there will be another sale next month.

However, if you need a budget Android phone right now, then we would suggest the Samsung Exhibit II 4G. T-Mobile is selling the phone for only $29 on contract, which is a nice price for a mid-range 4G phone.

Highlights of the Exhibit II 4G include Android 2.3, 3.7 inch display, 3 MP rear camera + VGA front camera, 1 GHz processor, 4 GB internal storage, and all the usuals like WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth 3.0.

We doubt this device will ever be upgraded to Android 4.0, but that’s what you get with budget smartphones.

What’s Coming Next

Just around the corner we have the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, but we don’t have all the details about this phone yet. It appears similar to the Galaxy S II, but it could be targeted more towards the mid-level pricing. T-Mobile has a sign-up page to be notified when more details are available.

If you are in the market for a high-end phone, keep an eye on the HTC One X and One S, formerly the Edge and Ville. Previously, the Ville was rumored to coming to T-Mobile, but it is a LTE phone. The One X (or Edge) is more likely headed for T-Mobile since it features a HSPA+ modem.

Follow our coverage of Mobile World Congress 2012 later this month to see which new phones get announced.

Feedback

We have long wanted to maintain buyer’s guides for every carrier, but it’s just something we have failed to produce. As one of the most influential sources of Android information on the web, we realize that our opinions are valuable and the average consumer just wants to know what phone they should buy without having to do all the research.

Our hardcore audience lives and breaths Android, so most of them already know what device they want to buy next. However, I realize that for most of the public, reading our blog is like trying to read Swahili  or some other foreign language. The purpose of these guides is to try and help the average consumer.

Having said all that, consider this first guide as a rough draft that will continually be updated and improved over time. We would love to hear your feedback on what other sections or information should be added to the next version. Our lead developer Clark has some amazing site features that are coming down the pipe (like the new profiles), and we are 100% committed to this community.

I ask for your help by sharing this guide with your friends on T-Mobile and leaving suggestions in the comments below.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • kazahani

    Buying the Nexus outright makes a little more sense on T-mobile, since they give you a price break on your plan for bringing your own device.

    • Jeff Pan

      they have pretty decent 4G prepaid plans

    • Bpear96

      Or use http://www.straighttalksim.com/ , they sell sim cards that can run on tmobile or at&t network, for $45 a month “unlimited” everything, ive been to 3gb and wasnt throttled or capped. Im running it with a Galaxy SII ( international one) on AT&T network, works more then perfect :D

      • Bpear96

        And i seem to get full AT&T hspa+ speeds (6mbps in my area) dont know what you would get if you chose tmobile network, but im guessing you would get full speeds as well

      • Mike

        what kind of hspa speeds do you get?

        • Bpear96

          6mbps usually, im using the AT&T sim from straight talk but they do offer tmobile as well

  • Guy Bailey

    Good review Taylor. I’m on T-Mob and have just switched to their $50 a month, text, call, 2GB data plan so using the Wifi a lot at home and work but nowhere near my limit after 3 weeks.

    They had an offer for the S2 with $99 down and the rest $10 a month over the next 24 months but I sucked it up and got a GNex on Import.

    • Mike

      Isn’t that plan for $60? I thought the $50 plan had 100 mb of data along with unlimited calls and texts. And the $60 plan had 2gb of data with unlimited calls and texts. Please confirm. Thanks

    • Ron

      How were you able to get 2GB for $50.00. I don’t see on T-mobile website?

      • Guy Bailey

        I was an existing customer so it’s something called the family loyalty scheme – makes it sound like I’m in the mafia!

  • AnthonyRyan

    I have my eyes set on the HTC ONE X or ONE S whichever comes to t-mobile will be my next HTC Device

  • Deeds

    I wonder what this list will look like in a month. There will be some big announcements at MWC

  • raichleb

    Almost switched last year on account of the T-Mobile girl. OK…not really.

  • PapaLos

    I’ve been on Tmo for a while now, currently having about 8 months to go with the myTouch 4G.

    If something happens and the galaxy Nexus finds it’s way to magenta, I may go that route when I go to upgrade. But I must say, the HTC One X sounds like a too good to be true device. I can’t wait till more info comes out on that so I can definitely look forward to that.

  • T1392

    Exhibit II 4G is a good budget phone my friend, she has gotten one & likes it. She wanted a Galaxy S II but was only in the market for a budget phone. The specs ain’t the best but the price is worth the specs if that makes sense.

  • BiGMERF

    Your better off doing a TMobile review every three months cause that’s how long ,if not more it takes for them to get phones. Smh

  • Mike

    Isn’t that plan for $60? I thought the $50 plan had 100 mb of data along with unlimited calls and texts. And the $60 plan had 2gb of data with unlimited calls and texts. Please confirm. Thanks

  • Vance

    Remember when T-mobile WAS Android, for all intents and purposes? I love me some Magenta but they need to kick start their offering fast! I still have my Nexus one to hold me over while I wait for a new Nexus device of perhaps the One X. … I have a feeling I’d be loading Cyanogemod on the One X though, rather than sit back and watch the Nexus owners get upgraded without me!

    As for feedback, I still recommend a monthly “Tablet Buyer’s Guide” and sever that section of your carrier buyer’s guide. I think most people would appreciate doing cross carrier and non-carrier side-by-sides with tablets versus looking at them in a carrier specific vacuum every week.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Note taken. We will look into doing a Tablet Buyer’s Guide for non-carrier tablets.

  • skugern

    As for feedback, might I suggest a “Best Stock Android Device” since there is a large segment of the Android community that can’t stand a manufacturer skin.

    Also, keep it up! I like the well rounded amount of news and reviews, along with a healthy amount of personal opinion.

  • WlfHart

    I wish the Note was on the upcoming phone list for T-Mo

  • Nathan D.

    I want that quad core phone or at least some type of next gen Processor on my next phone.

  • R.S

    I’ve had my T-Mobile Galaxy S II since early December and have no complaints what so ever. I actually use it more than my tablet, which had pretty much replaced my laptop.

    I had planned on buying it outright but Sam’s Club $99 price was too good to pass up.

  • ap

    Do we also get the girl that goes with the phone? : p

  • RRR

    Is this true that T-mo will be the only major carrier with no LTE which seems slowly but surely becomes the world standard?

    • jay miller

      I got 22m/s download in Orlando using htc amaze. Lte is nice, but I’m happy here and tmo has more speed to tweek from hspa+

  • RRR

    Good about Tmo 3G/HSPA+ is that it’s fast even on HSPA (5 mbps DL/2mbps UL) 3G and even faster and does not suck much battery on HSPA+.

    BUT … the price war is started….At least with my family Tmo lost one of their customers for VirginMobile and soon possibly lose another for Republic Wireless (as soon as they will get better phones) or other carrier

  • RRR

    To lure the outflow of customers Tmo should share their data plans with the tablets and possibly with other family members on family plans (i have 5 GB and thanks to smart use of WiFi do not get to the limit )

  • Vance

    PS – if that’s her boyfriend she’s video chatting with then FML

  • http://a1.blogspot.com EwanRGR

    T-Mobile is my provider, but I’m a bit of an outlier as to how. I bought a clearance Streak 7 4G, and pay $50/month for the 3 GB prepaid 4G data plan. I then use GrooveIP to give me voice service. Figure if T-Mobile ever goes away it would be easy enough to move to AT&T, and they don’t charge extra for tethering my larger tablet.

    That said, I am hopeful that sometime this year someone will come out with a 7 inch tablet that has LTE with radios that could do both AT&T and Verizon. It would be great to be able to switch each month to whoever has the cheapest price…

  • cb2000a

    The Samsung Exhibit 2 is a fantastic phone for a full price of $200 and one of T-Mo’s prepaid plans. I’ve had mine for 5 months now and it’s so much better than the OG Droid I had before. It runs silky smooth (I rooted it and took off the bloatware). It has GB 2.3.5 which is a good version of Gingerbread (I really could care less about updates). This phone was one of the first phones to use T-Mo’s wifi calling and texting and it works very well inside where signal might be weak.

    • Bpear96

      I don’t actually have this phone but I made a nice custom rom for it called rebelrom. Debloated a ton , awesome ics theme then a bunch of performance tweaks to make it run smooth and awesome, plus a awesome launcher that’s not so easy to get :D. Check it out http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1483989 . Once your rooted its not so hard to install.

  • MoSDeeb

    For those curious ad to why T-Mobile usually doesn’t get the best phones its due to the quantity ordered. Friends of mine working for various phone manufacturers have indicated T-Mobile does not like to order more than 50,000 units at a time.

  • spazby

    That girl is hot

  • CTown

    T-Mobile Samsung Android Recap:

    Behod II- terrible

    GS1 based:
    -Vibrant -minor update to help with GPS (but 2.2 leak)
    -GS4G -no update (but 2.3 leak)
    -Exhibit – no updates
    -Sidekick 4G – no updates
    -Exhibit II- no updates

    GSII based:
    GSII – update supposedly confirmed
    GS Blaze 4G – My guess:Might update if it comes with Gingerbread; which was released last January!

    And no Galaxy Nexus as of yet…

  • AmericanJedi001

    Thanks Taylor, I like how you’ve added links to all the available device reviews.

    The blog format works pretty well, but for comparison-shopping between carriers * it might be easier if it were in another format, such as a table layout. I realize y’all use WordPress as your backend software, thus blog-style is what comes naturally, I just wanted to throw that out there for ya to think about.

    I’m very much looking forward to your Sprint buyer’s guide! I’m hoping you have a lot of forward-looking information, which is what will make or break my decision. Well, that, and your coverage of MWC! ;-)

    Thanks!

    * Which I’m currently doing to decide between staying with Sprint or switching to Verizon

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Thanks for the feedback. The goal is to finish all the different carrier guides and then start doing comparisons between carriers at a later date.

  • leganzish

    Taylor, I love the idea of a weekly/monthly per carrier guide! I’m definitely an Android geek, but not the biggest one around. I don’t have the time to keep up with all of the phones on all of the carriers, so I only focus on ones of interest. I’ve been thinking of switching to T-Mobile recently, and was really looking forward to this guide after seeing your inaugural Verizon one last week. I didn’t really have too much insight on what T-Mobile offered, so I love having a quick digest with trusted opinions from you guys! Keep up the good work!

  • Vance

    In case anyone was interested Tmo had two free 4G phones (Sensation and Radar) available on contract but offer ends tonight.
    http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/phones/Default.aspx?pricerange=0-0