Best phones for Tello 2022

There are a ton of phones that work great on Tello because of T-Mobile's highly compatible network and Tello's wide range of plans. Tello includes 5G and hotspot usage on all of its plan configurations, so it makes sense to get a phone that supports as much of the network as possible with great software. 

The Google Pixel 6a is a great fit with a low price and great performance, thanks to Google's Tensor CPU.

These are the best phones to use with Tello

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Google Pixel 6a home screen

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)
The best overall phone for Tello

Reasons to buy

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Fantastic camera performance
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Fast Google Tensor CPU
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Great 5G support on Tello's network
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Good price for the features

Reasons to avoid

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No wireless charging
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No headphone jack
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Only 60Hz display

The Pixel 6 phones from Google were already a great value, with the high-performance Tensor CPU keeping pace with high-end Snapdragons, and a premium look and feel. 

The Pixel 6a brings most of what makes the Pixel 6 great to a lower price point, and even keeps the same Tensor CPU, so performance and multitasking remain on point. With Tensor, you also get the same connectivity with 5G support, including mid-band 5G on Tello, and even Wi-Fi 6E. You also get five years of Pixel updates from Google.

On the front, you get a 6.1-inch AMOLED display with HDR10+ support running out to the edges of the phone. While the screen is only 60Hz, for many people, this limitation will be a sensible trade-off; with our Pixel 6a review reporting that the screen feels smooth compared to other 60Hz displays. Even so, the 4410mAh battery may prove to be a bigger compromise for many, though you should have no trouble making it to the end of the day on a charge.

Finally, the Pixel 6a’s cameras do a great job of mostly matching the more expensive Pixel 6, with the Tensor chip assisting in processing an image with good colors and realistic skin tones. While the 6a’s cameras are nothing special compared to high-end phones, when put up next to other phones around this price, it clearly stands above.

Samsung Galaxy S22 in white on a table showing its back

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)
Flagship Android performance

Reasons to buy

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Beautiful design and color options
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Top-of-the-line AMOLED display
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Long-term Android update support
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Great camera performance

Reasons to avoid

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Battery life isn't great
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Camera can be slow

Samsung has earned every bit of its phenomenal reputation building some of the best Android phones for years. The Galaxy S22 represents Samsung’s continued focus on refining its design and improving its software, with the S22 series receiving four Android OS upgrades, and five years of security updates. 

This is up there with the best from any brand, and can help extend the life of your phone and increase resale value when you’re ready for an upgrade. Samsung’s Knox software also gives customers some of the best data privacy options in the industry.

The screen is a 6.1-inch AMOLED panel with up to a 120Hz refresh rate, and plenty of brightness for outdoor usage. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU is also powerful enough to drive this panel with ease, and while the 3,700mAh battery isn’t the biggest around, 25-watt charging will allow you to top it up in a hurry. 

Support for 5G including mmWave is included in all U.S. variants with Wi-Fi 6E, so you can get the best speeds available whether at home, or connected to Tello’s 5G network.

Overall, our Galaxy S22 review found this phone to be every bit as capable as its more expensive siblings. If you’re looking for top performance in a small phone, it’s a good pick. Finally, Samsung has been sneaking up on Pixel for years, and now has some of the best cameras in the business, with plenty of color and detail to satisfy any phone photographer. With the addition of an ultra-wide and telephoto camera, you’re ready for any shot with the S22.

OnePlus Nord N20 5G outdoors

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)
The best value phone for Tello

Reasons to buy

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Gorgeous AMOLED display
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Great cameras for the price
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Full 5G support on Tello
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3.5mm headphone jack

Reasons to avoid

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Only one software update planned

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is one of our favorite cheap phones, with looks and performance that exceed expectations, especially with a price tag under $300 unlocked. 

Our Nord N20 5G review noted that this phone was a return to form for OnePlus, offering better than expected hardware, clean software, and a price that’s hard to believe. As the name implies, 5G is also supported, with nationwide and mid-band support for Tello’s network.

The Qualcomm 695 CPU does a good job of driving the 6.43-inch AMOLED panel at 60Hz. This phone easily makes it to the end of the day thanks to its large 4,500mAh battery. It’s also worth noting that this phone supports fast 33-watt charging with the charge included in the box. 

While many other phone makers have been slimming down their boxes by forgetting to put in a charger, OnePlus cements this phone's place in the value category by packing in one of the fastest chargers you can get.

Despite all of this, OnePlus does slip up a bit by offering only one Android OS update. If you were looking for anything beyond Android 12, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But for the many people that aren’t too worried about major software updates, there’s a lot of value here. 

Finally, the cameras aren’t the best in the business, but are good for the money, and produce images with plenty of color and detail in the right light.

Google Pixel 6 on a table

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)
The best pixel upgrade

Reasons to buy

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Fast performance with Google Tensor
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Phenomenal camera performance
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Four Android OS updates planned
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Premium look and feel

Reasons to avoid

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Some won't like the large camera bar

While its younger sibling is currently stealing the spotlight, the Pixel 6 is still one of the best Android phones you can buy. Google's flagship also has a few advantages over the 6a that may make it worth the extra money to some. 

First of all, the 90Hz OLED panel means smoother navigation and animation, and at 6.4 inches, it’s a little bigger. Powered by the Google Tensor CPU, this phone has plenty of power to keep Android 12 running smoothly, and should have no issues keeping up with the four years of Android updates promised by Google.

The battery comes in at 4614mAh, and supports up to 30-watt fast charging if you find yourself in need of a top-up. It also supports fast wireless charging. 

Like other Tensor-powered phones, this phone supports Tello’s nationwide and mid-band 5G network as well as Wi-Fi 6E so you should be able to make the most network speeds at home or on the go. 

It feels premium in the hand thanks to a glass back and a large camera bump on the back containing the phone’s great achievement— its cameras.

A 50MP main camera and 12MP ultra-wide shooter give Google's image processing software plenty to work with, producing sharp and colorful images. While it lacks the telephoto camera found in the Pixel 6 Pro, our Pixel 6 review found the camera to produce great results in a wide range of lighting conditions. Night mode is even quicker than previous generations thanks to the power of the Tensor chip.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G all apps screen

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)
The best mid-range alternative

Reasons to buy

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Vibrant 120Hz AMOLED display
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Solid camera performance
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Great battery life
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Four Android updates promised

Reasons to avoid

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No 3.5mm headphone jack
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No Wi-Fi 6

If you’re looking for another mid-range option, Samsung’s Galaxy A53 is a great place to start. The Galaxy A53 is excellent, with a large 6.5-inch AMOLED panel and 120Hz support, a massive 5,000mAh battery, and four OS updates promised. If you prefer Samsung’s particular style of Android, this is a great phone for the price. 

It’s powered by an Exynos 1280 CPU, which isn’t the fastest by any measurement, but has enough power for smooth navigation of Android 12. Our Galaxy A53 review found that gamers will need to drop settings to low and medium for intense 3D games like Call of Duty: Mobile.

While this phone lacks Wi-Fi 6, it has 5G support for Tello’s low-band and mid-band 5G, so you should have plenty of speed where T-Mobile has good coverage. This phone also keeps 25-watt fast charging for a quick top-up, but lacks wireless charging.

The camera package on the A53 isn’t the best in its class, but can still produce great pictures in both high and low light situations with a 64MP main sensor. The 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP portrait, and 5MP macro cameras are much less impressive, but offer some extra options in rare situations. 

Overall, the Galaxy A53 is a strong pick at its price; and with frequent sales bringing that price down even more, it might be the perfect fit.

Oneplus Nord N200 5g in hand outdoors

(Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)
Cheap with solid 5G support

Reasons to buy

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Nice 6.49-inch display with 90Hz
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Large 5,000mAh battery life
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Solid 5G support on T-Mobile

Reasons to avoid

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Camera performance is weak
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No wireless charging

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G is a cheap phone with great 5G support for T-Mobile's low-band and mid-band 5G network. 

The large 6.49-inch display looks sharp with a 2400x1080 resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The Snapdragon 480 with 4GB of RAM is nothing special, but keeps up with most apps without slowing down. This design also punches above its weight, helping this phone to look a lot more expensive than it is, with nice materials and colors.

The 5,000mAh battery can keep the phone running for a couple of days depending on your usage. It's nice that you can confidently make it through the day with plenty of charge left. 

The cameras aren't great, with a general lack of detail even in normal lighting. Software updates will be sparse compared to even the weakest Pixel 4a phone. Still, with such a low price, getting 5G and a very nice display makes this phone a great value.

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Find the right phone for your budget and needs

Tello has a wide range of plan options, and thanks to using the T-Mobile network, nearly any phone will work; including the best Android phones you can get. 

You can also save some money by choosing a great cheap Android phone, especially since Tello's low prices make it a great choice for a backup phone line. Regardless of your budget, an unlocked phone will allow you to change carriers any time you want, whether you find a better deal or better coverage.

Google's Pixel 6a continues the legacy of the A-series delivering many of the mainline Pixel series' best features at a much lower price. With 5G included, the fast Google Tensor CPU under the hood, and plenty of software updates to come, the Pixel 6a is a great phone that should last years.

If you want a little more in hardware and software, you can always step up to the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro. There are also great options available from Samsung with competitive prices.