There is a ton of phones that work great on Tello thanks to 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 5a is the best overall fit for Tello thanks to solid 5G support, a reasonable price, and pure up-to-date Android.
Best overall: Pixel 5a
Pure Android with great hardware
The Pixel 5a from Google is a mid-range 5G phone with a pure build of Android under the hood. The Pixel 5a comes equipped with a Snapdragon 765G with eight cores, 6GB of RAM, and a fairly beefy 4,680mAh battery inside. The display measures 6.34 inches from corner to corner with an OLED panel capable of 60Hz. There are no faster refresh rates included at this level.
Sub-6 5G is supported with bands for every carrier included as well as upcoming C-band 5G. While mmWave support is absent, this phone will be able to connect to the vast majority of 5G coverage that will be available in the next few years.
There are two rear cameras with a wide and ultra-wide option much like the Pixel 4a and 4a 5G. These cameras manage to produce some of the best photos taken on a smartphone thanks to Google's processing despite a relatively pedestrian 12.2MP sensor.
The Pixel 5a is an easy choice when it comes to saving some money over a big flagship without giving up too many features.
Best upgrade: Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Galaxy S21 Ultra
The ultimate Android smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the ultimate Android phone with the absolute best hardware and consistently improving software to keep it all working its best. The 6.8-inch display is front and center with a great AMOLED display running up to 120Hz. The resolution of 3200x1440 is incredibly sharp even on such a large screen.
The 5,000mAh battery inside does a solid job powering the phone for a day depending on how heavily you're using the phone. If you run out, you get 25W fast charging wired and 15W wireless. The Snapdragon 888 does a great job keeping up, and you should see very little slowdown even with 5G switched on.
The camera system is another huge strength with a massive 108MP camera sensor on the main wide camera. There is also an ultra-wide camera alongside two telephoto options at 3x or 10x. With this many options, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has every tool you need to take an amazing photo rivaling even standalone cameras.
Best value 5G phone: OnePlus Nord N200 5G
OnePlus Nord N200 5G
Cheap with solid 5G support
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 is also nice 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.
Best value battery life: Moto G Power (2020)
Moto G Power (2020)
Cheap with days of battery life
Large batteries are fairly common in phones these days but Motorola's focus on building a cheap phone that lasts days on a single charge makes the Moto G Power (2020) one of the best cheap phones you can buy. This phone is powered by a Snapdragon 665 with 4GB of RAM so you have enough power to run most apps with ease.
Three cameras on the back give you access to wide, ultra-wide, and macro photography with solid results in enough light. It doesn't compete with the Pixel 5a, but given the price, the results are good. If you want to forget about battery life for a while without worrying about missing your calls, the Moto G Power is a great choice for your Tello plan.
Best enthusiast phone: OnePlus 9
A great flagship alternative
One of the best things about the T-Mobile network is that you can use a wide range of phones that aren't supported by other carriers. OnePlus phones like the OnePlus 9 are one of the best examples thanks to their powerful hardware, clean build of Android, and appealing design. This phone is powered by the same Snapdragon 888 as the latest Galaxy phones from Samsung, with 8GB or 12GB of RAM depending on how much storage you choose.
The cameras have been improved over previous generations with some great images possible from the dual rear cameras. There's a 48MP wide-angle and 50MP ultra-wide sensor on the back with a 16MP camera on the front. It's all behind a gorgeous, 6.55-inch, 120Hz AMOLED display with beautiful inky blacks and a silky smooth response.
If you want the best of the best when it comes to hardware, but Samsung's phones aren't quite what you're after, OnePlus delivers a great alternative with no compromises.
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.
If you want to make the most out of your Tello plan without spending too much, the Pixel 5a is the best overall choice. This phone comes with solid hardware, a great camera experience, and great pure Android straight from Google. Most importantly, the Pixel 5a has great support for all carriers in the U.S. making it easy to switch if you find Tello isn't the perfect fit for your needs.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
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