Best Phones to Use with Mint Mobile Android Central 2021
Mint Mobile is all about getting great service for a fraction of the price of the big carriers, and for many, that philosophy extends to the phone they choose to use. Thankfully, tons of great Android phones embody the same idea: getting a great experience with the latest specs and features and not paying top dollar for it. The best example of this is the OnePlus 8 Pro, which offers a flagship-like experience for less than the direct competition. It's a great phone to pair with the solid-but-inexpensive Mint Mobile service.
- Best Overall: OnePlus 8 Pro
- Upgrade Pick: Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Best on a Budget: Moto G Power
- Best Camera: Google Pixel 4 XL
- Best Budget Features: Google Pixel 4a
- Best Value: OnePlus 8
- Best With a Stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Best Gaming Features: Nubia RedMagic 5G
Best Overall: OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro is as excellent and well-designed as any high-end smartphone out today. If you know much about OnePlus, you'll be happy to know it doesn't stray from its traditional formula. Instead, it extends to its logical place in the landscape of 2020 flagships with more features and a higher price — but of course, not too high.
The hardware is toe-to-toe with any flagship, and it's punctuated by the best display OnePlus has ever used. It's bright, colorful, and has a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Inside, there are top-end specs, and that leads to amazing performance thanks to its excellent OxygenOS software — it's just a joy to use.
The 8 Pro also brings the best cameras yet to a OnePlus phone, with a new main camera that steps up to a true flagship level. The entire camera experience is a bit behind the likes of the Galaxy S20+, but then again, it's also less expensive. That's really where the 8 Pro fits. It's a true flagship from top to bottom, but for a bit less money than the traditional players with big brand names.
- Large, beautiful 120Hz display
- Greatly improved main and wide-angle cameras
- Excellent battery life
- OxygenOS is best-in-class Android software
- Wireless charging and IP68 rating
- Much more expensive than before
- Telephoto camera isn't good
The best OnePlus has made, but for less
The OnePlus 8 Pro is an impressive and well-designed flagship for hundreds less than the direct competition.
Before the Galaxy S20, the S10 series was a proven winner — and everything Samsung did with this new generation made it easy to recommend the Galaxy S20+. The S20+ makes improvements across the board, with a bigger and better display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a large 4,500mAh battery, more RAM, and a new Snapdragon 865 processor.
The big move up is with the cameras, with a new array on both sides. The new sensors are larger, which let in more light and take dramatically better low-light photos. It's not quite on the level of the Pixel 4 XL, but this is a step up for Samsung and is no longer a weak point of this flagship. You also get capable zooming at 5-10X while keeping an ultra-wide camera for fun shots.
The only way the S20+ downgrades from the S10+ is in its price and removal of the headphone jack. We're talking about a couple hundred dollar increase from last year, and removing the audio jack is a tough blow for those who rely on it. Both are a result of the way the industry is going — phones keep getting more expensive, and it was one of the last holdouts with a 3.5 mm jack.
- Best-in-class display
- Good battery life
- Exceptional performance
- Great all-around cameras
- Expensive for 128GB of storage
- Camera zoom much weaker than S20 Ultra
- Slow fingerprint sensor
- No headphone jack
Samsung's excellent all-rounder is a winner
The S20+ has a fantastic screen, top-end specs, a strong array of cameras, and feature-packed software.
Best on a Budget: Moto G Power
Since the Moto G8 isn't being sold directly in the U.S., the new Moto G Power fills the gap by offering a solid Android experience at an amazing price. The phone stands out in the battery department, offering multi-day endurance. Pair it with great software, fun cameras, and solid specs for the money, and the Moto G Power packs quite a punch.
That said, missing NFC and facing Motorola's infamous history with slow or nonexistent software updates could be a reason to think twice before buying one. However, if you want to save money upfront, you just can't beat what you get for this price.
- Ultra-wide and macro cameras are fun
- Two or three days of battery life
- Motorola's excellent software add-ons
- Can't beat that price
- Fingerprint magnet hardware
- No NFC in 2020 is just ridiculous
- Slow charging speeds
- Motorola's update speed
Best on a Budget
Enough for most people's needs, at an excellent price
The Moto G Power carries on a long history of superb affordable Motorola phones with solid specs and cameras.
Best Camera: Google Pixel 4 XL
The Pixel 4 XL is several months old, and at this point, has officially been discontinued by Google. That said, it's still easily the best camera you can get. In daylight, mixed-light, and super-low-light, it consistently beats every other Android — and arguably, the iPhone 11 Pro. While we had issues with its predecessor's performance, the camera app is now fast and fluid. A telephoto lens, paired with clever software, takes good zoom shots at 5X. Its front-facing camera isn't as wide as before, but that's a marginal downside. It still takes crisp, colorful, and bright photos along with great portrait selfies.
The 4 XL, as a complete phone, is, unfortunately, let down by a few shortcomings. Its battery life is the weakest of the flagship competition, it has less RAM (6GB) and storage (64 or 128GB), and the Motion Sense gestures can feel pretty gimmicky. However, that shouldn't detract from the great things it does — and it is still fully in the conversation of the best phones you can get today.
Note: Don't let the discontinued nature scare you off from picking up a Pixel 4 XL in 2020. It'll still get major OS updates and security patches through October 2022, a lot of retailers are still selling the phone, and it can be found for a lot less money than its initial retail price.
- Super-smooth 90Hz display
- Top-notch camera quality back and front
- Simple, useful and fast software
- Nice-looking and feeling hardware
- Excellent face unlock speed
- Incredibly weak battery life
- Motion Sense has little real-world use
- Low RAM and storage
The best camera you can get in a smartphone today
The Pixel 4 XL has great hardware and the best camera, but it's let down by poor battery life and weak specs for the money.
Best Budget Features: Google Pixel 4a
The Pixel 4 XL is an easy phone to recommend if you want the best possible camera experience, but with that said, the more affordable Pixel 4a is a remarkably similar phone for a lot less cash. It lacks the telephoto camera found on the 4 XL, but you get the exact same 12.2MP primary sensor and all of Google's image processing magic. In other words, pictures taken on the Pixel 4a look virtually indistinguishable from those taken on the Pixel 4 XL. Processing times are a bit longer and there are some subtle differences here and there, but overall, you won't find a better camera experience anywhere in this price range.
Looking at the rest of the Pixel 4a, there are plenty of other areas in which it continues to impress. Its compact size is a breath of fresh air and easy to use with one hand, the Full HD OLED display looks great, performance is fast, and you get reliable battery life that easily makes it through a full day of use. You also get the same excellent software package you'd get on a more expensive Pixel, which is backed by three years of major updates and monthly security patches.
When you combine all of that with the Pixel 4a's miniscule price tag, it becomes a hard phone to ignore. The design might be boring and not everyone will appreciate the smaller footprint, but assuming those two things don't bother you, the value you're getting here is insane.
- Exact same camera as the flagship Pixel 4
- Compact size is perfect for one-handed use
- OLED display looks great
- Fast and reliable fingerprint sensor
- Clean, up-to-date software
- Might be too small for some
- Boring design
- No telephoto lens
Best Budget Features
Don't ignore the budget Pixel
Whether you're here for the camera, size, or software, the Pixel 4a delivers way more than its price tag suggests.
Best Value: OnePlus 8
OnePlus didn't change a whole lot in the 8 coming from the last-gen 7T, but it didn't need to. You get fresh hardware and design that keeps it in line with the 8 Pro, plus a bump in specs with the same great basics elsewhere. There's a really good 90Hz display, great battery life, solid camera performance, and amazing software.
Keeping its price relatively affordable in the scheme of ever-pricier high-end phones, you had to miss out on a few things. The cameras didn't improve from the 7T, and in some ways downgraded — you lose a telephoto camera and pick up a dedicated macro camera that isn't very useful. Unlike the 8 Pro, you don't get wireless charging, and at the same time, you have to deal with the fact that OnePlus is charging more than it did six months ago for basically the same experience.
Still, if you're looking for a value-focused phone and can't step up to the OnePlus 8 Pro, this is a great phone. Alternatively, if you can find it, consider buying the OnePlus 7T at a deep discount instead.
- Fantastic software experience
- Excellent specs for the money
- Consistent camera performance
- Sleek and solid hardware
- Excellent battery life
- No wireless charging
- Minimal improvements over 7T
- No zoom camera and bad macro camera
A less-expensive entry into great OnePlus phones
The OnePlus 8 is a 7T with a few new specs and a larger battery, but still represents incredible value.
Best With a Stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
There's no denying that the Galaxy S20+ is one beast of an Android phone, but if you prefer your Samsung phones to be of the Note variety, you'll want to consider the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The Note 20 Ultra is big, burly, and expensive, but for the right buyer, it's just about the perfect phone.
It all starts with that display, which is a 6.9-inch AMOLED panel with a Quad HD resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. It's no secret that Samsung phones tend to have the best screens on the market, and that sentiment is no different here. The curved edges could be a turn-off for some, though it does make the whole thing feel that much more immersive. You're also treated to three excellent cameras, including a 108MP primary camera, 12MP telephoto camera for zoom shots up to 50x, and a 12MP ultra-wide camera (all of which take excellent photos).
Along with flagship specs across the board and a gorgeous frosted glass design, the Note 20 Ultra also gives you the iconic S Pen. Thanks to a few new software features a drastically-reduced latency, your note-taking and doodling will feel better than ever before.
- Incredible 120Hz display
- Frosted glass back is perfect
- Best stylus experience on any phone
- Outstanding performance
- Great battery life and fast charging
- Excellent camera package
- Can't use Quad HD and 120Hz at the same time
- No headphone jack
- Very expensive
Best With a Stylus
All of Samsung's great features, plus a unique stylus
For many, there's no replacement for a Note. You get great hardware and specs, with a huge display, and the unique S Pen.
Best Gaming Features: Nubia RedMagic 5G
Gaming phones have made a surprising comeback over the last few years, and right now, one of the better options in this space is the Nubia RedMagic 5G. Gaming phones aren't for everyone, but if that's the niche you're interested in, the RedMagic 5G delivers the goods.
The Nubia RedMagic 5G has a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 processor, plenty of RAM and storage, and a 4,500 mAh battery that supports 55W fast wired charging. The design is also something, featuring a unique back that comes in a few different colors.
In regards to the gaming features Nubia has included, there's a lot to talk about. The RedMagic 5G has a liquid cooling system in addition to a fan, ensuring the phone stays as cool as possible even during intense firefights. There are also capacitive triggers on the top for more precise controls, an RGB light on the back, "4D shock vibration feedback," and a proprietary port on the bottom for optional accessories.
- Uniquely designed for gaming
- 144Hz refresh rate is one of the smoothest out there
- Shoulder buttons add extra controls
- Liquid cooling system
- Huge battery with fast charging
- Phone design might be too niche
Best Gaming Features
A phone that goes all-in on gaming, and executes well
Excellent performance and lots of gaming-specific features like side ports and heatsinks make this a gamer's dream.
When you're using Mint Mobile, you're likely focused on getting great service for less money, and you want a phone that follows the same philosophy. That phone is the OnePlus 8 Pro, which brings a holistic flagship smartphone experience for less money than the big-name competition. Yes, it's more expensive than previous years, but it also offers much more: water resistance, great cameras, and a top-tier display.
Mint Mobile lets you bring any unlocked phone to its network, so your options are wide open. You can go through this list and find any phone that appeals to you — and your budget — and bring it to Mint without any issue. Whether that's our top pick or something else that meets your needs.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip for the site? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.
Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation's Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently he is using Google's Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.
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