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Best Metro by T-Mobile phones

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The beauty of Metro by T-Mobile is that its plans are on average quite inexpensive compared to the competition, but you don't sacrifice much in spite of that. In fact, our LTE network testing has confirmed as much.

Metro's performance is comparable to parent network T-Mobile's, making Metro the best performing prepaid carrier we tested. And the fact that you can get a lot of data for just $40 a month (with taxes and fees included) makes Metro our favorite discount carrier, too.

Many of the same phones offered by the likes of T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon are available through the prepaid carrier. And some of those happen to be the best phones you can buy right now, like the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20. You can also expect top upcoming models, like the Galaxy Note 20 and iPhone 12, to be offered eventually as well.

Metro customers have the freedom to go with low-cost handsets or flagship devices, and you can even bring your own compatible phone so long as you don't mind paying out of pocket without carrier subsidies. Here are the best phones Metro offers right now.

What are the best Metro by T-Mobile phones?

Many of the devices on our list of the best Metro by T-Mobile phones may look familiar because they're also some of the best phones out there, period.

That includes everything from high-end models, like the remarkable iPhone 11 Pro and compact Samsung Galaxy S10e, to more affordable handsets, like the long-lasting Moto G Stylus, feature-rich Samsung Galaxy A20 and even the just-released second-generation iPhone SE. It's important to note that Samsung recently replaced the A20 with the Galaxy A21, and that new model has finally arrived on Metro. 

The new iPhone SE is our top pick if you're looking for a new high-performance phone from the discount carrier, but don't mind sacrificing a massive display and an OLED display for a more reasonable price.

On the other end of the spectrum is one of the priciest devices Metro offers — the Samsung Galaxy S20 — which bears the distinction of being the only phone the carrier currently sells capable of connecting to next-generation networks.

Of course, you don't have to purchase a phone from Metro at all if you don't wish to; being a GSM-based carrier on T-Mobile's network, Metro supports unlocked phones from every manufacturer, allowing you to bring your own device if you like. However, Metro also offers opportunities to save on certain models in its store if you switch from another carrier and port your number over in the process — so it's worth it to give the following phones a look.

The best Metro by T-Mobile phones

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: iPhone SE

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. iPhone SE 2020

The best mix of performance and price

Display: 4.7-inch LCD (1334x750) | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB / No | Rear camera: 12MP (ƒ/1.8) | Front camera: 7MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 5.22 ounces

Very affordable
Fast A13 Bionic performance
Supports wireless charging
Big bezels
No camera night mode

The new iPhone SE for 2020 replaces the iPhone 8 as the smallest, cheapest iPhone Apple offers, and it packs stellar performance for a very easy-to-stomach $399 price. Buyers receive an A13 Bionic CPU — the very same one inside the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro — as well as an updated 12-megapixel camera system that benefits from the company's latest computational photography tricks. (Well, except for Night Mode.)

The iPhone SE surely doesn't have the best battery life of any iPhone, given its relatively tiny battery. You'll probably want to spend an extra $50 and upgrade to 128GB of storage as well, if you can. But for the price, the SE's premium features — like wireless charging and water resistance — make it well worth a look for Metro by T-Mobile customers.

As of this writing, Metro is offering the 64GB iPhone SE for just $99 for new customers switching from other carriers. The discount will be distributed in the form of rebates, and after 6 months of service and payment with auto pay enabled on the account.

Read our full iPhone SE 2020 review.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: iPhone 11 Pro Max

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPhone 11 Pro Max

The best phone money can buy

Display: 6.5-inch OLED (2688x1242) | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB / No | Rear camera: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4); 12MP 2X telephoto (ƒ/2.0) | Front camera: 12MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 7.97 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:44

Gorgeous OLED display is now brighter
A13 Bionic CPU fastest around
Stellar triple cameras
Longest battery life of any iPhone
Just 64GB of storage on entry model

From the outside, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max don't look terribly different from their predecessors, aside from their triple rear camera stack and new matte finish. But Apple's 5.8- and 6.5-inch flagships pack more power and better battery life than ever before, as well as computational photography features that enable these handsets to take the finest photos of any phones on the market today.

Apple's Night Mode captures stunning images in the dark without over-brightening moonlit skies, while the new Deep Fusion mode pulls out exceptional detail in medium-light scenarios. Especially creative photographers will also love the new ultrawide lens, which makes it easy to zoom out in tight spots.

Read our full iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max reviews.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: iPhone 11

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iPhone 11

The iPhone 11 Pro's best features for less

Display: 6.1-inch LCD (1792x828) | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: Unknown | Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB / No | Rear camera: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4) | Front camera: 12MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 6.84 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:20

Fast A13 Bionic CPU
Long battery life
Colorful and durable design
Fast charger not included
Just 64GB of storage to start

Apple should be commended for building many of the iPhone 11 Pro's headline features into the 6.1-inch iPhone 11, one of the best Metro by T-Mobile phones the carrier offers. This $699 model packs the same A13 Bionic chipset, two of the same cameras on the back (you lose out on the optically zooming telephoto, unfortunately) and the finest battery life of the bunch, partly due to its rather low-resolution (though still extremely bright) Liquid Retina LCD display.

iPhone 11 buyers still get Face ID authentication for their troubles, as well as support for wireless charging and IP68 water resistance. It's really all the iPhone anyone needs at a great price.

Read our full iPhone 11 review.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: Samsung Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Future)

4. Samsung Galaxy S20

Metro's best — and only — 5G phone

Display: 6.2-inch AMOLED (3200x1440) | CPU: Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 12GB | Storage/Expandable: 128GB / No | Rear camera: 12MP main (ƒ/1.8); 64MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 10MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 5.7 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:31

Improved camera with 3x lossless zoom
Display has 120Hz refresh rate
Compact design
Battery life is relatively short
Camera can overly smooth faces

Up until recently, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G was still the only 5G phone Metro offered. But now it's been swapped out for the newer, more powerful 6.2-inch Samsung Galaxy S20, which has an improved 5G modem for better service and faster data speeds. And it's cheaper than the Note 10 Plus 5G was at well, at $999 compared to that phablet's original $1,299 price.

There are other reasons to consider the Galaxy S20, though. This handset has a captivating 120Hz display, offering one of the smoothest user experiences you'll see on a flagship phone this year. It also has three cameras on the back, including a 64-megapixel telephoto lens with 3x lossless zoom that can even capture 8K video.

We wish the Galaxy S20's battery life was a bit longer, but if you want one of the most powerful flagship phones out there today, and if you have your heart set on buying something with 5G capability, the Galaxy S20 is Metro's best option right now.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 review. 

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: Samsung Galaxy S10e

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy S10e

Still one of the best Galaxy phones

Display: 5.8-inch AMOLED (2160x1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6GB, 8GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / Yes | Rear camera: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.5, ƒ/2.4); 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 10MP (ƒ/1.9) | Weight: 5.29 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:21

Incredible display
Delightful, compact design
Super powerful
Headphone jack
Battery life is so-so

Don't worry about having to make too many tradeoffs if you opt for Samsung's lower-cost Galaxy S10e. Like its more expensive Galaxy S10 siblings, this phone features the powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset and it support Wireless PowerShare for charging other Qi-compatible devices.

You'll have to settle for just two rear cameras instead of the three on the back of Samsung's larger Galaxy models, and there's no flashy in-display fingerprint sensor. (The S10e's fingerprint reader is on the phone's power button, but still works well.) Yet those are small sacrifices to make for a lower price tag, especially if you're a fan of more compact phones, or you want an Android-style take on the new iPhone SE. The Galaxy S20 may be newer, but the S10e can do something its successors can't: effortlessly fit into your pocket.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10e review.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: Moto G Stylus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. Moto G Stylus

A well-rounded budget phablet

Display: 6.4-inch LCD (2300x1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 4GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes | Rear camera: 48MP main (ƒ/1.7); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.2); 16MP Action Cam (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 16MP (ƒ/2.0) | Weight: 6.8 ounces | Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 12:13

Handy stylus for note-taking
Decent photos and performance for the price
Long-lasting battery
Screen isn’t very colorful
Night mode isn’t great

The Moto G Stylus isn't quite our favorite budget Android phone — that honor actually goes to the Moto G Power, which has a larger battery and, thus, lasts longer on a charge. However, the Moto G Stylus' longevity still isn't anything to sneeze at. At 12 hours and 13 minutes, the Moto G Stylus still ranks on our list of the best phone battery life.

But, of course, a phone like the Moto G Stylus is about more than battery life. The Snapdragon 665 CPU inside this $299 handset offers solid overall performance. And with 128GB of built-in storage, you won't need to spring for a microSD card — though you certainly can put one in the phone if you wish. Rounding out the feature set is, of course, that handy stylus, which assist with productivity and note taking, and separates Moto's handset from other similarly-price models.

Right now, Metro is selling the Moto G Stylus for just $239. That's $60 off the normal price of the device unlocked, meaning you can expect significant savings by choosing to go with the discount prepaid network.

Read our full Moto G Stylus review.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: Samsung Galaxy A20

(Image credit: Future)

7. Samsung Galaxy A20

A great Moto G7 Power alternative

Display: 6.4-inch AMOLED (1560 x 720 pixels) | CPU: Exynos 7904 | RAM: 3GB | Storage / Expandable: 32GB / Yes | Rear camera: 13MP wide (ƒ/1.9); 5MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0) | Weight: 5.8 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 13:46

Outstanding battery life
Low price
Good cameras for budget phone
Laggy performance
Design isn't that durable

The Samsung Galaxy A20 affords buyers some pretty useful features despite its $249 price. At the top of those is battery life: The A20 includes a 4,000 mAh battery that lasted an impressive 13 hours and 46 minutes Tom's Guide's battery test. Samsung's budget Galaxy also benefits from an expansive 6.4-inch AMOLED panel — a rarity in such a cheap phone — as well as a solid dual-lens rear camera and snappy 15-watt fast-charging system.

As for the flaws, the Galaxy A20 suffers from an all-plastic design that scratches easily, in addition to somewhat laggy performance from its Exynos 7904 CPU. Ultimately, the A20 is still a great choice for a cheap phone from Metro, though the new 6.5-inch Samsung Galaxy A21 is n ow available to consider as well.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A20 review.

How to choose the best Metro by T-Mobile phone for you

While we regularly update our best Metro by T-Mobile phones page with the carrier's most compelling deals, you'll want to check the network's smartphones store page for the latest and greatest offers — especially if you're interested in switching from a rival carrier. Metro, like all wireless providers, offers the best discounts for new customers who bring their numbers over with them.

Otherwise, Metro offers a complete range of devices across all prices, so prospective buyers should consider those most critical smartphone features — like battery life, performance and camera quality — when choosing a new handset. Cheaper models, like the Galaxy A20 and Moto G7 Power, tend to prioritize battery life above those other factors. In other words, if longevity on a charge is all you need, you could be in an ideal position to save.

However, if premium specs, design and a great camera are really important to you, it's a better idea to look to one of the iPhones or Samsung Galaxy S devices on this list. They are more expensive, but their capabilities far outshine those of the less-expensive models Metro offers. They'll also likely last you a few more years and are sure to be supported with more frequent software updates going forward.

How we test smartphones

Smartphones that make any of our best phones lists need to excel on several tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.

When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and GFXBench to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.

To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.

One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G or 4G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.

Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.