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Best Metro by T-Mobile phones

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

The best Metro by T-Mobile phones let you enjoy the benefits of an inexpensive monthly data plan where you don't have to sacrifice much in terms of performance. In fact, our LTE network testing has confirmed as much. You also get excellent coverage nationwide.

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 Metro by T-Mobile. And some of those happen to be the best phones you can buy right now, like the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. You can also expect top upcoming models like the Galaxy S21 to be offered at Metro 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 relatively more premium handsets, like the iPhone 12 Pro Max, to more affordable ones, like the long-lasting Moto G Stylus, feature-rich Samsung Galaxy A51 and giant-killing iPhone SE.

The iPhone SE from last year is indeed our top pick if you're looking for a new high-performance phone from the discount carrier, but don't mind sacrificing a massive OLED display for a more reasonable price. You can also get the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, if you want a 5G-capable phone without having to spend big bucks.

On the other end of the spectrum is one of the priciest devices Metro offers — the iPhone 12 Pro Max — which joins other phones capable of connecting to Metro's 5G network. 

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are not available from Metro, though the old Note 10 Plus 5G was offered through the discount carrier until late last year. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE ended up replacing the Galaxy S20 on the prepaid carrier.

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 iPhone SE is now the 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 $49 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: OnePlus Nord N10 5G

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. OnePlus Nord N10 5G

A great budget 5G option at Metro

Display: 6.49-inch OLED (2400 x 1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 690 | RAM: 6GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No | Rear camera: 64MP main (f/1.8); 8MP ultrawide (f/2.25); macro lens; monochrome lens | Front camera: 16MP (f/2.05) | Weight: 6.7 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:48

90Hz display
Long battery life
5G device for less than $300
Monochrome and macro lenses don’t impress
So-so design

The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is a reminder that 5G phones don't have to break the bank. Normally $299 — a shockingly low price for a device that can connect with T-Mobile's 5G network — the OnePlus Nord N10 5G can be yours for free when you switch your service to Metro by T-Mobile.

Opt for this phone, and you can expect long battery life — nearly 12 hours on our test. The cameras perform well enough, though we found the macro and monochrome lenses to be unnecessary additions. OnePlus put more polish on its regular Nord (which never came to US, unfortunately), but the N10 is a very good budget phone that still manages to offer some premium features.

Read our full OnePlus Nord N10 5G review.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: iPhone 12 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

3. iPhone 12 Pro Max

Another slam dunk from Apple

Display: 6.7-inch OLED (2778x1284) | CPU: A14 Bionic | RAM: 6GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No | Rear camera: 12MP wide (f/1.6), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4), 12MP 2.5X telephoto (f/2.2) | Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/2.2) | Weight: 8.03 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:53

Best-in-class cameras
Excellent battery life
Immersive 6.7-inch display
Superior performance
A bit heavy and bulky

Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, wowed people everywhere with just how impressive it is. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it does everything you could possibly want it to do. Everything from the cameras to the display will knock your socks off. Battery life is stellar and the performance is incredibly impressive. 

It also sports Apple’s new MagSafe system, which made its first appearance on the iPhone 12 series. If anything, the biggest complaint you could leverage against the iPhone 12 Pro Max is its sheer size, which some might find bulky and unwieldy. Otherwise, you have a very good device here and it’s by far one of the best devices that Metro has to offer.

Read our full iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max reviews. 

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: iPhone 11

(Image credit: Apple)

4. 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 phone has seen its price drop to $599, even though it offers a powerful A13 Bionic chipset, two rear cameras and the finest battery life of Apple's iPhone 11 family. Metro cuts the price even further for people switching from another carrier.

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: Galaxy S20 FE

(Image credit: Future)

5. Samsung Galaxy 20 FE

Samsung’s killer value

Display: 6.5-inch OLED (2400x1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 6GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes | Rear camera: 12MP main (ƒ/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 8MP 3X telephoto (ƒ/2.4) | Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 6.7 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:03

Big 120Hz display
Powerful triple-camera system
Solid performance
Affordable price
Battery life bit shorter than expected

Samsung bucked its own super expensive smartphone trend with the Galaxy S20 FE, a so-called “affordable flagship.” It offered much of what people loved about the S20 in a plastic body and a few hundred bucks knocked off the asking price. It also sports 5G, meaning you can take advantage of Metro's next-generation network.

You get a beautiful 6.5-inch 120Hz display, the Snapdragon 865 CPU, a microSD card slot, and great camera performance with the triple lens setup. One complaint is that the battery life doesn't quite live up to expectations, but it's not bad. The plastic body doesn’t feel as premium as the original S20, nor is the included charger as quick, but these compromises are more than acceptable given what you get for your money.

Read our full Galaxy S20 FE review. 

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: Samsung Galaxy A51

(Image credit: Future)

6. Samsung Galaxy A51 5G

A fair 5G alternative to the Galaxy S20

Display Size: 6.5-inch OLED (2400x1080) | CPU: Exynos 980 | RAM: 6GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes | Rear camera: 48MP wide (ƒ/2.0), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 5MP depth (ƒ/2.2), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.4) | Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 6.6 ounces | Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 9:16 (LTE version)

Excellent display
Sleek design
128GB of storage
Underwhelming performance
Battery life could be better

Metro added the Samsung Galaxy A51 to its repertoire, and what makes its version of the A51 particularly interesting is that it can connect to 5G networks. We haven't reviewed the Galaxy A51 5G, though we have extensively used its LTE counterpart, and found the device to be a formidable budget phone with some drawbacks.

The Galaxy A51 is a sleek enough device with a dazzling 6.5-inch AMOLED display. However, its quad-camera system disappoints compared to the single-lens modules in the Google Pixel 4a and iPhone SE, both of which cost far less than the A51 5G (though Google's phone is not sold through Metro). Performance on our A51 LTE unit was underwhelming as well, though the 5G variant has a different chipset and more RAM, making it slightly more powerful overall. If you're after a 5G-compatible handset but don't want to spend top dollar on the Galaxy S20, the A51 5G is a respectable alternative — so long as you're aware of the tradeoffs you'll make.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A51 review.

Best Metro by T-Mobile phones: Moto G Stylus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. 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 either last year's Moto G Power or the newer Moto G Power (2021), both of which last much 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 regular 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.

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.