Are T-Mobile's Revvl 2 Phones Worth Buying?

Staff Writer
Updated

T-Mobile has introduced a pair of successors to its exclusive Revvl budget phone — the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus. Like the original Revvl, these handsets are built to offer basic smartphone functions at an attractive price, with some premium features and design cues tossed in for good effect.

Credit: T-MobileCredit: T-MobileThe 5.5-inch Revvl 2 goes for $168, although T-Mobile is offering it for free to customers who open up a new line, through a series of 24 monthly bill credits. The 6-inch Revvl 2 Plus, which adds a larger battery, a second camera for Portrait Mode and extra RAM, costs $252, or a total of $84 across two years if you start up a new line. Both will reach store shelves and begin shipping Nov. 16.

Those prices are nothing if not reasonable, especially when you consider that T-Mobile is backing the Revvl 2 with two-year factory warranties, twice as long as the industry standard. However, in other respects, you'll get what you pay for, and just because you could live with the Revvl 2 for 24 months doesn't mean you'll want to.

Should you buy one? Probably not

With so many budget phones on the market — most of which offer HD+ displays with extra-wide 18:9 aspect ratios, 2D facial recognition and long-lasting batteries, just like the Revvl 2 — you're probably wondering how T-Mobile's latest exclusives compare to the competition.

We haven't tested these phones yet, but on paper, the situation's looking quite bleak. Both Revvl 2 configurations run the outdated Android 8.1 Oreo and are powered by MediaTek MT6739 chipsets that pale in comparison to Qualcomm's latest midrange 400- and 600-series processors. The 5.5-inch Revvl 2, in particular, gets just 2GB of RAM, pretty much the bare minimum these days.

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Partnering a rather underwhelming chip with barely enough RAM to keep things humming along smoothly is a recipe for disaster. Even though the Revvl 2 is free for anyone opening up a new line, that doesn't necessarily mean it's worth your time.

Then there's the 6-inch Revvl 2 Plus. The prospect of dual cameras might sound encouraging — until you look at the numbers. You're getting a 12-megapixel main sensor and a measly 2-MP secondary one that assuredly will only be used to suss out depth. Shallow depth-of-field photos on inexpensive phones are rarely good, and dual cameras generally fail to impress when you're paying less than premium prices. The original Revvl had pretty poor cameras, and there's nothing about these that has us particularly enthused either.

The 4,000-mAh battery in the Revvl 2 Plus is quite large, though, and looks to be one of the handset's few bright spots. Given that the previous model lasted more than 11 hours in our battery test (albeit with a faster Snapdragon 625 chipset), we expect similar, if not better, longevity from the newer 6-inch handset.

Alternatives to consider

Anyone drawn to the Revvl 2's price should take a look instead at the Moto G6, which normally retails for $249 but can be had for just $199 through Amazon right now. Unlike the Revvl 2, the Moto G6 can be used on any carrier, whether on the GSM standard like T-Mobile and AT&T, or CDMA like Verizon and Sprint.

The Moto G6. (Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide)The Moto G6. (Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide)

The G6's Snapdragon 450 chipset and 3GB of RAM outpace both Revvl 2 devices, and Motorola's software additions on top of Android are clean, unobtrusive and bring surprisingly intuitive features and time-saving shortcuts. In terms of size and design, the 5.7-inch G6 also strikes a satisfying balance between being too large and too small.

There's also the $199 Nokia 6.1 — a 5.5-inch, Snapdragon 630-powered phone with a camera that is among the best for the price, a premium all-metal build and, best of all, the Android One software standard. That means you'll be getting regular software and security updates from Google, which almost makes the device feel like a low-cost Pixel.

The Nokia 6.1. (Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide)The Nokia 6.1. (Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide)

If you have a little more to spend, the absolute best you can do under $400 right now is the $349 Nokia 7.1, which sports class-leading performance, a gorgeous HDR-enabled LCD display (with a notch, if you're into that) and the finest design among budget and midrange handsets you'll find at the moment. Oh, and it also has the Android One feather in its cap for speedy updates.

Bottom Line

The only saving grace of T-Mobile's new exclusive Revvl 2 offerings is their two-year factory warranty, which is something we'd definitely prefer to see more of in the phone industry, given how long owners tend to hold onto their devices these days.

However, with such anemic specs and limited prospects of continued software support, it's hard to imagine anyone holding onto their Revvl 2 or Revvl 2 Plus for that long without the phones showing their age through general lag, outdated software and an inability to run the latest apps.

That makes the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus really tough to recommend, especially as we approach Black Friday and already-discounted budget rivals from Motorola and Nokia are slated to drop in price even further.