Help me pick out a tmobile phone.
June 13, 2012 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Help me pick out a tmobile phone.

So, my phone just died (samsung smiley), so it's time to get a new one. I went to the tmobile store, and within 5 minutes felt like they were trying to sell me a used car, so I would love to get some advice from the non-salespeople of ask.metafilter before I go back to make a choice.

I haven't had a smart phone before, but it's looking like there isn't much of an option, and I'm not totally against the idea of a smartphone. Here's what's important to me:

-Build quality, this thing is going to live in my pocket all the time when not in use, and I don't want to worry about it needing to be handled gently. I will be getting some sort of case for it if required.

-Automatic wifi, I want to go with the absolute cheapest data plan if I get a smart phone, so I want the phone to automatically switch to wifi when possible to reduce the amount of data being used.

-Call quality, both in reception and speaker quality. One of the previous phones I had sounded so bad, I couldn't understand half of what people were saying, and another one always had terrible signal strength.

-Battery life, my current phone goes for a week without recharging, and while I know that isn't going to happen with any sort of smart phone, it would be nice to get a few days out of it in between charges.

-email, my email right now is setup through my own website with imap, so that I can access it from different computers. If the phone can't do imap email than I won't be using it's email functionality at all.

I'm not too terribly concerned about super fast internet speed. The level of internet I'd be using would probably be things like looking on twitter and facebook, or looking up movie times or directions, and a little light web surfing from time to time.

If I had a choice I'd probably get an iphone, but that's not possible (I understand there are unlocked models, but I'm going to be getting something through tmobile and not elsewhere). If there is another phone which meets at least some of my above qualifications, but is simple to use while still having a lot of functionality, I'd love to get peoples opinions.

In the end I may just end up getting another smiley, but if the choice is between upgrading to a smart phone now or waiting 2 years for my next new phone discount, I'm thinking I'd rather just do it now.

posted by markblasco to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, and I guess I forgot to mention that price is also a factor. I'm just not going to spend $300 on a phone, no matter what it does, unless it also has a 120gb hard drive to replace my ipod. Ideally I'd spend less than $100, but I know that may limit my options too much, so let's just say that price is a definite factor, but I'm a little flexible.
posted by markblasco at 3:25 PM on June 13, 2012

If you're set on T-Mobile, get the well-reviewed HTC One S, set yourself up with a Amazon or Google Music account, upload your music collection, cache a couple thousand songs on the phone, and stream the rest fromt he cloud.
posted by Oktober at 3:31 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

1. WiFi switch - they all do this
2. Battery life is terrible on android and not awesome on iPhone - there is no way you will be able to go for days without charging
3. They all do IMAP mail

What carrier are you on?
posted by k8t at 3:31 PM on June 13, 2012

K8t, I'm on Tmobile.
posted by markblasco at 3:32 PM on June 13, 2012

Allow me to cop my friend's amazing idea. Once my current plan with AT&T runs out, I plan on following his lead.

"So, I finally caved and got a smartphone (allow me to dork out here): Tmobile has a cheap $30/mo no-contract plan with tons of 4G data but limited voice minutes... all you gotta do is add some VOIP apps to the $200 Exhibit II phone and voila! You can talk over 4G without using minutes."
posted by Larus at 3:39 PM on June 13, 2012

Oh yuck I wouldn't get that Exhibit 2. It's a two year old phone running a two year old version of Android, you'll increasingly have trouble running apps that are written for news phones and newer versions of Android.

The iPhone 4s has pretty decent battery life, I regularly get a day and a half charge out of mine. Verizon has the Razr Maxx, which is basically a very thin phone with a very large battery, that'll get you two or three days of battery life.
posted by Oktober at 3:43 PM on June 13, 2012

T-Mobile has the One S on sale for $49 right now, by the way.
posted by Oktober at 3:43 PM on June 13, 2012

I have a MyTouch G4. I love it to death. But! I went from a G1, one of the first android phones, to this. It works worlds better then my G1.

If I don't overdo it with taking pictures, the battery lasts a couple of days. But I do next to no talking. I haven't run into too much trouble charging it though. I just bought some usb micro-bcords and charge it when I have access to a computer. (yay for non-proprietary power cords)
posted by royalsong at 4:16 PM on June 13, 2012

Keep in mind when dealing with T-Mobile is that you can either pay for the phone or pay for the plan. Either way you will pay. There is no such thing as a free phone. Their new website makes this a little clearer, but when I was stumbling through all this a few months ago it was hard to find it explicitly stated.

If you get a $49 phone with a 2 year contract, the cheapest you will be able to pay per month (500 min talk, unlimited text, and 200MB (yes! that's MB!) of high speed data) is $60. If you bring your own phone, you can use one of the value plans and pay $45/month for the same thing. $15 x 24 months = $360 over the life of the contract. If you go up to the next bracket of data plan (2GB at full speed) the difference jumps to $20/month or $480 over the life of the contract.

If you think you can survive with the 200MB data plan, it might be worth it since, without the mail in rebates and internet only deals, the HTC One S is retailing right now at $600.

That said, I have been pretty happy with the HTC Wildfire S that I bought without a contract for just under $200. It's a generation behind, at least, but since I use its smartness mostly to read MetaFilter and check email it's more than adequate. Also, it's very tiny.
posted by clockwork at 4:54 PM on June 13, 2012

T-Mobile is going to support iPhones in about a month according to the store I was in a couple days ago.
posted by leslies at 4:55 PM on June 13, 2012

I have a Samsung Gravity Smart and I've been pretty happy with it. The battery lasts a long time if you turn off WiFi, especially when you're moving around a lot. It's pretty sturdy (but it's a little too heavy to keep in your pocket all the time). Call quality is okay if you have a few bars. I think the email app can handle imap.

The only really annoying things are the weird pre-installed, undelete-able shortcuts and the social media buttons on the keyboard. I always hit the buttons by accident when I'm writing text messages or using the web browser.

You should probably play with one in a T-Mobile store (if they're still selling them) to see if that's an issue for you.

Stay away from Motorola smart phones like the Cliq!
posted by topoisomerase at 5:07 PM on June 13, 2012

Android battery life is not "terrible", especially with the now-gen of phones. ~2 days isn't "terrible".

The Samsung Galaxy S III drops on the 21st of June at T-mobile. As of the day it drops, it will be the "best" android phone in the US, with the possible exception of the HTC One X, which is apparently also available at T-Mobile now. Prices on both will be very good. If you are going to buy a NEW smartphone, you ARE going to get locked into a 2 year contract, you might as well get the best phone you can get at the time, instead of something a couple generations old. Handle both of these phones and make a decision.

(5 minutes of research says that the One X may only be available through a third party, but I'm not sure about that.)

Regardless of what you buy, if you're not tech savvy and haven't ever had a smart phone, you will be flummoxed by Android, although Ice Cream Sandwich does a really good job of making everything easier. Be prepared to spend some time with the device.

Lastly, if you don't so much care about ALL the bells and whistles, go to craigslist or ebay and buy any T-mobile or AT&T phone off contract (iPhone included). Then head over to and, register an account and buy a simcard, throw it in the phone, and have unlimited talk/data/text for $45/month. You can also do this AT wal-mart, however you need to make sure that you buy the correct version of a phone (AT&T vs T-Mobile, depending which service is best in your area.)

You can also do this with an SGSIII, however you'll have to pay the full retail price for the phone, which will probably be in the vicinity of $800. If you want to do this with a recent gen phone, grab a Galaxy Nexus from Google ($400), and you'll always have the freshest version of Android and no bloatware or other concerns.

How's that for a wall of text?
posted by TomMelee at 5:54 AM on June 14, 2012

Be careful buying AT&T smartphones-- AT&T & T-Mobile use different radio bands for 3G so you can't get 3G on most AT&T phones.

The Galaxy Nexus is one of the best Android phones out there and $400 unlocked from Google. Since you can get cheaper plans by bringing your own phone, it makes sense to do that unless you absolutely can't put together $400.

Or you can get an even cheaper prepaid plan, as mentioned above. I do that, to the tune of the $30/mo. 100min/5GB data/unlimited text plan.
posted by akgerber at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2012

I have HTC One S.

Brilliant phone, hopefully pretty futureproof.
(Does have a hardware issue right now, but that's not uncommon with new devices and I'm expecting that to be dealt with. )

Does all the things you want, and more. If you go for something like this, you *will* find that a lot of your life is facilitated/assisted by your phone. It does email, messaging, navigating, news updates, etc etc.

However; it will need charging every night. If this is a dealbreaker then try something like the Motorola razr maxx.
posted by BadMiker at 7:35 AM on June 14, 2012

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