Phones Compatible with Tello: Everything You Should Know

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Tello is one of the cheapest cell phone services here in the US, with the Custom plan from as low as $5/ month. Even at the low pricing, the MVNO still packs some lovable perks, like fast data speeds of up to 280+Mbps. But, of course, only the subscribers with the right phones compatible with Tello service get to enjoy such perks.

Not that it’s any intricate to choose a phone to use with Tello. The phone provider actually has some pretty gentle compatibility policies, as we shall see shortly.

                   What is the Best Phones Compatible With Tello?       

In this article, I’ve put together crucial details on the various types of phones compatible with Tello service. I have also included some recommendations of phone models you can check out, with my favorite six being:

Phones Compatible with Tello
Phones Compatible with Tello

Best Overall: Tello Unlocked Apple iPhone 12 A14 Bionic iOS

Key Features:

  • A built-in eSIM for instant activation
  • Vivid 6.1-inch, 2K Super Retina display
  • High-performance A14 Bionic processor
  • Supports 5G Ultra Capacity on mmWave
  • Compatible with up to WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
  • Works with Qi & MagSafe wireless chargers

Best of Budget: Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Full HD+

Key Features:

  •  An extra-wide 6.6-inch full HD+ display
  • Decent Mediatek Dimensity 700 processor
  • Supports up to 5G connectivity on C-Band
  • Compatible with up to WiFi 5 (802.11ac)
  • Built-in NFC sensor for contactless payments
  • A MicroSD card slot to expand the local storage

Best of Upgrade: Fully Unlocked Apple iPhone 15 Pro IP68-Rated Titanium

Key Features:

  • A rugged IP68-rated titanium build
  • Built-in dual eSIM (no physical SIM slot)
  • The fastest Apple A17 Pro (3nm) processor
  • Supports up to 5G ultra-capacity on mmWave
  • Compatible with up to WiFi 6 (802.11ax) standard
  • Captures cinematic videos in 4K & slo-mo mode

Best under $150: Fully Unlocked Google Pixel 3 XL 64GB Snapdragon

Key Features:

  • A rugged IP68-rated aluminum build
  • Decent Snapdragon 845 processor
  • Built-in eSIM for instant activation
  • Compatible with up to WiFi 5 (802.11ac)
  • Integrated NFC chip for contactless payments
  • Supports 4G LTE high capacity & extended range

Best of Seniors: Fully Unlocked Nokia (2780) Flip 4GB LTE Feature Phone

Key Features:

  • A clear internal and external display
  • Big buttons with large numbers
  • Compatible with M4/ T4 hearing aid
  • Great battery capacity of up to 18 days
  • Supports GPS/ AGPS, Bluetooth, & WiFi
  • Supports 4G LTE high capacity & extended range

Best of Photography: Tello Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S22 5G (8 Gen 1) Android

Key Features:

  • A vibrant 6.1-inch, 120Hz display
  • Super-fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm) chip
  • Compatible with up to WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
  • Supports up to 5G ultra capacity on mmWave
  • Built-in eSIM for instant activation& dual SIM
  • Records Crisp videos in 4K & superslo-mo mode

8 Crucial Things to Consider When Looking for Phones Compatible with Tello

When shopping for a phone to use with Tello, or any other carrier for that matter, don’t just bag whatever is on the shelves. It’s crucial to first consider the various features and perks of the service in question. Then, use these features and perks to choose the device to use.

For instance, Tello:

Is an MVNO

Tello is an MVNO of T-Mobile currently, which means the phone you bring to its service should have the network bands of the GSM provider. The T-Mobile network bands that Tello use to connect are band 2, 4, 5, 12*, 66, and 71* for LTE. Then 5G connectivity on band N71 for low-band, N41 on mid-band/ C-Band, plus N258, N260, & N261 on mmWave.

Has Strict Compatibility

Tello requires a phone with at least band 2, band 4, and band 12 to pass its bring-your-own-phone compatibility checker. But the device should also have the rest of the bands if you’d like to make the most of your service.

Supports eSIM

Tello supports service with eSIM (digital SIM). So, you can get a device with eSIM if you would like to take advantage of instant activation or multiple lines.

5G Connectivity on iPhones

Tello finally has 5G service on iPhones. The feature took a while to be available as it (Tello) doesn’t pay its own carrier bundle with Apple.

Features Decent Data speeds

Tello has decent data speeds on both LTE and 5G. In the Tello vs Mint comparison, we saw a 5G phone record up to 280+Mbps, whereas LTE peaks up to 80Mbps.

Experiences Deprioritization

Tello customers get deprioritized, which means the browsing data speeds will drop when T-Mobile is experiencing congestion. It’s the reason you’ll hear many say they get data speeds around 20Mbps on LTE. Thus, a 5G-capable device will be more worthwhile to have.

Offers WiFi Calling

Tello supports WiFi calling free of charge. The feature can be handy when in areas with spotty native coverage. So, you should also get a phone with it (WiFi calling) to ensure you can always connect with loved ones.

Stocks Fully Unlocked Devices

Tello sells fully unlocked cell phones in its retail department. The phone catalog isn’t extensive, for sure. However, the few available options come without network restrictions, which is a win, considering you can finance through a third party.

Best Phones Compatible With Tello
Compatible With Tello

What Phones are Compatible with Tello Service

As was just mentioned, Tello usually sells fully unlocked cell phones. So, the three main types of phones compatible with Tello  are:

  • Factory-unlocked phones are naturally compatible with Tello since they come from the manufacturer without any network restrictions. The phones only need to have the right network technology (network bands above)
  • Carrier-unlocked phones are fully unlocked phones from either of the carriers compatible with Tello. A perfect example is unlocked phones from T-Mobile, Mint Mobile, MetroPCS, plus some from AT&T and Cricket Wireless.
  • T-Mobile (locked) phones can work with Tello even before unlocking. The option follows the basic compatibility rule where MVNOs are compatible with devices from their Carrier Networks.

Other Phones Compatible with Tello SIM Card & eSIM Service

Besides the six phone brands I highlighted earlier, others you can use with a Tello SIM card and or eSIM are:

 Type of NetworkType of SIMROM & RAM
Tello Unlocked Apple iPhone 12 A14 5G & 4 LTESIM card/ eSIM64GB, 4GB
Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A14 5G & 4G LTE SIM card 128GB, 6GB
Fully Unlocked Apple iPhone 15 Pro5G & 4G LTE SIM card/ eSIM128GB, 8GB
Fully Unlocked Google Pixel 3 XL  4G LTE SIM card/ eSIM64GB, 4GB
Fully Unlocked Nokia (2780) Flip 4G LTE SIM card4GB, 0.5GB
Tello Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S22 5G & 4G LTESIM card/ eSIM128GB, 8GB
T-Mobile (Locked) LG G8 4G LTESIM card128GB, 6GB
T-Mobile (Locked) Samsung Galaxy S20 5G & 4G LTESIM card128GB, 8GB
Fully Unlocked Google Pixel 4a with 5G-5G & 4G LTESIM card & eSIM128GB, 6GB
Factory-Unlocked Motorola Moto G 5G & 4G LTESIM card256GB, 6GB
Unlocked OnePlus Nord N30 5G5G & 4G LTESIM card128GB, 8GB
Fully Unlocked Apple iPhone SE 3 5G & 4G LTESIM card & eSIM64GB, 4GB
Fully Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S104G LTESIM card128GB, 6GB
AT&T Unlocked LG Stylo 5+4G LTESIM card32GB, 3GB

Final Thoughts:

In a nutshell, that’s everything relevant you should know when looking for phones compatible with Tello prepaid service. The most crucial point of all is that Tello uses T-Mobile towers, which means its LTE and 5G bands.

But unlike other MVNOs of T-Mobile, Tello requires the phone you use to have at least LTE bands 2, 4, and 12. If your device doesn’t have these frequency bands, like my backup Nokia, it won’t pass the Tello compatibility checker.

Keep in mind, that this compatibility checker usually doesn’t determine if your phone is fully unlocked or carrier-locked. That one you’ll have to confirm on your own.

Another thing, Tello, just like T-Mobile, does accept devices intended for the international market. However, I’ll recommend you buy a phone made for US markets in case you may want to switch carriers later on. The likes of AT&T are usually not compatible with international phones.