Tello vs Mint: Which is the Best Prepaid Service on T-Mobile in 2022?

Tello is one of the best-rated prepaid phone providers on the Trustpilot platform. However, is the carrier really that good in the real world or it’s just an overrated hype? Does it have good data speeds? And most importantly, which will be better to have between Tello vs Mint phones?

Well, first of all, both Mint and Tello are good cellular services if you don’t want to pay the expensive rates on major carriers. They have nationwide coverage through the T-Mobile network, plus competitiveness and decent data allotments.

Despite sharing a carrier network, though, Tello and Mint Mobile are still totally different companies. So, the overall experience from one totally varies with the other, especially on pricing, browsing speeds, 5G access, hotspot/ tethering, and throttling.

Tello vs Mint : A Quick Peek on the Cell Phone Providers

Here’s a summary of the features and perks you can have or miss on the two cell phone providers.

FeatureTelloMint
Founded20162015
Carrier NetworkT-Mobile (previously Sprint)T-Mobile
eSIM supportN/AYES
Free 5GYES (on Android)YES
5G Download Speeds50-280+Mbps50-700+Mbps
Lowest Phone Plan$10/ month$15/ month
Unlimited MinutesYESYES
Unlimited dataYESYES
Family DiscountN/ANO
Free Mexico/ Canada CallYES (and other 60+ countries)YES
Mobile HotspotYESYES  
WiFi CallingYESYES
Video StreamingYES [up to 4K UHD]YES [Up to 4K UHD]
Phone Unlock PeriodAt PurchaseAfter 12 Months
Extra PerksN/A3-Month Free Service
Type of ServiceOnline OnlyOnline Only
   

Should I Get Tello service?

Are you looking for a phone provider you can build your desired affordable plan? Tello is one of the services you have the freedom to do so. You can build a simple plan from as low as $5 to the premium unlimited data package.

Furthermore, Tello has a separate family plan category. Then, all the phone plans do include free international calling to over sixty different countries.

In addition to that, you should now be able to tap the 5G bands with your GSM Android phone. And if you won’t mind draining your data fast, you can stream videos in up to full 4K quality.

Even so, Tello doesn’t offer free streaming subscriptions as the one US Mobile borrows from T-Mobile and Verizon. So, you’ll need to have an active account with Netflix, HBO Max, ESPN, or any other streaming service you favor.

Should I Get Mint Mobile?

At this point, Mint Mobile has been a regular on my page, and for a good reason. The cell phone provider also has a pretty awesome rating on the Trustpilot platform- actually has 1,000+ more positive feedbacks than Tello. But again, will the carrier be good for me?

Well, indeed, Mint Mobile is a good service if you’re looking for a means to cut down your monthly bill without compromising your phone experience.

As we saw on our previous Mint Mobile vs Spectrum Mobile review, the GSM network offers the plans from fifteen bucks a month. Then, you’ll have access to the latest 5G Ultra-Capacity speeds, peaking at up to 560-700+Mbps.

Furthermore, Mint Mobile now has the option to stream videos in 4K resolution, thereby ensuring crisp details on large displays.

But again, Streaming videos in 4K quality usually use around 97.5MB per minute. So, watching the Free Guy adventure film by Ryan Reynolds, who, by the way, is the face of Mint, can use like 10GB. And in that case, you could end up having your data throttled early since the provider doesn’t have “truly” unlimited data plans.

Tello vs Mint

Tello vs Mint: The Six Main Differences Between the Cell Phone Services

Now we know some of the things to expect on the Mint and Tello phone, let’s lie them side by side to see who leads where. The various crucial features we’ll be looking at include:

Network Coverage

Initially, Tello used to be a mobile virtual network operator (or MVNO) of Sprint-CDMA. But after the company merged with T-Mobile, the MVNO was also prompted to join the GSM network.

In other words, both Tello and Mint are currently on the same carrier network, T-Mobile. The coverage results are pretty much the same, in which case you can get a solid signal in the metropolises.

However, T-Mobile is pretty scanty when you start moving away from the major towns. So, you can expect a drop in signal- in some cases to a point of no bars when driving through remote locations, including the northwestern/ Midwestern regions and downtowns of Madison.

Winner: a Tie for both carriers rely on T-Mobile towers

Phone Selection & Deals

Do you want to join your next carrier with a new phone? Or would you like to upgrade your old device before losing service in the scheduled T-Mobile 3G shutdown?

Well, whichever reason might make you need a new device, both Tello and Mint Mobile have some decent selections you can consider. However, Mint has a relatively longer product catalog, including the entry-level models plus luxury brands like iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Furthermore, Mint has the option to purchase your desired device upfront or through the buy now pay later program. Then, there’s a $50 partial discount and a free 3-month service (about $45 value) when you purchase select devices with a new activation.

On its end, Tello also does have up to $50 off on various Android and iPhone phones. Then, they come already unlocked, thereby you can immediately use them with other carriers.

Even so, Tello has a limited phone catalog to browse, especially the latest luxury brands. Also, the carrier doesn’t have device financing at the moment, thereby the checkout is only at the full price.

Winner: Mint has more phone options, slightly cheaper, plus device financing from $10/ mo.

Free 5G Access & Speeds

When we now compare Mint vs Tello service on 5G network, both providers have a free pass and also good data speeds. However, Mint will be taking the points since it has 5G access with all devices, plus relatively faster browsing speeds.

In a test with iPhone 12, the Mint line was able to hit an average of 560Mbps download speeds on the Ultra-Capacity spectrum. Some users have even claimed to achieve up to 700Mbps, which, to be honest, is amazing for an MVNO.

Sad to say, though, T-Mobile still has limited mmWave (Ultra-Capacity) towers, plus the signal doesn’t extend very far. So, you’ll be able to tap to the 5G low-band spectrum in most places. And in that case, you can get download speeds of up to 300+Mbps or at least 50Mbps during peak hours.

As for Tello, a recent speed test peaked at 280+Mbps, which is slightly lower than Mint’s, but still good for speedy browsing. The LTE speeds aren’t bad either as you can achieve up to 80Mbps on normal days or 20Mbps during busy hours.

Even so, Tello doesn’t have its own carrier bundle with Apple at the moment (see here), and T-Mobile usually doesn’t share its bundle with MVNOs. So, iPhones currently don’t have access to the 5G on Tello.

Winner: Mint has 5G access for Android & iPhones, plus 2.5x faster data speeds

Phone Plans & Pricing

On this one, Tello and Mint Mobile are pretty competitive, both on the pricing and allotments. If we start with Mint, the lowest plan is the 4GB bundle, which you can get from as low as $15/ month, as shown below.

Features4GB Plan (͌≈$3.75/ GB)10GB Plan (͌≈$2.00/ GB)15GB Plan (͌≈$1.60/ GB)Unlimited Plan (͌≈$0.80/ GB)
1-Month SubscriptionUnavailableUnavailableUnavailableUnavailable
3-Month Introductory Subscription$45 ($15/ mo.)$60 ($20/ mo.)$75 ($25/ mo.)$75 ($30/ mo.)
3-Month Regular Subscription$75 ($25/ mo.)$105 ($35/ mo.)$135 ($45/ mo.)$120 ($40/ mo.)
6-Month Subscription$120 ($20/ mo.)$150 ($25/ mo.)$210 ($35/ mo.)$210 ($35/ mo.)
12-Month Subscription$180 ($15/ mo.)$240 ($20/ mo.)$300 ($25/ mo.)$360 ($30/ mo.)
4G LTE & 5GYESYESYESYES
Call MinutesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Text MessagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
High-Speed Data4GB10GB15GBUnlimited
Priority DataN/AN/AN/A35GB
128kbps DataUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Mobile HotspotYESYESYESYES (capped at 5GB)
Video Streaming4K Ultra-HD Quality4K Ultra-HD Quality4K Ultra-HD Quality4K Ultra-HD Quality
     

At some point, it’s a little disappointing you can only purchase the Mint service in bulk. However, these multi-month plans help keep the monthly rates low, thereby saving you quite some bucks over the year.

For instance, the Mint Phone plans on the annual prepayment ensure you only pay about $30/ month on the premium Unlimited deal. And since the plan has 35GB of high-speed priority data, that means you’ll be paying like 80¢ per gigabyte.

Tello Isn’t Bad Either

Yes, indeed, Tello can also save you a few dollars that you can put together to pay a later bill. And the best part, you can build your desired rate plan from the scratch with or without data allowance.

Here’s a summary of some of the plans you can have, starting with simple data of 500MB through the premium unlimited allowance.

Features500MB CustomEconomy PlanValue Plan  Smart Plan  6GB Custom8GB CustomData Plan  
Single Line Price$9/ mo.$10/ mo.$14/ mo.$19/ mo.$24/ mo.$29/ mo.$39/ mo.
4G LTE & 5GYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Talk MinutesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Text MessagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
High-Speed Data500MB1GB2GB4GB6GB8GBUnlimited
Priority DataN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A25GB
128kbps DataUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Mobile HotspotYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Video Streaming4K Quality4K Quality4K Quality4K Quality4K Quality4K Quality4K Quality

At this point, we can conclude Tello is pretty more flexible and has plans for everyone. Of course, the rates are a little more expensive than the Mint, but there’s an option to build your own rates. That includes a talk + text plan for seniors or data-only plans for tablets and hotspot devices.

More on that, all the Tello phone plans, either the custom or ready-made deals, usually have unlimited 2G data speed. Then, you can enjoy free international calling to 60+ destinations, a feature unavailable with Mint.

As mentioned in the beginning, Tello also does have a separate family category. However, the featured plans aren’t exactly discounted, rather designed with limited talk minutes, which is what keeps the price lower than the regular rates.

Winner: Mint Mobile is relatively cheaper and also have more high-speed on the unlimited plan

Deprioritization & Throttling

As MVNOs, both Tello and Mint phones will get deprioritized when the T-Mobile network is a little busy. So, it’ll be more convenient to have a 5G service since then your data speed will still be within a usable cap.

As for throttling, the two also don’t have “truly” unlimited/ uncapped data like their carrier network, T-Mobile. So, you can experience slower browsing speeds after reaching your maximum data allowance.

Even so, Mint has more high-speed data allowance, in particular the Unlimited plan, which has 35GB. So, it wins on throttling.

Mobile Hotspot & Tethering

Last but not least, both Tello and Mint does support mobile hotspot and tethering. So, you can share data with your laptop and other wireless devices when you don’t have access to your home/ work WiFi.

However, the hotspot feature in either prepaid carrier isn’t unlimited as with Visible or Verizon. So, you’ll experience a hard stop after reaching your maximum high-speed data limit, except in the case of Mint Unlimited.

In the Mint Unlimited plan, there’s a 5GB hotspot data cap. Thus, you won’t be able to share again after reaching that limit.

Winner: Tello Unlimited Data plan doesn’t have a hotspot cap. So, you can share until the last MB of the 25GB allowance

Final Thoughts:

In truth, both Tello and Mint are great phone services. The Coverage is good enough if you’re already on the T-Mobile coverage map and also the rates are better than most providers out there.

Even so, Mint is the overall best-prepaid phone service between the two. It’s cheaper on the yearly subscription, has 5G access on even iPhones, plus the data speeds are significantly faster.

Moreover, Mint Mobile has extensive phone selections, plus an option to finance your favorite luxury brand over 24 months. It also allows you to activate your service with an eSIM, thereby allowing instant activation, two phone number in one device, and other benefits.