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While I personally pay thousands for high-end devices because smartphones are one of my addictions, there are some very good, affordable, mid-range smartphones available today. For the past three weeks, I've been using the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro 5G and have been blown away by the quality, performance, and overall experience of this $220 Android smartphone. In the past, spending $200 on a phone meant it might last you a year with unreliable performance, but that is clearly not the case today.
MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G
6.82-inch, 1640 x 720 pixels resolution LCD (395 ppi), 60Hz
5,000mAh with wireless charging, 15W wired charging
173.92 x 77.8 x 8.99 mm and 213 grams
This is the first T-Mobile REVVL phone I have tested, and I came away very impressed. The REVVL 6 Pro is a very large phone with a 6.82-inch display, so while it's ideal for watching video content, it doesn't fit that well in some pants or shorts pockets. Fortunately, it feels great in the hand with the matte plastic back, looks cool with the dark gray color, and T-Mobile's signature Magenta is apparent on the right-side power/fingerprint sensor. The sensor has performed flawlessly, and I am a huge fan of mounting this on the side power button.
The REVVL 6 Pro is also one of those rare phones with a standard 3.5mm headset jack on the bottom. Alongside that headphone jack are a mono speaker and USB-C port.
A single SIM card tray with a place for a microSD card is found on the upper left side. While the phone comes with 128GB of onboard storage, the ability to add more externally is useful and great for transferring data.
Flipping over to the back, we see a quad-camera setup and a flash tucked away in the upper left corner in a 2x2 arrangement. From testing, the cameras perform better than expected and rivaled what I've seen out of mid-range phones that cost twice as much as the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro. The cameras won't beat out the expensive iPhones and Samsung Galaxy flagships, but they will do just fine for social media and casual image sharing.
To add, my ZDNET colleague Jack Wallen also spent some time with the phone and mentioned that, "although the REVVL 6 Pro cannot stand up to the magnificent camera in the Pixel 6 Pro, it's not that shabby."
The camera software within the REVVL provides the ability to switch to macro, 50MP, slow motion, hyperlapse, panorama, and pro modes atop the typical modes. While the various modes function as described, there are very few settings and modifications available for each, so you are getting a basic camera experience overall.
Wireless charging? Check.
Surprisingly, wireless charging is actually supported on the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro. I had to read the specifications document twice since we usually do not see wireless charging, even in mid-range phones like the Pixel 6a or OnePlus 10T. It's not super-fast wireless charging, but it is convenient. 15W fast wired charging is also supported, should you go the traditional route.
The T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro launches with Android 12 and a very Pixel-esque user interface. T-Mobile and Google collaborated to build an optimized experience on T-Mobile's network so that you will find a few T-Mobile utilities and key Google apps installed on the phone out of the box. The July 5, 2022, Android security update is present on our review unit, and it remains to be seen how well T-Mobile will support the REVVL with security and firmware updates. Since the phone is a T-Mobile branded model, I hope we see solid support with one party, the carrier, removed from the chain of approval.
The few T-Mobile utilities installed on the phone are T-Mobile Play, T-Mobile's account manager app, and Visual Voicemail. There is also a McAfee app that you can uninstall. For a T-Mobile-branded phone, you're not getting as much bloatware as expected, which is fantastic. From Google, we find all of the expected apps, including Google Wallet, Maps, Photos, and many more. Google Discover is present alongside a T-Mobile-branded news feed when you swipe left to right on the home screen panel.
Since I was testing out a Google Pixel 6a at the same time, the first test I performed on it and the REVVL 6 Pro was cellular reception. Impressively, the T-Mobile REVVL beat the Pixel 6a handily in every low-to-high signal area, which was enough to convince me to return my Pixel 6a. I saw 8 to 15 dBm better cellular performance out of the REVVL, and it wasn't until I was writing this review that I realized the REVVL 6 Pro has a MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor and integrated 5G modem after just assuming it was another one of Qualcomm's Android modems.
Cellular reception strength has always been an area where Samsung and OnePlus stood out from Apple and Google. However, it is a vital element of a solid smartphone experience and one of the first things I check out on a phone. T-Mobile impressed me here with the amazing cellular performance that rivals Samsung and OnePlus, so people on T-Mobile buying this phone should be very happy with its connection reliability and speeds. While people might move to the Pixel 6a for the better camera experience and Google's promise of extended software support, I was very disappointed with the cellular performance on that phone and do not think Google's Tensor chip is ready to compete with others for connectivity.
In order to launch a phone at just $219.99, there have to be some compromises. The REVVL 6 Pro is a very large phone with a lower resolution display with a 60Hz refresh rate, but the display looks great, and my aging eyes could barely perceive much of a difference in the resolution when compared to higher resolution phones. Another compromise was in camera quality and build materials. Plastic is great for taking a bump or two but can feel cheap and almost like a toy.
Otherwise, the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro is a decent sub-$250 phone that gets the essentials down, compromises on parts, and excels in cellular connectivity.
Alternatives to consider
There are not that many phones priced at this low price point, but there are a few priced less than $500. Here's some to consider if you don't like the compromises that were made in the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro.