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Hands On with the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro 5G


T-Mobile's REVVL 6 Pro 5G is a large-screen 5G phone with decent specs and a decent feature set. And it's just $220. What do you get for that price? What's it like in person? How well does it work? We took it for a quick spin. Read all about our first impressions in this hands-on.


Hardware

In a world where every phone is now a large, flat slab, recent REVVL phones have been particularly large and flat. The REVVL 6 Pro is no exception. It's very big, and very flat.


However the design doesn't feel as cheap as last year's REVVL models. I wouldn't go so far as to say it feels "premium", but it certainly has a much more refined look and feel. The corners aren't as sharp, and the back has a satin finish that feels nice. The back looks like it should resist fingerprints well, but that does not seem to be the case. The camera "hump" is mercifully minimal.


It's a very tall phone. You'll probably have to adjust your grip to reach the volume controls most of the time. But the lock button / fingerprint reader is placed well. All of the buttons work well.


With such a large volume to work with, they had no problem making room for a proper headset jack and memory card slot. Still, I'm grateful they're there.


I'm even more grateful to see wireless charging and NFC. Wireless charging, in particular, is something you don't often see at this price point. Other niceties include the 50 megapixel camera (which can actually capture and save the full 50 megapixels) and a respectable 6 GB of RAM. The battery is also generous at 5,000 mAh, although that's now common for this type of phone.


So where did T-Mobile cut corners to keep the price to just $220? The display. It's just HD+ (720p), not the full-HD+ (1080p) that's much more common now. The low resolution is particularly noticeable with a display so large (at 6.8 inches). You can still read web pages with small text, it's just that if you have decent eyesight, you can see the pixels. And it's not the brightest nor best display in general. But it's also not horrible. If you're not a display snob, it may be just fine.


Software

The software is 99% stock Google Android, which is a good thing.


It does have a few T-Mobile additions, but these are purely T-mobile apps and some extra data collection stuff. The data collection options are quite controversial from a privacy standpoint, but I'll give T-Mobile credit for disclosing them — and letting you opt out easily and quickly — during the setup process.


Importantly, there's no third-party bloatware* like you'll find on many Verizon and AT&T phones. The T-Mobile apps are: T-Mobile, Visual Voicemail, and T-Mobile Play, which has some free videos to watch. Interestingly, T-Mobile Play is also a tab (next to Google) when you swipe sideways from the home screen.


* UPDATE (Aug. 8, 2022): A few days later, a T-Mobile service notified me that it had automatically installed four "Recommended Apps". This included T-Mobile's Scam Shield, which is fine, but also Amazon and Facebook. Sneaky, sneaky!


The whole phone interface automatically takes color cues from whatever wallpaper you choose. Of course that means everything is magenta by default. I wish there were more than four wallpapers pre-loaded. It's an absolutely trivial thing, but I found it weird to have to hunt down and download a custom wallpaper to set the interface to my favorite color.


As with many phones these days, the interesting software is in the camera app. The app is quite simple, with a sparse settings panel. But it does cover the basics, like auto HDR and panorama. There is a Pro (manual) mode, and I was pleased to see that it can do long exposures up to 30 seconds. Video modes include fun options like slow-motion and hyperlapse.


Live Focus — the portrait/bokeh function — is a little wonky. The end results were often fine thanks to the dedicated depth camera. But I question the "live" part, because the live preview was often terrible.


A few quick low-light photos I took turned out about average. I wasn't wowed, but I was slightly impressed given the price range of this phone.


The macro and wide-angle cameras are barely worth mentioning. They clearly exist only to inflate the camera count. It's a shame that the wide-angle camera is only 5 megapixel, because I often find wide-angle useful. But this one is bad even for a measly 5-megapixel cam. Just ignore this, or get a different phone if you take a lot of wide-angle shots.


One disappointing bug I found is that Google Lens doesn't seem to work. Sometimesthere was a shortcut for it on the home screen (in the Google search bar), but other times the shortcut was inexplicably missing. When the shortcut was there, tapping it seemed to instantly crash the app; it's just broken. So good luck scanning the QR code for the menu the next time you dine out. Presumably this bug will be fixed at some point.


Summary

If you're looking for an affordable, large-screen 5G phone for T-Mobile or Metro, my first impressions of the REVVL 6 Pro 5G are that it's an excellent value. It has a clean Android interface, a mostly solid set of hardware features, and a design that feels much better than last year's REVVL phones.

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