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Unlocked GSM Phones

Compare unlocked GSM phone deals

Deal of the Month: Pure Talk - $250 off iPhone SE
Nokia1.316GB
Nokia 1.3
MSRP: $99.99$50See Deals
Nokia2.432GB
Nokia 2.4
MSRP: $139.99$50See Deals
NUU MobileF4L1GB
NUU Mobile F4L
MSRP: $65.00$65See Deals
AppleiPhone SE64GB
Apple iPhone SE
MSRP: $399.00$149See Deals
MotorolaMoto E32GB
Motorola Moto E
MSRP: $150.00$150See Deals
SamsungGalaxy A1132GB
Samsung Galaxy A11
MSRP: $179.00$169See Deals
AppleiPhone SE128GB
Apple iPhone SE
MSRP: $449.00$199See Deals
MotorolaMoto G Fast32GB
Motorola Moto G Fast
MSRP: $249.00$219See Deals
SamsungGalaxy A2032GB
Samsung Galaxy A20
MSRP: $239.00$219See Deals
AppleiPhone SE256GB
Apple iPhone SE
MSRP: $549.00$299See Deals
AppleiPhone 864GB
Apple iPhone 8
MSRP: $464.00$325See Deals
AppleiPhone 1164GB
Apple iPhone 11
MSRP: $599.00$349See Deals
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Disclaimer: MoneySavingPro is a free price comparison service but we do not provide service directly. We do our best to keep all the information up to date but there may be some discrepancies between the price you pay.

Best GSM phones in April 2021

Cell phone terminology can be a swirl of confusion. Do you want CDMA or GSM? Locked or unlocked?

I'm going to clear these up for you and tell you how to save hundreds per year on your smartphone and your wireless service.

What Exactly Is an Unlocked GSM Phone?

Let's start with GSM vs. CDMA:

GSM: This stands for Global System for Mobile communications. It refers to the specific technology used by AT&T and T-Mobile. When you buy a phone from either of those two carriers you're getting a GSM device.

CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA, is the type of phone technology Verizon Wireless and Sprint use on their wireless networks.

Locked vs. Unlocked

What we mean when we talk about buying an unlocked phone is making sure you have a device that gives you the freedom to choose your own carrier.

Locked cell phones: A locked smartphone can only be used on the network that sold it. For instance, if you bought a Sprint phone with your Sprint plan, that device is locked to Sprint service, at least until it's paid off.

Unlocked cell phones: With an unlocked device you can pick the best cell phone plan for your budget and needs without worrying about switching carriers.

Read our guide on how to unlock your phone.

Why Are Unlocked Phones in Demand?

The unlocked smartphone market enjoyed a 20% year-over-year growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2017 (Strategy Analytics). Why such robust growth in such a short time?

  • Refurbished unlocked phones often cost half the retail price of a new flagship smartphone.

  • You're free to choose any carrier.

  • You have the flexibility to buy from the retailer of your choice.

  • No roaming fees when you travel internationally - just pop in a local SIM card at your destination.

Why You Need an Unlocked GSM Phone For Your AT&T or T-Mobile Network

You may have read that modern smartphone can work on any network. This is true, as long as you've got a 4G LTE signal.

What if your signal drops to 3G (say while traveling through a rural area)? If you're using a CDMA phone on a GSM network you'll lose service.

If you prefer one of the many GSM carriers that operate on the AT&T or T-Mobile networks you'll want to buy an unlocked GSM phone to get the best service quality.

Where Can You Purchase Unlocked Phones?

Rather than wander the internet trying to figure out which sellers are reputable and which aren't so great, check out our review of the best sites to buy a used phone.

Get all the info you need to make a decision, including:

  • Pros and cons of each seller

  • How the site works

  • Return/warranty information

And much more to help you decide on the right cell phone seller.

We also make it super simple for you to compare prices on refurbished phones from these sellers, including late models like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8.

Want to Save Even More Money?

We already know you're into saving money. There's a simple way to save hundreds more each year, by switching your wireless service to an MVNO.

What Are MVNOs?

MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. It's a long name for a simple thing - a wireless carrier that rents space on the big guys' networks instead of owning its own infrastructure.

MVNOs can offer you much better rates on your wireless service because they don't have the high overhead associated with retail stores, nor do they have the major marketing costs.

There are several reasons that MVNOs are great for you, the consumer:

  • You get the same reliable 4G network as you do with the major carriers.

  • You save 50% or more off your cell phone bill.

  • No contracts or credit checks, and no overage or early termination fees.

  • You pick and choose a custom plan to fit your budget.

  • Alternative wireless carriers have high customer support ratings.

  • It's simple to switch - order a new SIM card online and pop it in.

  • Bring your own phone and keep your number.

You can find an MVNO to meet any need - unlimited data, international use, mobile hotspot, you name it. Check out our top picks of AT&T MVNOs and T-Mobile MVNOs.

When all is said and done, don't forget to sell your old phone for cash!

Recap

It's a breeze to save money on your smartphone and your wireless service:

Still skeptical that you can actually save hundreds? Calculate your potential savings over your current phone bill.

Rob Webber
Rob Webber

Rob has 15+ years experience in the US and UK running price comparison sites for cell phone plans, smartphone deals, TV, and internet. He loves thinking outside of the box to build tools that empower consumers to make more informed decisions.

FAQs

How do I get the best deal?

prices start at $50, compared to new models that often cost over $1,000. The prices vary by model, condition and memory size. Buying refurbished or used is a great way to save money. Always compare deals to ensure you get the cheapest price.

Will prices drop?

Used and refurbished prices drop over time. The best time to buy a used or refurbished is always just after the newer models are released. Find the best deal on a by comparing prices online.

What's the difference between a used and refurbished ?

A refurbished has gone through multiple checks by a specialist company and comes with a certified warranty for between 1-12 months and also includes a no risk returns policy. While a used will generally be the cheapest option, it will not have a warranty because you'll be buying it directly from the individual seller.