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Best Unlocked Cell Phones in 2021

Compare the cheapest unlocked cell phone prices

Unlocked phone deals in September

It's a great time to be a wireless customer! Cell phone plans are more competitive than ever, and with contracts solidly in the history books, your phone can probably be unlocked for use on any carrier you choose.

What is an unlocked phone? It's a device that is no longer locked to a specific carrier. This allows you to take it to another carrier if you find a cheaper plan.

There are some conditions though. In the following guide, you'll learn what an unlocked cell phone means, when you can and cannot take your device to another carrier, how to find the best unlocked cell phone deals and how to save 50% or more on your cell phone plan.

It's a lot of information to cover so let's get started!

Best unlocked iPhone deals

Apple iPhone 12 Unlocked
Network
AT&T
Storage
128GB
Condition
New
Price
$779*
MSRP: $879* $100 saving + 3 months free service
Device Specs

Screen Size

6.1"

Screen Resolution

2532 x 1170 pixels

HDR Screen

Yes pixels

Processor

A14 Bionic Chip pixels

Internal Memory

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Operating System

iOS 14

Back Camera

Dual 12MP

Front Camera

12MP

HDR for Photos

HDR

Video Resolution

4K, FHD, HD

Wireless Charging

Yes

Voice Commands

Yes

Talk Time

Up to 20 hours

Dimensions

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm

Weight

164g

Splash Proof

IP68

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

nano

eSIM

Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Attractive design

  • Fantastic audio quality

  • 5G compatible

  • Amazing OLED display

Cons

  • No charger or headphones included

  • Battery life

  • Not much camera upgrade

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Unlocked
Network
Verizon
Storage
128GB
Condition
New
Price
$999
Device Specs

Screen Size

6.1"

Screen Resolution

2532 x 1170 pixels

HDR Screen

Yes pixels

Processor

A14 Bionic Chip pixels

Internal Memory

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Operating System

iOS 14

Back Camera

12MP

Front Camera

12MP

HDR for Photos

HDR

Video Resolution

4K, FHD, HD

Wireless Charging

Yes

Voice Commands

Yes

Dimensions

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm

Weight

189g

Splash Proof

IP68

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

nano

eSIM

Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Bright and colorful OLED display

  • Good photo quality

  • 5G compatible

  • Good quality speakers

  • Attractive design

Cons

  • Shorter battery life than iPhone 11

  • No charger or headphones included

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Unlocked
Network
T-Mobile
Storage
128GB
Condition
New
Price
$1,099
Device Specs

Screen Size

6.7"

Screen Resolution

2778 x 1284 pixels

HDR Screen

Yes pixels

Processor

A14 Bionic Chip pixels

Internal Memory

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Operating System

iOS 14

Back Camera

12MP

Front Camera

12MP

HDR for Photos

HDR

Video Resolution

4K, FHD, HD

Wireless Charging

Yes

Voice Commands

Yes

Dimensions

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm

Weight

228g

Splash Proof

IP68

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

nano

eSIM

Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Durable and water resistant

  • Large OLED screen

  • 5G compatible

  • Great battery life and fast charging

  • Photo and video quality

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Heavy

  • No charger or headphones


Best cheap unlocked iPhones

Apple iPhone SE Unlocked
Network
T-Mobile
Storage
64GB
Condition
New
Price
$399*
* Includes 6 months FREE service
Device Specs

Screen Size

4.7"

Screen Resolution

1334 x 750 pixels

HDR Screen

Yes pixels

Processor

A13 Bionic pixels

Internal Memory

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Operating System

iOS 13

Back Camera

12MP

Front Camera

7MP

HDR for Photos

Yes

Video Resolution

4K, FHD, HD

Wireless Charging

Yes

Voice Commands

Yes

Talk Time

Up to 14 hours

Dimensions

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm

Weight

148g

Splash Proof

IP67

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

Nano

eSIM

Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight

  • Water-resistant

  • Amazing A13 chip performance

  • Affordable price

  • Touch ID

Cons

  • Battery capacity

  • Night mode is missed

  • Only a 5W charger

Apple iPhone 11 Unlocked
Network
AT&T
Storage
128GB
Condition
New
Price
$549*
MSRP: $649* $100 saving + 3 months free service
Device Specs

Screen Size

6.1"

Screen Resolution

1792 x 828 pixels

HDR Screen

No pixels

Processor

A13 Bionic pixels

Internal Memory

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Operating System

iOS 13

Back Camera

12MP (Dual)

Front Camera

12MP

HDR for Photos

Yes

Video Resolution

4K, FHD, HD

Wireless Charging

Yes

Voice Commands

Yes

Talk Time

Up to 17 hours (video playback)

Dimensions

150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm

Weight

194g

Splash Proof

IP68

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

Nano

eSIM

Yes

Model Number

A2111

User Manual

Apple iPhone 11 User Manual

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Tougher and water resistant design

  • Great quality speakers

  • Good photos from main camera

  • Excellent selfie photo and video quality

  • Powerful A13 processor

Cons

  • No screen update

  • Storage starts at 64GB

  • Only a 5W charger included

Apple iPhone 12 mini Unlocked
Network
T-Mobile
Storage
64GB
Condition
New
Price
$729*
* Includes 6 months FREE service
Device Specs

Screen Size

5.4"

Screen Resolution

2340 x 1080 pixels

HDR Screen

Yes pixels

Processor

A14 Bionic Chip pixels

Internal Memory

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Operating System

iOS 14

Back Camera

Dual 12MP

Front Camera

12MP

HDR for Photos

HDR

Video Resolution

4K, FHD, HD

Wireless Charging

Yes

Voice Commands

Yes

Dimensions

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm

Weight

135g

Splash Proof

IP68

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

nano

eSIM

Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great compact size

  • Excellent camera

  • 5G compatible

  • Brilliant OLED display

Cons

  • Battery life

  • No tele lens

Compare the cheapest unlocked iPhone prices

Model

Condition

Memory

Compatibility

Price

Apple iPhone 11

New

128GB

AT&T

$549

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

New

64GB

AT&T

$599

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

New

64GB

AT&T

$699

Apple iPhone 12

New

128GB

AT&T

$779

Apple iPhone 12 mini

New

64GB

T-Mobile

$729

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

New

128GB

Verizon

$999

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

New

128GB

T-Mobile

$1,099

Apple iPhone SE

New

64GB

T-Mobile

$399

Apple iPhone XR

New

128GB

T-Mobile

$549


Best unlocked Samsung phone deals

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Unlocked
Network
T-Mobile
Storage
128GB
Condition
New
Price
$799*
MSRP: $849* $50 off with 12 month plan
Device Specs

Screen Size

6.2"

Screen Resolution

1080 x 2400

HDR Screen

Yes pixels

Processor

Qualcomm SM8350 snapdragon 888 pixels

Internal Memory

128GB, 256GB

Operating System

Android 11, One UI 3.1

Back Camera

12MP, 64MP, 12MP

Front Camera

10MP

HDR for Photos

Yes

Video Resolution

8K, 4K

Wireless Charging

Yes

Dimensions

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm

Weight

169g

Splash Proof

Yes

Water Resistant

Yes

WiFi & 4G Calling

Yes

GPS

Yes

SIM Card

Nano

eSIM

Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

    Cons

      Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G Unlocked
      Network
      T-Mobile
      Storage
      128GB
      Condition
      New
      Price
      $999*
      MSRP: $1,049* $50 off with 12 month plan
      Device Specs

      Screen Size

      6.7"

      Screen Resolution

      1080 x 2400

      HDR Screen

      Yes pixels

      Processor

      Qualcomm SM8350 snapdragon 888 pixels

      Internal Memory

      128GB, 256GB

      Operating System

      Android 11, One UI 3.1

      Back Camera

      12MP, 64MP, 12MP

      Front Camera

      10MP

      HDR for Photos

      Yes

      Video Resolution

      8K, 4K, 1080p

      Wireless Charging

      Yes

      Dimensions

      161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm

      Weight

      200g

      Splash Proof

      Yes

      Water Resistant

      Yes

      WiFi & 4G Calling

      Yes

      GPS

      Yes

      SIM Card

      Nano

      eSIM

      Yes

      Pros & Cons

      Pros

        Cons

          Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Unlocked
          Network
          T-Mobile
          Storage
          128GB
          Condition
          New
          Price
          $949*
          MSRP: $999* $50 off with 12 month plan
          Device Specs

          Screen Size

          6.7"

          Screen Resolution

          2400 x 1080 pixels

          HDR Screen

          Yes pixels

          Processor

          Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus pixels

          Internal Memory

          128GB

          Operating System

          Android 10

          Back Camera

          12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Wide-angle, 64MP Telephoto

          Front Camera

          10MP

          HDR for Photos

          Yes

          Video Resolution

          HD, FHD, 4K UHD, 8K

          Wireless Charging

          Yes

          Voice Commands

          Yes

          Talk Time

          Up to 34 hours

          Standby Time

          Up to 11.8 days

          Dimensions

          161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3mm

          Weight

          194g

          Splash Proof

          IP68

          Water Resistant

          Yes

          WiFi & 4G Calling

          Yes

          GPS

          Yes

          SIM Card

          nano

          eSIM

          Yes

          Pros & Cons

          Pros

            Cons

              Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Unlocked
              Network
              T-Mobile
              Storage
              128GB
              Condition
              New
              Price
              $1,249*
              MSRP: $1,299* $50 off with 12 month plan
              Device Specs

              Screen Size

              6.9"

              Screen Resolution

              3088 x 1440 pixels

              HDR Screen

              Yes pixels

              Processor

              Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus pixels

              Internal Memory

              128GB, 512GB

              Operating System

              Android 10

              Back Camera

              12MP Ultra Wide, 108MP Wide-angle, 12MP Telephoto

              Front Camera

              10MP

              HDR for Photos

              Yes

              Video Resolution

              HD, FHD, 4K UHD, 8K

              Wireless Charging

              Yes

              Voice Commands

              Yes

              Talk Time

              Up to 35 hours

              Standby Time

              Up to 12 days

              Dimensions

              164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm

              Weight

              208g

              Splash Proof

              IP68

              Water Resistant

              Yes

              WiFi & 4G Calling

              Yes

              GPS

              Yes

              SIM Card

              nano

              eSIM

              Yes

              Pros & Cons

              Pros

                Cons


                  Best cheap unlocked Samsung phones

                  Samsung Galaxy A21 Unlocked
                  Network
                  T-Mobile
                  Storage
                  32GB
                  Condition
                  New
                  Price
                  $229*
                  MSRP: $279* $50 off with 12 month plan
                  Best Deals
                  Device Specs

                  Screen Size

                  6.5"

                  Screen Resolution

                  720 x 1600 pixels

                  HDR Screen

                  No pixels

                  Internal Memory

                  32GB

                  Operating System

                  Android 10

                  Back Camera

                  48MP, 8MP, 2MP, 2MP

                  Front Camera

                  13MP

                  HDR for Photos

                  No

                  Video Resolution

                  FHD

                  Wireless Charging

                  No

                  Voice Commands

                  Yes

                  Dimensions

                  163.7 x 75.3 x 8.9mm

                  Weight

                  192g

                  Splash Proof

                  No

                  Water Resistant

                  No

                  WiFi & 4G Calling

                  Yes

                  GPS

                  Yes

                  SIM Card

                  Nano

                  eSIM

                  No

                  Model Number

                  SM-A215UZKATMB

                  Pros & Cons

                  Pros

                  • Large 6.5" screen

                  • Amazing quad camera

                  • Powerful battery

                  • Excellent front camera

                  Cons

                  • No Gorilla glass protection

                  • No wireless charging

                  • Plastic body

                  Compare the cheapest unlocked Samsung phone prices

                  Model

                  Condition

                  Memory

                  Compatibility

                  Price

                  LG K51

                  New

                  128GB

                  Verizon

                  $399

                  Samsung Galaxy A21

                  New

                  32GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $229

                  Samsung Galaxy A32

                  New

                  64GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $279

                  Samsung Galaxy A42

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $399

                  Samsung Galaxy A52

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $499

                  Samsung Galaxy A71

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $599

                  Samsung Galaxy Note20

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $949

                  Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $1,249

                  Samsung Galaxy S20

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $699

                  Samsung Galaxy S20+

                  New

                  128GB

                  AT&T

                  $629

                  Samsung Galaxy S21

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $799

                  Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $1,249

                  Samsung Galaxy S21+

                  New

                  128GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $999

                  Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

                  New

                  256GB

                  T-Mobile

                  $1,399


                  Unlocked phone benefits

                  When it comes to value the best unlocked smartphone deals are in the used and refurbished market.

                  Benefits of buying a refurbished smartphone:

                  • Save money: You can get a popular device just a model or two old for about half the retail price.

                  • Keep your freedom: Having an unlocked, paid-off phone means you can switch to a new carrier if you find a better deal.

                  • Plenty of reliable sellers: The used cell phone industry is booming, resulting in a variety of reputable sellers to choose from, stocking everything from Samsung unlocked phones to unlocked iPhones and more.

                  • Repairs are easy: With this market growth many affordable phone repair services are available.

                  • More bang for your buck: You could spend up to $1000 on a shiny new smartphone only to get a couple of small upgrades from the previous model. It's seldom worth the price hike.

                  Considerations when buying an unlocked phone

                  Now that you know why buying a used or refurbished phone online is a budget-wise decision here are some things to keep in mind while shopping:

                  • Refurbished vs. used - used smartphones come as-is, while refurbs are devices which have been repaired and repackaged for sale.

                  • Returns - choose a seller with a solid return policy in case the item doesn't meet your expectations.

                  • Warranties - many sites offer a warranty on their products. These range from 30 days (from BuyBackWorld, for example) to a full year, like Decluttr offers.

                  • Device compatibility: As we discussed above, you may experience problems taking a CDMA phone to a GSM network and vice versa. Your best bet is to compare unlocked cell phones made for the specific network you want. For example, if you have T-Mobile, look for the best T-Mobile cell phone deals.

                  • Certification - some sellers offer certified iPhones and Android devices so you can be sure it's been put through rigorous testing.

                  • Condition - some sellers use "grades" to indicate the phones condition. A is the best, B may have some minor wear, C has visible defects. Other sites use "Excellent", "Good", and "Fair" to convey the same information.

                  • Payment plans - more and more sites are offering device payments. These typically come with high interest so think hard before taking advantage of the offer.

                  If you have the luxury of time, you'll find the cheapest unlocked phone prices when you buy right before a new model comes out. For example, when the Samsung Galaxy S9 came out, the price of used Samsung Galaxy S8 phones dropped considerably.

                  What is an unlocked phone?

                  An unlocked phone is a device that has been released from its tie to the original carrier. When you buy a phone through, say, T-Mobile, until that phone is unlocked you can't, for example, take that phone to AT&T.

                  In order for a phone to be unlocked from the carrier:

                  • The account must be in good standing.

                  • The phone must not have been reported stolen.

                  • The remaining balance on any device payments must be paid off.

                  The exception to the rule is Verizon Wireless - Verizon phones come unlocked. The carrier had announced plans to implement a locking period at the end of 2018 but at the time of this writing that hasn't happened yet.

                  Can you use an unlocked phone on any network?

                  Yes, and no. The two types of signals used in wireless technology are GSM and CDMA. AT&T and T Mobile operate on GSM networks, Sprint and Verizon on CDMA.

                  While you may be able to take a GSM phone to a CDMA network and vice versa, only your 4G signal will work. If your signal drops down to 3G your phone will become a paperweight.

                  If your phone is a universal (sometimes called global) unlocked phone, it is designed for full functionality on both technologies. There are only a few models of global unlocked versions. These devices are more expensive, but come in handy if you're a frequent international traveler because you can just pop in a new SIM card at your destination.

                  Sell Your Old Phone for Cash

                  Don't leave that old device lying around - turn it into extra cold, hard cash in your wallet!

                  When you sell your phone instead of trading it in you'll get cash instead of credit, plus you'll get a higher offer for it, especially if it's in great condition.


                  Bring your phone to a cheaper carrier

                  If you're buying an unlocked phone in order to switch carriers you'll be happy to know you can save up to 50% off your cell phone bill by going with an MVNO.

                  Mobile Virtual Network Operators - MVNOs - are smaller carriers that buy or lease extra space on the big four networks. Lower overhead allows them to sell service to you at a lower cost than you'd pay a major wireless carrier.

                  T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Plan Comparison

                  Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $660 per year

                  Carrier

                  Network Coverage

                  4G LTE Data

                  Price

                  Annual Cost

                  T-Mobile

                  T-Mobile 4G LTE

                  Unltd*

                  $70/mo

                  $840/yr

                  Mint Mobile

                  T-Mobile 4G LTE

                  4GB

                  $15/mo

                  $180/yr

                  *Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$660/yr

                  MVNO benefits

                  • Cheap cell phone plans.

                  • Service on the same reliable 4G LTE & 5G networks you're used to.

                  • Freedom from contracts, credit checks, and overage fees - cancel any time.

                  • Custom plans so you only pay for what you need.

                  • Bring your own phone and number.

                  MVNOs offer all the same options as the big guys. Choose exactly what you need - from family plans to unlimited data plans and everything in between.

                  There are MVNOs for all four major networks - AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

                  Best cheap bring your own phone plans

                  Carrier

                  Network

                  Minutes

                  Texts

                  Data

                  Price

                  Ultra Mobile

                  T-Mobile

                  Unltd

                  Unltd

                  2GB

                  $11** Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

                  Mint Mobile

                  T-Mobile

                  Unltd

                  Unltd

                  4GB

                  $15** $45 for 3 Months Service

                  US Mobile

                  Verizon & T-Mobile

                  Unltd

                  Unltd

                  12GB

                  $20Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

                  Tello

                  T-Mobile

                  Unltd

                  Unltd

                  Unltd

                  $29.30** 25% Off for 6 Months

                  Good2Go Mobile

                  AT&T & T-Mobile

                  Unltd

                  Unltd

                  1GB

                  $7.50** 50% Off for 3 Months


                  Unlocked phone deals FAQs

                  What are the best unlocked cell phones?

                  Depending on what features you're looking for from a phone, the Apple iPhone SE 2020 edition is a popular low cost option.

                  What is the best unlocked phone to buy?

                  It depends on what you're looking for from a phone. Some popular unlocked phones are Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20+, Apple iPhone 11, and Apple iPhone 12 Mini.

                  Is it better to buy a locked or unlocked cell phone?

                  An unlocked phone is often bought and paid for upfront. If you can afford to do this it can save you money in the long run. As it stops you being locked into a specific phone plan or carrier.


                  Recap

                  Buying a used unlocked cell phone can save you more than 50% off retail. It's a great deal as long as you:

                  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.