It’s always great to get a new smartphone, but buying through carriers isn’t always a great idea. You might end up paying more for your phone or getting locked into that carrier for upwards of two years. The solution? Buying unlocked smartphones. Buying a smartphone unlocked means you can use it pretty much anywhere — without worrying about paying a carrier every month. You can either buy it outright or use a financing option. But the biggest question I get when people are looking to buy unlocked smartphones is, “what should I get?” Let’s take a look.
The Best: Google Pixel
Our top pick for buying an unlocked smartphone is, without question, the Google Pixel. Both the smaller 5-inch Pixel and the larger 5.5-inch Pixel XL hit every mark you’d want in a smartphone, including good battery life, great screens, and an outstanding camera. It also brings great hardware and works on any carrier. The clean, easy to use software and fantastic performance make the Pixel one of, if not the best, Android smartphone on the market today.
If you’re buying outright, the Pixel will start at $649, but if you buy through the Google Store, you can get financing starting at $27 per month. Overall, this is the best unlocked option that you can buy.
The Runner Up: iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus
Our second pick is the iPhone 7. Starting at $649, the iPhone 7 hits every note the Google Pixel does, but with iOS instead of Android. That’s not a bad thing by any means, it’ll just come down to your preference. The smaller iPhone 7 and the larger iPhone 7 Plus offer top-of-the-line performance, great cameras, good battery life, and a water resistant device, all encased in fantastic hardware. A downside for many buyers might be the lack of a headphone jack, but an adapter is included in the box. As with the Pixel, pricing on the iPhone 7 starts at $649 unlocked and Apple also offers no-interest financing for 12 months.
Buy it from the Apple Store
The Feature-Heavy: Samsung Galaxy S7/Galaxy S7 Edge
If you’re looking for something equally fantastic but with a few more features, the Galaxy S7 might warrant your attention. Packed with top-tier specifications, water resistance, excellent cameras, and Samsung’s dozens of software tricks, the Galaxy S7 family is an excellent choice. The standard S7 has a 5.1-inch display where the larger S7 Edge offers a 5.5-inch display. Both bring glass designs, so you might want to pick up a case along with it.
Pricing on the Galaxy S7 starts at $669 and includes a free fast wireless charger if you purchase from Samsung directly. You can also use PayPal credit to finance the phone over the course of a few months. It’s also worth noting that Amazon usually offers the device at much lower price points.Buy it from Samsung Buy it from Amazon
The Bang For Your Buck: OnePlus 3T
If you’re looking for top-tier specs at a lower price, the OnePlus 3T is your best option. Offering the Snapdragon 821 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and Android Marshmallow, it is without a doubt the best specs you’re going to get for the money. Better yet, the OnePlus 3T offers a fully metallic build, USB-C with “Dash Charge” fast charging, and a solid camera.
Starting at just $439, the OnePlus 3T is an incredibly good value. However, you’ll only be able to use it on GSM carriers. If you’re a Verizon customer, that means you’re out of luck. But, T-Mobile and AT&T customers should absolutely be interested.Buy it from OnePlus
The Budget Option: Moto G4
If you want to go unlocked, but need a less expensive option, the Moto G4 is, without a doubt, your best choice. The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus bring great 5.5-inch display, capable specifications, and decent hardware. These phones aren’t fancy, but for a starting price of just $199, you’ll be more than satisfied with them. Best of all, they work on any carrier.
As mentioned, the Moto G4 starts at $199 with the Moto G4 Plus, which adds a fingerprint sensor, starting at $299. You can also opt for the lower end Moto G4 Play for $149, or get the Moto G4 Amazon Edition for $149.Buy Moto G4 from Motorola Buy Moto G4 from Amazon Buy Moto G4 Plus from Amazon