Good Place To Buy Unlocked Phones _HOT_
When smartphones were just starting to become a thing, the most obvious way to get one in the United States was simple: visit your wireless carrier of choice and buy whichever device the salesperson convinced you was the best.
good place to buy unlocked phones
Unlocked phones usually come with no SIM card and no prerequisite to sign up with a service for any particular carrier. As the name suggests, unlocked phones are not bound to any particular carrier, so you can feel free to bounce from one carrier to another as you see fit.
Speaking of getting phones fixed, carriers also usually offer their own insurance plans, which could be cheaper or more comprehensive than plans offered by manufacturers. This will give you some peace of mind if you are buying a very expensive new flagship!
Buying unlocked also means you can buy used devices. Granted, you can buy used carrier-locked devices, too, but there are some dangers to this (buying devices connected to a blocked account, for example). Used devices are obviously cheaper than new devices, which could allow you to get a top-of-the-line device for hundreds less than you would pay through a carrier.
Another big advantage is that unlocked phones receive software updates directly from the manufacturer, which usually means faster and more frequent updates. Sometimes this can be reversed (Samsung is notorious for updating carrier-locked smartphones before unlocked ones), but in most cases, an unlocked phone will be more up-to-date than a carrier-locked device.
Luckily, there are ways around this. PayPal has a credit plan which gives you six months of interest-free credit, for example. Credit card companies sometimes offer payment plans to help break down the price of high-ticket items into smaller chunks, and some manufacturers will even offer interest-free payment plans right on their websites. However, even with these options, paying for an unlocked phone can be tricky for many buyers.
If you are tech-savvy and can afford the full cost of a smartphone in one transaction, we highly recommend buying unlocked. The pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to buying unlocked phones vs carrier phones.
Enjoy numerous features and the high-speed computing capabilities of unlocked cell phones from various brands. With sleek casing designs and almost borderless frames, these mobile devices are easy to operate while on the go. Unlocked phones are compatible with different mobile coverage providers to accommodate businesses and individuals. Most phone models are cost-effective, making them suitable for smaller businesses and households.
Camera smartphones feature the option to adjust the photo style, like adding blur in the background, which is suitable for portraits and close-up shots. A zoom feature allows shooting from distance, making it simple to produce high-quality sharp images. Use the flash when taking photos to adjust lighting seamlessly. Practical photo optimizations let you create crisp photographs on memorable trips to capture nature, historic sites and co-travelers. Enjoy smooth video display when watching web clips, thanks to the fast computing capacity of quad-core processors and the pixelated screen. Large phone screens are convenient for browsing websites and folders with high-volume data efficiently.
Some unlocked cell phones feature fingerprint-detecting technology to provide proper security. It's an essential function for office employees protecting company information from third parties. Phone users can add a layer of damage protection to components and software by choosing cell phone covers and cases. Secure Bluetooth support enables connectivity with other Bluetooth-ready devices in the vicinity, allowing quick file transfers.
Besides unlocked cell phones, individuals can also choose no-contract prepaid phones. Some gaming phones feature eight cores and additional memory storage to prevent advanced video games from freezing, providing optimal gameplay. The vapor chamber cooling system in a gaming phone ensures frequent mobile phone use without overheating or application breaks. Front speakers produce clear sounds for most listening sessions while working or studying. It's easy to charge smartphones via the mini USB ports. Micro-card slots in an Android phone offer convenience to users who prefer to share files with others.
I'm that 5G guy. I've actually been here for every "G." I've reviewed well over a thousand products during 18 years working full-time at PCMag.com, including every generation of the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S. I also write a weekly newsletter, Fully Mobilized, where I obsess about phones and networks.
These are our choices for the best unlocked phones available in the US, followed by what to consider when you buy an unlocked device. Our picks range from inexpensive basic handsets to powerful flagships. Most are 5G phones, including those in Apple's iPhone 14 series, Google's Pixel 7 lineup, and Samsung's latest Galaxy S and Z families. These run on every form of US 5G, including high-speed millimeter wave and C-band spectrum.
Google's Pixel phones have the smoothest software and are among the most future-proof Android handsets. The Pixel 7 also has an all-day battery and excellent cameras. Available unlocked from Google's store, it works on all three US carriers.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has two unique features: a built-in S Pen stylus and a 10x optical zoom camera that goes to 100x digitally. If you buy the unlocked model from Samsung's website, it should work with all US carriers and you get to pick from some online-exclusive colors.
If you want the S Pen or a superzoom camera, you should get the S23 Ultra rather than the S23+. The S Pen is a great tool for doodlers and notetakers, and the 10x zoom is unique among phones in the US market and really does bring faraway objects closer.
iPhones are the most easily available, universally unlocked line of phones in America because of Apple's nationwide network of brick-and-mortar stores. Unlocked iPhones support every US carrier's frequency bands and you can easily switch them from carrier to carrier. Just remember, it's all eSIM in iPhone 14 models.
Google's phones have smooth, simple software and they always get updates first. The Pixel 6a also has the best camera on a midrange phone. It works on all three US carriers and you can buy it directly from Google.
People whose tastes outpace their budget. Technophiles generally love the software on Pixel phones, which keeps things clean. You can also rest easy knowing that the device will continue to get updates for several years. To top it all off, the Pixel 6a is quite affordable.
The Galaxy S23+ is our top pick for Android flagship phones: It offers class-leading power, excellent cameras, extensive battery life, and a standout display. And with the unlocked model, you can take advantage of its superb 5G connectivity on all the major US carriers. Like the S23 Ultra, you can even get it in some exclusive colors if you buy directly from Samsung online.
The Sunbeam F1 works on all three US networks and virtual carriers. It's a traditional flip phone from a small, focused start-up that has paid much attention to usability and user experience, which you don't generally get on voice-focused phones. The company offers three different models that accommodate different levels of disconnection.
With an unlocked device, you can trade up or sell your phone whenever you want without waiting for the end of a leasing or installment plan. You can also own multiple handsets and swap your SIM card between them. If you travel internationally, you can pop in a local, pay-as-you-go card overseas and never pay horrendous international roaming charges. You can also take advantage of super-cheap prepaid plans from virtual operators in the US that piggyback on compatible networks (for the best carrier where you live, see our story on the Best Mobile Networks).
On the plus side, with the growing number of phones with electronic SIMs (eSIMs), changing carriers is easier than ever. Simply select your carrier from a menu on your phone or by scanning an online QR code, and you won't need to wait for a physical SIM to arrive in the mail.
Shopping for an unlocked handset can be tricky because carrier stores don't stock them. If you're looking for one, Amazon, the Apple Store, Best Buy Mobile, and manufacturers' online stores are all good bets. Sometimes, you can even unlock the phone you already have, though the particulars depend on the handset and carrier.
Here at PCMag, we've long been a proponent of unlocked cell phones. Last year we reviewed 39 unlocked models available in the US, and our list of The Best Unlocked Phones offers options from $149 up to $700.
All the way back in 2006, I declared that the "unlocked cell phone revolution begins now." It didn't. According to Strategy Analytics, 14.6 million unlocked phones were sold in the US in 2015, for a total of about 10 percent of the US market, with Blu and Apple leading the pack at 36 percent and 12.3 percent respectively of that 10 percent total share.
There are several historic reasons for this. Verizon and Sprint have been hostile to unlocked phones in the past. Our country's diverse array of technologies and frequency bands used to mean that one carrier's phones simply wouldn't work on another, even unlocked. On all carriers, Americans aren't used to paying for phones up front, and for many years, phone prices were hidden in carriers' nearly universal two-year contracts. 041b061a72