Best unlocked phones

woman_holding_phone

Unlocked phones are almost always the way to go. More often than not, you’re getting a better deal than you would with buying another phone on-contract. When you go with an unlocked phone, chances are you’re going to save quite a bit of money over time. But it can be hard finding an unlocked device to fit your needs. In comparison to device’s that are on payment plans and two-year contracts, there really aren’t a whole lot of unlocked phones out there. With that in mind, we’re going to show you all the hot unlocked phones available on the market today.

Editor’s Note: This list will be updated on a monthly basis or when necessary. Each time there’s a change, we will note where that happened.

Google Nexus 6P

nexus_6p_camera_top_closeup_TA

It goes without saying, the Nexus 6P was one of the best phones of 2015 and still is one of the best, even as we start nearing the end of 2016. It’s successor will be on the way in just a few short months, but the Nexus 6P is still a good buy. Normally priced at around $500, the Nexus 6P is a high-end and unlocked phone at little price. Not only that, but as we near the time for another Nexus update, the Nexus 6P will only get cheaper and see quite a few discounts across the Web.

 Google Nexus 6P
AnnouncedSeptember 29, 2015
ReleaseOctober 2015
Display5.7-inch Quad HD (2560x1440) AMOLED with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1
RAM3GB
Storage32GB / 64GB / 128GB
Rear Camera12.3MP with laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front Camera8MP
Battery3450mAh (non-removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C
SoundFront-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro, barometer, fingerprint
Measurements159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm
Weight178g
ColorsAluminum, Graphite, Frost, Matte Gold

What sets the Nexus 6P apart from other unlocked phones? Well, for starters, you’re getting a stock version of Android–there’s absolutely no bloat here. You have the base operating system, and that’s it. It’s also important to remember that this is a Nexus device, meaning that any Nexus 6P owner will be first in line for any software updates. Want to get Nougat on your phone the minute it comes out? You can with a Nexus 6P.

Beyond that, the Nexus 6P is insanely fast, featuring top-notch performance. The phone will be able to handle anything you throw at it, even the most demanding of Android games.

For a closer look at the Nexus 6P, don’t miss out on our unboxing video by Talk Android’s very own Justin Herrick.

Buy now: Google Store, Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg

Google Nexus 5X

nexus_5x_bench_back_TA

The Nexus 5X may not be nearly as powerful as the Nexus 6P, but it’s still a very nice handset. As a successor to the original Nexus 5, the Nexus 5X is everything we loved about the Nexus 5 and a whole lot more. Even with the handset featuring some decidedly mid-range specifications, it won’t disappoint as a daily driver. It has a gorgeous 5.2-inch Full HD display, making this handset a joy to use for watching media, gaming, or any regular day-to-day tasks.

 Google Nexus 5X
AnnouncedSeptember 29, 2015
ReleaseOctober 2015
Display5.2-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS LCD with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 808
RAM2GB
Storage16GB / 32GB
Rear Camera12.3MP with laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front Camera5MP
Battery2700mAh (non-removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C
SoundFront-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro, barometer, fingerprint
Measurements147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm
Weight136g
ColorsCarbon, Quartz, Ice

Much like the Nexus 6P, you’re getting super fast updates here. Anytime a new Android version is launched, you’ll be first in line to get. What primarily sets this device apart from the rest is its price, though. You’re getting a standard Android phone here with no special features. But, it has a sleek design and snappy experience, and you can get that for less than $350. It normally costs $349 on the Google Store, but the handset is constantly on sale, so finding a deal on the Web for a brand new Nexus 5X for less than $300 isn’t too difficult.

Buy now: Google Store, Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition

motorola_moto_x_pure_edition_stock_launcher_TA

The Moto X Pure Edition may be considered “old”, as it launched in mid-2015; however, it’s still one of the best out there. Specs are mid-range, but you can throw almost anything at this phone and it’ll handle it no problem. Not only that, but media looks great on the 5.7-inch Quad HD display. Audio also sounds a lot better than on most high-end phones, and for less than $300, too!

 Motorola Moto X Pure Edition
AnnouncedJuly 28, 2015
ReleaseAugust 2015
Display5.7-inch Quad HD (2560x1440) IPS LCD with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 808
RAM3GB
Storage16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Rear Camera21MP with phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front Camera5MP
Battery3000mAh (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USB with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0
SoundFront-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro, barometer, fingerprint
Measurements153.9 x 76.2 x 11.1mm
Weight179g
ColorsCustomized through Moto Maker

The primary thing that sets the Moto X Pure Edition apart from the rest is the Moto Maker. Moto Maker will allow you to start with a base Moto X Pure Edition model and customize it in almost anyway you want. Want more storage? No problem! Maybe you’d prefer a carbon fiber texture on the back or a flat gold color. There’s also some awesome engraving options available. Those are all things you can do within Moto Maker.

It makes the Moto X Pure Edition totally worth buying. Not only will you have an unlocked phone, but you’ll have a phone designed by you.

Buy now: Motorola, Best Buy, Amazon

HTC 10

htc_10_review_main

Is HTC back in the game with the HTC 10? Quite possibly. It might be a bit on the pricey said, but the HTC 10 is easily the Taiwanese-based company’s best phone yet. With a sleek design, some of the best audio you’ll get in the phone market and a stellar camera, you cannot go wrong with HTC’s latest flagship.

 HTC 10
AnnouncedApril 12, 2016
ReleasedMay 2016
Display5.2-inch Quad HD (2560x1440) Super LCD 5 with Corning Gorilla Glass
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 820
RAM4GB
Storage32GB / 64GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera12MP UltraPixel 2 with laser autofocus, optical image stabilization, two-tone LED flash
Front Camera5MP with optical image stabilization
Battery3000mAh (non-removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
SoundHTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition with Dolby Audio
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow with HTC Sense 8.0
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, DLNA, AirPlay, Miracast
SensorsAmbient, proximity, motion, compass, gyro, fingerprint
Measurements145.9 x 71.9 x 3.0-9.0mm
Weight161g
ColorsTopaz Gold, Glacial Silver, Carbon Gray

Want an entirely unique and customized experience on your phone? Then the HTC 10 really might be just up your alley with a neat feature called Freestyle Layout. The customization options are endless–you can say goodbye to your typical application layout, and use stickers to make your apps more discreet and hidden. And the intention doesn’t even have to be about making things more discreet or hidden, it’s just a new, unique and really neat way of changing up the traditional home screen. This feature really sets the HTC 10 apart from other popular phones on the market right now.

Buy now: HTC, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile

OnePlus 3

oneplus_3_back_whole_angled_TA

The OnePlus 3 is one of the hottest devices as far as unlocked phones go. Its predecessor, the OnePlus 2, was sub-par, but the company has gone above and beyond with its successor. Not only does it outperform the OnePlus 2 in almost every way possible, it’s also, on paper, a whole lot better than flagships being released by big name companies today. With a Snapdragon 820 processor, a whopping 6GB of RAM and a gorgeous 16-megapixel camera, you cannot go wrong with the OnePlus 3.

 OnePlus 3
AnnouncedJune 14, 2016
ReleaseJune 2016
Display5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080) Optic AMOLED with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 820
RAM6GB of RAM
Storage64GB
Rear Camera16MP with phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash
Front Camera8MP
Battery3000mAh (non-removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C with Dash Charge
SoundBottom-facing mono speaker
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow with OxygenOS
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro, barometer, fingerprint
Measurements152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4mm
Weight158g
ColorsGraphite, Soft Gold

Beyond hardware, you’re getting snappy software that’s fairly close to stock. Not only that, but you get an elegant and sleek design as well. This is without a doubt a high-end device, and with that, you might expect a high price. Even the HTC 10 is quite a bit of cash with its high-end specs. But, no. You can pick up a OnePlus 3 for $399. Now, that’s a steal!

Buy now: OnePlus

Honor 5X

Huawei_Honor_5X (6)

The Honor 5X is an…intriguing handset. It has a brushed metal design that gives off an industrial look, making this one of the more unique looking handsets on the market. This handset comes by way of Huawei’s subsidiary brand, Honor. One of the big things about this handset is that it’s one of the first major Chinese brands to bring their devices to the US.

 Honor 5X
AnnouncedJanuary 6, 2016
ReleaseJanuary 2016
Display5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 616
RAM2GB
Storage16GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera13MP with autofocus, LED flash
Front Camera5MP
Battery3000mAh (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USB
SoundBottom-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareAndroid 5.1 Lollipop with EMUI 3.1
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, fingerprint
Measurements151.3 x 76.3 x 8.2mm
Weight158g
ColorsDaybreak Silver, Dark Grey, Sunset Gold

The Honor 5X is just about everything you’d expect out of a handset: fairly powerful internals, a beautiful screen, a good camera, and snappy software. Normally, you’d have to pay quite a bit of money for a package like this, but the Honor 5X sits just under $200. You just can’t get a device of this stature at this price point, making the Honor 5X a go-to option for those looking for an unlocked phone on the cheap.

Buy now: Honor, Amazon, Newegg

Closing

That wraps up our guide to the best unlocked phones on the market right now. Be sure to check back later as we’ll be adding more to it as new phones as they come out.

Do you have a favorite unlocked phone? If so, what is it? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


  • brutusf

    What about Samsung? Didn’t they start selling unlocked versions of the S7 and S7 Edge on their website?

    • Rich L

      I just picked up an unlocked S7 edge Olympic edition. It is not tied to any carrier and can work on any network.