When it comes to purchasing a mobile device, buying an unlocked phone might be one of the smartest routes to take. There are plenty of reasons to consider an unlocked phone, including freedom to select and change carriers.
While it’s tempting to lump your phone’s cost into a monthly cell phone bill, doing this for multiple people can get expensive. A family of four could be looking at hundreds of dollars each month in phone costs alone.
Given that technology outpaces consumer demands, most of us don’t really need a brand new flagship phone. In fact, even the devices that are 1-2 years old are more than sufficient for the typical user. That’s largely where we are here in this list of best unlocked phones.
If you’re shopping around for a new phone, and want to work with a decent budget, we’ve got good news. There is a lot to choose from as it pertains to unlocked handsets that don’t cost all that much.
We’ve gathered up a handful of attractive options that fall in the price range of $400 to $600.
How we Decided
We set a few basic guidelines in place to help consolidate the list of candidates. The models that follow all had to adhere to a couple of pre-requisites. Each phone has to run Android 10 or newer and have at least 6GB RAM. Additionally, we trimmed our list to devices with batteries of 3,000mAh or higher capacity.
This means current versions of software, a decent amount of memory for most tasks, and battery that lasts through a day or more.
- Best unlocked phones under $150
- Best unlocked phones between $150-$250
- Best unlocked mid-range phones between $250-$400
- Want to buy a used phone? Read this first!
Google Pixel 4a 5G
One of the best all around smartphones you’ll find on the market, it’s the perfect blend of mid to upper tier hardware with Android the way it’s intended. And it also has one of the premier camera experiences for those who like to point and shoot without fussing with settings or switching cameras.
For your money you’ll get an excellent device with more than enough to get your daily tasks done. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage runs the show and the 3800mAh battery makes sure the show lasts all day.
Other features we’re fond of include the 5G connectivity, 3.5mm headphone jack, and ultra-wide camera.
A stunning departure from the entry-level Moto G and E series of phones, this Motorola handset is big, gorgeous, and largely future-proof for most users.
Running a stock version of Android, the phone features Motorola’s custom touches for personalization and user delight. The 6.7-inch 2340 x 1080 pixel display stretches edge to edge with a hole-punch camera and looks great playing games or streaming video.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor may be mid-range by industry standards but when paired with 6GB RAM and a generous amount of storage (256GB), it’s hard to argue for more.
Nokia 8.3 5G
Nokia is one of our favorite brands in the unlocked phone space, if only because of the way it treats Android. Its handsets come with a stock version of the software and are backed by multiple years of updates and security patches.
It does well on the hardware front, too, offering consumers a great bang-for-buck value proposition. Here, you get a high-end device with 5G support, but at a much cheaper rate than what other brands demand.
Noteworthy details include a quad camera system with ZEISS cinematic effects, a combo power button and fingerprint reader, a dedicated Google Assistant button, and a two-day battery.
We’ve fallen head over heels in love with OnePlus these last few years. Rather than releasing an expensive, annual flagship, it refreshes its portfolio as needed. And it doesn’t charge nearly as much for the experience.
The OnePlus 8 comes in about $200-$300 cheaper than what you’d see from other bigger brands, yet it doesn’t skimp on the features. A giant 6.55-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate and 48-megapixel triple-camera array lead the way, but it’s just as appealing internally, too.
Running Android 10, there’s a bleeding edge Snapdragon 865 processor, 128GB UFS 3.0 storage, and 8GB RAM. Add in a generous 4,300mAh battery with lighting fast charging and you see why we’re so fond.
TCL 10 Pro
Chock full of beefy hardware with a stock Android software experience, this phone punches well above its price point. You’ll have a difficult time getting more out of a phone at this price, let alone needing more.
The 6.47-inch FHD+ curved AMOLED display has a 93% screen-to-body ratio and looks gorgeous; it does know a thing or two about screens.
On the camera front we have four on the back, including a 64-megapixel main shooter and a super-wide (123-degree) unit. Other notable specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, 6GB RAM, and up to 128GB internal storage.