Best daily deals
Best daily deals

Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

The best unlocked Android phones for demanding users

The best of the best, with no carrier limitations.
By
November 21, 2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 3 unlocked
David Imel / Android Authority

If you don’t like buying phones on contracts, unlocked Android phones are for you. They’re available from various retailers and can be used with any carrier of your choice. Unlocked smartphones also allow you to switch between carriers with ease.

Before jumping into our top picks, note that this article only includes devices officially released in the US and backed by a warranty. It’s also focused on high-end handsets aimed at demanding users. If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out our roundup of the best cheap Android phones you can get. You’ll also find a few great budget-friendly and mid-range options in our best prepaid phones post.

The best unlocked Android phones:

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best unlocked phones regularly as new devices launch.


Samsung Galaxy S21 series

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 1 1 unlocked
David Imel / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series includes the standard S21, the S21 Plus, and the S21 Ultra. They all have the new Snapdragon 888 processor, so you should have no issues with pure performance.

The Galaxy S21 is the cheapest and smallest of the lot, but is pretty similar to the S21 Plus, apart from the display size. Both have 8GB of RAM and come with either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Both also have the same camera setups, with a 12MP wide-angle sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a 64MP telephoto lens.

The S21 Ultra, on the other hand, is an absolute beast. It handily beats the other two across a variety of features. To start with, it comes with a massive 6.8-inch AMOLED display. It has the most cameras, including a 108MP primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and two 10MP telephoto sensors. There’s also a laser autofocus sensor in the back and a 40MP front camera.


Samsung Galaxy S21 specs

  • Display: 6.2-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 64, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus specs

  • Display: 6.7-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 64, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,800mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specs

  • Display: 6.8-inch, WQHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 12/16GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Cameras: 108, 10, 10, and 12MP + Laser AF sensor
  • Front camera: 40MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 in hand closed up
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Not only is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 one of the best unlocked phones you can get, it’s also one of the most fun and most interesting ones. The device’s special design, reminiscent of classic flip phones, makes it a unique conversation starter. Not to mention you can relive the dramatic method of hanging up a call by shutting the phone close!

More: The best foldable phones available

Cool design aside, the phone is no slouch. It comes with a powerful Snapdragon 888 processor and 8GB of RAM. The foldable display is really nice, measuring in at 6.7 inches, and featuring a Full HD+ AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. You even get a small display on the outside for notifications.

The only real downside is the battery is pretty small at 3,300mAh, but that’s the sacrifice you must make when you go for such a small foldable handset.


Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 specs

  • Display: 6.7-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,300mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Asus ROG Phone 5s series

Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the home screen at an angle
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The Asus ROG Phone 5s series is extraordinary. These devices were made for gaming, and they blow other phones out of the water in every department.

The phones come with powerful Snapdragon 888+ chipsets, and up to a whopping 18GB of RAM. Both also feature a massive 6,000mAh battery. The display is equally impressive, featuring an AMOLED panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, as well as a large 6.78-inch size.

Also read: The best gaming phones around

These unlocked phones will also offer other unique features that will improve your gaming experience. They come with a 360Hz touch response time, shoulder triggers, the Asus Armoury Crate app, and the gaming look we know many of you love.


ROG Phone 5s specs

  • Display: 6.78-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888+
  • RAM: 8/12/16/18GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 64, 13, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 24MP
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

ROG Phone 5s Pro specs

  • Display: 6.78-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888+
  • RAM: 18GB
  • Storage: 512GB
  • Cameras: 64, 13, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 24MP
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Sony Xperia 1 III

Sony Xperia 1 III back 2 - The best unlocked Android phones
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Sony’s designs are simple and elegant. These devices probably don’t turn many heads, but they perform and stand out from the crowd in other areas. The Sony Xperia 1 III is powerful and featureful, and is easily one of the best unlocked phones you can get right now.

Related: These are the best camera phones available today

For starters, it’s one of the very few phones with a 4K display. It also happens to be a gorgeous OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. The cameras are also great, but where this phone mainly stands out is in video shooting. It can record 4K content of up to 120fps, and inherits amazing auto-focusing tech that assimilates what you find on Sony mirrorless cameras.

The Sony Xperia 1 III is also an expensive handset compared to its competitors, so be ready to pay up if you want it.


Sony Xperia 1 III specs

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 4K
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,50mAh
  • Software: Android 11

OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro showing back - The best unlocked Android phones
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

OnePlus continues its foray into proper flagship territory with the stand-out OnePlus 9 Pro. Like other 2021 flagships, the 9 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 888, and you get up to 12GB of RAM to back that up. It also features an in-display fingerprint sensor, a beautiful 120Hz display, and four cameras in the back, including a 50MP sensor and a 48MP option.

The phone offers a great software experience thanks to OxygenOS, which is one of the best ones out there, in our opinion. The OnePlus 9 Pro also has features that the standard OnePlus 9 skips. This phone actually has an IP rating (IP68) this time around, instead of vague assurances of water resistance. The phone also supports 50W wireless charging, compared to the 15W Qi option of its more affordable sibling.

The OnePlus 9 Pro might be the most expensive smartphone from the company yet, but it’s by far the most powerful. If you’re looking for one of the best unlocked Android phones around, this is definitely worth considering.


OnePlus 9 Pro specs

  • Display: 6.7-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 8, 50, and 2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Google Pixel 6 series

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro on red leaf background - The best unlocked Android phones
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We might have left the best for last. Google’s new Pixel 6 family features two impressive handsets that are definitely some of the best unlocked Android phones in the market. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have a unique design, competent performance, great displays, and an overall fantastic smartphone experience.

A lot of this is due to the Google promise, which includes the vanilla Android experience and timely updates. That’s not all the phones have going for them, though. They also come with Google’s new Tensor chipset and plenty of RAM, which should keep them running smoothly, regardless of what you throw at them.

Next: All the best Google products around

The standard Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, while the Pixel 6 Pro takes things up a notch with a 6.71-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED panel running at 120Hz. We can’t forget about the prices, which come in at very competitive levels. These are definitely devices you can’t ignore when looking for the best unlocked phones.


Google Pixel 6 specs

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Google Tensor
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Camera: 50 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,614mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Google Pixel 6 Pro specs

  • Display: 6.71-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Google Tensor
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Camera: 50, 48, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 11.1MP
  • Battery: 5,003mAh
  • Software: Android 12

These are our picks for the best unlocked Android phones you can get in the US, although there are plenty of other great options out there as well. We’ll make sure to update this post with new models once they’re released.