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Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4 XL super close

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

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

Before we jump into our top picks, note that this post only includes devices that have officially been released in the US and are 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 best cheap Android phones post at the link. You’ll also find a few great budget and mid-range options in our best pre-paid phones post.

Best unlocked Android phones:

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


1. Samsung Galaxy S20 series

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra -- best unlocked Android phones

The Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra are the latest flagship smartphones from Samsung. They are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset in the US, but aside from that, each smartphone has some different specs.

The standard Galaxy S20 has a 6.2-inch display, three rear cameras, and a big 4,000mAh battery. Keep in mind that’s the low-end model, which would be a flagship in its own right just a year ago. The Galaxy S20 Plus has a bigger 6.7-inch display, three rear cameras that include a 64MP sensor, and a huge 4,500mAh battery. The S20 Ultra is a true beast of a smartphone. It has a massive 6.9-inch display, three rear cameras (12MP, 48MP, and a huge 108MP sensor), plus a 40MP front camera. Finally, there’s a mad-huge 5,000mAh battery.

All three phones have an IP68 rating, supports wireless charging, and sport an in-display fingerprint scanner, among other things.


Samsung Galaxy S20 specs:

  • Display: 6.2-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 64MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 10

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 64MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 10

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra specs:

  • Display: 6.9-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 12/16GB
  • Storage: 128/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 48, and 108MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 40MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 10

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 series

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus -- unlocked Android phones

There are a lot of similarities between the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus. Both pack the Snapdragon 855 chipset under the hood in the U.S., sport an in-display fingerprint scanner, and support wireless charging. They also feature the S Pen, which has a few new tricks up its sleeve — check them out here.

However, the Plus model offers more overall. It has a larger display with a higher resolution, more RAM, a larger battery, and an additional camera at the back — a ToF sensor. It also supports expandable storage.

Both phones are aimed at demanding users and can handle just about any task you throw at them. They run Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung’s new One UI on top and can already be upgraded to the latest Android 10.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10 specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.8-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,300mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

3. Sony Xperia 1 and Xperia 5

Unlocked sony xperia 5 phone

The Xperia 1 and Xperia 5 are very similar phones, both sporting a notch-less design with relatively thin bezels. The latter is the more recent of the two and comes with a 6.1-inch Full HD+ display, 6GB of RAM, and three 12MP cameras at the back. It’s IP68 rated for protection against water and dust and supports expandable storage. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on board.

The Sony Xperia 1 sports a larger display at 6.5 inches that offers 4K resolution. Due to its bigger footprint, it also has a slightly larger battery (3,330mAh vs. 3,140mAh). The rest of the specs, including the chipset and cameras, are exactly the same as those of the Xperia 5.

Keep in mind that these aren’t the latest and greatest Xperia phones. Sony recently announced the weirdly-named Xperia 1 II, but it hasn’t been released yet.


Sony Xperia 1 specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 4K
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,330mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Sony Xperia 5 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,140mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

4. Google Pixel 4 series

Pixel 4 unlocked Android phone

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are somewhat divisive flagships, owing to a relatively low amount of on-board storage, small batteries, and a look that feels a little behind the times (it’s chin-central over here!). There’s no headphone jack, nor is there space for a microSD card.

That said, the Pixel 4 and its larger brother are still compelling devices in a number of aspects. As usual, Google gives us the best-in-class cameras with excellent low-light performance and a new Astrophotography mode. It’s a shame there’s no wide-angle lens, but we’re happy to see the telephoto sensor.

Other features also mark the Pixel 4 phones as definite flagships: things like 90Hz displays and nippy performance are on-point. And Pixel handsets are always home to the purest and most fully-featured Android experience. Then there’s the wonky-yet-cool radar system. The Pixel 4 and 4 XL really are among the best unlocked Android phones you can get, but they aren’t for everyone.


Google Pixel 4 specs:

  • Display: 5.7-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Cameras: 12.2 and 16MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 2,800mAh
  • Software: Android 10.0 Pie

Google Pixel 4 XL specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Cameras: 12.2 and 16MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,700mAh
  • Software: Android 10.0 Pie

5. Asus ROG Phone 2

Asus ROG Phone 2 screen in hand

The Asus ROG Phone 2 represents a rather notable leap for gaming phones, as it’s the first Snapdragon 855 Plus smartphone. The slightly upgraded chipset delivers a marginal CPU and GPU clock speed increase, which means you should enjoy slightly better performance in theory than Snapdragon 855 phones.

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Asus’ latest gaming phone is extremely beefy elsewhere, offering 12GB of RAM as standard, along with 256GB or 512GB of UFS 3.0 storage, and a massive 6,000mAh battery. The device also stands out as one of the few phones packing an OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The ROG Phone 2 also offers air triggers that act as shoulder buttons, a 48MP+13MP ultra-wide rear camera pairing, a 24MP selfie camera, and an array of accessories. All these things combined make it one of the best unlocked Android phones available.


ROG Phone 2 specs:

  • Display: 6.59-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Rear cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Front camera: 24MP
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

6. Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

Unlocked Pixel 3a Android phone back on table

In terms of raw performance, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL aren’t the best options for demanding users, as they are mid-range devices. However, they still have more than enough power under the hood for the average user. The reason we included them on this list is because they are great phones for those into photography. The handsets sport the same camera as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, despite being much cheaper. This means they can capture fantastic images, even in low-light conditions thanks to Google’s Night Sight technology.

If you're into photography, the Pixel 3a series is right up your alley.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL also run a stock version of Android and feature the Active Edge feature, which lets you summon Google Assistant just by squeezing the edges of a phone. But they lack certain high-end features including an IP rating and wireless charging. They do, however, have a headphone jack on board.

The main differences between the two Pixel 3a phones are in the display and battery departments. The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch display and a 3,000mAh battery, while the XL model comes with a 6.0-inch screen and a 3,700mAh battery.


Google Pixel 3a specs:

  • Display: 5.6-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Google Pixel 3a XL specs:

  • Display: 6.0-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

7. OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro

OnePlus 7T Pro in hand

The OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro are the latest unlocked Android phones from the company, and both pack in some very impressive features.

For one, both have 90Hz AMOLED displays, with the 7T Pro offering a larger 6.67-inch QHD+ panel. It’s not quite as slick a refresh rate as the ROG Phone 2, but it’s better than most phones out there. It also means that you can enjoy slightly higher frame-rates in games that support refresh rates higher than 60Hz.

Both devices also deliver a Snapdragon 855+ processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 256GB of storage, and a sizeable battery (3,800mAh and 4,085mAh, respectively). Toss in a triple rear camera (48MP, 16MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto) and a 16MP pop-up selfie shooter (waterdrop notch on the cheaper model), and you’ve got some well-rounded high-end unlocked Android phones.


OnePlus 7T specs:

  • Display: 6.55-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 3,800mAh
  • Software: Android 10

OnePlus 7T Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.67-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,085mAh
  • Software: Android 10

8. LG G8X ThinQ

LG G8X ThinQ -- best unlocked Android phones

The LG G8X is a slightly modified version of its 2019 flagship, the LG G8 ThinQ. The new model includes an in-display fingerprint sensor and an upgraded front-facing camera. However, the phone’s biggest new addition is technically an accessory.

Of course, we are talking about the phone’s second display. This 6.4-inch screen accessory snaps onto the phone and basically turns the device into a pseudo-foldable. The display allows for new capabilities such as gaming controls and interesting camera tricks by using the secondary display as your preview panel.

The LG G8X is now on sale, and you can get the phone, with its second display, for a reasonable price via the button below.


LG G8 ThinQ specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 16MP
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • Battery: 4,00mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

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 are released.