Now that an increasing amount of smartphone manufacturers are selling their phones at cheaper price points, it’s much easier for consumers to afford an off-contract device rather than purchasing one with a two-year contract. At least in the United States, the way that the best unlocked Android phones are priced has changed dramatically, and that’s a good thing.

So, what are the best unlocked Android phones out there for those who’d like to forgo the standard contract and buy unlocked? We’re here to take you through the best unlocked Android smartphones for under $250, under $500 and over $500. As always, if you have anything you’d like to suggest, be sure to speak up in the comment section at the bottom of the post.

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this best unlocked Android phones list regularly as new devices launch. It’s also worth noting that this article is written for a U.S.-centric point of view, though (since they are unlocked) pretty much all of these devices are available outside of the U.S., at least in some capacity.


Best unlocked Android phones under $250

Moto G5 Plus

Best unlocked Android phones

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If you’re in the market for an affordable, unlocked smartphone for under $250, look no further. Lenovo’s Moto G5 Plus is one of the best unlocked Android phones on the market, and for good reason.

The 1080p display is vibrant and perfect for watching YouTube videos and surfing the web, and the big 3,000 mAh battery will help keep you going all day long. Plus, with the Snapdragon 625 processor coupled with 2-4 GB of RAM, this thing can basically handle everything you throw at it.

And for those of you interested in a bare-bones software experience, you’ll be happy to hear that the G5 Plus runs a very slimmed-down version of Android 7.0 Nougat.

The Moto G5 Plus is reliable, sleek, and inexpensive. What more could you want for any device on our best unlocked Android phones?

Specs

  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 424 ppi
  • 2.0 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor
  • 2/3/4 GB of RAM
  • 32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm, 155 g

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Honor 7x

The Honor 7x is the latest of the cheap phones from Huawei’s Honor brand, yet it still has high-end features that make it an attractive phone for any buyer, and is a must on any best unlocked Android phones list.

One of its standout features is its 5.93-inch display with very little in terms of bezels, along with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a 1080p resolution. Inside, it has Huawei’s in-house Kirin 659 octa-core processor, running four cores at 2.36GHz and four at 1.7GHz and with a Mali T830 GPU.

In terms of software, you are getting Android 7.0 Nougat with Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 interface on top. Depending on the market, you will get either 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM inside, along with either 32 GB or 64 GB of onboard storage, with a microSD card to expand it up to 256 GB. The rear camera setup has a  16 MP primary sensor, along with a secondary 2 MP sensor that can handle features like portrait mode. It also has an 8 MP front-facing camera. Finally, it has a 3,340 mAh battery, which should last up to a day with regular phone use.

In the U.S., you can buy the Honor 7x right now for just $199.99. 

Specs

  • 5.91-inch display with 2,160 x 1,080 resolution
  • Kirin 659 octa-core processor
  • 3/4 GB of RAM
  • 32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 12 and 2 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,340 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat, EMUI 5.1
  • 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm, 165 g

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Motorola Moto E4

The Motorola Moto E4 manages to offer a solid amount of hardware inside a super-cheap phone. It has a 5-inch 1,280 x 720 display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, with a clock speed of 1.54 GHz, along with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of onboard storage, and a microSD card slot that accepts up to 128 GB in additional storage. The Android 7.1 Nougat phone also comes with an 8 MP rear camera, a 5 MP front-facing camera and a 2,800 mAh removable battery.

You can get the Moto E4 for as low as $49 from MetroPCS, after a $20 instant rebate and a $60 mail-in rebate. Verizon Wireless is selling the phone right now for just $69.99, if you sign up for the carrier’s pre-paid service. Motorola is also selling the Moto E4, in a truly unlocked version, for just $129.99. Amazon also sells the same phone for $129.99, but Amazon Prime members can get it for the lower price of $99.99, with lock screen ads included.

Specs

  • 5-inch 1,280x 7,20 HD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 1.4GHz quad-core CPU
  • Android 7.1 Nougat with Moto experiences
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of internal storage, microSD card support up to 128 GB
  • 8 MP rear camera
  • 5 MP front camera
  • 2, 800mAh removable battery

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Best unlocked Android phones under $500

OnePlus 5T

cheap phones

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If you want to give the gift of a high-end phone experience without spending a fortune, you really can’t do better than the OnePlus 5T. 

The first thing you’ll notice with the 5T is its big 6.01-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. This makes the device look more in line with other high-end 2017 devices. The end result is a phone that’s absolutely gorgeous.

The under-the-hood specs are mostly the same as the older OnePlus 5’s, but OnePlus decided to switch up the camera setup this time around. Now, in place of the OnePlus 5’s telephoto lens, the 5T sports a secondary 20 MP sensor that uses a fancy new technology called Intelligent Pixel Technology. Basically, it takes better low-light photos than before.

The other big change with the 5T is its biometric security. Not only has the fingerprint sensor moved around to the back, you can also unlock the 5T using face recognition. It’s super fast and works perfectly nine times out of 10.

Bottom line, the OnePlus 5T is one of the great cheap phones and one of the best unlocked Android phones — especially because it costs a fraction of the price of most competing smartphones.

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Essential Phone

 
This phone has received a ton of media attention, thanks in large part to the fact that Andy Rubin, the co-creator of the Android OS, founded the company that created the Essential Phone.  It alos helps that the phone itself has some solid hardware inside. The first thing people notice about it is the near bezel-free display, with a small amount on the bottom and nothing on top; the screen wraps around its front-facing camera. The screen itself is 5.7 inches and is a QHD display with a 19:10 aspect ratio.
 
Inside, the Essential Phone has the fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. It also contains dual 13 MP rear cameras, an 8 MP front facing camera and a 3,040 mAh battery. The phone also has some magnetic connectors on the back that are designed to connect to extra accessories, such as an upcoming 360 degree camera and a charging station. Even the chassis of the phone is made of premium materials, with a titanium main body and a ceramic back.
 
While this phone launched just a few months ago for $699.99, you can get the unlocked version of the Essential phone from Amazon right now for just $449.99. It will work with all four major US wireless carriers.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch display with 2,560 x 1,312 resolution, 19:10 ratio
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • Dual 13 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,040 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 2.8 x 0.3 x 5.6 inches, 6.6 ounces

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Best unlocked Android phones above $500

Huawei P20 and P20 Pro

The  Huawei P20 and Huawei P20 Pro may not be coming to the United States, but the rest of the world is in for a treat very soon. These are, without a doubt, the best Huawei phones the company has produced so far, and the best unlocked Android phones ever made (so far). The Huawei P20 sports a 5.8-inch LCD display, while the Pro version boosts it up to 6.1 inches and a OLED panel. Yes, both phones have notches on top, but if you hate this current phone trend, the handsets do allow you to turn it off in the setting menu so it looks more like a regular phone.

The Huawei P20 has a Leica dual camera setup, with a 12MP RGB and 20MP monochrome sensor combo, but the P20 Pro is the first smartphone with a triple rear camera setup. In addition to the 20MP monochrome sensor, the RGB sensor on the Pro goes up to a whopping 40MP, and is joined by the third sensor, an 8MP telephoto lens. The Pro also has a five-times hybrid zoom feature.

Both phones have Huawei’s Kirin 970 processor, with its NPU chip that adds AI features, including ones that help improve taking pictures with their impressive cameras. These phones are not cheap, however. The Huawei P20 will be sold in Europe very soon for 650 euro (around $800), while the more powerful Huawei P20 Pro will cost 900 euro (around $1100). There’s also the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS variant of the P20 Pro that includes a in-screen fingerprint sensor, a 6-inch screen, and you can get one with a massive 512GB amount of onboard storage for  2095 euro ($2600). That’s the price that must be paid for the best unlocked phones Huawei has ever released.

Specifications

Huawei P20

  • 5.8-inch Huawei FullView IPS LCD 18.7:9 display 2,244 x 1,080 resolution
  • Octa-core Huawei Kirin 970 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB of on-board storage
  • Dual 20 and 12 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,400 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 149.1 mm x 70.8 mm x 7.65 mm, 165 g

Huawei P20 Pro

  • 6.1-inch Huawei FullView OLED 18:7:9 display 2,240 x 1,080 resolution
  • Octa-core Huawei Kirin 970 processor
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • Triple 8, 12 and 40 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 155.0 mm x 73.9 mm x 7.8 mm, 180 g

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

After a controversial 2016, Samsung’s Galaxy Note line is back in full force. With top-of-the-line specs, a stunning design, an all-new dual-camera setup, and new software features, the Galaxy Note 8 is one of the best unlocked Android phones you can buy right now.

The Note 8’s near-bezel-less 6.3-inch QuadHD+ Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio is one of our favorite parts about this phone. DisplayMate agrees with us too. It’s big, maybe too big for some people, but at least the company puts that screen to good use. There’s a new App Pairing feature that allows you to open up two favorited apps in multi-window at the same time, and there are a few new S Pen features that will satisfy the stylus users out there.

What’s more, the new dual-camera setup on the back performs incredibly well. While picture quality isn’t a huge step up from what we saw on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, the extra 12 MP sensor with OIS allows you to take clear, concise photos and impressive bokeh shots in just about any situation.

No, it’s not perfect, but no phone is. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor placement is still super annoying, and this phone is expensive. If those things don’t matter to you though, the Note 8 is on our best unlocked Android phones list. Check out our full review below!

Specs

  • 6.3-inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 521 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 processor (depending on region)
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128/256 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 12 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm, 195 g

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Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus

Following a successful launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Samsung clearly knows what users want in a smartphone. Solid battery life, high-res screens, impressive camera performance and more were all things the company achieved with its previous generation flagships, but the S8 range updated the look with a more modern design. They are are IP67 rated for water and dust resistance, which means they are among the best waterproof phones you can currently buy.

As before, Samsung included a curved screen on both the S9 and S9 Plus, with an increasingly common 18.5:9 aspect ratio that allows for a much more comfortable in-hand feel. Under the hood, these devices come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor in the US (Samsung’s own in-house Exynos 9810 SoC is used in other parts of the world). The standard 5.8-inch S9 has 4 GB of RAM while the 6.2-inch S9 Plus includes 6 GB of RAM. Both have 64 GB of on-board storage, and both have Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. Recently, Samsung launched unlocked versions of both phones with 128GB and 256GB of internal storage in the US.

The biggest difference in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, compared to both their older models and each other, is in their camera equipment. Both the S9 and S9 Plus have a primary 12 MP rear camera with a Dual Aperture feature that can switch between F/1.5 and F/2.4 modes. The S9 Plus also has a second rear 12 MP sensor and both phones have 8 MP front cameras. Both can also take super slow-mo movies at 960 fps at 720p, and both support Samsung’s new AR Emoji for animated avatars created by the cameras.

All in all, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are the two best Samsng phones at the moment, and among the best unlocked Android phones out there, building on the highly successful formula of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S9

  • 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 570 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 processor (depending on region)
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64/128/256 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 400 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 8 MP front
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm, 163 g

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

  • 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 529 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 processor (depending on region)
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128/256 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 400 GB
  • Dual 12 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • 3,500 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm, 189 g

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HTC U11

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The HTC 10 was one of our best unlocked Android phones of 2016, and for good reason. The Taiwanese company absolutely nailed the design of the 10, and it worked hard at scaling back the software to make it feel like the bare-bones Android experience we all know and love. And while it didn’t have a bunch of gimmicky extras, that was okay. The HTC 10 was a solid Android phone that nailed the basics.

Now HTC is back with the 10’s successor, the HTC U11. With an eye-catching, glossy design, all-day battery life, and a smooth and snappy software experience, the U11 competes toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 when it comes to performance. It also has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, according to DxOMark.

The standout feature on the U11 is something HTC calls Edge Sense. The sides of the phone are pressure sensitive, and this allows you to physically squeeze the phone to activate a specific function or open an app like the camera or web browser. Having to squeeze your phone to make it do something does sound a bit odd, but we’ve really found this feature to come in handy.

Before you go out and spend $650 on this baby, there are a few things you should know. For starters, this phone doesn’t have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, meaning you’ll either need to use Bluetooth headphones or carry around the included headphone adapter everywhere you go. Also, while HTC’s Sense is one of our favorite Android skins out there, it is feeling a bit dated at this point.

If you can get past those few caveats, though, the U11 will certainly not disappoint.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4/6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 16 MP front camera
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm, 169 g

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Google Pixel 2

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The Pixel 2 is Google’s latest flagship smartphone, and it’s great at just about everything. It doesn’t have as many bells or whistles as the Note 8, but if you’re in the market for a simple Android phone, the Pixel 2 is a great option.

This device has a 5-inch OLED 1080p display with a pixel density of 441 ppi. It doesn’t have a fancy 18:9 aspect ratio screen or a bezel-less design, though it does have front-facing speakers above and below the display. Inside, it comes with a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 4 GB of LPDDR4x RAM. You can buy the phone with either 64 GB or 128 GB of on board storage, but there’s no microSD card to add additional storage.

If you like taking photos with your phone, you’ll be very pleased with the Pixel 2’s 12.2 MP camera. Not only has it been named the smartphone camera on the market according to DxOMark, we found the Pixel 2’s main camera to be incredibly impressive in most situations. There’s even a portrait mode on the front and back cameras, even though the phone doesn’t have a dual-camera setup.

You might be wondering why we haven’t mentioned the Pixel 2 XL. It’s a great phone—don’t get us wrong—but just know that the XL’s display has had its fair share of issues since launch. The LG-made pOLED 6.0-inch display on the 2 XL shows off a blue tint when the phone is tilted, it’s not tuned to be as vibrant as other OLED panels, and many early adopters have already been noticing burn-in issues. Google says it will continue to combat these issues with software updates, and it’s also extended the warranty to two years. It might be put in a future update to our best unlocked Android phones list.

If you want a Pixel phone with a larger battery and can live with a mediocre display, we’d recommend going for the Pixel 2 XL—you’ll be very happy. But if you can live with a smaller battery and a smaller screen (that doesn’t have any issues), we’d recommend the Pixel 2 and is a must on our current best unlocked Android phones list.

Specs

  • 5.0-inch OLED 16:9 display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 441 ppi (Pixel 2)
    • 6.0-inch pOLED 18:9 display with 2,880 x 1,440 resolution, 538 ppi (Pixel 2 XL)
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.2 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2,700 mAh battery (Pixel 2)
    • Non-removable 3,520 mAh battery (Pixel 2 XL)
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm, 143 g (Pixel 2)
    • 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm, 175 g (Pixel 2 XL)

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There you have it – our picks of the best unlocked Android phones you can buy right now. Missed anything? Tell us in the comments!

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