Hunting down the best smartphone that works for you can be distressing. We’re easily persuaded by a stylish handset design or an attractive price. Also, network operators might entice you with an unbelievable discount, or a two-year payment plan. But buying a cell phone without contract is the way to go for most people. There are tons of places to shop and lock in unlock cell phone deals.
But you’ll want to avoid making a rash impulse purchase. So, we’ve compiled the absolute best cell phones for sale without plans in the marketplace. If buying reconditioned or used cell phones work for your budget, try out these refurbished phones instead. Meanwhile, read up to know why SIM-free devices have become so popular lately, and why you need one of our top picks.
Why Buy Unlocked?
Want to know why unlocked mobile phones are the go-to handsets today? First, you can use one of the cell phones for sale without plans on multiple networks. Wireless carriers often provide flagship smartphones on a payment plan when they go on sale.
While it’s affordable if you can’t buy the device with a single installment, it is extremely costly to get it on contract. Moreover, the phone comes locked to that carrier’s network. The law requires wireless providers to unlock your cellphone eventually, to let you switch networks. However, it is can be such an ordeal.
It’ll be a lot easier to get an unlocked handset and pair it with a discounted prepaid cell phone plan. So, always try to buy your phone outright or make sure the ad says the device is unlocked. If you feel the full price is too expensive to get in one installment, it might be time to consider a cheaper model.
1. Nokia 5.3
Pay less than two hundred dollars to get an all-day battery life, solid performance, and failsafe software updates from Android One. With its competitive price point and faster chipset, this phone earns its place on this roundup of the best affordable SIM-free smartphones.
2. Moto G Stylus
Getting a stylus smartphone doesn’t mean spending big bucks on a handset like the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The Moto G Stylus is hundreds of dollars cheaper and you’ll find a handy stylus with the phone. Although it does not give you the same functionality as the S Pen, you can still use the style to take notes on the smartphone’s screen without having to go through a full unlock. Besides, you can edit pics and take screenshots with the help of the stylus.
3. Moto G Power
For just under $200, Motorola’s Moto G Power is an inexpensive smartphone with an outstanding battery capacity. But there are more reasons this Android device made our best cheap unlocked phones roundup. The G Power is powered by a really powerful Snapdragon processor and lets you view crystal clear objects on its HD resolution screen.
4. TCL 10L
An affordable cellphone does not have to look cheap. That’s why the TCL 10L delivers an impressive, Full High-Definition display and a host of attractive features. All these can be had for less than $250.
5. Motorola Moto e
If you thought the Moto G Power was the best budget-friendly model from Motorola, wait till you see the Moto e. It is the brand’s cheapest good smartphone and comes with a huge display plus an attractive, robust design. The performance is quite decent for the price.
6. iPhone SE
The 2020 iPhone SE is the best cheap smartphone that is not meant to be inexpensive. For less than $400, this Apple device delivers the same impressive performance as the iPhone 11 Pro courtesy of an A13 Bionic processor. And with that chip, the iPhone SE offers extremely good photo capabilities you won’t find in the majority of budget Android smartphones.
7. Google Pixel 4a 5G
Offering the same impressive camera features of the flagship Google Pixel 4, this 2020 Pixel 4A 5G is still a great choice for snapping excellent night pics courtesy of the Night Sight tech. And the smooth internal performance with an all-day battery makes it an amazing budget phone.
8. TCL 10 Pro
When shopping for the best cheap phones, you’ll only find a few 5G-capable devices on that list and this TCL 10 5G UW is one of them. Although 5G capabilities can be an expensive add-on, this TCL 10 Pro won’t overwhelm your pocket. As such, you can connect to Verizon’s solid nationwide 5G network for less than $500.
9. Samsung Galaxy A51
For less than $300, this unlocked Galaxy A51 offers more value than its Galaxy A50 predecessor with an impressive AMOLED display, decent internal storage, and quad-lens camera. It is a great choice if you want an attractive mid-range phone that rivals the latest iPhone SE.
10. OnePlus 8 Pro
If you are in the market for the best cheap unlocked cell phones that’ll rival popular brand names, the OnePlus 8 might just fit your bill. Going with a little lower RRP, this 5G capable device delivers smooth operations with an impressive refresh rate on its brilliant Q-High-Definition display. You can also enjoy full LTE and CDMA compatibility on its standby dual SIMS.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. There are many ways to get cell phones without buying a phone plan. Consider buying directly from the manufacturer or check with online retailers for SIM-free smartphone deals. Moreover, most refurbished and used cell phones don’t come with a plan.
Paying upfront is the cheapest way to buy a cell phone. This is because most installment plans often cost more down the line than the phone’s actual value. However, it will also depend on what works best for you. If you cannot afford to come up with a single one-off payment, then an installment plan might just be what you need.
You can get a free phone without a contract by signing up for free government smartphones under the Lifeline program. Another way would be to look for wireless carriers offering free phones to switch to their networks.
It depends. Buying an iPhone outright would be the best option if you can afford the one-time payment because you’ll have the freedom to use the device on multiple carriers. On the other hand, if you cannot raise the funds to buy an iPhone outright, then going on a plan will be better for you.
Sure. There are plenty of used phones for sale that will pass for pristine editions. Also, getting a pre-owned handset will cost less, especially if you are shopping on a budget. However, all used phones for sale are not the same. We recommend using legit sites like Amazon, eBay, and Best Buy to get your money’s worth.
As you’ve seen, there are plenty of cell phones for sale without plans in the marketplace. And as the name suggests, you’ll get these devices without a SIM card. That sounds like good news because there are plenty of SIM-only-deals to be had, letting you get the cheapest rates. Better still, you can opt for one-month contracts or pick inexpensive options with most data. In this way, you will always end up with the least overall price, provided you’re willing to pay upfront for your smartphone.
And if you are looking to save more, we encourage you to try refurbished models. You will get a pristine edition with guarantees, as well as the choice of phone repairs if there are any technical issues. The cheapest way to land a solid deal on a SIM-free smartphone is to go the reconditioned way.