The 15 best unlocked SIM-free mobile phones – prices in September 2019
Phone contracts are always readily available but if the idea of being caught up in a complicated two year contract is the ultimate put off, a SIM-free mobile phone could be just what you need. Grab one of these and you can get your ideal phone without the overwhelming two year clock running in the back of your mind.
Here, we’ve tracked down all of the best SIM-free mobile phones and listed them in our order of what you should go for. We’ll give you the run down on not only the premium phones like the iPhone XS and Galaxy S10 Plus, but also the best prices for some of the budget favorites like the cheap Moto G6 and modern classic iPhone SE.
SIM-free mobile phones have become increasingly popular in the last few years. When flagship phones go on sale, it’s usually very expensive to get them on contract. It can be a lot cheaper to buy the phones SIM-free and unlocked and pair them with a bargain SIM only deal. But the RRPs of phones direct from the manufacturer are very rarely the cheapest way to get hold of your shiny new smartphone. And that’s where TechRadar comes in…
So take a look through our top 15 SIM-free mobile phones, with an excerpt from our full reviews in case you’re still umm-ing and ah-ing. And for a quickfire rundown, you can scroll to the bottom of this page and use our bespoke price comparison chart to find the perfect SIM-free bargain for you.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is a superb phone, in fact it’s probably one of the best phones out right now. If you want it SIM-free you’re going to have to pay around £899 right now, the device is still incredibly new so hopefully that price will drop soon. Don’t worry though, if that’s way too much there are some great cheaper options further down the page – and the Galaxy S10e is a brilliant budget alternative.
The iPhone XR is the cheaper, younger brother to Apple’s recent iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Where the iPhone XS Max and XS are pretty pricey, the iPhone XR is an ideal mix of power, design and a reasonable price point. Because of that indelible combo, this instantly became our favorite iPhone on its release to the world in October 2018.
3. Huawei P30 Pro
Google camera quality has met its match
Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm | OS: Android 9.0 (Pie) | Screen size: 6.47-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 980 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4200mAh | Rear camera: 40 + 20 + 8MP | Front camera: 32MP
Eye catching design
Incredible battery life
No 3.55m headphone jack
There is no doubt that every year, Huawei moves up the ladder. Now, with the Huawei P30 Pro, it has taken the spot of one of the best phones on the market. We would say it is now the best camera phone available, beating out the Google Pixel 3. Combing power, beauty and a big battery, this is a phone that isn’t easy to beat.
4. iPhone 7
Apple quality without the high-end iPhone cost
Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 640 x 1136 | CPU: Apple A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64GB | Battery: 1624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Cheap for an iPhone
Simple to use
Just like the iPhone 6 but better
Lacks top features
You might be thinking, on a guide like this with some of the world’s best phones – what’s the iPhone 7 doing here? Well, with all of the other devices having some slightly less than affordable pricetag, the iPhone 7 fills that smartphone shaped hole in your life without hitting you with a hefty price tag.
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10
Master the ‘S’ pen for the ultimate phone experience
Samsung’s latest and greatest, the Galaxy Note 10 has garnered a lot of hype for good reason. The huge 6.3-inch ‘Infinity Display,’ is of top quality, giving the best viewing experiences. Paired with the 8GB RAM innards go like a train and there are three best-in-class rear cameras. It’s expensive, but we think the Note 10 is well worth the money.
Affordable pricing, high gaming performance and a staggering 5000mAh battery – what else could it be but the Motorola Moto G7 Power. This phone is what happens when a company tries to cram a giant battery into a budget phone. However, not only did they manage that but they also managed to do it with some grace, decorum and impressive design. Considering it’s affordable pricing this is a phone full of surprises.
7. OnePlus 6T
A cheaper alternative to the high prices of today’s flagships
Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm | OS: Android 9.0 Pie | Screen size: 6.41-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 3,700mAh | Rear camera: 20MP + 16MP | Front camera: 16MP
Premium design and feel
Powerful rear camera
No 3.5mm headphone jack
There’s no doubt about it, the OnePlus 6T is one of the very best Android phones on the market. If you choose your mobiles based on the quality of the camera, then the incredible dual-lens snapper will float your boat. The design and performance is in the same echelons as the Google Pixel 3 and some Huawei devces, and yet the price is so much better.
The iPhone XS is by far one of Apple’s greatest products to date. It has a very smart camera, is about as powerful an iPhone as you can get and has really impressive speakers. However, with all of these advancements and the bigger size of the handsets it carries a pretty hefty price tag which is why it has featured so far down this list. Apart from the price though it is an all round winner.
9. Google Pixel 3a
Be a camera pro without the staggering price tag
Weight: 147g | Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2mm **Screen size:** 5.6-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2220 **RAM:** 4GB | Storage: 64/128MB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP
Affordable price tag
No wireless charging
The Google Pixel 3 is an excellent device but the price is still just slightly too high. With that in mind we’re big fans of the more affordable Google Pixel 3a. Taking those impressive camera abilities the regular Pixel 3 had but slamming the price way down and increasing the battery, this is a phone not to miss out on.
Usually we herald LG’s flagship G series as the go to smartphone from the brand, but the LG V30 that it brought out in 2017 is so damn good that we have to point you in its direction instead. The dazzling 1440 x 2880 screen is a particular strength and you immediately feel on first use that your handling an Android device no less premium than something of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s ilk. Its age means that the price is now beginning to slide, and we’re confident you’ll love it.
11. Honor 20
A mid-range price with an impressive camera
Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 154.3 x 74 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 9.0 Pie | Screen size: 6.26-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 980 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3,750mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 2MP + 2MP dual lens | Front camera: 32MP
Strong camera specs
OS isn’t the nicest
Getting a top of the range smartphone is becoming less and less financially achievable as time goes on, so why not get a phone that simply mimics a flagship? The Honor 20 is a device sporting impressive camera specs and for its price, a surprisingly powerful processor.
And for those that find the phone lacking slightly, an upgrade to a Honor 20 Pro deal could solve your issues…for an increased price of course.
12. Huawei P Smart (2019)
A smartly designed phone that won’t break the bank
The second iteration of this device (yes, that explains the date in the name), the Huawei P Smart has had time to mature and grow. Now, it comes with an impressive battery, ample storage, a pretty decent camera and most importantly, a price tag you really can’t grumble at.
13. Samsung Galaxy S9
A sold smartphone in every category
Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8 (Oreo) | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 resolution | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB with micro SD | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP
Awesome low light photography
High quality screen
Not hugely different to S8
Since the Samsung Galaxy S9 phone came out, Samsung has been on a bit of a mission to release as many phones as possible. We’ve seen well over 10 Samsung phones since this which means, the S9 is now incredibly affordable. It rocks a lot of the specs and features you would want from a flagship – impressive camera, strong battery and infinity screen included, but keeps a relatively low price.
14. Nokia 3310
A throwback to phones of yore…when batteries lasted more than a day
Weight: 79.6g | Dimensions: 115.6 x 51 x 12.8 mm **Screen size:** 2.4-inch | Resolution: 320 x 240 **RAM:** 16MB | Storage: 16MB | Battery: 1200mAh | Rear camera: 2MP
Only 2.5G coverage
Welcome back, old friend! Pure nostalgia may be the primary jet-fuel that makes this revamped classic fly off the shelves, but for such a low price the Nokia 3310 may genuinely suit you as a second device to take to festivals or keep in your bag for emergencies. It’s some way off the capabilities of actual smartphones, but…well, did we mention Snake?
The BlackBerry KEY2 is a sophisticated smartphone made for business – sound familiar? Yep, this is classic BlackBerry territory and it hosts a physical keyboard for a modern Android audience. The QWERTY keyboard offers more than just nostalgia, while the smart and secure software will give businesses some peace of mind. Just know that the mid-range specs will only get you so far, as will the so-so entertainment capabilities.