Best buy unlocked prepaid phones

Best buy unlocked prepaid phones DEFAULT

My, my, how things have changed.

The way it used to be

Any phone you wanted to buy in the US was tied to your carrier and a two-year contract. But in the last several years (prodded by T-Mobile), the marketplace has burst wide open.

Today

  • Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all sell phones contract-free at full retail price (in addition to phones with payment plans)
  • Retailers like Amazon and Best Buy sell handsets you buy first, which you can then activate with carrier service after
  • Phone makers like Motorola and Google sell handsets directly to you from their own websites

The vast majority of phone owners still buy phones from a carrier, but there's a lot more freedom and interest in no-contract and unlocked phones. This is good news for all of us because we now have more options than what you can get only in your carrier store. Some of which are quite affordable.

First, some quick definitions so we're all on the same page, and then a list of my favorite unlocked phones that you can buy today.

Editors' note:This piece was originally published on November 6, , and is updated regularly.

What's an unlocked phone again?

An unlocked phone is one that isn't tied, or "locked" to a single carrier. That means you can pop in a SIM card for AT&T, for instance, swap it out for a T-Mobile SIM, and it'll still work. There's no artificial barrier that keeps you from using the phone on any other network simply because the carrier wants to forcibly keep you (and your phone) as a customer.

But. That doesn't mean that every unlocked phone you can buy is free and clear to use on any carrier, especially if you're buying a global handset that wasn't intended to work in the US (like if it's sold in Europe and Asia, and you buy it on Craigslist or eBay). You'll still need to check to make sure that your preferred network is compatible with your phone (look into the phone's connectivity and band support). 

Now playing:Watch this: What to look for when buying a phone

For an overly simplistic example, if the carrier only uses band X and the phone only uses band Y, the phone isn't going to work with that carrier (you'd still be able to use it over Wi-Fi, of course). Depending on the technology, some unlocked phones you can buy will only work with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. Others will work with all of the Big Four and their prepaid branches -- for example Boost and Virgin Mobile for Sprint, Cricket Wireless for AT&T, and MetroPCS for T-Mobile.

Are unlocked and no-contract phones the same?

They can be, but there's a distinction. A no-contract phone is one that doesn't require you to sign a carrier agreement in order to buy and use it, so when the phone's paid off, it's yours. Most carriers now sell a no-contract option, either with our without a payment plan. When it's paid off, you can also ask the carrier to unlock it for you, so you can (potentially) use it with another phone network. 

While most unlocked phones are also no-contract, it's common enough that one carrier will sell the phone exclusively (not other carrier store stocks it), but you're often able to buy the phone from the manufacturer as well. 

For example, if you buy the Motorola Moto Z2 Play from Verizon, you won't be able to use it on any carrier you want. But if you buy the unlocked version of that same phone from Motorola, it will work with all US carriers.

Is there a downside to unlocked phones?

A few cons balance out the pros. You won't be able to walk into a carrier store to get support (you'll need to contact the manufacturer instead) if something goes wrong. And you won't be able to use carrier-specific services like Wi-Fi calling or HD voice.

The best unlocked phones, according to us

Google Pixel and Pixel XL

If you want to buy a Pixel through a network, Verizon has the carrier exclusive ($). But if you're the more adventurous type, you can also go to Google's website or Best Buy to get either Android phone on its own or with Google's Project Fi SIM. (Project Fi uses available spectrum from T-Mobile, Sprint and local Wi-Fi.) You aren't tied to Fi either. 

Carriers like AT&T lure over Pixel owners with promises of a deal, or you could pop in another carrier SIM on your own. Google is expecting to update the Pixel around October. 

Read CNET's full Google Pixel review. 


iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

You can buy the iPhone with practically any carrier. But did you also know you can get it unlocked? Head over to Apple's store (online or retail) and when you get to the carrier option, choose "buy without a carrier". Apple will ship it to you unlocked and SIM-free, so you can add your own SIM card for any carrier. 

Read our full iPhone 7 review.


OnePlus wait for it

OnePlus has been consistently churning out our favorite midprice phones for the last two years. So this phone, which you can buy from OnePlus or Amazon, is one we'd ordinarily jump up to suggest. 

However, OnePlus is days away from replacing it with the OnePlus 5, which will be the first OnePlus phone to feature two cameras on the back. 

While you wait, read up on the OnePlus 3T. 


Motorola Moto G5 Plus

This is the best budget phone, period. Starting at $, the G5 Plus is a heavy hitter that punches far above its weight. 

True, your photos are never going to be as good, your speeds never as fast as on an $ device, but everything about the G5 Plus is solid, and your compromises are surprisingly few, especially for the sub-$ price. Snag one from Motorola's website. 

Read the full Moto G5 Plus review here.


Motorola Moto Z2 Play

To go a little more upmarket, the Z2 Play is a great midrange handset that works with Motorola's snap-on magnetic Mods. 

If you're looking to skip Verizon, just apply a little patience. The satisfying all-arounder will pop up on Motorola's website in July, and you can use it with any US carrier. 

Read the full Moto Z2 Play review here.


Huawei Mate 9

We loved this Android phone's large screen, dual camera setup, powerful processor and long battery life. 

It's fully unlocked with a US warranty, so you're not taking chances on an unknown if something goes wrong. Amazon, Best Buy and Jet.com are three places where you'll be able to pick it up. 

Read CNET's Huawei Mate 9 review.


HTC U11

Give the gorgeous U11 a squeeze to open the camera, or flashlight or your favorite app. The beautiful inch Android phone also takes nice photos on the front and back, and has a zippy processor. 

If you're not with Sprint, you can buy it unlocked for $ from HTC.com or carrier versions on Amazon that will work with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, too. 

Read our HTC U11 impressions here.


Huawei Honor 8

For about $ (now), you're getting a smooth midrange phone with two megapixel cameras, and a fingerprint reader that doubles as a customizable button. 

Although it's behind with Android , it's easy to use one-handed and is overall a comfortable phone. The next-gen version, the Honor 9, has just been announced for China, but we aren't sure when and if we'll see it come to the US. 

You'll buy it from Huawei's store, Amazon or Best Buy. Read the full review here.

Article updated June 14, , at a.m. PT to include the Apple iPhone.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/best-cheap-phones-without-contract/

The best cell phone deals for October

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Whether you're an Apple fan or an Android aficionado, you'll find all of this week's best cell phone deals all rounded up right here on this page. We've searched every carrier and trusted retailer to come up with some handy recommendations, which are great whether you're looking for a cheap unlocked device, an upgrade, or even a new cell phone plan.

This week's cell phone deals include some new additions! The Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are now available to pre-order at leading carriers and retailers with some exceptional opening promotions. The OnePlus 9 is also now just $, giving Android fans not one, but two fantastic flagships to consider in the midrange now.

Generally speaking, you'll find cell phone deals coming in two forms - first as an outright sale on an unlocked device, and secondly as part of a carrier-plan tie-in. The latter can be a bit tricky, involving new cell phone plans and also trade-ins on old devices, but the savings can be absolutely huge if you're eligible. We've also included a third alternative option - cell phone deals from prepaid carriers. These smaller carriers don't tend to offer huge savings on a device, but you'll generally be scoring a much cheaper cell phone plan so it's worth considering the switch for sure.

As you'd expect, with the launch of the iPhone 13 it's a great time to be checking out cell phone deals. Not only do we have four new devices hitting the market right now, but the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 are now a whole $ cheaper than they were a month ago across the board. Recent Android flagship launches from Samsung and OnePlus have also given us some very, very high-end choices as well as price cuts on older models.

We've rounded up our top picks just down below, but if you're looking for something a little more specific, we've also got individual sections for carrier deals, unlocked phones, and prepaid phones. Simply scroll down or use the handy navigation links to jump to the section that's relevant to you.

Today's best cell phone deals at a glance

Carrier phone deals

Sours: https://www.techradar.com/deals/mobile-phone-deals
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You've picked out the phone you want to buy, but the decision-making process is far from over. One big choice is whether to buy an unlocked phone or one tied to a carrier. For many people, there's a lot of ambiguity about how unlocked phones work and the benefits they offer. To help guide you through the world of unlocked phones, we answer some the most common questions as well as dispel some myths.

What is an unlocked phone?

An unlocked phone is not tied to a specific phone carrier and can be used on any carrier you choose. That means:

• You have more models of phones to choose from than what the carriers offer.

• When traveling, you can easily use international SIM cards.

• You can switch carriers without penalty.

• Since it's unlocked, it usually has a higher resale value.

The caveat is that you might not get every network feature, like Wi-Fi calling or HD voice, and the carrier won't guarantee that the voice or data network will work perfectly on your phone. In other words, you're on your own.

What are the different ways I can buy a new phone?

There are three ways:

Phone makers and retailers sell both unlocked phones and locked carrier phones. For example, Apple sells an unlocked version of its iPhone X, but it also sells models that are tied to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. Best Buy sells an unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy S9 ($ at Walmart) as well as locked versions for different carriers.

How are phones locked to a carrier?

The short answer is software. Phones tied to a specific carrier are locked by carrier software. An unlocked phone doesn't have that software.

But don't fret, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act lets you unlock your carrier phone once you've paid for it fully and finished any contracts or agreements.

What's the difference between an unlocked phone and a universal model?

An unlocked phone is a phone that is not tied to any specific carrier, while a universal phone is not tied to any specific network.

In many cases, phones are both unlocked and universal.

Smartphones are designed to work on either GSM or CDMA phone networks -- think AM versus FM radio. Here in the US for example, AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM networks while Sprint and Verizon use CDMA. A universal phone can be used on any of those networks.

For years, unlocked phones were almost exclusively GSM. But recently, more smartphones are universal, like the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 and Moto G6. When in doubt, always check with the phone manufacturer or your carrier for compatibility.

Is it cheaper to buy a phone from my carrier or the phone maker?

It actually costs the same. For example, a brand new 64GB iPhone X is $ from both Apple and the carriers. Obviously, this doesn't include sales or promotions.

apple-iphoneproductjpg

Are all phone models sold through both phone makers and carriers?

No. Some brands, like Moto and Huawei, sell phones only from their websites or through retailers like Best Buy and Amazon. It's the same deal with Google's Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. If you want to buy it directly from a carrier, you have one choice: Verizon. But Google's online store also sells an unlocked version which works on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The big advantage here is that buying an unlocked model from a phone maker gives you access to a larger variety of phone models compared with the smaller selection of handsets that carriers typically offer.

If I buy a phone unlocked, can I really use it on any carrier?

Yes and no. For example, if you buy a Google Pixel directly from Google, it's unlocked and can be used on any major carrier simply by putting a SIM card in it. However, if you bought a OnePlus 6 directly from OnePlus, it too is unlocked, but can only be used on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile in the US -- it won't support Sprint or Verizon's network bands.

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The four major carriers each have Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) pages where you can double check the device you want to use on a carrier. Going back to that OnePlus 6, when I checked its credentials on Verizon's BYOP page, it let me know that the OnePlus 6 was not compatible with its network.

If I buy a phone online and bring it to my carrier, does it really cost the same as buying it from a carrier directly?

It really does.

What if I can't afford the full cost of the phone upfront?

Many people prefer to finance a new phone instead of paying full price for it upfront. Phone makers and phone carriers offer promotional credit plans to cover the price of your phone. Keep in mind, this financing is in addition to what you pay monthly to a phone carrier for a data plan.

Does financing cost more in the long run?

That depends on your credit. Phone makers and major carriers offer promotional credit financing at 0 percent interest (usually over 24 months). Obviously, if your credit is not great, your interest rate will be higher and in turn you will pay more for your phone. It's worth noting that some credit offers require a cash deposit in addition to financing the cost of your phone -- again this is all dependent on your credit history.

What if I sign up for a plan like Apple's iPhone Upgrade Plan?

The iPhone Upgrade Plan is a great option for those wanting both an iPhone and AppleCare+. A 64GB iPhone X ($) and AppleCare+ ($) will cost you $1, The upgrade plan offers month financing for $/month ($1, over two years).

Apple will let you upgrade to a new iPhone as early as six months -- you just have to pay off half of the phone's cost and trade it back into Apple.

Keep in mind, the phone is unlocked but must be activated in an Apple Store on one for the four major carriers. Also, the finance payment you're making to Apple is in addition to the cost of a monthly data plan. AppleCare+ has additional charges if you actually end up using it: a $29 fee for screen damage and a $99 fee for other damage.

Once I buy a phone direct, how do I activate it on the carrier?

Go to the carrier's BYOP page to check the compatibility of your new phone with the carrier's network -- ideally before you purchase the phone. If things are compatible, you'll be prompted to choose a data plan.

Here are links to the BYOP pages from the four major carriers in the US:

What's this activation fee carriers want to charge me?

All of the carriers (except T-Mobile) charge you a one-time fee for activating a new phone or other device on their network. AT&T charges $25, Verizon and Sprint $ T-Mobile doesn't have an activation fee, though the carrier does charge $25 for a SIM card kit.

How am I going to remember all this?

The good news is you don't have to. Just know that there are no financial advantages to buying a phone from a manufacturer or from a carrier -- locked or unlocked. The real advantage to buying a phone from a carrier is the convenience of doing it all at once. While the advantages of an unlocked phone are that you have more say over which carrier you want to use as well as a wider selection of phone models.

First published Feb. 17, at a.m. PT.

Update, July 9, at a.m.: Updates carrier Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) pages

Follow the Money: This is how digital cash is changing the way we save, shop and work.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/unlocked-phones-vs-locked-ones-everything-you-need-to-know/
Unlocked Phone Benefits - Best Buy

The 8 Best Places to Buy Phones in

FAQs

What is the best place to buy unlocked cell phones?
Amazon is one of the best sources if you're looking for unlocked cell phones. Most major manufacturers have unlocked models of their devices, meaning you can use the phone on all major U.S. carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile/Sprint, and Verizon. Amazon has a wide range of flagship devices, mid-range, and budget devices which are available unlocked. Buying them allows you to use your own SIM card and service of your choice.

What is the best place to buy used cell phones?
eBay is a good source for buying used phones. If you're on a tight budget and don't need the latest and greatest, a used phone is a good way to save some money. On eBay you can find many used phones being sold. Sellers have to upload photos and should also list the condition the device is in. Other options for used phones include Swappa, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and pawn shops.

What is the best place to buy cell phone insurance?
If you want to keep your phone protected from drops, damage, and theft, a cell phone insurance plan can give you some peace of mind. Our roundup of the best cell phone insurance providers has a good list of options for people with multiple devices, people on a budget, families, and more. Some credit cards also offer phone insurance, so that's something you may want to check with your provider.

Sours: https://www.lifewire.com/best-places-to-buy-cell-phones

Unlocked prepaid buy phones best

Considerations of using an unlocked phone

Does Verizon support unlocked phones?

It’s illegal in the U.S. to unlock a phone without the carrier’s consent, so never pay a 3rd party who promises to hack the lock code. But don’t worry — carriers must give the code to consumers at no cost, so long as they meet certain criteria.

Among wireless carriers, Verizon provides an unlocking policy that’s both generous and straightforward. To combat theft and fraud, Verizon locks all prepaid and postpaid devices for 60 days (check out the full Device Unlocking Policies). After that time, Verizon automatically removes the lock and will not lock phones again at any time.

An exemption to Verizon’s day lock period is provided to military personnel who receive relocation orders outside of Verizon coverage area. In this case, contact Verizon’s Customer Service to unlock a device at any time and suspend service.

The Verizon BYOD Program (Bring Your Own Device).

Have an unlocked smartphone you own and love? You bring the phone, Verizon supplies the plan — and a $ prepaid Mastercard when you switch (plus another $ if you switch your tablet, too).

Activate your existing eligible smartphone on a new Verizon prepaid or postpaid plan, transfer your number from any wireless carrier and then visit vzw.com/digitalrebatecenter to redeem this special offer within 30 days. 

To ensure voice and data work properly, only select BYOD devices with approved hardware and software for use on the Verizon Wireless network. To see whether your unlocked phone meets the criteria, check our Bring Your Own Device page.

Sours: https://www.verizon.com/articles/whats-an-unlocked-phone/
Unlocked Phone Benefits - Best Buy

Best cell phone deals in October

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By Louis Ramirez

The best cell phone deals on our favorite smartphones

Cell phone deals are easy to find these days. Whether you're looking for unlocked phones, prepaid phones, or the best cheap phones worth buying, retailers have made it easier than ever to score cheap cell phone deals any time of the year. 

However, when shopping for cell phone deals it's important to first figure out what kind of deal you want. Sales generally fall into three categories: locked phones, prepaid phones, and those tied to a carrier. You'll pay more out of pocket for the former, but the other two options essentially tie you down to one carrier. 

To help you find the best sales, we're rounding up the best cell phone deals for every kind of user. From the latest iPhone 12 to the budget friendly Google Pixel, here are the best cell phone deals right now. 

Best cell phone deals right now

Carrier cell phone deals

Unlocked cell phone deals

As deals editor at Tom’s Guide, Louis is constantly looking for ways to avoid paying full price for the latest gadgets. With over 10 years of deals-hunting experience, Louis price checks against multiple retailers and searches high and low for the best deals to bring readers. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Louis is also an avid swimmer and marathoner. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, CNET, and Time Out New York.

Sours: https://www.tomsguide.com/deals/best-cell-phone-deals

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