We hear a lot of talk about the benefits of buying an unlocked phone. You can use it on any network, you don't have a carrier deciding which apps are pre-installed or when you get updates, and you typically don't have to pay more for the privilege. As unlocked phones get dramatically more popular in the U.S., the number of choices for where you buy one has exploded — and as always, some are better than others.
When you want to go unlocked for your next phone purchase, these are the best places to buy.
Amazon has revolutionized the way we shop for just about anything, and that includes smartphones. You'll find phones direct from the companies that make them as well as phones from specialized importers and bulk buyers, which can offer additional savings if you do your research.
Amazon has an unlocked smartphone buying page that lets you quickly narrow down your search by all sorts of criteria and every phone is guaranteed to be unlocked. Most phones also have carrier compatibility check so you can know it'll work properly when it arrives.
Shopping at Amazon is easy (almost too easy) and safe; their buyer protection and hassle-free policies are legendary. Shipping is fast and complete with tracking so you'll know where your stuff is during the trip, and you'll also find any accessory you might need for your new phone. There is a reason Amazon has grown to be the internet's most well-known and trusted online marketplace: all the happy customers.
Photographers know that B&H is the place to go for anything and everything when it comes to camera gear, but they also have a great selection of mobile products.
B&H has phones from most manufacturers, and they can be the place to go if you're looking for those devices that have had a limited release such as Sony's high-end devices or even products you never knew existed. One thing B&H has perfected that makes shopping easy and great is the search tools on the site. Narrowing things down by price or brand or even color makes shopping simple.
Best Buy is known more for its sales of carrier devices bundled with plans, but has opened up to selling lots of unlocked phones as well. Best Buy has unlocked versions of a lot of different models right alongside carrier versions, though when you search the site it can be a little tough to differentiate them.
Make sure when you're buying that you're for sure getting an unlocked model and not one with a carrier tie-in that needs to be activated. Many of the promotional deals and sales Best Buy runs are in conjuction with the carriers, so you can accidentally buy a phone that requires a carrier plan to make good on the price.
Whenever you need anything electronic, you should check out what Newegg has before you pull out the credit card. And that includes smartphones!
You'll see listing for unlocked phones from all of the major brands, from just-released devices to popular sellers that may not be the latest thing. Plus, you'll see gear you didn't know existed as Newegg also imports unlocked phones from all over the world. For the latter, just be sure to check network compatibility, and read the warranty fine print, before buying.
Maybe the best part of shopping at Newegg are open box, refurbished and clearance deals. You'll be able to find amazing prices on products with a full warranty, including all the accessories you might need for a new phone purchase.
Sometimes when you're looking for an unlocked phone deal, it makes sense to look at second-hand devices. Swappa is the place to start your search when you want to save money by buying a used unlocked phone.
This isn't some dodgy marketplace, either. Fully protected sales through the company make user-to-user buying (and selling!) as safe as it is easy, and the phones listed are guaranteed to be gently used and in great working condition. And it's extremely clear whether you're looking at a carrier device or one that's been unlocked.
If you're in the market for a used unlocked phone, Swappa should be your first stop. It's amazing how much money you can save when your "new" phone has just been gently used by a smartphone enthusiast for a few months.
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