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.
If you're in the market to buy one of the best Android phones and want to make sure you buy unlocked, here are the best places you should buy from in 2021!
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.
From Amazon's cell phones page, you can quickly narrow down your search by all sorts of criteria, including whether or not the device is unlocked. Most phones also have a carrier compatibility check so you can know it'll work properly when it arrives. So whether you're looking for the flagship Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more affordable Pixel 4a, Amazon has you covered.
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.
From A to Z
You can find unlocked phones from just about any manufacturer you can think of at Amazon. Sort by manufacturer, price, rating, and more.
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.
More than just cameras
Attention to detail
B&H not only has some of the best camera equipment available, but it has most of the best camera phones available unlocked and at great price points.
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 conjunction with the carriers, so you can accidentally buy a phone that requires a carrier plan to make good on the price.
Get the help you need
Not only can you find almost all of the best-unlocked smartphones at Best Buy, but you can get a real person to help you set them up.
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 a 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 is its 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.
All kinds of deals
You may only know Newegg for enterprise electronics needs, but it's also a fantastic place to pick up consumer gear like a new unlocked smartphone.
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. On the contrary, 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.
As good as new
You can save even more money on a gently used smartphone at Swappa. The buying process is trustworthy and secure, and you can use your savings for some cool accessories.
Before Amazon, Walmart was the true "everything" store, and it's still the place that millions of people go to every day for essentials and electronics, including affordable smartphones and related accessories. It's also a good place to sign up for affordable mobile plans, like Walmart's own Straight Talk Wireless.
As good as new
It's good to know that you can find a great unlocked smartphone at the same place you shop for paper towels and snacks. And if you want, you can add service later through Walmart's Straight Talk MVNO.
Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
If you are looking to buy locally, best buy also sells unlocked phones, not all the brands but there is good number of them.
Best buy charges more for unlocked phones than B&H, Amazon and usually Walmart.
Example, Samsung S21 Ultra- B&H $1169; Best Buy $1249. That's been my experience with Best buy internet sales. I do state it is via internet since the nearest Best Buy to me is half a day away and last time I went there, they were totally morons about entering the store. Pandemic pansies I called them.
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