Best unlocked phones that work on Verizon, T-Mobile or AT&T out of the box
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Most people in the US get their phones through one of the major carriers in the country but in recent years there's been a change looming. More and more people are exploring different ways to acquire their new phone, and this simply means that people need unlocked phones that are able to work on all the carriers.
Qualcomm and other cellular modem manufacturers have gotten the hold of packing dozens of LTE and 5G bands into a single chip. Smartphone manufacturers are starting to ride the wave and offer unlocked phones that work with any US cellular network out of the box, including Verizon. Here are the best of those unlocked phones you can get right now.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Due to the integrated 5G modem, the unlocked Galaxy S22 Ultra supports all US carrier bands out of the box, and you can get it at the links below. What's in store for us with the older Galaxy S21 Ultra, and how has Samsung improve it in comparison with the now ancient S20 Ultra predecessor and its lack of camera focus? Check out our Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra piece for more information.
You can get the Galaxy S21 Ultra if you like but the price is comparable to the newer model, so no point in that exercise unless new deals pop up into existence. Nevertheless, if you for some reason like the S21 Ultra better, it will absolutely work with every carrier in the US.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro/Max
Apple was late to the 5G game, but came out swinging with the iPhone 12 series back in 2020. The phones supported a record number of 5G bands, and people who opt to buy the 12 enjoyed compatibility with each and every US carrier. Of course, if you want the absolute best - you should snatch an iPhone 13 Pro Max but it's hard to find it unlocked, and if you're not sure how these models stack against each other, be sure to check out our iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro Max article. Check out some iPhone 12 deals below, and decide for yourself.
Google Pixel 6 Pro
With excellent performance, good battery life, superb P-OLED display, and a great camera package, the Pixel 6 Pro brings back the "wow" factor that was somewhat lost in the most recent Pixel phones. The Pixel 6 Pro is certainly a device that isn’t late to the game, but instead up there with the competition, while simultaneously keeping the pricing surprisingly adequate and attaining an insane bang for the buck.
Starting at $899, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is the best premium Android smartphone money can buy in 2022, and certainly the best phone Google has made so far, more than a viable alternative to the iPhones and Galaxies out there.
The more affordable Pixel 6 is an affordable flagship phone that encompasses all the things that made the Pixel 6 Pro great and making them available at a lower, much more affordable price tag. Priced at $600 and coming with a Tensor chipset along with a 6.4-inch 90Hz display, it's a phone with a noteworthy 50MP camera that's highly dependable in all kinds of scenarios.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ and S21
What once was a flagship is now a midranger. That's the alternative to the Moore's Law in the smartphone realm. The small and middle children of the S21 family is as capable as they come and even though they are a generation behind, you can't go wrong with either of them. Compared to its direct threat, the 6.7" iPhone 12 Pro Max, for instance, the Galaxy S21+ offers more features, like a display with high 120Hz refresh rate, at a tad lower price. The fused camera island corner design is also more interesting than what the cartoonish matte/gloss undertaking that the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers, so it's a no brainer if you want to jump ship despite the crop zoom it uses instead of a telephoto camera.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The worst kept secret in the mobile world is no longer such, as Samsung's glasstic Galaxy S21 FE is now finally official after months of extensive leaks. The phone that's carefully straddling the line between mid-rangers and those premium flagships will start at $699 for the 6GB RAM/128GB storage version, while $769 will get you a Galaxy S21 FE with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That's mostly similar to what the initial retail pricing of the Galaxy S20 FE was, so Samsung is keeping its Fan Edition pricing policy in check.
Despite the delays, the Galaxy S21 FE has shaped up to be an intriguing phone whose existence has only been marred by its close competitors, namely coming from Samsung itself. Powered by the Snapdragon 888 chipset and featuring a rare 3X optical camera telephoto, the Galaxy S21 FE is a good choice for those not phased by the upcoming Galaxy S22 series.
Apple iPhone 12
Not only is this pretty boy the best value-for-money iPhone in the new 12 series, as it carries most of the Pro features without the price tag, but it is also the most future-proof 5G handset. With the support of the new C-bands that are acquired or will be auctioned off to Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile, it is the one piece of hardware to get if you want to take advantage of the 5G buildouts that are yet to happen in the next year or two in the US.
Google Pixel 6
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Yes, it can be found at a sub-$600 mark, and, yes, it is every bit as capable as an S20, and even more so, as it offers true optical zoom lens on the back. With a huge battery and 1080p display, it goes where the S20+ doesn't with the same 4500mAh pack, and is one of the best value-for-money unlocked phones you can get in the US, directly from Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy A51
The Galaxy A51 has some of the best pocket cameras you can always carry with you at the current steeply discounted $250 price. Samsung also equipped it with a fast chipset, stereo speakers, and added great looks and ergonomics to the mix. The experience of setting up Samsung's phones to work on any US carrier is a piece of cake as they come packing a wide variety of bands when you buy their unlocked versions from the link below.
Apple iPhone 8 to 11
The iPhones 8 (for the nostalgia-driven) to 11 are currently sitting in Apple's low- to mid-range, and are very carrier-friendly, with more than 20 supported LTE bands. Apple started this trend by providing a record number of LTE band support with each and every iPhone iteration since the 5s, and we are now at the 40+ band mark with the unlocked iPhone 12 models, which the globetrotter or carrier hopper in you will surely appreciate.
Read more: Apple iPhone 11 review
Google Pixel 4a
The Google Pixel 4a follows up on the popularity of the affordable Pixel 3a, which brought most of Android best at a competitive price point. The budget 4a is an even better deal, with Google bringing a surprising amount of polish for just $300 in the promo below. Between its excellent camera, good display, and competent specs, the Pixel 4a is an incredible value and a triumphant addition to Google’s smartphone legacy.
Read more: Google Pixel 4a review
Motorola Moto G Stylus, G Play, and G Power 2021
The Moto G line has some of the few phones that come with a built-in stylus, like the G Stylus 2021 but that’s not the only thing the new mid-range Moto G 2021 models have going for them. For the purpose of this roundup, the unlocked models you can buy below support all US carrier bands, for starters. Moreover, the phones deliver hiccup-free performance, good photos and videos, and even great audio quality.
Apple iPhone SE 2020
The iPhone SE 2020 is an wolf in sheep's clothing, holding mighty power under its inconspicuous iPhone 8 exterior and modest $399 pricing. The sheer fact, however, that the iPhone SE 2020 is 99% iPhone 8 means that Apple may have managed to keep a larger profit margin on the handset that it does with the iPhone 11 family. Still, you are getting one of the best cameras and certainly the most powerful processor in the budget class.
Read more: Apple iPhone SE 2020 review
Read more: Apple iPhone SE 2020 review
So there you have it. There are plenty of choices when it comes to unlocked phones for the US market. Basically, you can't go wrong with any of the last two generations from the major players - Apple, Samsung, Google.