No matter where you live, phone contracts and plans are an easy way to sort your phone contract. But while it may take the hassle out of the whole experience, it can often leave you spending more than you would have hoped for and 90% of the time, you'll be trapped in a long contract. Rather avoid all of that? SIM-free mobile phones could be the way to go for you.
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 11 and Galaxy S10 Plus, but also the best prices for some of the budget favorites like the cheap and powerful Moto G7 Power and now surprisingly affordable iPhone 7.
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.
1. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Samsung's newest release is its best yet
Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 9.0 (Pie) | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3040 | CPU: Octa-core Mongoose M3 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 4100mAh | Rear camera: 12 + 12 + 16MP | Front camera: 10 + 8MP
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.
2. iPhone 11
Apple's best device at a surprisingly affordable price
Screen size: 6.1-inches | Resolution: 828 x 1792 | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP | Front Camera: 12MP | Weight: 194g | OS: iOS 13 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | External storage: No | Battery: 3110mAh
Despite being Apple's latest phone, the iPhone 11 is surprisingly affordable. With an RRP of £729 this falls far below the average Apple cost and yet, its an excellent phone through and through.
You're getting a massive 3110mAh battery, a dual camera set-up and even the fastest CPU on the market. If you're looking to get Apple's latest without blowing your budget, this is the option to choose.
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
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. Samsung Galaxy Note 10
Master the 'S' pen for the ultimate phone experience
Screen size: 6.3-inches | Resolution: 1080 x 2280 | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Weight: 168g | OS: Android 9.0 (Pie) | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 3500mAh
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.
Or, if it is just outside your price range, a SIM-free Note 9 deal could be the way to go.
5. Motorola Moto G7 Power
Because frequently charging your phone is for chumps
Weight: 193g | Dimensions: 159.4 x 76 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 9.0 (Pie) | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 5000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP
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.
6. 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
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.
7. OnePlus 7T
A spec heavy phone at a surprisingly low price
Weight: 190g | Dimensions: 160.9 x 74.4 x 8.1 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.55-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 3,800mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 16MP
One of OnePlus' most recent releases, the OnePlus 7T is where affordability and top-end specs meet. You're getting a lot of the specs flagship phones possess but at a dropped price.
8. iPhone XS
One of iPhone's best devices to date
Screen size: 5.8-inches | Resolution: 1125 x 2436 | Rear camera: 12MP | Weight: 177g | OS: iOS 12 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | External storage: No | Battery: 2658mAh
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
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.
10. LG V30
Best. LG. Ever
Screen size: 6-inches | Resolution: 1440 x 2880 | Rear camera: 16MP | Weight: 158g | OS: Android 8 Oreo | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128GB | External storage: microSD up to 512GB | Battery: 3300mAh
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
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
Weight: 160g | Dimensions: 155.2 x 73.4 x 8mm | OS: Android 9.0 (Pie) | Screen size: 6.21-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 resolution | CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 710 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB (can add micro SD) | Battery: 3400mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP
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
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
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?
15. Oppo Reno
The impressive underdog of the phone world
Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 156.6 x 74.3 x 9mm | OS: Android 9.0 Pie | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 710 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 3764mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 5MP | Front camera: 16MP
The Oppo Reno is both a pretty new phone on the market and from a brand you are unlikely to have heard of. But, with Oppo holding the position as one of the top mobile phone manufacturers in the world, you can rest easy in your purchase. The Oppo Reno features all of the mid-range features you'd want from a phone with a few high-end additions to really sell it.
What are SIM-free mobile phones?
As the name implies, these are simply devices that come without a SIM card. That means that you can go out and buy your own SIM only deal, allowing you to find the cheapest prices, 1-month contracts or affordable options for big data. This can often end up leading to the cheapest overall price, as long as you don't mind paying upfront for the phone.
Can I put any SIM in a SIM-free mobile phone?
Yes, any SIM will work in a SIM-free phone. You simply need to choose which SIM works for you and then slot it into the phone. The only real exception comes from the new range of 5G SIMs. To use a 5G SIM you will need to also invest in a 5G phone deal.
Can I get a SIM-free mobile phone refurbished?
If you want to try and save a bit more money then you can always go refurbished instead. With a refurbished phone, most retailers now offer guarantees, pristine editions and the option to repair the phone if there is a problem.
Refurbished is likely the cheapest way you'll find to get a SIM-free mobile phone.
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