SIM-free mobile phones are an excellent way to get a phone that is both affordable and doesn't tie you into a lengthy contract. But with a huge amount of SIM-free devices out there, which is the best option?
Once you've picked the handset that works for you, you can then invest in some cheap SIM only deals and beat out the more expensive contract prices currently on the market.
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 mobile phone for you.
- SellMyMobile: get the best price for your old phone
Best SIM-free mobile phones:
1. iPhone 13
Apple's latest handset is a fantastic option
Screen size: 6.1-inches | Resolution: 1170 x 2532 | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP | Front Camera: 12MP | Weight: 174g | OS: iOS 15 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB/256/512GB | External storage: No | Battery: 3240mAh
Apple's latest handset, the iPhone 13 brings together all of the latest 2021 specs into an Apple handset. Despite it being Apple's latest, it is actually more affordable than last year's iPhone 12 was when it first launched.
With this device, Apple has brought the processor up to the latest A15 Bionic chip - one of the most powerful phone chips ever. On top of that, there has been a major boost to the screen quality and battery power.
However, the factor most people will be interested in is the camera. While this is very similar to the camera found on the iPhone 12, there are some key differences. The dual lens set-up remains but now that also includes better night photography and low light shots.
Overall, this is very much an incremental upgrade to Apple's device. It makes jumps in the key areas and even makes subtle changes like reducing the size of the notch. However, it is worth pointing out the iPhone 12 (listed further below) will get you a very similar performance for a much lower price.
2. Samsung Galaxy S21
A bargain price from Samsung's 2021 line-up
Screen size: 6.2-inches | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP | Weight: 169g | OS: Android 11 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4000mAh
As the latest flagship series from Samsung, the Galaxy S21 is going to be a popular choice for a lot of people. It launched with a lower RRP than the S20 before it and frequently sees big cuts in its price.
While there is a lot of upgrades in place on this device, the biggest one is the jump up to the Exynos 2100 processor. This is one of the most powerful on the market rivalling Apple's A14 Bionic chip.
This also means upgrades to other areas, giving the S21's camera a boost in power and AI functionality, allowing you to make the most of the device's 12MP wide and ultrawide lenses and the 64MP telephoto lens.
While it no longer has expandable storage and the screen isn't the best quality out there, this is certainly one of the best Android experiences around for a slightly lower price point.
3. Google Pixel 5
Yet another excellent camera phone from Google
Weight: 151g | Dimensions: 144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm | OS: Android 11 (Pie) | Screen size: 6-inches | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 765G | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4080mAh | Rear camera: 12.2MP + 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
Not only is it a 5G device, future-proofing your phone for the slow rollout of 5G, it is also easily one of the best camera phones on the market right now - mostly thanks to Google's camera AI software.
On paper, the dual camera set-up doesn't seem all that impressive, offering a 12.2MP wide lens and a 16MP ultrawide but with Google, it's all happening behind the scenes.
Google takes great shots letting in lots of colour and while it can't keep up with Samsung or Apple for zoom and video, it has editing software to beat both brands.
Looking past the camera, Google has crammed in a 4080mAh battery, a powerful Snapdragon 765G processor, a 6.0-inch OLED display with 90Hz refresh rates and of course, Google's native Android operating system.
4. iPhone 12
The latest handset from the Apple brand
Screen size: 6.1-inches | Resolution: 1170 x 2532 | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP | Weight: 164g | OS: iOS 14 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | External storage: No | Battery: 2815mAh
Apple's iPhone 12 is no longer its newest device but in many ways it could still be the best option available. That's because when the iPhone 13 came out, the iPhone 12 saw a steep drop in price.
Now only costing £679, the iPhone 12 is a whole £100 cheaper than the newer iPhone 13. Despite that, it is only one generation behind on processing power, using the A14 Bionic chip which is still one of the most powerful options around.
Because the iPhone 13 was very much just an incremental upgrade, you'll be getting a very similar performance with the iPhone 12. It's the same screen size, the battery is only slightly smaller and both feature 5G and Magsafe technology.
Overall, the iPhone 12 is a very similar option to Apple's latest with a few minor spec drops in the camera, battery and processor.
5. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Samsung's best value 2020 handset
Weight: 186g | Dimensions: 161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 12 + 64 + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP
No longer the newest device from Samsung but just like the iPhone 11 above, this is still an excellent option. This is especially true because while the Samsung S21 Plus was an upgrade in most areas...the S20 Plus is actually better in some areas.
The most obvious factor to boost the Galaxy S20 Plus above its newer replacement is its new found price. As an older handset no longer stocked directly on the Samsung website, the S20 Plus has come way down in price.
Despite that fallen price, you're getting 5G, a very competent 4500mAh battery and the use of Samsung's Exynos 990 processor. Pair that with the 120Hz refresh rate 6.7-inch AMOLED 2X display and its age doesn't hold you back from a great device.
While the newer Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus has the bigger battery and the better processor and camera, the S20 Plus has a better screen and still has expandable storage (a feature that it looks like Samsung is now abandoning) - plus you get a charger and headphones in the box!
6. OnePlus 9
A spec heavy phone at a surprisingly low price
Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.55-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP
The OnePlus 9 is one of the most recent launches from the brand and for fans of Android, this could be the perfect alternative to Samsung's leading flagships found above.
With the OnePlus 9, you're getting some fantastic specs for the price. While it will only cost you £629, it has one of the best batteries around in this area, offering an impressive life and quick charging ability.
On top of that, you're getting a high quality display, powerful processor and most importantly, an impressive camera, built in collaboration with the famous brand Hasellblad.
While it isn't the most powerful handset out there and it does lack an official IP rating, the OnePlus 9 is an overall great choice.