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SIM-free mobile phones - the 15 best devices and prices for September 2022

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?

Of course, this is going to completely depend on whether or not you're after something on a budget, or something super-powerful (the iPhone 13 or Samsung S21, maybe?).

Whichever route you're looking to go down, we've picked out our top 15 choices for the best SIM-free phones including the budget iPhone SE, the camera king Google Pixel 5 and more.

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.

Best SIM-free mobile phones:

iPhone 13 blue

(Image credit: Apple)

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

Powerful specs
Strong battery life
Stylish design
Minimal changes over 12

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.

Samsung Galaxy S21 deals

(Image credit: Samsung)

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

Surprisingly affordable
Powerful new processor
Impressive camera set-up
Screen quality could be better

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

Excellent camera
Affordable pricing
Clean Android interface
No telephoto lens

The latest flagship device from the Google brand, the Pixel 5 combines everything that is good about Google into a neat package.

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.

(Image credit: Future)

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

Super powerful processor
5G enabled
Magsafe feature is exciting
It's expensive

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

120Hz refresh rate
Extremely high-definition screen
strong camera performance
Pretty pricey

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!

OnePlus 9 deals

(Image credit: Future)

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

Great specs for the price
Good camera performance
Fast battery recharging
No telephoto camera

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.

Budget SIM-free phones:

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iPhone SE

Apple's brand new cheap iPhone

Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | CPU: Apple A13 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 1821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Lightweight design
Low price for Apple
Powerful chipset
Weak battery life

Apple's one and only true budget handset, the iPhone SE is going to be a device that appeals to a lot of people. For such an expensive brand, the iPhone SE stands out with its near-£400 price tag.

Despite that low cost, you're getting Apple's A13 Bionic chip - the same featured in the iPhone 11 series. This makes this a pretty high-powered device, especially considering most device's of a similar price use much weaker processors.

This processor upgrade also means a boost to the camera which, despite only having one lens, allows you to take some pretty fantastic shots on a budget.

However, it's not all spec boosts and good camera shots - there are downgrades too to achieve this price. Design-wise, the iPhone SE holds a major resemblance to the much older iPhone 8.

The iPhone SE also features a pretty small 1821mAh battery and a screen of just 4.7-inches. It is also no surprise to hear that this isn't a 5G handset.

Samsung galaxy s10

(Image credit: Future)

8. Samsung Galaxy S10

An older Samsung device with a far cheaper price tag

Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

in-screen fingerprint scanner
Powerful camera despite age
Affordable price
One of Samsung's older devices

This isn't really going to be for everyone as the Samsung Galaxy S10 came out way back in 2019 but, if you don't mind having an older smartphone, this could be a fantastic way to get Samsung on a budget.

Despite its age, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is an all-round excellent smartphone. It features a decent battery, in-screen fingerprint scanner and a powerful camera considering its age.

However, the biggest draw here is the price with the Samsung Galaxy S10 often seen below £400 in second hand retailers. It is well worth noting that the Galaxy S10 is no longer part of Samsung's line-up so you would have to buy it second hand.

OnePlus Nord 2

(Image credit: Future)

9. OnePlus Nord 2

One of the best value phones out there right now

Weight: 189g | Dimensions: 158.9 x 73.3 x 8.2mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.43-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 765G | RAM: 6-12GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 50MP + 8MP + 2MP | Front camera: 32MP

Strong performance
Fantastic fast charging
Great camera experience
No official IP water resistance rating
Lacklustre design

The OnePlus Nord 2 is a fantastic option for anyone who is after a budget device while still holding onto some of the more powerful specs. With this device you're getting one of OnePlus' cheapest offers yet.

Despite its low price, this device offers a really strong performance, landing a 4.5 star review from us. It has fantastic fast charging and an overall good camera experience across the board.

While the design is a little bit basic and it lacks an IP rating (like other OnePlus phones), there is very little to grumble about with the OnePlus Nord 2, especially for the price it offers.

iPhone 8

(Image credit: Future)

10. iPhone 8

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

Cheap for an iPhone
Simple to use
Lacks top features

Back in the day, the iPhone 8 was a really impressive iPhone. Yes, it has quickly fallen behind and now the iPhone SE is effectively a more powerful version of it but thanks to its age, the iPhone 8 has come way down in price.

That allows you to frequently get the iPhone 8 for under £300 - almost £200 less than its original RRP. Of course, the specs on-board aren't anything to shout about but for those looking for Apple on a budget, they'll do perfectly.

It features a great point-and-shoot camera (limited to a single 12MP wide angle), wireless charging and a satisfying glass back. It uses a 4.7-inch display making it a great one handed device and although the battery capacity sits at just 1821mAh, the device itself doesn't drain battery as much as some of the newer handsets around.

(Image credit: Google)

11. Google Pixel 4a

The perfect camera phone on a budget

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm **Screen size:** 5.81-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 **RAM:** 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3140mAh | Rear camera: 12.2MP

Very powerful camera
Headphone jack
One handed size
Cheap feeling design

The Google Pixel 4a stands out as being one of the best budget handsets for anyone looking for a top camera experience. Yes, it isn't the most powerful device on the market but for the price, it is certainly a top spot.

As we said above, the most obvious feature here that makes the Google Pixel 4a stand out is the camera. There's a single 12.2MP wide lens which, while not impressive in specs, is made up for with an increased AI performance.

This means that for the price, you'll be getting some pretty impressive point-and-shoot shots, especially with Google's editing software. Alongside the camera, Google is offering an 3140mAh battery, 

SIM-free phones

(Image credit: Future)

12. Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

An excellent Samsung device on a budget

Screen size: 6.5-inches | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | Rear camera: 64MP + 12MP + 5MP + 5MP | Weight: 189g | OS: Android 11 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | External storage: microSD | Battery: 4500mAh

Affordable price
120Hz refresh rate
Powerful processor
Not the most premium feel

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is a recent launch from the brand, offering some surprisingly high-end specs for a low cost. In fact, considering the 5G inclusion on this device, this is one of Samsung's best budget options.

It launched with an RRP of £399 and yet, the device includes an 120Hz refresh rate display, sitting at a comfortable 6.5-inches. The device also packs in a Snapdragon 750G for a strong performance.

For the price, one of the most impressive features of the Samsung Galaxy A52 is the camera. Packing in a quad camera set-up, you're getting a 64MP wide angle, a 12MP Ultrawide, and 5MP Macro and depth lenses.

All of that provides a phone that performs above its price tag - similar to the OnePlus Nord.

iPhone XR deals

(Image credit: Future)

13. iPhone XR

A mid-range price with an impressive camera

Weight: 194g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm | OS: iOS 14 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 828 x 1792 | CPU: Apple A12 Bionic chip | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: 2942mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 2MP + 2MP dual lens | Front camera: 32MP

Great battery life
Plenty of colour choices
Affordable price tag
A few generations back 

The iPhone XR is one of Apple's older handsets now and despite the fact it was the most popular phone of 2019, it has fallen behind the times now. Luckily, with that age, it has now received two separate price cuts making it more affordable than ever.

It now sits at a price point not far off the iPhone SE but features a much larger display and form factor which many will prefer.

(Image credit: Huawei)

14. 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

Ample storage
Excellent price
Decent camera
Mono speaker

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.

Nokia 3310 best SIM free deals

15 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

Low price
Incredible battery
Poor camera
Only 2.5G coverage

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?

SIM-free mobile phones FAQ

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 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 phone.

Is it cheaper to go SIM-free or for a contract?

When you get a new smartphone, these really are your only two choices...but which is the better way to go. If you calculate the two year cost of a contract, going SIM-free will almost always be cheaper.

Yes, there is a much higher cost to pay at the start as you have to buy the handset out right. But after that, once paired with a cheap SIM plan, you'll end up with a far better cost.

Saying that, a contract is both a lot simpler and means you don't have to worry about that high upfront cost. If a contract sounds like your preferred route, use our mobile phone deals guide to find out more.

Are all phones available SIM-free?

In theory, yes. You should be able to buy any smartphone SIM-free. If you can't find a device available at the usual retailers - Amazon, John Lewis, Argos etc, it is worth consulting the brand's own website.

Many lesser-known devices won't be available from retailers and will instead require a bit of searching around. Think cheaper devices from Huawei, Xiaomi or Oppo - mostly the devices that are popular in other regions of the world.