The 15 best unlocked SIM-free mobile phones - prices in September 2019

 techradar.com  09/06/2019 15:15:04  2  Alex Hughes

Phone contracts are always readily available but if the idea of being caught up in a complicated two year contract is the ultimate put off, a SIM-free mobile phone could be just what you need. Grab one of these and you can get your ideal phone without the overwhelming two year clock running in the back of your mind.

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 XS 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

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

Massive Infinity-O screen

Strong battery life

Incredible battery performance

Extremely expensive

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 XR

Screen size: 6.1-inches | Resolution: 828 x 1792 | Rear camera: 12MP | Front Camera: 7MP | Weight: 194g | OS: iOS 12 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | External storage: No | Battery: 2942mAh

Powerful Battery 

iOS 12 is looking good

A range of colour options 

Specs not as high as the other recent iPhones

The iPhone XR is the cheaper, younger brother to Apple's recent iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Where the iPhone XS Max and XS are pretty pricey, the iPhone XR is an ideal mix of power, design and a reasonable price point. Because of that indelible combo, this instantly became our favorite iPhone on its release to the world in October 2018.

3. Huawei P30 Pro

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

Fantastic cameras

Eye catching design

Incredible battery life

No 3.55m headphone jack

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. iPhone 7

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

Just like the iPhone 6 but better

Lacks top features

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.

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10

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

Incredible Infinity display

Innovative S pen  

Powerful processor

Can be quite expensive 

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.

(Image credit: Moto G7 Power)

6. Motorola Moto G7 Power

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

Massive battery

Excellent for gaming

Fast charging abilities

Bulky

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.

7. OnePlus 6T

Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm | OS: Android 9.0 Pie | Screen size: 6.41-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 3,700mAh | Rear camera: 20MP + 16MP | Front camera: 16MP

Premium design and feel

Powerful rear camera

Impressive performance

No 3.5mm headphone jack

There's no doubt about it, the OnePlus 6T is one of the very best Android phones on the market. And now that the OnePlus 7 has launched, OnePlus 6T deals are more affordable than ever. You're getting everything you would want with a smartphone - great battery, processor, camera and screen - without the eye-watering price tag.

8. iPhone XS

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

Extremely fast

lovely design

Smart HDR helps support the camera

It's expensive

Battery life not very competitive 

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. 

(Image credit: Google)

9. Google Pixel 3a

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

Incredible camera

Affordable price tag

Headphone jack

No wireless charging

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

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

Sleek design

Feature heavy

Awesome screen

Cameras have their weaknesses

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.

(Image credit: Honor)

11. Honor 20

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

Strong camera specs

Affordable pricing

Speedy performance

OS isn't the nicest

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.

(Image credit: Huawei)

12. Huawei P Smart (2019)

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.

(Image credit: Samsung)

13. Samsung Galaxy S9

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

Awesome low light photography

Very powerful

High quality screen

Not hugely different to S8 

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

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?

15. BlackBerry KEY2

Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8.1 Oreo | Screen size: 4.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1620 | CPU: Snapdragon 660 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 3500mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Physical keyboard

Secure software

Not ideal for entertainment

Mediocre chipset

The BlackBerry KEY2 is a sophisticated smartphone made for business - sound familiar? Yep, this is classic BlackBerry territory and it hosts a physical keyboard for a modern Android audience. The QWERTY keyboard offers more than just nostalgia, while the smart and secure software will give businesses some peace of mind. Just know that the mid-range specs will only get you so far, as will the so-so entertainment capabilities.

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