The major reason why locked phones are popular is the presence of trade-in offers. Simply put,  a locked phone comes with a contract of your phone bill of, let’s say, 2 years. Your phone’s total price and the bill will be consolidated and divided into EMI.  At the end of the day, should you go for the Best Unlocked Phones or a locked phone? In this article, I have answered that question with a bonus recommendation list of the 5 best-unlocked phones that you can buy in 2022 under a budget of $1000.

Types of Best Unlocked Phones

There are three types of unlocked phones that you can buy in the U.S. 

  1. GSM (“Global System for Mobile communications”) Is a type of wireless network where a physical sim card is tied to a phone number and is inserted into the device. Verizon and sprint both operate on the GSM networks. It is also the most popular choice among major International wireless carriers (e.g., Airtel). If you have international travel in mind, an unlocked GSM phone can be your best-unlocked phone.
  2. CDMA (“Code Division Multiple Access”) Unique is a type of network where the account data is built into the phone without requiring a sim card. AT&T and T-Mobile both carriers use CDMA networks. 
  3. Universal phones are phones that can operate on either CDMA or GSM networks.  Therefore, I recommend finding the type of network you want before purchasing the best-unlocked phone.

Do you Really Need any of the Best Unlocked Phones?

Did you know that out of T-mobile’s total consumer base of more than 102 million people, hackers claimed that they had access to almost 100 million people’s details? I do not mean to discourage you from buying a T-mobile connection; however, after hearing this news, would you still like to remain one of its consumers? I think not.  Switching your cellular network carrier after this incident would only be possible if you had the best-unlocked phone. Also, in the case of a locked phone, you have no choice but to pay increased prices of previously bought plans. After the hacking incident, you will pay exorbitant charges if you choose to migrate to other carriers.  The only dark area I found about the best-unlocked phone is that you have to pay the price upfront, which will definitely be less than an interest-based EMI plan. 

Best Unlocked Phones: Top picks

Finding the value for money deals can become confusing as well as exhausting. Out of innumerable options in the market, here are my top picks for the best-unlocked phones. All the phones mentioned in the list are 5G compatible. 

1. OnePlus Nord N200 | $239

Oneplus Nord N200 was launched in mid-2021 as a budget phone with a large battery and a 6.5″ 90Hz LCD display. In the Best Unlocked Phones category, this phone was launched with Android 11 which makes it quite dated. But there are more reasons to buy it over others. What’s good?

Value for money Availability of the latest Bluetooth 5.0The large battery capacity of 5000 mAh3.5mm headphone jack

What’s not?

Inconsistent fingerprint readerMediocre camera performanceOnly one Android update promised Outdated processor

2. Samsung Galaxy A53 | $399

Samsung Galaxy A53 was launched in early 2022 in the budget range and still greatly impacts Samsung evangelists. It comes in 2 combinations: one of them with 8GB RAM + 128 GB of and the other one in 8GB RAM + 256 GB of internal storage.  What’s good?

Super AMOLED 120Hz refresh rate with 800 nits peak brightnessThe large battery capacity of 5000 mAhLatest UFS 3.1 storageGreat camera quality with OIS in this range IP67 rating for dust/water resistance 

What’s not?

Easily scratchable polycarbonate body No charging adapter in the box No promise of Android updates 

3. Google Pixel 6 | $499

Google Pixel 6 was launched in late 2021 but had a dedicated fan following even after 10 months of its launch, mostly because of its camera performance. Google has used a Tensor chip for the first time ever in their Pixel lineup. This unlocked phone is an all-rounder but with some flaws.  What’s good?

Promising Tensor processorLatest UFS 3.1 storageOne of the best camera phoneThe large battery capacity of 4614mAh5 years of Android and security updates

What’s not?

Heavy; not a one-handed phone90Hz refresh rate against 120Hz in the competition4-5 hours of Screen On TimeInconsistent fingerprint sensor

4. SAMSUNG Galaxy S22 | $594.99

Samsung Galaxy S22 was launched in early 2022 still greatly impacts Samsung evangelists. It comes in 2 combinations: one of them with 8GB RAM + 128 GB of and the other one in 8GB RAM + 256 GB of internal storage.  What’s good?

Cutting-edge SD 8 Gen 1 processor Latest LPDDR5 RAMLatest UFS 3.1 storageFlagship cameraLightweight and Compact

What’s not?

Weak heat dissipation because of the compact designOccasional camera stuttering4-5 hours of Screen On Time

5. Apple iPhone 13 | $829

Apple iPhone 13 was launched later in 2021 but had not a great impact on Samsung evangelists. It comes in 2 combinations: one of them with 8GB RAM + 128 GB of and the other one in 8GB RAM + 256 GB of internal storage.  What’s good?

Apple’s cutting-edge A15 Bionic processorLightweight and compact form factorWorld-class camera performancePremium build qualityRegular iOS updates 

What’s not?

No IP ratingSlow charging of 15WThe low battery capacity of 3240 mAh

The rational fight between unlocked and carrier-locked phones

For example, If you choose to buy an iPhone with AT&T, your iPhone will be locked with software so that it only accepts the bands and frequencies supported by your AT&T and will not detect the bands of other wireless carriers.  On the other hand, if you choose to buy one of the Best Unlocked Phones, you can use it with a wireless carrier of your choice, which you may change in the future as per your requirement. However, you need to ensure that your unlocked phone supports the type of network you choose.

Wrapping Up

This completes my recommended list of the Best Unlocked Phones under the budget of $900. For more buck-saving tips, keep scrolling PathofEX.


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