Best unlocked Android phones for demanding users (September 2019)

If you don’t like the idea of buying phones on contracts, unlocked Android phones are for you. They are available from various retailers and can be used with a carrier of choice. Unlocked smartphones also allow you to switch between carriers with ease.

Before we jump into our top picks, note that this post only includes devices that have officially been released in the U.S. and are backed by a warranty. It’s also focused on high-end handsets aimed at demanding users. If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out our best cheap Android phones post at the link. You’ll also find a few great budget and mid-range options in our best pre-paid phones post.

Best unlocked Android phones:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 series
  2. Sony Xperia 5
  3. Asus Zenfone 6
  4. Google Pixel 3 series
  5. Samsung Galaxy S10 series
  1. Razer Phone 2
  2. Google Pixel 3a series
  3. OnePlus 7 Pro
  4. LG G8 ThinQ
  5. ZTE Axon 10 Pro

Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best unlocked Android phones regularly as new devices launch.


1. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 series

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

There are a lot of similarities between the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus. Both pack the Snapdragon 855 chipset under the hood in the U.S., sport an in-display fingerprint scanner, and support wireless charging. They also feature the S Pen, which has a few new tricks up its sleeve — check them out here.

Editor’s Pick

However, the Plus model offers more overall. It has a larger display with a higher resolution, more RAM, a larger battery, and an additional camera at the back — a ToF sensor. It also supports expandable storage.

Both phones are aimed at demanding users and can handle just about any task you throw at them. They run Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung’s new One UI on top and will be among the first Samsung phones to get updated to the latest Android 10.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Galaxy Note 10 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.8-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,300mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

2. Sony Xperia 5

Sony Xperia 5 red standing alone

This is the latest flagship from Sony’s lineup, making its debut at IFA 2019. It’s the successor to the Xperia 1, even though it offers less in some areas. The phone features a 6.1-inch Full HD+ display, while the Xperia 1 sports a larger 6.5-inch display with 4K resolution.

A lot of the other specs and features are the same between the two devices. The Xperia 5 comes with the Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and three 12MP cameras at the back. It’s IP68 rated for protection against water and dust and supports expandable storage. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on board.

The Xperia 5 is already up for pre-order in the U.S. via B&H and Focus. Shipping is expected to kick off on November 5.

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Sony Xperia 5 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP 
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,140mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

3. Asus Zenfone 6

best unlocked Android phone from Asus

If you’re looking for an unlocked Android phone that offers a great price-performance ratio, the Asus Zenfone 6 just may be for you. Its highlight feature is the motorized flip camera system that houses the 48MP primary sensor and 13MP super wide-angle sensor. In addition to standard rear shots, you can use the cameras to take some of the best selfies you’ll get from a smartphone.

The flip camera makes the Asus Zenfone 6 stand out.

In addition to the cameras, there’s plenty to like about the Zenfone 6. The phone features a 6.4-inch IPS display with Full HD+ resolution, the Snapdragon 855 processor, and a gigantic 5,000mAh battery. It also runs a near-stock version of Android Pie, supports expandable storage, and has a headphone jack on board.

The phone does have a few drawbacks you should know about. The LCD display isn’t much to write home about, and there’s no wireless charging. There’s also no water resistance. But then again, these omissions are expected based on the Zenfone 6’s affordable price tag — check it out below.

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Asus Zenfone 6 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Front cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

4. Google Pixel 3 series

best unlocked Android phones - Pixel 3

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are great options for those who into photography and want a clean software experience. Both run stock Android and feature one of the best (if not the best) smartphone cameras on the market. Despite only having a single lens, there’s still an option for adding the bokeh effect to images through software trickery.

The two phones are similar in terms of specs. They feature the Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 64 or 128GB of storage. Both also support wireless charging and have a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Unfortunately, they lack a headphone jack. 

The main differences between them are in the display and battery departments. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ display and a 2,915mAh battery, while the XL model comes with a 6.3-inch QHD+ screen and a 3,430mAh battery. The Pixel 3 XL also has a notch.

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Google Pixel 3 specs:

  • Display: 5.5-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front cameras: 8 and 8MP
  • Battery: 2,915mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Google Pixel 3 XL specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front cameras: 8 and 8MP
  • Battery: 3,430mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

5. Samsung Galaxy S10 series

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus unlocked phones

The Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e are all great devices and are suitable for demanding users. The Plus model is the best of the three, offering the largest display, biggest battery, and two front-facing cameras instead of one.

Editor’s Pick

Most of its other specs and features are the same as those of the regular Galaxy S10. Both sport three rear cameras, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and curved displays, among other things.

The Galaxy S10e, on the other hand, comes with two rear cameras instead of three, a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and a 5.8-inch display that isn’t curved on the sides. That makes it the smallest phone in the S10 lineup, as well as the cheapest. However, it’s still more than suitable for demanding users.

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Galaxy S10e specs:

  • Display: 5.8-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 16MP 
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,100mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Galaxy S10 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP 
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,400mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Galaxy S10 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/512GB and 1TB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP 
  • Front cameras: 10 and 8MP
  • Battery: 4,100mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

6. Razer Phone 2

The back of the Razer Phone 2

Originally launched with an $800 price tag, the Razer Phone 2 wasn’t exactly cheap. But since it has been on the market for a while now, its price has dropped considerably — check it out via the button below. The new price easily makes this phone one of the best deals in the unlocked Android phones segment.

Due to its gaming focus, the Razer Phone 2 comes with great specs like the Snapdragon 845 processor, 8GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and a 4,000mAh battery. Its 5.72-inch screen has QHD+ resolution, but what makes it stand out is its 120Hz refresh rate that make your gaming experience amazingly smooth. 

Aside from the great specs and stunning display, the Razer Phone 2 stays cool thanks to its vapor chamber cooling system. We all know phones can get really hot when gaming! 

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Razer Phone 2 specs:

  • Display: 5.72-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0

7. Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

Unlocked Pixel 3a back on table

In terms of raw performance, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL aren’t the best options for demanding users, as they are mid-range devices. However, they still have more than enough power under the hood for the average user. The reason we included them on this list is because they are great phones for those into photography. The handsets sport the same camera as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, despite being much cheaper. This means they can capture fantastic images, even in low-light conditions thanks to Google’s Night Sight technology.

If you’re into photography, the Pixel 3a series is right up your alley.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL also run a stock version of Android and feature the Active Edge feature, which lets you summon Google Assistant just by squeezing the edges of a phone. But they lack certain high-end features including an IP rating and wireless charging. They do, however, have a headphone jack on board.

The main differences between the two Pixel 3a phones are in the display and battery departments. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ display and a 2,915mAh battery, while the XL model comes with a 6.3-inch QHD+ screen and a 3,430mAh battery. The Pixel 3 XL also has a notch.

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Pixel 3a specs:

  • Display: 5.6-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Pixel 3a XL specs:

  • Display: 6.0-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

8. OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus 7 Pro -- off contract phone

The OnePlus 7 Pro is the company’s most expensive device yet, but it still retails for less than a lot of its rivals. While the phone may not necessarily offer the same camera, battery life, and extra features as the Samsung Galaxy S10, Huawei P30 Pro, and Google Pixel 3 XL, it makes up for it in performance, build quality, and a clean user interface.

We can’t deny OnePlus skimped out on some important elements, though. Its camera is pretty good, but it suffers in low light. The battery life is average at best. You can’t officially use this phone in the shower. There is no headphone jack, nor is there wireless charging. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the best unlocked Android phones you can get.

It’s a great-looking handset with an all-screen experience (no notch!). It has high-end internals to keep the device running smoothly. If you like a near-stock UI, the OnePlus 7 Pro won’t disappoint in that department either. The handset also has a pop up camera that gives it a futuristic vibe.

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OnePlus 7 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.67-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

9. LG G8 ThinQ

LG G8 ThinQ Review display

This is a great phone for music lovers. It sports a headphone jack, stereo speakers, and a Hi-Fi Quad DAC for an improved audio experience with the right headphones. It’s IP68 rated for protection against water and dust, supports expandable storage, and has a decent dual-camera setup at the rear.

Editor’s Pick

LG’s flagship is an innovative handset thanks to its front-facing Z camera. It can map out the veins in your palm that can then be used to unlock the device. It also lets you take a screenshot or open an app of choice with hand gestures, all without touching the screen. But as noted in our review, these features don’t work quite as well as we’d like.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the latest phones from LG’s G series. The company announced the G8X ThinQ at IFA 2019, but the handset isn’t available yet — learn more about it here.

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LG G8 ThinQ specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 16MP
  • Front cameras: 8MP + ToF sensor
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

10. ZTE Axon 10 Pro

ZTE Axon 10 Pro

The last model on our list of the best unlocked Android phones is the ZTE Axon 10 Pro. It comes with high-end specs including the Snapdragon 855 chipset, three rear cameras, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and an affordable price tag.

ZTE’s flagship sports a great design and a large 6.47-inch display with curved edges, just like Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note series. You also get a near-stock Android experience, microSD expansion, and wireless charging. All these things combined make it one of the best phones you can get off-contract.

The Axon 10 Pro has recently launched in the U.S., but it only works with GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T. Those of you interested can pre-order it from Newegg via the button below.

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ZTE Axon 10 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.47-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 20, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

These are our picks for the best unlocked Android phones you can get in the U.S., although there are plenty of other great options out there as well. We’ll make sure to update this post with new models once they are released. 

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