The vast majority of phone owners still buy phones from a carrier, but there's a lot more freedom and interest in no-contract and unlocked phones. This is good news for all of us because we now have more options than what you can get only in your carrier store. Some of which are quite affordable.
While most unlocked phones are also no-contract, it's common enough that one carrier will sell the phone exclusively (not other carrier store stocks it), but you're often able to buy the phone from the manufacturer as well.
When looking for a good prepaid plan, you want to look for flexibility and basic features like unlimited talk and text, unlimited data, or varying amounts of data that you can choose based on your needs. Despite being cheaper than postpaid cell phone plans, prepaid phone plans can be competitive. Small cell phone companies, which are known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), often have more plans and can beat larger carriers on price.
We compared the available cell phone plans provided by our top cell phone plan companies across several criteria, including monthly cost, data and hotspot limits, network types, and add-ons. Research shows that these are the most important criteria for people shopping for a cell phone plan. We then narrowed the list down to the 10 best cell phone plans using aggregate data points with a focus on professional and consumer reviews.
Cell phone deals are easy to find these days. Whether you're looking for unlocked phones, prepaid phones, or the best cheap phones worth buying, retailers have made it easier than ever to score cheap cell phone deals any time of the year.
However, when shopping for cell phone deals it's important to first figure out what kind of deal you want. Sales generally fall into three categories: locked phones, prepaid phones, and those tied to a carrier. You'll pay more out of pocket for the former, but the other two options essentially tie you down to one carrier.
To help you find the best sales, we're rounding up the best cell phone deals for every kind of user. From the latest iPhone 14 to the budget friendly Google Pixel 7, here are the best cell phone deals right now. (Also, make sure to check out the best AT&T phone deals, Verizon phone deals, and the best iPhone deals available right now.
Pixel 7: was $599 now $349 @ Best Buy (opens in new tab)Best Buy has one of the best last-minute cell phone deals we've seen this week. You can get the Pixel 7 for just $349. That's the second-lowest price we've seen for this phone. In our Pixel 7 review, we called this phone an amazing value that costs hundreds less than the iPhone 14 or Galaxy S22, yet delivers pretty much everything you could want.
iPhone SE 2022: free w/ unlimited + new line @ Verizon (opens in new tab)New and existing Verizon members can get a new iPhone SE 2022 for free when you open a new unlimited line. That's $429 off and one of the best cell phone deals we've seen from Verizon. No trade-in is required for this deal.
Galaxy S22: $15/month w/ unlimited @ AT&T (opens in new tab)For a limited time, new and existing AT&T customers can get the Galaxy S22 for free with eligible unlimited plan. No trade-in is required. That's one of the best cell phone deals of all time.
Apple iPhone 12: free w/ new line + unlimited @ Verizon (opens in new tab)We're huge fans of the iPhone 13, but if you don't have the budget for a flagship, you can save big on the iPhone 12 right now at Verizon. Verizon is offering the phone for free when you open a new line and sign up for any unlimited plan. It's one of the best cell phone deals if you're looking for a powerful phone sans the high price.
iPhone 13 mini: free w/ unlimited @ Verizon (opens in new tab)Currently at Verizon, you can get an iPhone 13 mini for free when you sign up for a new unlimited data plan and open a new line of service. That's one of the best cheap cell phone deals we've seen.
Google Pixel 6 Pro (5G/128GB): was $899 now $514 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)The Google Pixel 6 Pro packs a Google Tensor processor, 120Hz display, incredible camera array and a beautiful refreshed design. It's one of the best value smartphones on the market and thanks to this Amazon deal it's now an even better bargain.
Unlocked OnePlus 8 Pro: was $999 now $799 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)The OnePlus 8 Pro is one of the best phones out there. Amazon has the 256GB model (unlocked) on sale. You can expect top performance from the Snapdragon 865 processor, fast charging, and solid photos from the four rear cameras.
Pay attention to these providers' reputations for customer service and which networks they use. Some MVNOs allow you to choose between different networks, whereas others are tied to a single provider. One company, Google Fi, uses T-Mobile's and UScellular's networks interchangeably on some phones, but for the rest, you have to choose which network you want when you buy your SIM card.
We order our picks by their respective monthly prices so that you can compare the best options within your budget. Remember, these recommendations are for a single line of service. Bundling two or more lines on the same account may help reduce monthly costs on some of the below plans. For the best carrier service where you live, check out our stories on the best mobile networks in the US and Canada.
Some of the smaller carriers do not sell phones at all, or they might limit their selection to low-end phones that work only on their network. Therefore, we recommend purchasing a cheap, unlocked phone that is compatible with multiple carriers (check out our list of the best phones for seniors if you're looking for something simple). Even if a phone is listed to work with all major carriers, you should still verify that your carrier supports the phone before you buy it: With the growing popularity of 5G, some MVNOs are being fussy about supported devices.
Most unlocked phones are by default compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile and should work with any MVNO or prepaid carrier that uses those networks. If you're looking for an unlocked phone that works on all three major US systems, consider any factory-unlocked iPhone that's of the 2018-era XR or later; the Samsung Galaxy S9 or later; the Google Pixel line; or the Moto G series. Or, take a look at our list of the best unlocked phones.
Ready for the next generation of mobile connectivity Before you jump head-first into the 5G pool, read our in-depth primer on the next generation of cellular technology. 5G is a very different beast than previous connectivity standards and, in the US especially, most 5G smartphones work best on a specific carrier. That means if you decide to switch carriers, your phone may offer limited 5G access or none at all. Check out our list of the best 5G phones we recommend right now, but make sure to check out the 5G connectivity standards for each carrier before you commit to a plan.
Visible offers the best affordable 5G plan on Verizon's network. For $45 per month, you get unlimited calls, text, and 5G data capped at 200Mbps. If you're looking to save even more money, Visible's Party Pay plan is an excellent option. You can add up to three additional family members, friends, or roommates and knock $5 off your monthly bill for each additional line. The savings apply to all lines, so a Party Plan with four lines costs just $30 per month per line. You don't have to worry about collecting Venmo payments for everyone's portion of the bill either; Visible bills each member separately.
Other terms: No annual svc. contracts. Offers/coverage not avail. everywhere or for all phones/networks. All prices, offers, fees, and features subject to change. Prohibited network use rules & other restrictions apply. See boostmobile.com or store for details. 2023 Boost Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved.
Google's Pixel A-series phones have been our favorites for a few years now, and that hasn't changed with the Pixel 6A (8/10, WIRED Recommends), though its lead is narrowing. It's powered by Google's Tensor chip, which means you're getting some of the best performance for the money, and it supports all the same great (and helpful) software smarts as the flagship Pixel 6 series. My favorites include Assistant Voice Typing to type up accurate messages with just my voice and Hold for Me, so I never have to listen to hold music. I also love its size; at 6.1 inches, the screen is comfortable to manage with one hand. Speaking of, the OLED panel gets plenty bright, making it easy to see on sunny days. (Sadly, it's stuck at a 60-Hz screen refresh rate.)
If you want a no-compromises best-of-the-best kind of smartphone, then look no further than Samsung's latest Galaxy S23 range (9/10, WIRED Recommends). Whether you opt for the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23, the 6.6-inch S23+, or the massive 6.8-inch S23 Ultra, these phones are chock-full of high-end features, from the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that keeps even the most demanding games running beautifully to the wonderfully fluid and bright 120-Hz AMOLED displays. Battery life has improved across the board, with the S23 comfortably lasting more than a day and the S23 Ultra hitting nearly two full days with average use.
Most phones will do a perfectly great job running the latest games, but the Asus ROG Phone 6 is one of the only handsets that truly elevates mobile gaming. It's a massive phone, with a 6.78-inch AMOLED screen and a 165-Hz screen refresh rate, and it's powerful thanks to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and a whopping 12 gigabytes of RAM. (In a lot of ways, it's total overkill.) But those top-tier specs get you some of the smoothest gaming performance available in a phone, and everyday tasks and multitasking are a breeze. The screen pops, the haptic vibrations are sensational, and the speakers get loud. 59ce067264