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Best Unlocked Cell Phone Deals: Galaxy S22, iPhone 12

If you’ve been checking out the best phone deals with unlocked cell phone deals in mind, we’ve got them all neatly wrapped up here. Read on while we guide you through the best unlocked cell phone deals happening right now, along with an explanation as to why you want to grab this particular phone.

Today’s best unlocked cell phone deals

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max — $472, was $849

iPhone 11 Pro Max placed on a desk.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why Buy:

  • Great camera
  • Still very powerful
  • Gorgeous looking
  • Excellent night mode

Once one of the best iPhones out there, the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max remains a fantastic purchase for anyone looking to get great technology for less. It was once being a fantastically high-end phone, and it has aged well into being a still fairly high-spec device. In part, that’s thanks to the A13 bionic chip which combines well with iOS 15 to ensure you continue to get fantastic performance. Switching between apps is pretty seamless while playing games is speedy, too. iOS 15 continues to be a delight to use for most people with great integration with other Apple devices.

Elsewhere, the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max’s strongest areas were its display and camera. That remains the case here. It has a Super Retina XDR display that is 6.5 inches in size. Its OLED display looks gorgeous with a resolution of 2688 x 1242 at 458 ppi ensuring everything looks sharp. That’s further helped by the True Tone display and Wide Color support so colors pop on screen at all times and look delightful. 800nits maximum brightness or 1,200nits max brightness with HDR further help. Rounded corners ensure a beautiful curved design so it feels great to hold as well.

Camera-wise, you get a triple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto camera lens setup at the back. The Ultra Wide lens offers f/2.4 aperture and 120 degree field of view, while the wide has an aperture of f/1.8 and the telephoto lens has f/2.0 aperture. 2x optical zoom with a digital zoom of up to 10x ensures you can always take a great snap. That’s helped even more by the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max offering a great night mode that still competes with the latest releases. Plenty of features like a Portrait mode, Portrait lighting, dual optical image stabilization, and great panorama shots ensure the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max is ideal for amateur photographers. A true all-rounder, there’s tons to love here.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G — $500, was $600

The diplay of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why Buy:

  • Fantastic camera
  • Space zoom feature
  • Awesome display
  • Colorful design

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G packs a lot into a consistently great price, even before being discounted. A derivative of the original Galaxy S20, it looks great. It’s a little larger than the alternative but that’s because it uses a larger 6.5-inch display. While that display only offers 1080p resolutions, it’s still a Super AMOLED display so it looks great. A 120Hz refresh rate means that browsing or gaming feels silky smooth with a display that’s very responsive to touch too. Responsiveness is further helped by its processor. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor so it can easily handle everything you throw at it even if it is a couple of years old now.

Elsewhere, there’s the truly fantastic camera. It has three camera sensors. These include one 12-megapixel standard sensor, one 8MP sensor with a telephoto lens, along with one 12MP sensor that has an ultra-wide lens. Photos look colorful, crisp, and all-around delightful however you take them. Even in low light, images look great. Even better, the telephoto lens offers 3x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom so you get a hybrid (or space zoom) 30x. While photos aren’t quite as crisp, Samsung’s software still does a good job of cleaning them up. Single-take A.I. is smart enough to capture multiple images and videos all at once, before finding the best one for your needs.

Elsewhere, a 4,500mAh battery gives you a good day or more of use, even when using it regularly. Samsung’s One UI is included amongst Android 10 and it works fairly well with ensuring there’s not too much bloatware. Ultimately, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is a remarkably great phone for the price. It feels like you’ve spent a lot more on a flagship phone than this and you’ll feel like you’ve snapped up a bargain.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — $100 in Instant Credit, Max $640 in trade-in credit

Man checking theSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why Buy:

  • A true flagship phone
  • Includes S Pen
  • Versatile camera
  • Fantastic display

A truly high-end phone, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra potentially does everything anyone could want from it. It’s highly capable in pretty much all ways, whether you want power for gaming, to be able to multitask easily, take beautiful photos, or even use it as a form of tablet thanks to its included S Pen stylus. It’s the kind of phone that will last you for years to come. Well designed, it’s more like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra than the S21 Ultra. Tall and wide, it’s not the most comfortable of phones to hold but it’s ideally suited to be part phone, part tablet.

Inside that chunky build is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor which flies, whatever you plan on doing with it. Whether you’re gaming or juggling between different apps and windows, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra never seems to slow down. Android 12 works speedily while still providing you with a reliable day or more of charge. It recharges quickly, too, proving useful if you’re in a rush. As mentioned, you also get an S Pen stylus which is tucked into the bottom of the phone and recharges there as well. It’s ideal if you want to be more precise with your touches on the gorgeous 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen. A 120Hz refresh rate means silky smooth browsing while you’re at it with HDR10+ making everything look gorgeous amongst the 3088 x 1440 resolution.

And of course, there’s the camera. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a truly fantastic camera. Bright light, low light, or at night, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra still takes brilliant photos. With a combination of 12MP ultra-wide lens, two 10MP telephoto lens, and a 108MP wide lens, everything looks great here. The phone’s 100x Space Zoom is a true highlight if you want to even take pictures of the moon. It’s quite the powerhouse.

Buy Now

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 — $200 in Instant Credit, Max $1,100 in trade-in credit

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 in hand.

Why Buy:

  • Powerful hardware
  • Gorgeous screens
  • Better durability than other folding phones
  • Great for multitasking

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is sufficiently innovative that it will remind you of what it was like getting your first cell phone. Folded up, it’s a tall and narrow candy bar-style phone with a 6.2-inch cover screen that deals with all the basics. Unfold it though, and it becomes a 7.6-inch main screen based phone that proves bigger than a Kindle Paperwhite and a fantastic combo of phone and tablet. Somehow, despite that size, it’s rarely an issue to reach across the whole screen with your thumb.

By opening it up, you get a fold in the middle but you’ll soon forget it’s there thanks to all the gorgeous screen real estate. Both displays offer a 120Hz refresh rate so action or browsing looks incredibly smooth. In the case of the main screen, it’s an AMOLED display that supports HDR10+ so colors look rich and saturated with some great deep blacks to gaze at, too. It’s ideal for gaming, watching movies, or simply working away in style. While other foldable phones are less durable, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is pretty robust. It has IPX8 water resistance so it can deal with complete immersion in water. There’s also Gorilla Glass Victus on the cover screen so it stays safe.

As a multitasking powerhouse, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has all the right features so you can get more done. You can have multiple apps open before running them side by side in split view, or opt to run up to three in resizable windows. It’s a great way of ensuring you can get more done without having to dig out your laptop or tablet. Gorgeous and immensely practical, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 even manages to throw in some useful cameras with three 12MP lenses that offer great photos and crisp imagery. It’s a delight to use through and through.

Buy Now

Samsung Galaxy S22 — $725, was $850

Home screen of Samsung Galaxy S22

Why Buy:

  • Great camera
  • Adaptive screen
  • Fast performance
  • Sturdy build

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the go-to Android phone right now. There’s an awful lot to love here. While its design might be a little safe, that means it’s very sturdy and reliable. It has a glass sheet panel on the back that is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus along with uniformly thin bezels on all sides. It looks great even if it is a touch safe in terms of design. Alongside that, the 6.1-inch HDR10+ Super AMOLED display offers a full HD+ resolution of 2340 x 1080 with a 120Hz refresh rate. That means that performance is incredibly smooth while also looking great. It’s also adaptive so it can lower the refresh rate as needed right down to 1Hz if it needs to, so you save on battery power.

Elsewhere, the Samsung Galaxy S22 has some predictably great camera lenses. It has an upgraded 50MP main camera that is assisted by a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 10MP telephoto camera along with 3x optical zoom. The main camera produces great images that look crisp, along with impressive color, tight contrast, plenty of detail, and a sharp image at all times. In addition, the Samsung Galaxy S22’s portrait mode does a great job of edge detection and rendering a neat depth of field effect so it looks fantastic every time.

As with other S22 phones, the Samsung Galaxy S22 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 1 processor to power everything and it truly shows. Whether you’re switching between apps or playing games, performance is fast. While the phone sometimes gets a little hot, it’s no big deal and battery life is a decent day or so, if not exceptional. Despite some minor flaws, the Samsung Galaxy S22 is a great premium phone for the majority of users.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max — $736, was $1,030

iPhone 12 Pro Max
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Why Buy:

  • Beautiful display
  • Great performance
  • Excellent camera
  • Long battery life

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max might not be the newest iPhone any more but it’s still a remarkably great phone to own. One of the first things you’ll notice about it is its gorgeous display. It has a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display that means everything you look at appears truly gorgeous. The OLED panel ensures that all images are bright, crisp, and colorful, no matter if you’re using it indoors or outdoors. Its size means that this is a fairly bulky phone but that’s a price worth paying when you get this good looking a screen. The phone also utilizes a Ceramic Shield so it’s much tougher than any smartphone glass so it’s more durable and able to take the odd knock better, too.

Underneath that cool exterior, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max uses the A14 bionic chip. It might not be the newest any more but through using iOS 15, its performance is still fantastic. You won’t have any problem switching between apps or playing games here. Camera-wise, it has a camera system including 12MP ultra wide, wide, and telephoto lenses. 5x optical zoom helps with establishing range, while software features like a potent night mode, smart HDR 3, and AppleProRAW ensure that your photos and videos always look great.

At times cumbersome, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max makes up for that with sheer class. It also has a great battery life despite being fairly powerful, lasting all day without a problem. Recharging is pretty speed too providing you use the right charger. A little more like taking a tablet out with you, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is a hefty beast but one that’s perfect for working or gaming at the best of your abilities while you’re on the move.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 — $1,100, was $1,600

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 camera.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

Why Buy:

  • Fast performance
  • Part tablet, part phone
  • Strong cameras
  • Great for multitasking

The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is quite a turnaround for a concept that didn’t quite work the first time around. A genuinely good device for multitasking, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is a powerhouse of speed. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor that pairs well with 8GB of RAM and 5G connectivity, so even internet browsing is fast in the right area. It offers up two high-resolution 5.8-inch touchscreens that can open up to 8.3-inch so you get a tablet like experience but as a phone instead. More durable than before, it’s reasonably secure, too.

It’s expertly designed to be great for multitasking. Not least because of its software. Apps offer drag and drop support so you can move images, text or even files between them, making it a breeze to get things done. Many apps are designed to automatically span across both screens too so you get more room to get things done. Even when gaming, the action is pretty smooth.

Elsewhere, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 includes some decent cameras. While they’re not perfect, they’re good enough. You get a 12MP wide-angle sensor with Optical Image Stabilization as well as a 12MP 2x telephoto sensor and an ultrawide 16MP sensor that has a 110-degree field of view. These aren’t designed for photographers but if you happen to take photos regularly for social media, they’re good enough. Color reproduction is decent as long as you steer clear of low-light scenarios. Ultimately, this is a phone for working hard on the move and the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is a great bet here. Ideally suited for someone looking for a change from the usual tablet method, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is a great way of getting more in a smaller form thanks to its extensively adaptability.

When are the best unlocked cell phone deals?

The best deals happen when you need a new phone the most. That might mean buying right now. If your current phone has just died or you’re desperate for an upgrade, we won’t blame you if you buy a new unlocked cell phone right now. Deals are still looking pretty sweet and you’re sure to be delighted with your acquisition. After all, no one wants to have to wait too long to enjoy a new purchase, right? However, if you are able to wait it out, there are traditionally better times of year to enjoy a great bargain.

The next big sales event is Amazon’s Prime Day. It runs each July as part of Amazon’s celebration of its founding in the same month back in the 1990s. In the past few years, it’s been an incredibly big success but it is technically limited to Prime members only which can restrict your options. Fortunately, many other retailers have got in on the act and also offer sales around the same time of year. It can be worth holding out until then to find a great unlocked cell phone deal. Amazon frequently discounts popular technology including cell phones meaning you may see deep discounts on a much respected phone brand or two.

Alternatively, if you can be even more patient then you can’t beat Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The events don’t happen until after Thanksgiving so you have a long wait ahead of you but they’re pretty great. Always the traditional highlight of the sales calendar, we’re expecting to see some big discounts on the most popular unlocked cell phones out there. The sales season will cover all retailers and should be fantastic. However, you’ll need to wait a while to see what’s out there. Worst, your finances may be tighter this close to the holidays as you find yourself needing to pay for other items like gifts or vacations.

Ultimately, the best unlocked cell phone deals need to be at the same time as you can afford them. If that’s right now, then go for it. You’ll still get a great new phone at an excellent price.

Editors' Recommendations

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