Best unlocked Samsung phones in 2022

Best unlocked Samsung phones in 2022

The best unlocked Samsung phones give the ultimate freedom to pick your carrier and hop between them at your leisure. That allows you to choose your perfect handset first and then pick exactly which of the best phone carriers is right for you later.

And if you've decided Samsung is the way you want to go but you're not sure which handset fits your needs, we're here to help. Samsung offers an overwhelming amount of devices ranging from powerful flagships through to budget handsets.

+Costs $100 less than the Galaxy S21+Uses the same Snapdragon 888 chipset as the other S21 models+Takes excellent photos-Subpar battery life-120Hz refresh rate doesn't adjust automatically

The Galaxy S21 FE arrives later than expected but with many of the Galaxy S21's features still intact. That's good news if you're looking for an unlocked phone, as the S21 FE costs $100 less than the standard S21 without asking for too many compromises. You'll get less RAM with this phone and the 6.4-inch display's 120Hz refresh rate doesn't automatically adjust, but those are the only real sacrifices you have to make.

But think of what your $699 gets you in return — a phone with the same Snapdragon 888 chipset as the rest of the S21 lineup and great rear cameras that take outstanding pictures. The display is very bright, too, and this phone ships with the latest version of Android 12 pre-installed. It's a strong value, even with the Galaxy S22 expected in short order.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review.

Display: 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED (2340 x 1080)CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1RAM: 8GBStorage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / NoRear cameras: 50MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephotoFront camera: 10MP (f/2.2)Weight: 5.89 ouncesBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 7:51 (adaptive), 8:02 (60Hz)+Most affordable Galaxy S22 model+Bright, colorful display+Improved zoom and low-light photos+Solid performance-Below-average battery life

If you’ve got an extra $100 to spend, you should really consider the Galaxy S22 over the Galaxy S21 FE. Yes, the newer flagship is more expensive, but you’re getting a number of improvements over the more budget-minded FE model.

For starters, there’s a more up-to-date chipset powering the Galaxy S22 in the form of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (at least for phones released in the U.S.). Samsung boosted the megapixel rating on the main camera to 50MP and increased the size of the sensor to let in more light. The telephoto lens now supports a 3x optical zoom as well.

Battery life is a disappointment, and the Galaxy S22 doesn’t charge as fast as the more expensive options in the S22 lineup. But with a 6.1-inch display that’s very bright, it’s also a compact phone that fits easily in one hand. And it packs a lot of value into that device.

Read our fullSamsung Galaxy S22 review.

Display: 6.6-inch AMOLED (2400x1080; 48-120Hz)CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1RAM: 8GBStorage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / NoRear camera: 50MP wide (f/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2); 10MP telephoto (f/2.4) with 3x optical zoomFront camera: 10MP (ƒ/2.2)Weight: 6.9 ouncesBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:46 (adaptive), 9:57 (60Hz)+Beautiful and very bright display+Powerful performance+Faster 45W charging+Strong telephoto camera-Battery life barely better than last year

While we wait to get our Galaxy S22 review in the books, we decided the Galaxy S22 Plus deserved some love in this list. It's a very capable upgrade over the Galaxy S21 Plus, offering the brightest display we've ever seen on a phone with a peak brightness of 1,750 nits.

It also sports the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip from Qualcomm, which is the cheap that we'll see in many of the best Android phones this year. And with several camera upgrades, you're getting one of the best photography experiences ever with a Galaxy phone.

If we had to lodge one major complaint with the Galaxy S22 Plus, it would be the so-so battery life. Samsung shrunk the battery from 4,800 mAh last year to 4,500 mAh. The Galaxy S22 Plus turned in a similar result as its predecessor, which is not what we wanted to see. Even so, it's a good phone at $999.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review.

Display: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED (3088 x 1440)CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1RAM: 8GB, 12GBStorage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / NoRear cameras: 108MP (f/2.2) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 10x telephoto, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephotoFront camera: 40MP (f/2.2)Weight: 8.04 ouncesBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 8:50 (adaptive), 10:18 (60Hz)+Faster S Pen built in+Super bright display+Cameras offer better low light performance-Pricey-Shorter battery life than S21 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has almost anything you could ever want in a phone, including a built-in S Pen stylus. It’s got powerful cameras, the top-tier Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, plenty of storage options, and a jaw-droppingly gorgeous display. It might lack a microSD card slot like Galaxy phones of old, but it makes up for it with up to 1TB of storage.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra still stumbles in the battery life department, more so than its predecessor, despite its 5,000 mAh power pack. In the 120Hz adaptive refresh rate mode, the latest Ultra only lasted for 8 hours and 50 minutes, well below the 10-hour mark we like to see from today’s phones. Even the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which also as an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, went for several hours longer.

But if you’re firmly in the Android camp, there’s no better phone than the Galaxy S22 Ultra right now. You’ll just have to pay $1,199 for the privilege.

Best unlocked Samsung phones in 2022

Read our fullSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

Display: 6.5-inch AMOLED (2400x1080)CPU: Snapdragon 750GRAM: 6GBStorage / Expandable: 128/256GB / YesRear camera: 64MP main (ƒ/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.4), 5MP depth (ƒ/2.4)Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2)Weight: 6.67 ouncesBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 12:19 (60Hz), 10:19 (120Hz)+5G enabled+Affordable price tag+120Hz refresh rate-Other Samsung phones have more processing oomph

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G reflects Samsung's ongoing push to offer more compelling midrange phones that fit key high-end specs into a more affordable device. You'll make a few compromises — the design of the Galaxy A52 won't make you forget the Galaxy S series and the cameras aren't as powerful — but Samsung packed in some impressive features.

Chiefly, the Galaxy A52 5G has a display with a 120Hz refresh rate — not something you typically find in a phone that costs less than $500. While the cameras aren't exactly cutting edge, the 64MP main lens does produce some pretty impressive shots that measure up well against other budget phones.

Opt for the Galaxy A52 5G, and you'll get a 5G ready phone that lasts a while on a charge. And since it starts at $499, that's not a lot of money you'll need to pay upfront when buying the phone unlocked.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review.

Display: 6.7-inch Super AMOLED (2640 x 1080); 1.9-inch Super AMOLED (260 x 512)CPU: Snapdragon 888RAM: 8GBStorage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / NoRear camera: 12MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawideFront camera: 10MP (f/2.4)Weight: 6.5 ouncesBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 5:43 (adaptive); 6:00 (60Hz)+Enhanced durability+Bigger cover display+120Hz refresh rate on inner display-Bad battery life-No telephoto lens

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the first foldable phone under $1,000. It features enhanced durability, better displays, and upgraded cameras. Android 11 comes standard out of the box with the Android 12 update right around the corner. All told, it's a pretty great phone. For the most part.

Unfortunately, the Galaxy Z Flip 3's biggest problem is its poor battery life. With only 3,300 mAh powering two 120Hz displays (and a 1.9-inch over display) and 5G, the Flip 3 performed worse than its predecessor in this area. Making it through a day can be a tough challenge unless you just don't use it.

But if you're really in on foldable phones and don't want to drop the kind of money that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 demands, this is the phone for you.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review.

Display: 6.5-inch TFT LCD (1600x720)CPU: Dimensity 720RAM: 4GBStorage / Expandable: 64GB / YesRear camera: 48MP (f/1.8) main, 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 5MP (f/2.4) macro, 2MP (f/2.34) depthFront camera: 13MP (f/2.2)Weight: 7.23 ouncesBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:39 (adaptive), 12:22 (60hz)+Very low price+Four years of security patches+Great battery life+90Hz refresh rate-Subpar HD+ display

Samsung isn't resting on its laurels with the affordable 5G smartphone market. Cue the Galaxy A32 5G, a sub-$300 5G-capable smartphone. It sports many things people love about Galaxy phones, but with some corners cut to keep the price down. The biggest downside is the underwhelming display. The size combined with the low resolution doesn't look great in person.

However, if you're strapped for cash and want a phone with decent cameras, the Galaxy A32 5G is one you should consider. With its big 6.5-inch screen, the A32 is not a small phone. But it packs a 5,000 mAh battery that lasts a really long time — almost 12 hours in our testing with its adaptive refresh rate enabled. You can also expect the Galaxy A32 to go for longer than many other budget options, with Samsung promising three years of Android updates and four years of security patches.

At $280, the Galaxy A32 5G won't win awards for its performance or camera quality, but for people who need a solid phone under $300, this is the phone to look at.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review.

What is an unlocked Samsung phone?

An unlocked phone is simply one that isn't tied to any network yet. Generally, you can buy phones unlocked directly from the phone maker and from some retailers. In contrast, a phone bought from a wireless carrier is usually tied to that carrier's network.

If you buy one of the best unlocked Samsung phones, you'll have to buy the phone outright, as carriers are the only ones offering installment plans. (All the better to tie you to their wireless service for a couple years.) But if you can swing the upfront cost of an unlocked phone, you get the freedom to choose your own carrier and get a cheap cell phone plan.

If you're looking for a 5G phone, pay attention to the bands a handset supports. The Galaxy A52 5G, for example, works with sub 6Hz-based networks, but you'll have to look elsewhere for a device that's compatible with Verizon's high-speed mmWave-based 5G. (That would be the Galaxy A42 5G, which is tied to that particular phone carrier.)

Best unlocked Samsung phones: how we've ranked them

We put every smartphone through a rigorous test here at Toms Guide, spending a few days testing each handset in real-world conditions and benchmarking them with a number of performance-measuring apps.

We use benchmarks to measure a phone's processor and graphics performance. We also measure a display's color accuracy and brightness. Additional testing includes our custom battery test in which we have phones surf the web over cellular until they run out of power. We test the phone's camera by comparing its shots to another handset in the same price range.

We combine all this testing with the device's cost, availability, operating system and a number of other factors allows us to make a decision, coming up with a final rating and buying advice.

Image placeholder

George Washington

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Ducimus itaque, autem necessitatibus voluptate quod mollitia delectus aut, sunt placeat nam vero culpa sapiente consectetur similique, inventore eos fugit cupiditate numquam!