I choose MVNOs such as Mint Mobile, US Mobile, Visible, or Cricket to save money on monthly mobile phone bills. MVNO may offer discounts on new phones when you first port-in your number to them. After that, you are unlikely to get phone discounts from them. Buying an unlocked phone can be expensive because you will be paying close to full prices for the phone. But with some planning, you can get reasonable deals on unlocked phones.
Why you should buy unlocked phones
Having an unlocked phone gives you freedom and allows you to go from one carrier to the next without having to buy a new phone. This allows you to get great deals on wireless service rather than be tied to one provider. Remember to check that your unlocked phone has the bands used by the carrier you are moving to.
How to get good deals on unlocked phones
Choosing the right phone to buy
If you want to buy the latest iPhone or Pixel unlocked, you will full prices or close to it. Best deals are often available on slightly outdated phones if the phones are from big brands such as Apple, Google, or Samsung. But if you are willing to go with a lesser-known brand such as Motorola or Nokia, you can find excellent deals on new unlocked phones.
I am a big fan of Motorola phones. Motorola phones don’t have the bloatware that other phones have, are well-built, and provide excellent value for the money. The same goes for Nokia, though I consider Motorola phones to be one notch above Nokia. Motorola has an excellent lineup of phones all the way from budget phones to high-end phones.
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Consider refurbished phones
Many people avoid refurbished phones because they anticipate problems with these phones. But refurbished phones are sold by manufacturers and reputable third-party sellers who restore the phone using original parts. If you are worried about battery life from refurbished phones, many sellers provide information on battery health in their product listings. The sellers also have small windows where you can return the phone if they don’t meet your expectations.
Where to buy them
You can buy refurbished phones at Amazon, Swappa, and eBay. Prices vary based on the condition and age of the phone. For a phone in mint condition, you can save up to 25% off the retail price. For phones in good condition (phones with minor defects), you can get even bigger discounts.
Buying a discounted phone from a carrier and porting out
Sometimes, you can buy a discounted phone from a carrier and then port your number to another carrier after 60 or 90 days. Read the fine print before you buy the phone to avoid surprises. If you are with Verizon or Verizon-owned MVNOs, the phone is automatically unlocked after 60 days.
Stores such as Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and many online stores have good deals on unlocked phones on Black Friday. Motorola runs great deals on unlocked phones directly on its website.
Unlocked phones give you the freedom to easily switch between mobile carriers. If you are using an MVNO, then you are unlikely to get great deals on phones through your carrier. But with a little bit of leg work, you can buy unlocked phones at a reasonable price. Not going for the latest phones is an easy way to save money. Consider lesser-known brands such as Motorola or Nokia – their phones are reliable and have come a long way in recent years. Refurbished phones are another way to save money. Keep an eye on Black Friday sales since a lot of unlocked phones go on sale during this time.