Best unlocked iPhones in 2024

All iPhone 15 models shown together.
(Image credit: Future)
Best Unlocked iPhones: Quick Menu

The best unlocked iPhones let you enjoy the full Apple phone experience without being tied to a carrier or some sort of payment plan. Simply pick up the iPhone that suits your taste and budget, whether it's the flagship iPhone 15 or an older model that's had its price cut.

This way you get a lot more freedom with monthly payments and which wireless service you sign up for. Combined, all these factors mean the best unlocked iPhones have a heck of a lot to offer. And, if you're in the market for a new phone it's also worth checking out the best cell phone plans to get the best all-round experience.

Because Apple only releases a handful of phones each year, you don't have quite a much choice as you would see with the best unlocked Android phones. But there's still a good number of Apple devices to choose from if you don't want to commit to a carrier, especially now that Apple has an iPhone SE that brings 5G connectivity to the company's least expensive handset.

The rankings aren't likely to have any major changes until Apple introduces its new set of iPhones later in the fall, which presumably will consist of the iPhone 16 series. However, you can still get incredible savings with the best iPhone deals around right now if you're itching to buy one.

The quick list

The best unlocked iPhones right now

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Best unlocked iPhone

Apple iPhone 15 held in hand.tom's guide top pick

(Image credit: Future)
The best unlocked iPhone

Specifications

Display: 6.1-inch OLED
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP main (f/1.6), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 6.02 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:05

Reasons to buy

+
Long battery life for its size
+
Useful 2x telephoto zoom
+
Updated A16 Bionic chipset

Reasons to avoid

-
60Hz display
-
Slow charging

We think the iPhone 15 is the best unlocked iPhone to buy because it packs in a lot of features while keeping its price around $800. That’s important when buying an unlocked phone, as you’ll likely have to buy the device outright to enjoy the freedom of taking it to a carrier of your choosing. While the iPhone 15 starts at $799, be aware Apple still charges $30 extra over the carrier-tied versions for an unlocked model.

Still, think of what you get for that price. The main and selfie cameras are even better than before, thanks to new sensors and Apple's enhanced Photonic Engine, the A16 Bionic chipset has better performance, and there are fun new features to try like its useful 2x telephoto zoom camera.

Compared to the iPhone 14, the year-on-year upgrade makes gains in the battery life and display department. The most notable addition is that handy 2x telephoto zoom, despite it not technically being an optical zoom lens.

Read our full iPhone 15 review.

Best unlocked iPhone Pro

iPhone 15 Pro Max Dynamic Island

(Image credit: Future)
Your best bet for an unlocked iPhone Pro

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch OLED
CPU: A17 Pro
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP main (f/1.78), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12MP telephoto (f/2.8) with 5x zoom
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 7.81 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 14:02

Reasons to buy

+
Longer 5x telephoto zoom
+
Excellent A17 Pro chip performance
+
Extra long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive cost
-
Slow charging speeds

There’s more of a difference between the two iPhone 15 Pro models, which is great news for unlocked phone fans that want the best of the best. There are several reasons why the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best pro iPhone you can get, despite its higher $1,199 starting cost.

New additions like its titanium alloy frame, Action button, and A17 Pro chip make it a worthwhile upgrade over its predecessor, but it's able to separate itself from the standard iPhone 15 Pro with its much longer battery life and handier 5x telephoto zoom camera. 

Buying the iPhone 15 Pro unlocked means having to pay the full $1,199 upfront, which is a tall order. But the device you get in exchange is well worth the money.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review.

Best big sized unlocked iPhone

Taking a photo with the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.

(Image credit: Future)
The best big unlocked iPhone

Specifications

Display: 6.7inch OLED
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 12MP main (f/1.6), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 7.09 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 14:14

Reasons to buy

+
Longest battery life in an iPhone
+
Usable 2x telephoto zoom
+
Charming design

Reasons to avoid

-
No change to its charging speeds
-
Dated looking 60Hz display

Apple really put some effort into improving the iPhone 15 Plus over last year's effort, proving to be a substantial upgrade. Battery life reaches a record level for an iPhone, so much so that it even beats the iPhone 15 Pro Max in Tom's Guide's battery benchmark test. Moreover, it's better equipped at taking photos thanks to its upgraded main camera, which delivers results similar to that of the iPhone 14 Pro series.

If you prefer larger sized displays, the iPhone 15 Plus' 6.7-inch OLED is a sight to behold, featuring richer colors and a much brighter panel than last year's offering. You can get the iPhone 15 Plus unlocked at the starting price of $929.

Read our full iPhone 15 Plus review.

Best value unlocked iPhone

iPhone 14 Plus shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
When you want the most iPhone for the least amount of money

Specifications

Display size: 6.7 inch OLED (2778 x 1284)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB,256GB,512GB/No
Rear camera: 12MP main (f/1.5), 12MP ultra wide (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 7.16 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:57

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent battery life
+
Strong photography
+
Excellent performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Display is 60Hz only
-
No telephoto camera
-
20W max charging is slow

Apple revived its old Plus model with the iPhone 14, giving users a way to get its largest 6.7-inch display size but without spending all that money on the Pro Max and its advanced features.

You don't get a 120Hz refresh rate or a telephoto camera, but that's par for the course with non-Pro iPhones. Fortunately you do instead get an excellent battery life,  plenty of power from the A15 Bionic chipset, and great photos from the main, ultrawide and selfie cameras. The iPhone 14 Plus makes a great unlocked iPhone for those who don't want to splash out on the iPhone 14 Pro Max but find the 6.1-inch basic iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro too small for their liking.

Read our full iPhone 14 Plus review.

Most powerful unlocked iPhone

iPhone 15 Pro shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Apple's most powerful iPhone

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch OLED
CPU: A17 Pro
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP main (f/1.78), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12MP telephoto (f/2.8) with 3x zoom
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 6.6 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:53

Reasons to buy

+
Best cameras in a phone
+
Superior performance
+
Good battery life
+
Lighter design

Reasons to avoid

-
A lot of money to pay upfront
-
No SIM card
-
Still only 20W charging

You'll have to pay $999 up front for an unlocked iPhone 15 Pro, but you'll find that it's well worth the money. This is Apple's best phone by some measure.

Like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you get a new design complete with a titanium alloy frame, increased screen brightness, upgraded camera sensor, USB-C port, and a new Action button. Even better, the iPhone 15 Pro has incredible battery life, lasting much longer than its predecessor.

Apple's pro iPhone isn't for everybody, but people who want the very best Apple has to offer should opt for the iPhone 15 Pro.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro review.

Also consider

iphone 13 from the back

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
A killer value

Specifications

Display: 6.1-inch OLED (2340 x 1080)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 12MP main (f/1.5), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 6.07 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:28

Reasons to buy

+
Great cameras
+
Very good battery life
+
Bright display

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks 120Hz display
-
Slower charging than rivals

Even with the iPhone 15 available, there are still valid reasons to go with Apple's iPhone 14, especially now that Apple's older phone costs less. By skipping more recent iPhones, you won't get a slightly improved A16 Bionic chipset in the iPhone 15 or the camera improvements in the new models. But the iPhone 14 is a worthy upgrade from older phones, and now it costs less than before at $729 for an unlocked model. 

As with any iPhone 14 model, the real story here is the cameras. The iPhone 14 still features two rear lenses, but they have bigger sensors than the iPhone 13's, leading to improved low-light photography and better stability for capturing 4K video. The iPhone 14 specifically gains a new action mode video feature that makes it look like it's floating on air while recording video.

Read our full iPhone 14 review.

Most affordable unlocked iPhone

iPhone SE 2022 back of phone against stone

(Image credit: Future)
The most affordable unlocked iPhone