Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google

When buying an unlocked phone to use with a prepaid carrier, our recommendation is unchanged from our overall best Android phone pick: it’s the Google Pixel. Google’s first own-branded phone is absolutely hit, from its understated hardware design to its lightning fast performance, full-day battery life and of course its top-of-the-line camera.

The Pixel simply does everything faster than the competition, and does so while integrating with all of Google’s excellent services and no extra bloat. It’s also going to be the most up-to-date in terms of software, getting monthly security updates and also being at the front of the line for big platform jumps.

You’ll pay for the privilege, but if you want the slickest and cleanest Android phone that you can buy unlocked and bring to a prepaid carrier, the Pixel is the way to go.

Bottom line: For the fastest, simplest and best-supported experience, you can’t go wrong with Google’s own phone.

One more thing: You can opt for the 5.5-inch Pixel XL if you want more screen to work with and longer battery life.

Why the Google Pixel is best

After years of Nexus phones that didn’t quite hit the mark of being high-end phones, Google’s Pixel finally feels like a complete thought. It all starts with the sleek and understated hardware that doesn’t have tons of flair but feels great and is extremely sleek. Underneath that skin is all of the top-end specs you want, from a Snapdragon 821 processor to available 128GB of storage.

The Pixel’s display is the best we’ve seen from a Google-backed device, and even gives the likes of Samsung a run for their money in overall quality. The camera is also leading the industry in terms of speed, photo quality and stabilized video.

This is what Alex Dobie had to say in our complete Pixel review:

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL deliver what we’ve always wanted from a Google Android experience: an attractive design, lightning-fast performance and unique Google features you won’t find on any other phone. Meanwhile the Pixel nails the essentials, with good “all-day” battery life, cameras that go toe-to-toe with the high-end competition, and update support unrivaled in the Android space.

The Pixel (or, if you need a big screen, Pixel XL) really is the complete package from Google, and if you’re going to be buying unlocked it’s the best available option today. The pricing has definitely taken a jump from Nexus devices that came before it, but we think it’s worth the hefty price tag.

Best value

OnePlus 3T

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus
See at Amazon

Going with a prepaid carrier like Mint SIM is all about value, and chances are you may be looking to get a great deal in your phone as well as your service — this is where the OnePlus 3T really excels. At $439 it won’t break the bank, but gives you most of the top-end features the competition offers while absolutely nailing the core experience.

You get a solid (albeit not flashy) metal exterior, a great one-touch fingerprint sensor, a solid 5.5-inch display and flagship-level 16MP f/2.0 camera. Inside there’s a Snapdragon 821 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (128GB optional), dual SIM slots, USB-C and Dash Charge fast charging. The software is slick and fast with subtle but useful customizations and absolutely zero extra bloatware.

Bottom-line: The OnePlus 3T offers an amazing value, giving you most of a flagship experience for hundreds less.

One more thing: The Dash Charge fast-charging solution is incompatible with other fast-charging standards like Quick Charge 3.0.

Best for less

Moto G4 Plus

Moto G4

See at Amazon

The Moto G4 Plus won’t blow you away with striking design or materials, but it’s all about getting a great experience for the money. Starting at $229 ($20 off it’s original MSRP) you get a 5.5-inch 1080p display, solid 16MP camera, good battery life and a fingerprint sensor. Moto’s software is always a fan favorite, and performance is solid enough from the older Snapdragon 617 processor.

The phone is very capable in its default configuration with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, but if you want something more approximating what you get from the next tier up in phones consider buying the higher-end G4 Plus with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Just be aware that the Moto G5 and G5 Plus will be launching soon to replace these nearly year-old models!

Bottom-line: For an inexpensive phone to go prepaid with that gets the basics right, the Moto G4 Plus is an awesome choice.

One more thing: If you can wait for a little bit longer, you should hold off until the Moto G5 goes on sale in the U.S.

Conclusion

Google’s first own-branded phone isn’t perfect, but it absolutely offers the best overall Android phone experiences available today. There’s something to love about it for everyone, from power users to Google fans to average no-frills consumers.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google

When buying an unlocked phone to use with a prepaid carrier, our recommendation is unchanged from our overall best Android phone pick: it’s the Google Pixel. Google’s first own-branded phone is absolutely hit, from its understated hardware design to its lightning fast performance, full-day battery life and of course its top-of-the-line camera.

The Pixel simply does everything faster than the competition, and does so while integrating with all of Google’s excellent services and no extra bloat. It’s also going to be the most up-to-date in terms of software, getting monthly security updates and also being at the front of the line for big platform jumps.

You’ll pay for the privilege, but if you want the slickest and cleanest Android phone that you can buy unlocked and bring to a prepaid carrier, the Pixel is the way to go.

Bottom line: For the fastest, simplest and best-supported experience, you can’t go wrong with Google’s own phone.

One more thing: You can opt for the 5.5-inch Pixel XL if you want more screen to work with and longer battery life.



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