TCL’s biggest drawback is that, like Motorola, it’s only promising one Android version update for these phones for now. That’s disappointing, and doesn’t bode well for the longevity of these phones past two years.
Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon
TCL 10 Pro costs $450 from Amazon
TCL 10L costs $250 from Amazon
6. iPhone XR ($599)
The Cheapest Modern iPhone
If you want the best deal for a high-end iPhone, consider the iPhone XR. Just know that, like the OnePlus 7T, this phone is only “cheap” when you compare it with the more expensive new models.
The iPhone XR (8/10, WIRED Recommends) came out in 2018, but it still compares well to the new iPhone 11. No, it doesn’t have an extra wide-angle lens, and its camera can’t capture as much detail in the dark, but otherwise there isn’t a huge difference between last year’s model and what Apple is selling for $100 more today. Until the iPhone 12 rolls around in late 2020, the XR is worth strong consideration.
iPhone XR costs $599 from Apple and Best Buy
Should You Buy Now?
Yes. Short of the Google Pixel 4A, which we’re expecting in June, and some new phones from Nokia, manufacturers have started selling their new budget phones. You have a lot of good options out there right now, and we’re not expecting too many other new affordable devices to drop anytime soon.
Check Network Compatibility
If you buy an unlocked phone on this list and try to take it to one of your wireless carrier’s retail stores, they may tell you it isn’t compatible with the network. It likely is. Just use a paper clip or SIM ejection tool to pop the SIM card out of your current phone, then slide that SIM into your new phone. If it doesn’t work at first, reboot the phone or wait a couple of hours.
If you need a new SIM, try ordering one online from your carrier, or try to get them to give you a SIM when you activate a line in the store (if you’re starting coverage). Tell them you have a phone. Many times, reps will want to sell you a phone; that’s one potential reason they might hassle you into buying a different device in the store.
Having said that, please make sure whatever phone you buy will work on your wireless network. Listings on retailers like Amazon should state clearly which networks it will be compatible with. Also make sure the listing says that the phone is being sold “unlocked.”