The No-Contract Phone You Should Buy On Every Carrier

No matter how you mince it, the new Google Nexus 5 is a total steal. $350 for a slab of Android hotness—without a contract. That's especially nice because, sooner or later, everyone loses/smashes their mobile and needs to buy one outright. Here's a roundup of all of the best off-contract deals on every carrier, and every major mobile OS.

At $350, the 16 GB Nexus 5 costs roughly the same as flying coach from NYC to LA, which feels like a reasonable price for an emergency smartphone purchase. For a little wiggle, we tried to keep the price of Android and Windows Phone replacements under $400. If you want an iPhone, even an old one's gonna cost you.

Note: All prices are contract-free retail with no rebates, upgrades, or incentives. We'll keep this post as up to date as possible. If you see any good dealz out there, or if any of the buy links are dead, email us, and we'll sort it out. And yeah, T-Mo claims it doesn't have contracts, but financing is a contract by another name.


AT&T

The No-Contract Phone You Should Buy On Every Carrier

Google Nexus 5 (16GB) $350

The Nexus 4 was solid but barebones: Yay, stock Android! Boo, crappy camera and no LTE. The Nexus 5, on the other hand, is pure flagship. It sports a 5-inch, 1080p display, a top-shelf Snapdragon 800 chipset, and (finally) LTE. Don't let the fact that AT&T isn't an official Nexus 5 carrier fool you. The unlocked version is compatible with AT&T's network.

Apple iPhone 4s (8GB) $450

The iPhone 4S might be two years old, but it's still a badass phone that gets most of the benefits of iOS 7 without crippling your device in the process. It's not your cheapest option, but if you're not going to be happy without an iPhone, it's solid pick that'll cost you less than $500.

Nokia Lumia 520 (8GB) $100

The Nokia Lumia 520 is mega affordable, and its guts reflect that. The 520 only connects at up to 3G speeds, and doesn't have the HD screen you'll find on better Nokia phones, but the 1 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Processor is a burly chipset for a handset this price, and it's clocked slow enough that the 520 should get good battery life. This also might be a good choice if you just need a holdover for a few months before your next true upgrade.


Verizon

The No-Contract Phone You Should Buy On Every Carrier

Motorola Droid Razr M (8GB) $350

When top Android phones started getting BIG, the Droid Razr M stayed (relatively) small. The upside is that the LTE handset has a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 powering just 4.3-inches of screen real estate; a winning combination for battery life and speed. If you're wondering why the Nexus 5 isn't the pick here, it's because Verizon wasn't invited to that particular party.

HTC 8X (16 GB) $300

This is probably the best non-Nokia Windows phone you can buy. The hardware's flush buttons can be a little frustrating, but it's hard to argue with what's under the hood: 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4, a 1280 x 720 HD screen, a solid 8-megapixel camera, Gorilla Glass, and LTE to boot.

Apple iPhone 4S (8GB) $450


Sprint

The No-Contract Phone You Should Buy On Every Carrier

Google Nexus 5 (16GB) $350

HTC 8XT (16 GB) $400

Just like the pretty-great HTC 8X for Verizon, except made crappier for Sprint. The 800x400 display won't wow you, and a Qualcomm chipset that's a tad slower than the 8X's Snapdragon won't set any speed records. But, hey, at least there's a decent 8-megapixel camera and LTE.

Apple iPhone 4S (8GB) $450


T-Mobile

The No-Contract Phone You Should Buy On Every Carrier

Google Nexus 5 (16GB) $350

Apple iPhone 4S (8GB) $450

Nokia Lumia 521 (8GB) $100

Same as the 520 on AT&T, except with the T-Mo version you'll get 4G. It's not the best, but it's better than nothing.