Most people know that mobile carriers lock you into contracts for cellular service by providing a “free phone.” The fact is though, you can avoid the 2 year commitment, or bring a non-carrier device to the network by purchasing an unlocked cell phone. Android and Me breaks down the best unlocked Android phones, including some of the benefits and cons of the devices, for the price category.
The post is great about explaining how and where to buy the phone, what to look for, and gives a reasonable estimate (as of the writing) of what the cost to purchase will be. Your safest bet for getting any unlocked device, as the post discusses, is probably eBay or Amazon.
As the post also discusses: “Unlocked phones are not for everyone. Some reasons you might want to pass on unlocked phones include: No 4G LTE access. In the future we might see pre-paid service plans with 4G LTE, but right now you are limited to HSPA+. Large families might be better off with a post-paid plan. Rates vary from carrier to carrier, but a family plan with shared minutes and data might be cheaper than a bunch of individual pre-paid plans. No in-store support. If you enjoy walking into your local carrier store to get support with your phone, then you might pass on an unlocked device. Most carriers will not provide support for a device they did not sell, so you will have to turn to the manufacturer for help and warranty claims.”