Home - , , - Updated 7/5/18: Master List of "Universal Unlocked" Phones That Work on All Four US Networks

Updated 7/5/18: Master List of "Universal Unlocked" Phones That Work on All Four US Networks

"Universal Unlocked" phones work on all four US national networks. That makes them a good choice for anyone who doesn't like being tied to one operator or likes to jump from operator to operator in their quest for the perfect deal. This post is intended to be a frequently updated list of past and present universal unlocked phones.

To be considered universal unlocked, I believe that phone needs to:
  • Support at least the main bands and technologies use by all four operators. That means at a minimum UMTS (aka WCDMA) 850, 1700 and 1900 Mhz, CDMA and EVDO on 850 and 1900 Mhz and LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 25, 26 and 41. Ideally a universal unlocked phone would also support LTE bands 29, 30 and 66 and 71. So far the only phones that support all of those bands are the US factory unlocked versions of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ and the Motorola Moto Z3.
  • Be whitelisted for activation by both Verizon and Sprint. It's possible to use some non-whitelisted  devices on Verizon by swapping in a SIM activated in a Verizon approved device. But Verizon doesn't support non-whitelisted devices and has the ability to block them from the network if they want. Sprint totally blocks all non-white listed  devices.
  • Support VoLTE on at least T-Mobile and Verizon. VoLTE is required to make phone calls in band 12 and band 71 T-Mobile markets. Verizon may require VoLTE support for all phones activated after June 30, 2018. Unfortunately, with the exception of iPhones, VoLTE support is pretty spotty and hard to confirm among non-carrier branded phones. All the phones below have been whitelisted by Verizon so they should be VoLTE-capable when Verizon starts requiring VoLTE.   
In the list below, the device name is a link to specs that list the technologies and bands each phone supports.
Here's how to check if a device is whitelisted or not.

Sprint: Go to this Sprint web page and click How do I know if my device is eligible? in the FAQs about BYOD section to view the whitelist. (includes some phones that aren't universal). You check if a specific phone is eligible for Sprint activation here (IMEI required).

Verizon Go to this list of whitelisted non-Verizon devices (the list is incomplete in that iPhones are missing and it includes phones that aren't universal). You can also check if your device is eligible to activate on Verizon here (IMEI or MEID required).

Warning. Verizon and especially Sprint are notoriously fussy about which phones they will allow on their networks. Both have a history of blocking phones that should be eligible for no apparent reason. MVNOs, especially Verizon MVNOs are even worse. Verizon apparently charges its MVNOs an extra monthly access fee for so called "Verizon Retail Devices",  which is any phone that was last used on Verizon postpaid. Nost Verizon MVNOs will refuse to any phone that Veizon flags as a Verizon Retail Device..

Although Sprint whitelisted universal unlocked phones can usually be activated on Sprint MVNOs without issues, the same can not be said for Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, which are Sprint's prepaid brands. Boost has its own whitelist which is smaller than the Sprint one. Notably, Boost doesn't allow any of the Google Nexus or Pixel phones. The only unlocked phones allowed on Virgin are these iPhones.

If you know of other phones that you think should be included in this list please mention them in a comment along with a link to their specs if possible.

Updated 5-Jul-2018: Added Motorola G6, G6 Play and Z3 Play.

Lock image source: Pixabay CC0 licensed

67 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Thanks Dennis. You did a great service

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can anyone explain to me why, with all the hassles on BYOD do I need to be a Verizon customer. if I lived in a big city?? What's wrong with AT&T or T-Mobile, where they don't even know (or care) what phone you use? there is absolutely NO difference, none whatsoever, in the quality of service in the big cities between Verizon and the rest of the pack.(except price of course)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you only stay in big cities just go for the cheapest you can find. They all work equally well.

      Delete
    2. AT&T and Verizon's primary LTE networks (700 MHz) are much better than T-Mobile's primary networks (1700 and 1900) at providing coverage inside brick-stones. And Verizon has the edge in nationwide coverage, and not everyone who lives in big cities always stays within big city (coverage) limits.

      Delete
  3. I believe a sim activated on a compatible Verizon phone can be swapped into another phone (e.g. retail device) without issue.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Long needed info, THANKS Dennis.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got reported from Japan, China, and South Korea friends that east Asia iPhone 6/6+ works on Verizon network.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very helpful compilation. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. How about iPhone 6 and 6+? They are just as universal as iPhone 6s. I have used them on Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T with no issues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The iPhone 6 and 6+ don't support LTE band 12 which is a very important band for T-Mobile.

      Delete
    2. >The iPhone 6 and 6+ don't support LTE band 12 which is a very important band for T-Mobile.

      B71 will be much more important to T-Mo than B12, and 99% of above listed phones don't have it. Granted, that's still 2 years away. But I see the need for a "partially universal phones" list, which iPhone 6 would fit, and in two years, most all of the above phones.

      On the obsolescence issue, Verizon reportedly will require VoLTE-capable (for VZW) phones after June 30, which if true will exclude some of the above models. Moto G4 Play and X Pure don't have VoLTE for VZW. I would also question the inclusion of budget Chinese brands like Alcatel Idol 5s and Orbic Wonder, given their near-zero support, along with little or no reported use from users.

      Your list is taken as a recommendation for many, and I think it should be conservative in listing only "known good" universal phones, not just phones with "compatible" specs.

      Delete
    3. google pixel can be activated on Boost, I am using one right now, But you have to get correct sim card from tech support

      Delete
    4. >Moto G4 Play and X Pure don't have VoLTE for VZW.

      Moto X Pure absolutely does have VoLTE for VZW. I have it and use it with VoLTE on VZW Prepaid.

      Delete
  8. I have an iphone 8+ that has been flagged as a verizon retail device (even though I paid full price and it is unlocked). Frustrated that Boom wasnt able to activate. If I activate it on tmobile or att for a few days, will that clear the "verizon retail device" flag and let me be able to use vzw mvnos? Verizon prepaid deprioritization makes the data useless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your first mistake was buying a carrier branded device.

      Your second mistake was buying an expensive phone.

      Your third mistake was buying an iPhone.

      Your fourth mistake was buying a phone that wouldn't fit your needs.

      Your fifth mistake was thinking your ESN transfers to different carriers, which all keep their own independent white/black lists.

      Your sixth mistake was thinking AT&T and T-mobile have anything to do with Verizon's network.

      Anyway, have fun with your slow lane fruit phone, and be sure to learn a valuable lesson about buying into into the norm-tier "Apple phones are the best" or "carrier locked devices on payment plans are totally worth it" memes.

      Delete
    2. No worries (or mistakes).
      Just activate a Boom nano-SIM in another phone and then swap it to the iPhone 8.

      Delete
    3. OK, don't be spreading heat at me, but TracFone brands have ALWAYS been able to get around Verizon's retail device flag. You just have to call Customer Service (Yes it is MUCH improved from couple of years ago) "If" a TracFone mvno will meet your current needs.
      If the first rep can't accomplish it, the next level up will.

      Delete
  9. Only the AT&T version of the 6s and 6s Plus have band 30

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for doing this Dennis, this will be a great resource.

    I have read that recent branded Samsung phones (Note8 and Galaxy S starting with the...S8?) are capable of being carrier-agnostic once unlocked; at most you may need to install a specific MNO's firmware/ROM. Since this is anecdotal, I went on Samsung's website and saw that all branded S8s were 950Uxxxx, S8+s 955Uxxxx, and so on. I did not check bands, though.

    The S7, though, is 930A, V, T or P depending on which MNO it's locked to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true hardware is same and you can flash any firmware. Sprint won't work though due to their whitelist. For me Verizon variant is best because it is factory SIM unlocked and can be flashed to "U" firmware and used on ATT, Tmobile, Verizon flawlessly. Other variants will require SIM unlock first.

      Delete
    2. S8 SIM unlock $6-$15

      Delete
  11. I'm using a orbic Wonder. I have used it on all four carriers and it works pretty good. I can tether no problem with it on all carriers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >I have used it on all four carriers and it works pretty good.

      Does Orbic Wonder have VoLTE/HD Voice on Verizon?

      Delete
    2. Any advantage to the Orbic over the E4plus at similar price?

      Delete
    3. Orbic Wonder looks interesting (vs Moto E4 Play ( XT1767).
      I would like to see a comparison.

      Delete
    4. Yes VoLTE on verizon

      Delete
  12. instead of spending $600. or more for one of these unlocked devices... just buy a phone that they sell for that actual network... prepay phones are $50... you can buy 12 different phones and have service with 12 different mvno's for an entire year before you get to $600.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or...buy an unlocked mid-range like a Moto E4 for $130, hop carriers to your heart's desire and not contribute to the e-waste problem. In less than three branded phones at $50 apiece you will have come out ahead.

      Delete
  13. Thank for this article. I have read that the is no volte on non- branded ATT (or Cricket) unbranded phones except for some iphones . Can someone please clarify this. Thanks

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  14. The overpriced S9 has disqualifying touchscreen issues and we've yet to see what problems the new motos will have, so there's currently no good unlocked budget phone with true universal compatibility.

    And since the extra bands expand capacity in high density markets, populated areas might as well just use Verizon.

    The Orbic Wonder isn't even relevant when you can get a Moto E4/Plus for around the same price.

    All in all, this just hammers home the point that GSM dragged its feet in getting compatible phones out there despite having the spectrum licenses for at least a year (or two).

    Only Lenovo can save them now, but it might be too late.

    Customers who hit their shit speeds and quit them won't be flocking back in droves, especially if they bought a Verizon locked device instead.

    That's why urgency was important, because permanently lost customers are a drag on potential revenue.

    "BUT ANON, PREPAID CUSTOMERS LIKE YOU DON'T MATTER! YOU'RE JUST A SMALL PART OF THE MARKET! IGNORANT POSTPAID SUBSCRIBERS ARE THEIR MEAT AND POTATOES!"

    If that were true, netops wouldn't have come out with their own prepaid offerings or gimped/throttled prepaid speeds on certain MVNOs.

    Prepaid customers matter, if only as a both a cherry on top as well as acanary in the coal mine or rats on a sinking ship.

    If prepaid customers are fleeing your native network, that's a clear sign of failure when even budget minded customers still can't bear to use your product anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The overpriced S9..."

      You get what you pay for.

      Delete
  15. You mangled the iPhone SE and left off an iPhone 6S model.
    You should have listed the SE A1723 that meets all of your basic requirements. The A1662 (not 1622) is the one you described.
    You should also show that the iPhone 6S A1688 (Sprint and Global) meets all basic band requirements. It omits Band 30 compared to the A1633.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've corrected the SE typo and added the A1688/A1687. Thanks for the heads up.

      A1723 lacks band 13 which is Verizon's main band.

      Delete
  16. You left off the best universal phone of all IMO, the iPhone X A1865 (it lacks Band 71 support).

    You state that only iPhone 7 and 8 (and Plus versions) sold by Verizon are whitelisted by Sprint. That is misleading - you can't even swap an active Verizon SIM into other models. The AT&T and T-Mobile models do not support CDMA at all. That is also true of the iPhone X A1901.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The iPhone 7, 8 and X models I listed, such as the iPhone 7 A1660, are not exclusive to Verizon. They were also sold unlocked also by Apple and by some Asian carriers. Any A1660, regardless of source, should work on Verizon. But Sprint says that it will only accept the ones sold by Verizon.

      The iPhone X is listed on the same line as the 8 and 8 Plus.

      Delete
  17. I kind of surprised that there are no LG universal models .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dennis did not list the LG Tribute Dynasty, which meets all band requirements but is sold locked.
      It's also an affordable phone, so it negates the rant @6:47 (once it's unlocked).

      Delete
    2. LG V30 LS998U is an obvious Universal model choice. You can pay full price to use it unlocked. Like the Samsung S9 and S9+ it meets all band requirements, including Bands 66 and 71. The V30 was the first phone to offer Band 71.

      Delete
    3. Sprint is now selling the LG Tribute Dynasty for full price, so you can get it unlocked.
      The LG LS998U V30 variant mentioned above is the Sprint V30+ model, which can also be bought for full price and unlocked.

      Delete
    4. You don't have to buy the LG LS998U V30+ from Sprint. You can buy it unlocked online from Walmart, or with savings at B&H:
      http://www.lg.com/us/cell-phones/lg-US998U-Unlocked-v30-plus

      Delete
    5. This is a list of phones sold unlocked that meet the criteria listed at the top of the post. Carrier locked devices that if unlocked can be used on other carriers is an interesting topic. Maybe I'll cover it in a future post.

      According to Sprint.com - Unlocking your Sprint device in addition to be fully paid for Sprint requires 50 days of postpaid service before it will unlock a phone.

      The LG Tribute Dynasty is not whitelisted by Verizon.

      The unlocked LG V30+ US998U supports different LTE bands than the LS 998U for Sprint.
      US998U: 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/20/25/66
      LS998U: 2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/41
      The US998U is missing Sprint bands 26 and 41 and is not Sprint whitelisted, it is Verizon whitelisted, the LS998U is not.

      See:
      LG V30+ for Sprint (LS998) | LG USA
      LG V30+ Unlocked (US998U) | LG USA

      Delete
  18. The HTC U11, sold unlocked on Amazon and eBay should also be added to the list. It supports all basic bands plus B66.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm are you sure the unlocked U11 would be compatible with Sprint? The Amazon description doesn't say so, nor does HTC's network specs list CDMA bands in the unlocked model.

      From HTC's website, it looks like the Sprint model should also be compatible with AT&T and probably T-Mobile (minus at least B66 and B71 if not also voLTE) and Verizon too (if they aren't "fussy") but at the minimum, you'd have to get the phone unlocked, if HTC, unlike Sprint, doesn't sell the Sprint model unlocked.

      Delete
    2. Yes, it looks like you have to pay full price to Sprint for U11, and have them unlock it.
      I saw an HTC page on computer for unlocked model that I thought listed bands for 4 carriers. I can’t find that page on my phone right now.

      Delete
    3. An article on community.sprint July 7 quotes a Sprint rep as saying you can buy the U11 direct from HTC, then activate it on Sprint or other big 3 carriers. This must be the Sprint model, sold unlocked.

      Delete
    4. Here is a HTC page that says the unlocked AT&T U11 is the model you should buy because it has Band 66. Ignore the description and look at the specs:
      https://www.htc.com/us/go/htc-u11-unlocked/

      The Sprint model definitely works too, but lacks Band 66:
      https://www.htc.com/us/smartphones/htc-u11/buy/#!color=blue

      It's possible that Sprint would not activate the unlocked AT&T version, even though it has the same Sprint bands.

      Delete
    5. Correction: The unlocked AT&T and T-Mobile U11 models don't list CDMA bands.
      The Sprint model lists MIMO capability, so that is the one you want, unlocked.

      Delete
    6. The HTC site is confusing but I don't think HTC sells the Sprint model unlocked. Also I'm pretty sure there are only 2 unlocked models, 64 GB and 128 GB, not separate AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon unlocked models. The phone enables different bands depending on which carrier's SIM used.

      The unlocked models don't work on Sprint and are LTE plus VoLTE only on Verizon. Multiple Verizon users seem to be having issues with the U11 too: HTC U11 | Verizon Community.

      Delete
  19. All U.S. model branded Samsung S8's and S8+'s, are now universal as Samsung has done an OTA update to enable carrier switching. For example, if you insert a TMobile or Verizon or AT&T sim in a Sprint S8, it will (assuming it was paid off and unlocked) reboot and rebrand then and there to full branding of the new carrier.

    This is separate from the unbranded model's portability and better in many ways because you get every branded feature such as Wifi Calling and VoLTE and VisualVoicemail.

    For proof see
    https://www.sprint.com/en/shop/bring-your-phone-to-sprint.html , look at the list of supported phones and you will see:

    Samsung Galaxy S8 (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile)
    Samsung Galaxy S8 Special Edition

    This also is in process for Note 8. It is not get in effect for S9 (it typically lags release of a new model by 6 months.) It does not apply to S7.

    Unfortunate the phone still may not work on some Verizon mvno's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Correction - you need to start from
      https://www.sprint.com/en/shop/offers/free-unlimited.html
      to get to the latest version of that Sprint page that shows what I quoted.

      Delete
    2. This confirms the previous "recent branded Samsung phones are capable of being carrier-agnostic once unlocked" observation (except for the S9 atm.) It sounds ironic that a phone unlocked by one carrier would be better for use on another carrier than a factory unlocked unit; is the OTA update not made available to factory unlocked phones?

      And does the OTA update also install carrier-specific bloatware?

      Delete
    3. "And does the OTA update also install carrier-specific bloatware?"
      With the OTA update applied (as it is now in general on S8s and Note 8's but not S9's or S7's) , when you insert say a Verizon sim, yes you get full Verizon bloatware and features. When you install a TMO sim, you get full TMO branding including bloatware and features, etc for all U.S. carriers.

      The unbranded model (called the "unlocked" model) has its own form of carrier switching but it does not include branding and a number of carrier-specific features. For example, on Sprint it omits Visual VoiceMail, beta LTE Calling, etc. You cannot update it to including branding and special features unless you flash it. On the other hand, it comes out right away before brand switching does - you can get it now obviously for S9.

      Delete
  20. These Universal phones can get you unlimited LTE Free Plan on Sprint postpaid for a whole year. Never thought I'd go back to Sprint lol. I can vouch for the essential phones Wi-Fi calling on Sprint is very good. The Moto G5 Plus for $129: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F173198812312
    (we'll turn on one button navigation and have total screen real estate)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks to all for this helpful information -I switch back forth between ATT ( Cricket)and Verizon (Total Wireless, Verizon Pepaid) several times a year due to coverage needs. I have been using a Moto E4 Play but need to get additonal phone universal phone for family members.

    ReplyDelete
  22. An unlocked V30 would match Samsung S9 including band 71 for Tmobile

    ReplyDelete
  23. Awesome job. This is what makes this site the best!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I wonder why Sprint does not accept the unlocked/sim-free purchased iPhone X, directly purchased from Apple

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait, what? SPRINT grew the pair to do that?

      Delete
    2. No, Sprint's BYOP activation system has been broken for years and management shows no interest in fixing it. Blocking the activation of compatible devices only hirts Sprint.

      Delete
  25. xt1710-01 Z2 Play works on Sprint...does 02 also?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, xt1710-02 is the 32 GB version, 01 is 64 GB.

      Delete
  26. Would you know which model IPhone 6s Straight Talk is selling coupled with the Straight Talk Verizon sim card? I would like to purchase an IPhone 6s from Straight Talk with service on AT&T towers, but they are not selling IPhones coupled with Straight Talk AT&T sims. So, could I buy the IPhone 6s from Straight Talk and substitute a BYOP Straight Talk AT&T sim to get Straight Talk service on AT&T towers?

    ReplyDelete
  27. And now, to pear down this list to those that are supported by Lineage OS... for recent motos, I think its just G4 Play, G4 and G4 Plus.

    What about the moto Z play? is it universal and unlocked? I see the Z2 Play on this list, but its not supported by Lineage OS as the Z Play is, model XT1635-02.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moto X Pure (2015) model xt1575 is also on your list which is supported by lineage OS. I don't know if you can find it new any more being a 2015 model, but specs are good, and swappa pricing is around $140. At 5.7" is bigger than I would prefer, and apparently it might have some screen burn issue to check into.

      Delete
  28. Add Moto G6. No universal Moto E5 models.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I went through this same crap with Sprint over an unlocked universal Galaxy S7. Luckily the seller knew a Sprint Exec, and it was whitelisted. Going through a similar problem with a universal IPhone7. Sprint is not scoring any points with existing customers on this front.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Please add Samsung Galaxy Note 9

    ReplyDelete
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