Shopping for a new phone can be the worst if you're not looking for a new contract to go with it. Despite the efforts of carriers like Virgin and T-Mobile, most phone companies would still rather sell you a phone at a subsidized price with a long contract attached. In the interest of giving our contract-shy readers a helping hand, we've rounded up the week's best unlocked and no-contract phone deals. Grab a no-contract Nokia Lumia 521 for $49, save $58 on an unlocked Sony Xperia Z Ultra, or get $100 off an unlocked iPhone 5.
Nokia Lumia 521 8GB No-Contract Windows Smartphone for T-Mobile
Store: Microsoft Store
Price: $49 with free shipping
Lowest By: $20
Is It Worth It?: Don't let this phone's lack of LTE scare you: "Nokia's Lumia 521 is one of the best bargain smartphones on any platform," according to CNET. An Editors' Choice pick at $49, you'll save $20 on this Windows phone. The Lumia 521 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core processor, a 4" 800x480 IPS LCD, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory, a 5-megapixel camera, a microSD slot, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Windows Phone 8 OS.
Unlocked Sony Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition 16GB 4G LTE Android Smartphone
Price: $334.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $58
Is It Worth It?: Looking for a phablet? Grab this Google Play Edition Sony Xperia Z Ultra, already unlocked and good to go at $335. That's a $58 savings on this dual-band GSM smartphone, which features a 2.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8974 quad-core processor, a 6.4" 1080p touchscreen, 16GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, 1080p video capture, 802.11a/n wireless, Bluetooth: 4.0, and Android 4.4 OS (KitKat).
Google Play Edition devices run a more efficient, stock version of Android and receive updates more quickly than devices that operate on a brand-skinned versions of Android. However, these devices may lack certain brand-specific features or apps.
Refurbished Unlocked Apple iPhone 5 64GB GSM Smartphone
Store: Factory Certified via eBay
Price: $499 with free shipping
Lowest By: $100
Is It Worth It?: We've previously speculated that eBay seller Factory Certified is actually Apple in disguise, as it's able to offer factory-refurbished iPhones (like this one) with full Apple warranties. You'll save $100 on this Editors' Choice iPhone 5, available in Black or White. This previous-gen iPhone features an Apple A6 processor, a 4" 1136x640 Retina display, 64GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel iSight camera, a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, 1080p video capture, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, and iOS 7.
A 1-year Apple warranty applies.
Unlocked Dell Venue Pro 8GB GSM Windows Smartphone
Store: Eclipse3211 via eBay
Price: $59.99 with $9.99
Lowest By: $4
Expires: August 23
Is It Worth It?: This unlocked Dell Venue Pro is only 3G capable, but it offers a slide-out QWERTY keyboard — not an easy find these days. All in all, $60 isn't a whole lot to pay for this Windows phone, which CNET described as "well-built and smooth-running." It features a Snapdragon 1GHz processor, a 4.1" 480x800 AMOLED touchscreen, 8GB of storage, a 5-megapixel camera, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth, and Windows Phone 7 OS.