What is a SIM free phone?
A 'SIM free phone' - also known as a 'handset only deal' - is a mobile phone bought without the usual accompanying SIM card. It's the flip side of the 'SIM-only deal'.
For the majority of us, getting a SIM free phone will involve paying upfront and in full for your mobile of choice. However, if you prefer to spread the cost of a new phone there are repayment plan options.
Do I need to get a SIM card?
Your mobile will need a compatible SIM card in order to make calls, text, use data or pretty much anything else we generally use our phones for. Which means you'll still need to sign up for a SIM only deal to use with your phone. If you don't already have a SIM card take a look at the following SIM options and see if you can save some money:
- Find the best SIM only deals available.
- Compare pay-as-you-go SIM only deals
- Or, for short term contracts, check out the best 30 day SIM contracts currently on the market.
So, if getting a SIM for your phone is unavoidable why not just get a deal that gets you the handset AND a SIM card at the same time?
What are the benefits of getting a SIM free phone?
Savvy customers are increasingly turning their backs on the traditional phone and tariff combo, and with good reason. Here are the advantages of going solo on your phone and SIM deals.
- It's often a cheaper option
SIM free phones can save you a significant amount of cash when paired with a separate SIM only deal. Up to as much as £100+ over the first two years of your contract.
Let's do some sums and look at just one of the comparisons available at the time of writing. You can get a combined Apple iPhone 7 32GB phone and SIM deal with unlimited calls and texts, and 5GB of data for £36 per month on a 24 month contract. That's a total repayment of £864.00.
Compare that to opting for a SIM free phone coupled with a separate SIM-only deal.
You can get the same phone, an Apple iPhone 7 32GB for a £469.99 one-off payment. Couple this with a £10 per month SIM-only deal via Vodafone with unlimited texts and minutes, and 5GB data over 24 months totalling £240. Making a total outlay of £709.99 over two years. Giving a tasty saving of £157.01. Although deals available change over time, so this specific example may not be around in a few months, there were many other similar examples to be found.
Take a look at the best handset only deals currently on MobilePhoneChecker above and see what savings you could make.
- Freedom to switch networks
Like the England football team during a World Cup, no-one likes a penalty. And if you've ever tried to end your mobile/data tariff before the 24 month contract is up, you'll know that early termination penalties can be painful.
Buying a SIM free phone upfront and pairing it with a separate pay-as-you-go SIM only deal means the painful shackles of the 24 month phone/data tariff are off. Hurrah! You are free to chop and change your network provider with as little as 30 days notice, depending on your SIM contract, without facing an unpleasant bill.
So if you spot a great data deal offered by a different provider you can act fast and bag yourself a bargain. Take a look at the best 30 day SIM contracts.
- Flexibility to change phones
If you like to have the very latest phone on the market in your pocket, being tied to your current phone for up to 2 years is a nightmare. Separating your SIM deal from your phone gives you the option to change phones as often as your bank balance permits - and being able to recycle your old phone puts cash in your pocket for the next phone you buy.
- Take advantage of roaming opportunities
When you have the freedom to change your network, you can take full advantage of the beneficial data roaming allowances offered by some networks ahead of your holiday. So, if you are heading off on a trip down under, cancel your 30-day contract a month before you go and sign up to a pay-as-you-go deal that allows you to use your data allowance in Australia at no extra cost. At the time of writing, Three's Go Roam allows you to use your UK data and calls allowance at no extra cost at up to 71 worldwide destinations.
Are there any disadvantages to SIM free phones?
Finding separate handset only and SIM only deals is marginally more effort though arguably an effort worth making for the financial savings.
Where buying a SIM free phone could really lose its appeal is in the need to cough up the full cost of the phone upfront which is necessary in the majority of SIM free phone deals.
The traditional phone and tariff combo allows you to spread the cost of the phone over the duration of the contract making it a more affordable option for many of us.
Cheap SIM free phone deals
Getting separate handset only and SIM only deals is perfect for anyone looking for a cheaper phone. You can filter our deals table by price to find the right phone to fit your budget.
Alternatively, with a refurbished SIM free phone you can pick up one of the latest phones on the market at a reduced upfront cost.
Find and compare cheap SIM free phones via our MobilePhoneChecker deals table.
Finding a SIM free phone by manufacturer
On the SIM-Free page, you can also search for a range of handsets from a particular manufacturer. If you're after a SIM-free Apple iPhone or a handset from Samsung or Huawei, then check our price comparison tool to find the best handset-only deal.
You can search for:
- iPhones- In terms of innovation, style and all-round kudos, Apple's iPhone range still ticks all the boxes - but they're not cheap, so you'll need to consider your priorities when deciding whether to plump for the latest Apple release.
- Samsung- Currently one of the flagship handset big hitters, the Samsung Galaxy range, in particular, offers some classy, reliable and innovative phones.
- Huawei- Sleek and well-proportioned, Huawei have an impressive mid-range collection of handsets to choose from - particularly if you don't want to splash out on a top-of-the line flagship model.
Can I use my SIM free phone with any network?
Some handsets lock to the provider of the first SIM that was inserted so if you are buying a refurbished phone you should always check that a phone is fully unlocked.
However, all of our SIM free phones are unlocked ready to use with any network.
Can I use a pay-as-you-go SIM with a handset only deal?
Yes,you can pair any of our SIM free phones with a pay-as-you-go SIM only deal.
Finding the best SIM free phone deal
Whether you are looking for a specific phone, or if you budget is strictly limited, find the perfect handset only deal for you by entering your individual requirements in our deals table. And then head on over to our SIM only page to get a great SIM deal.