Whatever your reasons for side-stepping your carrier, unlocked smartphones offer a sense of freedom and convenience we can all appreciate. Simply buy a SIM card, stick it in your device, and you're good to go. There's no need to wait for activation and, best yet, you can keep your phone around for as long or as short a time as you'd like. Here are some of our favorite handsets that you can purchase and use wherever you go.
With its stylish aluminum looks and no carrier subsidy, expect to pay a pretty penny (a really, really pretty penny) for the One M8 GPE variant. But for Android purists, the device may be worth it -- plus it has a gorgeous 1080p screen and an ultra-fast Snapdragon 801 processor, and delivers ultra-crisp sound. It's the ultimate luxury Android phone. Read the full HTC One M8 Google Play Edition review.
Starting at $349 (£208) for the 16GB model, the Nexus 5 isn't just the best-value Nexus yet, it's the best Nexus ever made. Not only does it pack top-notch specs, it now has the all-important LTE connectivity (an improvement over the Nexus 4). And the phone's crazy-affordable price makes the good-not-great 8-megapixel camera a more than reasonable trade-off. Read the full review of the Nexus 5.
Compared with the others on this list, the Moto G isn't banging on all cylinders, but it isn't meant it. The original runs on 3G networks (but a new version also includes LTE), and its 5-megapixel camera is middling at best. But it is the most affordable handset included, hands down, at $179 (£107) for the 16GB variant. In addition, you can get it in stock Android mode (if you're into that sort of thing), customize its look online, and choose its network (global or US) capabilities. Although the Motorola Moto E is even more affordable still, we think the G is the better bet. Read the full Motorola Moto G review.
It shrugs off water and dust, can capture 4K video with its 20-megapixel camera, blazes with its powerful 2.3GHZ quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, and looks damn sexy. The £600 price tag is steep, and we're not sure if it will ever get a US release, but if you're looking for an Android powerhouse, this one rivals Samsung's Galaxy S5. Read CNET's full Sony Xperia Z2 review.
It may not be Samsung's flagship anymore now that the S5 has launched, but that doesn't mean the Galaxy S4 GPE is an obsolete device. It still sports a 13-megapixel camera, a quad-core processor, and a 1080p screen that's comparable to, if not better than, what you get on most phones right now, and if you're not a fan of Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, the handset's minimalist UI is much more refreshing. Read the full Galaxy S4 Google Edition review.