14 phones you wish you could buy from a US carrier, but can't

Here's what you're missing.


Jessica Dolcourt

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Lynn La

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1 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET

There's a world of phones that exists beyond Apple, Samsung and LG for those who dare to explore. But if you're used to buying your phone from a carrier like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, those handsets can be hard to find. It helps if you know what to look for outside of those major names.

2 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Packed with several innovative features, the Mate 20 Pro is chock full of tricks. It works as a wireless charging pad and charges other phones, it has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, a Face ID-type camera on the front and three cameras on the back. Talk about going above and beyond.

3 of 15 Donovan Sung/Xiaomi

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor, the Mi Mix 3 has a 6.39-inch display, four cameras (two on the back and two on the front) and comes in a variant with a whopping 10GB of RAM. Xiaomi is also expected to release a 5G version of the Mi Mix 3 some time next year.

4 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET

Huawei P20

The Huawei P20, right, costs a fair amount less than the P20 Pro, but it's still got a strong showing for a midrange device. Your best bet for finding it is to buy it overseas and put in a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM.

5 of 15 James Martin/CNET

Oppo Find X

Oppo doesn't have any retail partners in the US and doesn't operate its own US storefront either. Shame, because the Oppo Find X is the most thrilling phone we've seen all year. Its camera module slides up when you want to take a photo, making its screen-to-phone ratio even higher.

Moto G6 Plus
6 of 15 César Salza / CNET

Moto G6 Plus

You can buy the Moto G6 from some carriers, but the Moto G6 Plus isn't US-bound at all.

7 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Huawei P20 Pro

The Huawei P20 Pro takes superb photos with its three cameras and is one of the top phones of 2018. It's fast, it's beautiful. But it won't sell in the US. Huawei phones are a casualty of the government's concerns over the Chinese brand's networking equipment.

8 of 15 Nubia

Nubia X

Perhaps the most bizarre phone in this roundup is the Nubia X. This nearly bezel-less phone actually has two screens -- a 6.3-inch LCD display and a 5.1-inch OLED display on the back -- as well as an onscreen fingerprint reader.

9 of 15 Juan Garzon / CNET

Vivo Nex

The Vivo Nex is a lot like the Oppo Find X (they share the same parent company, after all). The pop-up camera module is smaller, but the all-screen face has no speaker grille to get in the way and razor-thin bezels. It has an in-screen fingerprint reader, too.

10 of 15

Nokia 8 Sirocco

Some Nokia phones do sell in the US, like the Nokia 6.1, 5.1 and 3.1 -- though you won't find them with a carrier. But it's the higher-end Nokia 8 Sirocco that captures your attention with clean lines and a clean Android One operating system. It's as close as you can get to Google's "pure" OS without being a Google phone.

11 of 15 Ian Knighton/CNET

Oppo R15 Pro

A handset like the Oppo R15 Pro can hold its own against midprice performers like the OnePlus 6.

12 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Huawei Honor View 10

Phones in Huawei's Honor brand often have attractive prices to match their glossy construction. The Huawei Honor View 10 stood out for great performance across the board, a good deal for its midrange price.

13 of 15 Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Moto G6 Play

The cheaper Moto G6 Play is a solid budget device that you'll have to snag directly from Motorola.

HTC U12 Plus
14 of 15 Juan Garzon / CNET

HTC U12 Plus

While you can find the HTC U12 Plus through online retailers and HTC's own site, this vivid, translucent phone won't sell with a carrier. That's a shame -- the squeezable phone brings innovation to a stagnant playing field.

15 of 15 CNET

Proof that change can come

Until the OnePlus 6T, you couldn't buy a OnePlus phone through a US carrier. T-Mobile cornered the carrier exclusive, but you can still buy the handset -- one of our favorites of the year -- directly from the carrier. Here are the best phones of 2018.

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