June 27, 2018

Best Unlocked Phones for Tracfone BYOP in 2018

Best Unlocked Smartphones for Tracfone Prepaid - 2018

The best unlocked phones by TracfoneReviewer and updated June 27th 2018 

Tracfone offers a growing selection of smartphones to use with their prepaid cell service, including Apple iPhones, high end smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S6, S7), and many budget smartphones. But consumers can also choose to purchase their own unlocked phone to bring to Tracfone's BYOP program.

best unlocked smartphones
List of Best Smartphones for Tracfone BYOP
But many consumers who want to buy their own phone, have certain questions.

What's the best phone to bring to Tracfone's BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) program? Are there any phones besides the Smartphones from Tracfone that I can use with Tracfone prepaid service? What phone should I buy as a Christmas present for my family member or friend? These are all good questions, and we will help answer them, and more, in this list of the best unlocked smartphones that can be used with Tracfone prepaid service.

Tracfone's BYOP program allows consumers to find their own smartphone, and then activate it with Tracfone's prepaid service. It is a very convenient way to get to choose whatever phone you want, while keeping Tracfone's low cost service plans. But not everyone knows all the best options, so we are here to share our top picks for phones to bring to the BYOP program.

For specific details on the requirements for activating a phone with Tracfone, see our Guide to Transferring/Activating a Smartphone with Tracfone or visit our Tracfone BYOP page (which also has a large list of phone options).

We are choosing these phones based on a variety of factors including popularity, value and cost. These are some of our best suggestions of phones we believe will fit most user's needs. In the end, each person needs to understand what they want out of a phone, and choose a phone according to that.

Most Tracfone users decide to use BYOP because they want a phone with a little more power and performance compared to most Tracfone smartphones, plus a wider selection of devices. In our list, we only include phones priced between $100-$400 as the majority of our readers are looking for a phone in that price range.

Now let's take a look at the list!

Top 6 Unlocked Smartphones to use with Tracfone (that are Reasonably Priced)

Below are the six best phones (and a few others) to use with Tracfone based on several factors. We hope this list will act as a guide and suggestion, and allow you to choose which phone best fits your needs.

1. Motorola G6 and G6 Play
The Moto G6 is the sixth and latest generation of a well-rounded line of phones that offer great value at a reasonable price. The Moto G line has long been known as the 'budget king' because of the terrific balance in price and specs, with the G6 maintaining that title.

The G6 has a large, 5.7" full HD touchscreen, 1.8Ghz Octa-core processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB Storage and dual rear cameras. It also features the latest Android OS, 8.0 Oreo and is compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks. For more details, view our recent Moto G6 specs and features list.

If you want to save a little money, and don't quite need the performance of the G6 but want a larger battery, the G6 Play is the answer, with a 4000 mAh battery for all day performance. The G6 Play has many of the same features, including Android 8.0 Oreo, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage, plus a 13MP rear camera (but not dual rear camera).

Another option is the slightly older Moto G5S Plus which still packs amazing performance and now at a discounted price. View the Moto G5S Plus on Amazon for around $200

View the Moto G6 on Amazon - $264
View the Moto G6 on Amazon (Prime Exclusive) - $234

View the Moto G6 Play on Amazon - $222
View the Moto G6 Play on Amazon (Prime Exclusive) - $189

View the Moto G6 Plus on Amazon - $364
The G6 Plus features more RAM, Storage, and a larger screen but is only compatible with GSM networks.

2. Apple iPhone SE
One of the main reasons many Tracfone users started switching to the BYOP program was to use an Apple iPhone with Tracfone service. Recently Tracfone has also started offering several iPhones including the SE, 6 and 6 Plus and even the iPhone 7 (Visit our Latest Tracfone Smartphone List to see exactly what's new). But it is still generally cheaper to find an unlocked iPhone such as the SE and use it with BYOP.

The iPhone SE is a compact device with impressive internal performance. It features a small, 4" retna display, and internal specs inline with the iPhone 6S, including A9 processor, 12MP rear camera with 4K video, and up to 64GB storage.

Look for the iPhone SE in some retail stores, but also online through Amazon or eBay. Make sure you choose an unlocked version that is compatible with the service in your area.

View the iPhone SE with 32 GB on Amazon for $300
View the Refurbished iPhone SE on Amazon for under $200

3. Nokia 6.1
Built from a single block of aluminium, the Nokia 6.1 is made to be stylish and durable with Corning Gorilla Glass on the 5.5" full HD touchscreen. It also features 3 GB RAM, 32 GB Storage, a 16 MP rear camera and runs Android One.

For those who are unfamiliar with Android One, it is a pure version of the Android operating system with no additional apps or clutter. It is both a hardware and software technical standard from Google designed to give users a consistent experience.

The Nokia 6.1 is a great looking phone but also a little more expensive than some of the options here.

View the Nokia 6.1 on Amazon (Prime Exclusive) - $269

4. Samsung Galaxy S5
With a 5.1" full HD touchscreen, 16 MP camera, 2 GB RAM and Quad-core processor, the Galaxy S5 packs good performance despite the fact it was released a few years ago. It runs on Android 4.4, but is upgradable to 5.1, and even 6.0 in some cases.

When it was released in 2014, the Galaxy S5 was the flagship phone for Samsung, packing in the latest and greatest performance and features that make it relevant even today.

Why we include it in this list is that this phone can be found for around $100, and even less if you're willing to buy a refurbished model. That's a bargain for a phone that can shoot 4K video at 30fps, and much more.

View a Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S5 on Amazon for $134
View the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Unlocked GSM) on eBay for $100

5. LG Q6
Featuring a 5.5" full HD IPS screen with 18:9 ratio the LG Q6 is the budget friendly version of the LG G6 and comes with many of the sleek design elements. It also has passed many durability standards, thanks in part to metal sides.

Internally the performance of the LG Q6 is good with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, a 13MP camera and a 1.4 Ghz octa-core processor. The phone runs Android 7.1 and is compatible with GSM networks.

The LG Q6 compares closely to the Moto G6 Play, with each phone offering certain pro's and con's.

View the LG G6 on Amazon for $200

6. Huawei Honor 7x 
Looking for that sleek, high-end feel? Consider the Honor 7x which comes with an all metal shell for protection and appearance and edge to edge 5.9" screen with 18:9 ratio. Inside it houses dual rear cameras (16MP and 2MP), 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage and uses GSM networks.

Another great feature on the Honor 7x is the fingerprint sensor (also available on the Moto G6) which allows you to securely lock the phone, and quickly unlock it. All of this is available for under $200, making it another great option.

View the Honor 7X on Amazon for $199

Several more phones that may be worth considering include:
-Google Nexus 5x - 32 GB Memory, 5.2" touchscreen, 12 MP Camera
-Motorola Nexus 6 - 32 GB Memory, 5.96" touchscreen, GSM compatibility

That concludes our list of the the best budget friendly smartphones to use with Tracfone. We hope this list serves to provide some ideas of different phones available to use with Tracfone BYOP.

We want to hear from you! Share your current/favorite phone you use with Tracfone in the comments below!

Also join in on the discussion on our Facebook page where more than 2000 followers already get the latest news and information in their feed.

Don't miss out on our monthly list of Tracfone Deals, Discounts and Sales which also include unlocked phones and Tracfone smartphones.

Also take a look at our recent Cell Phone Reviews which lists all our reviews in one convenient place.

And if you need some info on activating or switching your phone to Tracfone, read our full Guide to Activating or Transferring to a Tracfone Smartphone.

Thanks for visiting!


Anonymous said...

You don't specify which ones work reliably with Verizon CDMA version of Tracfone.
GSM is never a problem, but there have been CDMA Tracfone issues reported with BYOP phones.

TheLanMan said...

I got a Moto G4 Plus from Republic Wireless. It was on the T-Mobile network using a GSM SIM, and I didn't get cell reception at my workplace. I tried to take the phone to Tracfone using their CDMA BYOP SIM Kit, but two CDMA (Verizon) SIMs did not work, no matter what Tracfone 'support' suggested I try. I finally gave up and was able to activate the phone using a GSM (AT&T) SIM. I know the phone is supposed to fully support CDMA, and it could see the CDMA SIMs, but the cell voice/data radios showed 'off' while the CDMA SIMs were in the phone. I'm presuming this is possibly a one-off hardware issue with my phone, since I've heard of others using CDMA with the G4 Plus. Thankfully, I get adequate AT&T cell signal at my desk now.

Paul said...

Hello Peter,
I am considering a Moto G4 or G4 Play. Do you know if it would be possible to activate a GSM line and a CDMA line (with 2 different phone numbers) in one device? I tried to contact Tracfone with this question but I don't think I was able to make myself understood.

Anonymous said...

I just bought an unlocked GSM phone from BestBuy (Thanksgiving night) that was mentioned on the Tracfone Review site under "Black Friday Deals."

I also purchased a Tracfone BYOP Activation kit for $1.00. The phone has not yet arrived but the BYOP-kit has but the box it came in looks different than the BYOP-Kit sold on the Tracfone website and mentioned here -- the kit is in a little blue box probably like the ones you see at Walmart, etc. I also noticed somewhere on or in the box there was a date stamped of "2015", as well the SIM card for GSM says AT&T on it, and it is from my understanding Tracfone throws all GSM phones onto T-Mobile towers and all CDMA phones onto Sprint towers which is why people complain that once they leave their coverage area for the towers or coverage they are stuck with, they have no service since we know Tracfone no longer allows roaming.

So my question is: Will this activation kit and GSM/AT&T SIM work for me, or do I have to buy the new BYOP Activation SIMS that Tracfone has thrown out there since their cancellation of roaming and so-on?

Thank you.

CrunchyCookie said...

I just bought a new Nexus 5X (the very last Nexus phone -- came out in late 2015) since one of its selling points is its compatibility with all four carriers. Well, it looks like that doesn't always hold true when applied to TracFone. They wouldn't let me activate it using the CDMA/Verizon SIM card because their system was rejecting my phone's IMEI, so I had to settle for using the GSM/AT&T SIM. Sigh.

One of their phone reps actually told me that the only Verizon phones that work with BYOP are ones that have been used for six months. True? I also noticed that in TracFone's BYOP SIM Kit, the CDMA SIM card reads "compatible with used LTE Verizon phones". I never know what to believe, since their phone reps tend to not know what they're talking about half the time. One of their other guys even said the six month thing is wrong.

I'm just wondering if it's possible to buy some Verizon Galaxy S5 on eBay that no one's ever touched, and activate it on TracFone right away.

Peter Vanosdall said...

In reply to Anonymous on November 26, 2016 at 1:40 PM

Not sure if the SIM kit you got will work or not, are you sure it isn't a Net10 SIM kit?

As for Tracfone, they use both Verizon and ATT cell towers, as well as TMobile.

You could always try activating your phone, and if it doesn't work, stop by your local BestBuy or Target as they usually have Tracfone SIM kits for $1.

Hope that helps

Anonymous said...

Does the Nextbit Robin work with the BYOP program for GSM/ AT&T with Tracfone? I have been unsure whether or not it is going to work after doing a bit of research and I don't want to buy it if it does not.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I have the Samsung galaxy luna 4g And it says 3g at the top and my wife has the same phone and hes says 4g how do i fIX THAT?????

TheLanMan said...

I posted back in November about problems getting a Moto G4 Plus working with Tracfone CDMA (Verizon). Since then, I got my wife a Moto G4 Plus, identical to mine, to replace her Tracfone LG Ult 2 on CDMA. I got a CDMA/GSM SIM kit from Best Buy for $1 and had the service transferred from her LG to the Moto using a CDMA SIM - and it worked perfectly the first time. So her phone is on Verizon (CDMA) and mine's on AT&T (GSM). I'd rather be on Verizon, but oh well, it's working and I get cell reception at my workplace. I also figure if we're out and about together, there's a better chance at least one of us will have cell reception. :)

Thomas Weaver said...

Mine is a Blu R1 HD (16GB version) and I love it. I got the ad-free version because I like to believe a device is truly mine instead of shared with Amazon. Anywho, I've had it since summer and it's worked great for me. It's dual-sim which is great for traveling and accepts a micro-SD card up to 64GB. You get a lot of phone for $110.

Anonymous said...

Have owned Tracfones for over 10 years.....I would buy a new one just about every other year from HSN, because it would come with a one year card, making the phone, essentially, free....I joined the BYOP plan, because most of the Tracfone phones specs, basically sucked, if you wanted a smartphone that could actually do things, like a tablet.....

I Bought a ZTE Axon 7 mini, and easily connected to the GSM network with the $1 Sim Kit, you can get at any Dollar Store....transferring minutes was easy also....the mini is 5.2", 32GB, 3GB Ram, Amoled screen, 423 PPI, 1080P, FINGERPRINT SCANNER, added a 32GB micro SD card, and has compass & gyro, so I can use my VR googles with it.....and the stereo speakers are unreal....and I got it on sale for 199.99.....couldn't be happier with this phone....

Jim Stoner said...

I have a 1st gen Moto G and a Moto X (2014 I think) that have both worked fine on Tracfone using Verizon's CDMA network for more than a year now. Last week I just bought two of the new Moto G5 Plus which were just released. My old Moto X had a nano SIM card, so I transferred it to the Moto G5 Plus and it seems to be working fine.

Unfortunately, the old 1st gen Moto G did not have a SIM card, so I couldn't do that with my wife's new phone. Instead I bought the Tracfone BYOP kit to get a nano SIM and then called Tracfone to activate it and transfer her number to it. They were unable to register the Moto G5 Plus, though. Clearly the phone itself is compatible with the network itself since it works just fine with my old SIM card, but they currently won't register it as a new phone. I don't know if the problem is just that the Moto G5+ is so new and isn't on their list yet, or something else.

Now I'm trying to decide if I need to buy a cheap old phone that I can use to activate a SIM card, and then just transfer the SIM card to my wife's phone like I did for mine. Any suggestions?

Jim Stoner said...

Quick follow up: I guessed that the reason my new Moto G5+ worked was because I hat put an already valid Tracfone CDMA SIM in it. The first time I started that new phone with my old SIM card there was a message that it might take 5 minutes to register or something like that, and then it worked. So I wondered what the Tracfone BYOP web site would say about it; was it considered eligible or ineligible? Turns out the IMEI number of that phone was acceptable, presumably because it was now a "known" phone now because it had been registered to work with my old SIM (it was about 48 hours later; I'm not sure if the registration is immediate or might take a day or two before it gets into the Tracfone website's database).

Next I put the new never-used SIM card in my registered Moto G5+ phone, and used the web site to activate it and transfer my wife's phone number to the that SIM. Once that went through (took about 12 hours), I put that new SIM card in her Moto G5+ (the one they said they couldn't register) and it had that message about waiting 5 minutes, and then it all worked. So now both of the new phones are working.

So if you get a new Moto G5+ and Tracfone says they can't register it, see if you can temporarily put an existing SIM card in it (from a friend or family member's phone, for example) and let it register the phone that way, then try activating it via the web site to get your own SIM card and transfer your old number to it. Thought I'd update this here in case it helps someone else.

hangman said...

The biggest problem with Tracfone. Is that when they have a new phone. It takes them over a year or more to roll it out to all the areas.

M. Eric Bryner said...

The biggest problem with Tracfone. Is that when they have a new phone. It takes them over a year or more to roll it out to all the areas.

Really? Samsung Galaxy J3 Luna Pro was just released in June and I got it after defective one sent back and waiting 4 weeks after ordering with RMA on July 14th. So no it does not take a year for them to put new phones available. Where are you hiding? Under a rock?

Anonymous said...

I purchased a Moto G4 Play for use with my Tracfone account as it was at the top of the list of recommended phone on this webpage. I tried to activate the phone with the Tracfone Bring Your Own Phone SIM Card Kit and it didn't work. When I turned the phone on it gave me a message asking for a SIM Network Unlock PIN. Tracfone Technical support says it is because the phone is not compatible with Tracfone service.

Peter Vanosdall said...

Re: Anonymous:

Is it an unlocked Moto G4 Play or is it a carrier locked one? Some phone companies like Verizon, ATT and others will sell their own locked version, at a lower price, and they may not work with Tracfone. I've successfully used a Moto G4 Plus with Tracfone BYOP.

Unknown said...

Please note that I only use my Tracfone for an "extra" phone, such as selling things online, or when my other services (T-Mobile and ATT) did not work when visiting rural Wisconsin. I have been using Tracfone for 5 years and the service and customer services has been great. My normal phone is an iPhone 7 and I was tired of using the Tracfone LG Android phone - I'm sure that Android is great, but I'm just not used to the nuances and I don't want to take the time to learn, so I purchased a used (unlocked) iPhone 6 on eBay. I purchased the SIM card kit from Walmart ($9.99). I inserted the card in the phone and followed the online instructions and waited for activation. The message states that if it doesn't activate within one hour call the customer service number. I waited for four hours and finally called customer service. I was connected to a person fairly quickly, but they couldn't help, so they connected me with a tech person who was very, very helpful. This person made all of the necessary changes, had me test the calling, texting, and Web features before she completed the call. Again, I don't use this phone much, but it's a great backup when traveling. As for the cost of the service, Tracfone is fantastic. When my service is within 6 months of expiring, I go online and purchase the 60 day, 500 minutes option and when checking out I take the offer of adding 365 days of service for $50, so I get triple minutes and 14 months of service for less than $100. I've done this every year; in fact, my current service does not expire until November 2019.

fgermaine said...

I have a Verizon Prepaid Moto G4 Play that I'm using on the BYOP and it has worked great! I'm very happy with it.

Unknown said...

I have a byop question. I have been on the byop program for a long time. I have found a phone that I like but doesnt work with Verizon. I have been using tracfone byop cdma Verizon sim for a long time and might have to switch to the gsm at&t one. Is that possible, and if so how hard is it to do?

Anonymous said...

LG V30 unlocked works GREAT
with TracFone BYOP Triple SIM KIT.

bluedragon14 said...

Does anyone know if the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus will work with Tracfone's BYOP program? I'm considering getting the phone and realize that 4G LTE may not work at all, but it would appear to work with AT&T/T-Mobile and 3G. Also are there APN settings available for Tracfone?

Unknown said...

@bluedragon. I would like to know the same about the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus

Anonymous said...

This week, TracFone told me my unlocked Huawei Honor 6x that I bought from Best Buy was incompatible with BYOP. Is that correct? Is there a way to make it work anyway? What makes a phone incompatible?

Do other services like Cricket have a longer list of compatible phones? I've had a TracFone for over ten years, but I may have to switch.

Peter Vanosdall said...

Re: Anonymous

It could be that the Honor 6x isn't compatible with the type of service Tracfone offers in your area. There are two types of cell phone networks - CDMA and GSM, and it could be that the Honor 6x is only CDMA compatible while service in your area is mostly via GSM. You may be able to activate the phone anyway, and it might be fine.

suzuki m said...

I just upgraded from the 4S to an iPhone SE 128 gb. Just haven’t been able to add it to my account. Other than that, everything is fine. I purchased a new unlocked iPhone for $238 and purchased a Verizon SIM from TracFone. Love the extra room and the

suzuki m said...

Ok. It was there. I just had to edit the name. Couldn’t do it through the tracfone app, had to go to the website and sign in.

Anonymous said...

Used Google Nexus 5x makes a nice BYOP phone. It even updates itself OTA to Android 8.1 Oreo.