November 21, 2016

Best Unlocked Phones for Tracfone BYOP

Best Unlocked Smartphones for Tracfone Prepaid Service

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, 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 Moto G4
The Moto G4 is the fourth generation of a well-rounded line of phones that come at a reasonable price and offer great value. The G4 has a large, 5.5" touchscreen, 13 MP Camera, 2 GB RAM and octa-core processor. You can choose between 16 GB or 32 GB memory and it starts at $199.

Best of all the Moto G4 is compatible with both CDMA and GSM networks, so you can choose to use it with either one (depending what works best in your area). We recently activated a Moto G4 Plus on GSM network without any issues.

If you want to save a little money, and don't need such a large screen, you can go with the Moto G4 Play, which has a 5" touchscreen, 8 MP camera and quad-core processor for just $150 (on sale for $130 in many places).

Another option is the slightly more impressive Moto G4 Plus, which has an improved 16 MP camera and fingerprint reader for $250. Spend an additional $50 and you also get 4 GB RAM and 64 GB memory (for a total of $300). The additional storage and RAM on the Moto G4 Plus make it a very powerful phone, more than capable of handling whatever is thrown at it.

Since the Moto G first came out, it has been a popular choice with Tracfone users and the Moto G4 continues that trend. The Moto G4 is widely available, and we expect a possible discount on Amazon for Black Friday so stay tuned.

View the Moto G4 on Amazon
View the Moto G4 on BestBuy
Also available through many other retailers including Costco, Walmart, Target and more. Expect Black Friday discounts

View the Moto G4 Play on Amazon
Also Available from BestBuy and other retailers, expect Black Friday discounts.

View the Moto G4 Plus on Amazon
Also Available from BestBuy and other retailers, expect Black Friday discounts.

2. Apple iPhone 5S and 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 5S, 6 and 6 Plus. But there is a much wider variety of unlocked iPhones, and some lower prices.

The iPhone 5S is several years old now, but that means it can be found for around $200 and still packs a very impressive camera along with other good features. If you're looking for some improvements, the iPhone SE has improved specs, and camera, at a price of just under $400.

Look for the iPhone SE and 5S 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 5S on Amazon
View a Refurbished iPhone 5S on Amazon

View the Refurbished iPhone SE on Amazon

3. Samsung Galaxy S5
With a 5.1" full HD touchscreen, 16 MP camera, 2 GB RAM and Quad-core processor, the Galaxy S5 packs a lot of 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.

This phone can be found for around $200, 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 the Samsung Galaxy S5 on Amazon
View a Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S5 on Amazon

4. OnePlus 2
The OnePlus 2 was created to give consumers a high-end phone at a mid-range price. It features a 5.5" full HD touchscreen, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB Internal memory and a 64 bit Octa-core processor. The camera is also impressive, with 13 MP photos, and 4K video at 30 fps.

Aesthetics were also important on the OnePlus 2, which has a stainless steal frame. The phone comes with Android 5.1, but is upgradeable to Android 6.0 Marshmellow

The OnePlus 2 was released in August 2015, and there is a newer model, the OnePlus 3, with improved features and specs, but also at a much higher price.

View the OnePlus 2 on Amazon

5. Asus Zenfone 2
Another phone with a large, 5.5" full HD touchscreen, the Asus Zenfone 2 was very popular when it was released partially due to the great specifications like 32 GB memory, 4 GB RAM, 13 MP camera, and quad-core processor.

It is also upgradeable to Android 6.0 and was released in 2015. It is a worthwhile option, especially since the price is a little lower than many of the other phones on this list, at $175.

Find the Asus Zenfone 2 on Amazon

6. Huawei Honor 5x 
Looking for that sleek, high-end feel? Consider the Honor 5x which comes with an Aluminium shell for protection and appearance. Inside it houses a 5.5" touchscreen, 13 MP camera, 64 bit Octa-core processor, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB Memory.

Another great feature on the Honor 5x is the fingerprint sensor (also available on the Moto G4 Plus) 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 Huawei Honor 5x on Amazon

Several more phones that may be worth considering include:
-Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 - 5.5" screen, 13 MP Camera, 16 GB Memory
-HTC Desire 626 - 16 GB Memory, 5" touchscreen, $129
-Google Nexus 5x - 32 GB Memory, 5.2" touchscreen, 12 MP Camera

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.

Black Friday deals are right around the corner, so check out our List of Tracfone Black Friday Deals which also includes some unlocked phone options.

Also take a look at our recent Review of the ZTE ZMAX 2 which comes with 16 GB memory and other great features.

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.

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.

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.