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Best phones not sold by US carriers (and how to get them)

These are all amazing phones that, for whatever reason, the Big Four -- Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile -- don't carry in the US. But you can still buy them unlocked, usually direct from the manufacturer or a retailer, and they'll still work with GSM networks. You just need to check 2G/3G/4G compatibility with your carrier.
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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 16 CNET

Huawei P20 Pro

Where to buy: Huawei 20 Pro at Amazon

The Huawei P20 Pro has an eye-catching design and an impressive list of features, both of which helped make it one of the best phones in 2018. But due to the government's concerns with the Chinese brand's networking equipment, you can't buy the P20 Pro directly from a carrier. You can go around that, however, and get the P20 Pro unlocked (with no warranty) from Amazon. You can then use it on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. It will not work on CDMA networks.

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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Disclosure: ZDNet earns commissions from some of the products featured in this gallery.

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2 of 16 CNET

Huawei P20

Where to buy: Huawei P20 at Amazon

This is the P20 Pro's cheaper, smaller sibling. It's a mid-ranger that takes fantastic low-light photos with its dual rear camera, and, like the P20 Pro, it comes in some terrific colors. Buy it from Amazon, slap a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM in it, and you're good to go, though you'll have to forgo the warranty.

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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3 of 16 CNET

Huawei Honor 10 View

Where to buy: Honor 10 View at Amazon

The Honor View 10 has the power and performance of a top-end phone. In fact, it has the same core specs as the terrific Huawei Mate 10 Pro, but it's much cheaper. For less than $400, you can get a nearly bezel-less 5.99-inch screen with an 18:9 display ratio. It also offers dual SIM and dual LTE capabilities. And it works with any GSM network around the globe. 

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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4 of 16 CNET

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Where to buy: Huawei Mate 20 Pro at Amazon

This innovative device works as a wireless charging pad and charges other phones. It also has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, a Face ID-like camera on the front, and triple cameras on the back. If you don't mind not having a warranty, you can grab it on Amazon and use it with any GSM network.

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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5 of 16 CNET

Moto G7

Where to buy: Moto G7 line at Amazon

The Moto G7 line is made up of budget phones with plenty to offer. Although you can't get the G7 through a US carrier, it is on Amazon for just $299. It comes with built-in Alexa and boasts glass on both the front and back, a small teardrop-shaped notch on the front, and ultra-thin bezels all around. You can use it with AT&T, and it supports 4G LTE, of course.

Also: Moto G7 family specs compared

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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6 of 16 CNET

HTC U12 Plus

Where to buy: HTC U12 Plus at Amazon

The HTC U12 Plus is, admittedly, an unusual phone. It lets you customize its squeezable sides to launch any app. It's sort of gimmicky, to be honest. Nevertheless, this phone has a fast processor, good cameras, and is water-resistant. It also comes with a warranty if you get it on Amazon and use it with a GSM network such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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7 of 16 CNET

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

Where to buy: Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium at Amazon

Sony's 2018 flagship is all about 4K HDR. It has a 4K HDR display, can record video at that resolution, and is the first Xperia to feature dual rear cameras. It's a premium device that comes with a warranty and is compatible with GSM network carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Straight Talk, MetroPCS, Cricket wireless, Simple mobile, and others.

Also: Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium wants to wow you with its camera CNET

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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8 of 16 CNET

Xiaomi MI Mix 3

Where to buy: Xiaomi MI Mix 3 at Amazon

Xiaomi is a Chinese brand that's not really well known in the US, and that's a shame. The Mi Mix 3 is an absolutely gorgeous phone with a sliding mechanism. The unlocked version doesn't come with a warranty, but it will work with most GSM SIM cards, including ones from AT&T and T-Mobile.

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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9 of 16 CNET

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Where to buy: Xiaomi Pocophone F1 at Amazon

An off-shoot of Xiaomi, the Pocophone F1 is an interesting beast. But with a top-end Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage, complete with a 4000mAh battery, it's certainly got a high-flying spec sheet. Like other phones in this round-up, it works with GSM networks, but 4G LTE isn't supported by all carriers, so be sure to check before you buy.

Check out our review here.

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10 of 16 CNET

Nokia 8 Sirocco

Where to buy: Nokia 8 Sirocco at Amazon

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is the only Android One phone in this round-up, but don't dismiss it. This is a high-end Nokia from HMD Global. It's fast, slim with curved glass edges, and has a 5.5-inch screen with a waterproof design. And it will work with GSM networks in the US. It will not work with any CDMA networks, such as Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular.

Also: Nokia 8 Sirocco review: The right phone for the wrong price CNET

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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11 of 16 CNET

Nokia 9 PureView

Where to buy: Nokia 9 PureView at B&H

Want something newer than the Nokia 8 Sirocco? The Nokia 9 PureView just launched and comes with not one, two, or three cameras -- but five! And if you buy it on B&H, you can save $100 for a limited time. Again, like most of the phones we've mentioned, it works with GSM networks.

Also: Nokia 9 PureView has 5 rear cameras: *yawn* CNET

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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12 of 16 CNET

Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition

Where to buy: Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition at Amazon

The phone has the weirdest solution to the front camera issue: It is selfie camera-free. There's no notch, no slider mechanism, or hole-punch camera. Instead, it has two screens -- and the second display is for camera use. If you get it, know that it has some other caveats; while it does work on GSM networks, it might not support 4G LTE, so you should check first.

Also: Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition has two HD screens CNET

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13 of 16 CNET

Vivo Nex

Where to buy: Vivo Nex S at Amazon 

The Vivo Nex is a glimpse into the future. It has a pop-up selfie camera and an under-screen fingerprint scanner that's embedded in the 6.6-inch OLED display. It's also practically bezel-less. It supports dual SIM cards and works with GSM networks like AT&T. 

Also: Vivo Nex review: The pop-up camera makes this beautiful CNET

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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14 of 16 CNET

Essential Phone PH-1

Where to buy: Essential Phone at Amazon

The stunning Essential Phone PH-1 comes with no bloatware or unsightly logos, has a tear-dropped shape front notch, and works with a few modular accessories. But, perhaps most interestingly, it's compatible with all major US carriers -- even CDMA ones.

Check out our review here.

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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15 of 16 Oppo

Oppo R15 Pro

Where to buy: Oppo R15 Pro at Amazon

The Oppo R15 Pro is an all-rounder, midrange phone. It's also a sibling of OnePlus. Both brands, along with Vivo, are owned by BBK Electronics. Anyway, the R15 Pro has a sharp 6.28-inch display, a strong camera, and impressive design. It works with GSM networks.

Also: Oppo R15 Pro review: An overachiever CNET

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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16 of 16 CNET

Oppo Find X

Where to buy: Oppo Find X at Amazon

The Oppo Find X has a gorgeous design, a great camera, and long battery life with fast charging. It also 3D face scanning for unlocking and a supercool pop-up camera. It's probably one of the best phones of 2018. If you want it, it works with GSM networks.

Also: Oppo Find X review: Sexier and more innovative CNET

(Note: For exact 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE compatibility, be sure to check with your network provider in advance.)

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