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In the United States, the FCC allows for wireless phone signals over two type of networks - CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication). Each of these network technologies enable voice and data transmission with cellphones, but do so in ways so different that they are incompatible with each other. Simply put, this means that you cannot use a CDMA phone on a GSM network, and vice versa. American carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile all use the GSM network, while Sprint, Verizon, MetroPCS and U.S. Cellular use CDMA.

CDMA coverage in the US is expansive and quite reliable. Nevertheless, foreign carriers do not support CDMA network technology in many parts of the globe. Worldwide, GSM technology is much more prevalent by far. Subsequently, American users that travel abroad frequently usually insist on a carrier that provides GSM-compatible phones. The primary reason GSM is more compatible around the globe is the fact the compatible phones require a SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card. Most carriers around the world issues SIMs to users so they can access compatible networks. Therefore, if you have an American GSM phone that supports use of a SIM, you can use it virtually anywhere by simply switching out the module when you reach your destination country.

Generally speaking, manufacturers produce many more phones for GSM networks than they do for CDMA. This means you have many more choices for cellphones that will work not only in the United States but in other countries as well.

At ReviewGist, our list of phones also includes some of the best basic GSM cellphones as well as more advanced models. The list provides phones of every color, style and feature level you could imagine. Nevertheless, when choosing a GSM cellphone to suit your needs, there many variables to consider.

Browse All Top GSM Cell Phones of 2016 »

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7


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#5

Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
LG G5
Apple iPhone SE
Huawei Nexus 6P
Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
LG G5
Apple iPhone SE
Huawei Nexus 6P
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Release Date
Mar 2016
Mar 2016
Mar 2016
Apr 2016
Sep 2015
Network Type
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only), HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 - G930F, LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700), 13(700), 17(700), 18(800), 19(800), 20(800), 25(1900), 26(850), 28(700), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500) - G930F
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only), HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 - G935F, LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700), 13(700), 17(700), 18(800), 19(800), 20(800), 25(1900), 26(850), 28(700), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500) - G935F
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only), HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 - H850, LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700), 17(700), 20(800), 28(700), 38(2600), 40(2300) - H850
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - A1662, A1723, HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 - A1662, A1723, LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 8(900), 12(700), 13(700), 17(700), 18(800), 19(800), 20(800), 25(1900), 26(850), 29(700) - A1662
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - all models, HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 - Global model, LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 9(1800), 17(700), 19(800), 20(800), 28(700), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500) - Global model
Digital Camera Resolution
12.0 MP
12.0 MP
16.0 MP
12.0 MP
12.3 MP
Installed RAM (GB)
4.0 GB
4.0 GB
4.0 GB
2.0 GB
3.0 GB
Screen Size(Diagonal)
5.1 inch
5.5 inch
5.3 inch
4.0 inch
5.7 inch
Front Webcam Resolution
5.0 MP
5.0 MP
8.0 MP
1.2 MP
8.0 MP
Processor Type
Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo, Quad-core 2.3 GHz Mongoose + quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53, 1.6GHz octa-core, 1.6GHz  octa-core
Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo, Quad-core 2.3 GHz Mongoose + quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53, 1.6GHz  octa-core
Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo, 2.15GHz  quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister, A9
Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57
Battery Capacity
3000.0 mAh
3600.0 mAh
2800.0 mAh
1624.0 mAh
3450.0 mAh
Operating System
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow), Android 6.0, Android 6.0
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow), Android 6.0
Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow), Android 6.0.1
iOS 9.3, iOS 9.3, iOS 9.3.2
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Carrier
Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT-T
Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT-T
Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT-T
Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT-T

  • Samsung has tweaked the winning design from the S6, righted the wrongs of its previous flagships, and made a phone you don't want to put down. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is iterative perfection.


  • Stunning. Samsung has just raised the bar for every other Android device. Simply put, if you want to buy a new phone right now, this is the one to pick.


  • The Samsung Galaxy S6 was the best phone of 2015 and, although it’s still early days, the Galaxy S7 is a serious contender for best phone of 2016. Samsung has taken into account what its fans want, addressing the three main areas of concern: removable storage, waterproofing and battery life. It’s also upgraded the core hardware and photography gear, added an always-on display and some useful software. Right now the Galaxy S7 is simply unbeatable.


  • The gorgeous Galaxy S7 Edge makes the best Android phone that much better.


  • Pricing wasn’t particularly on the side of the Galaxy S6 edge last year, mainly because for a phone that matched the S6 on paper, its added $100 premium cost on top of the S6 didn’t seem justifiable. Not surprisingly, though, the S7 edge’s pricing follows the same strategy by being accompanied with an additional $100 cost over what most of the domestic carriers will be selling the S7 for.


  • Five stars to Samsung, as the brand iterates perfectly on an already award-winning smartphone, adding a brilliant camera and gorgeous design.


  • Question marks hang over this phone’s modular capabilities, but that aside this is still a high quality smartphone with plenty to recommend it


  • With an improved battery swapping system, the LG G5 isn't a bad phone, per se. But various other features probably looked better in the R&D lab than they do in real life.


  • At the end of the review process, we're feeling kind of empty in that we can't quite place our finger on what it is that isn't feeling exactly right with the G5. Objectively, it's a competent flagship and even a decent improvement over its predecessor in some ways, but it feels like it's just way too round in character.


  • The iPhone SE is a great smartphone that brings plenty of power in a small package. It's designed to appeal to those who aren't fussed by today's typically large flagship phones. If you are upgrading from the iPhone 5S or iPhone 5 and don't want a larger phone then the SE is a no-brainer. It's faster in every aspect and delivers a phone that will feel familiar but deliver the goods at today's current top-spec level.


  • iPhone 5. or. iPhone 7. The iPhone SE certainly isn’t a ground-breaker, but it is a solid attempt at building a 4-inch smartphone that doesn’t compromise on features (and after all, who really, really needs 3D Touch?). It is a little puzzling why Apple didn’t do just a little more work on the design to give it a further point of difference for people who already have an 5S, but perhaps it tried to do a new version of the iPhone 5C and decided that bright coloured cases didn’t work for Nokia/Microsoft, so why bother?.


  • While the rest of us wait for the iPhone 7 later this year, the iPhone SE is a great choice for small phone fans looking for an 'iPhone 6S Mini.'


  • Google's Nexus 6P is easier to hold and easier on your wallet, compared to the Nexus 6 from a year ago. New features, like a fingerprint sensor, reversible USB-C port and a better camera, are the selling points for this all-metal Android phablet.


  • The bigger of this year's two Nexus handsets seems like a dream on paper, with premium build quality, top-tier specs and access to the latest software updates straight from Google. Most importantly, Google finally has made a big phone that's comfortable to use with one hand. It's great for die-hard Android enthusiasts, but we're all spoiled for choice this year and the Nexus 6P doesn't do much to outshine the competition.


  • - Hell, it’s the best Android phone ever.
    - Android apps, generally speaking, aren't as good as iOS apps.
    - The 6P is slim and polished, more carefully created and assembled than any Nexus before.
    - It’s still among the best low-light smartphone cameras, but it’s not reinventing any wheels here.