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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


#1

#2

#3

#4

#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

It takes the best bits from the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6, and blends them together into a quite brilliant smartphone.

It's pricier than other good phones.

excellent smartphone

The iPhone SE is a great smartphone that brings plenty of power in a small package.

  • Rating Unavailable

The Nexus 6P is one of the best Android phones you can buy right now, given its top-of-the-line specs for a more affordable price.

  • Rating Unavailable