In the announcement for the January SDK Update, the availability of phones for development purposes without a voice or data contract was announced. It may be for the US only (I can't find anything that states otherwise, so I'm assuming it is). Here's the snippet from the above linked announcement:
1. We have entered into a partnership with Zones.com and all of our handset OEMs and mobile operator partners to sell phones to developers without requiring a voice or data contract. The phones are still carrier locked (varies by region), but you can now head over to Zones.com to purchase a Windows Phone 7 for your development purposes. Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to our partner’s site: http://www.zones.com/windowsphonedeveloperpurchase
- Pick the phone you want to use (note: these devices are carrier locked, based on region)
- Go thru the site’s check-out process
- You will have to pay all sales taxes and shipping charges
That site has three phones available (HTC HD7, HTC Surround and Samsung Focus). If you are outside the US, look for an importer like Mobicity (Australian based). They have every WP7 phone available for outright purchase without any voice or data contracts (and excellent customer service and support as well).