June 7, 2023

$346 at Amazon

Apple iPhone 11

Good all spherical, in case you can nonetheless discover it

Chances are you’ll assume it’s good to lay our a fortune to get a wonderful cellphone, however that is merely not the case. The most effective telephones beneath $500 actually do not sacrifice a lot compared to units with a lot larger worth tags. The midrange house has a ton of competitors that provide options like high-refresh-rate screens, 5G and pictures processing software program. You will want to simply accept some tradeoffs, although, resembling lower-quality cameras or an older processor. 

The most effective telephones beneath $500 might hit many of the options in your guidelines. Searching for a giant 6.5-inch display screen? Many of those telephones have that, or there are additionally smaller shows if that is your choice. Want a fantastic digital camera? You will discover that in most of those picks. Most of those telephones do not skimp on software program updates both, with their makers promising at minimal three years of safety updates.

There are some compromises made to maintain prices low, and every firm takes a unique strategy to make these cuts much less noticeable. Apple’s iPhone SE and Google’s Pixel 6A, as an example, have a smaller display screen and older digital camera setup, but embrace new processors and software program from these firms. Samsung’s Galaxy A53 has a spacious display screen and spectacular battery life, though it runs on a much less highly effective processor than the Galaxy S22. And the Moto G Stylus 5G takes good photographs, offers a roomy 256GB of house and throws in a stylus, however Motorola would not present software program help for so long as its opponents.

Images and video specifically are areas the place the telephones on this worth bracket take a noticeable hit compared to their dearer counterparts. Nonetheless, photo-processing software program ought to assist decide up a number of the slack. For example, whereas the iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel digital camera that does not help night time pictures, its A15 Bionic chip does enable for Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. It is a related scenario for the Pixel 6A, which makes use of a 12-megapixel important digital camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, but can improve these photographs with processing powered by the cellphone’s Tensor chip.

You’ll be able to see the professionals and cons of every of those telephones under, with extra particulars out there in our full opinions.

What’s the greatest cellphone beneath $500

The Google Pixel 6A’s strong digital camera and premium design make it the most effective Android cellphone beneath $500 proper now. So long as the Pixel 7 is not on sale. The Pixel 6A usually accomplishes its supposed objective of offering quite a bit for much less. The digital camera could also be a step down from the Pixel 7, but it surely takes crisp and colourful photographs for a cellphone of its worth. You additionally get the identical eye-catching design and Pixel-specific software program options like Magic Eraser and Reside Translate.

We must always warn you that the Pixel 7A is rumored to be introduced at Google I/O on Might 10. Should you can wait till then, you would possibly have the ability to snag the 7A or get the 6A at a diminished worth.

Greatest telephones beneath $500

The back of Google's Pixel 6A phone
Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Pixel 6A replaces the Pixel 5A because the $449 budget-friendly model of its flagship cellphone. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco known as it the “greatest Android cellphone beneath $500” in her Pixel 6A evaluate, calling out the way it retains the identical Tensor chip seen within the $599 Pixel 6 and lots of of its options.

The cellphone is barely smaller than the Pixel 6, that includes a 6.1-inch OLED show and a refresh price of 60Hz. And it has an analogous digital camera to the Pixel 5A, together with a 12.2-megapixel important digital camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera. However by together with the Tensor chip, photographs can profit from its Actual Tone pores and skin tone characteristic, Face Unblur, Night time Sight for darker pictures and the Magic Eraser for eradicating undesirable parts from a photograph.

Learn our Google Pixel 6A evaluate.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy A53 consists of most of the greatest options seen within the Galaxy S22 line, with a number of tradeoffs to hit that cheaper price. The cellphone features a 6.5-inch AMOLED display screen with a 2,400×1,080-pixel decision, 5G help and a long-lasting 5,000-mAh battery. The cellphone additionally comes with a 64-megapixel important digital camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, 5-megapixel macro digital camera and 5-megapixel depth digital camera.

However a selected excessive level for this cellphone is Samsung’s pledge to offer 4 years of software program help, along with transport with Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1. Nonetheless, Samsung simply introduced a brand new model of this cellphone, known as the Galaxy A54 5G, which we’re trying ahead to testing quickly. 

Learn our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G evaluate.

iPhone SE 2022
Kevin Heinz/CNET

The $429 iPhone SE is a mixture of an older design with the newest smartphone options, together with Apple’s A15 Bionic chip and 5G help. It is also one of many few telephones in the marketplace that features a smaller, 4.7-inch display screen.

It is that throwback design, which continues the overall form that Apple has used since 2014, that could possibly be what you like or dislike most about this cellphone. In order for you a bigger iPhone on this worth vary, it’s also possible to contemplate the iPhone 11, and get a much bigger display screen and Face ID. However that cellphone doesn’t embrace 5G connectivity.

The cellphone additionally solely consists of one 12-megapixel important digital camera, which doesn’t help night time mode. Most different telephones on this roundup embrace a number of cameras and options like night time mode, making the omission noticeable. Nonetheless, photographs make up for this by together with the Deep Fusion photo-processing approach to boost medium-to-low mild photographs, and Good HDR4 processing for bettering colour and distinction. CNET Managing Editor Patrick Holland did discover that video shot in 4K decision at 60 frames per second is especially good on the iPhone SE, but it surely won’t embrace the Cinematic Mode seen on the iPhone 13.

Learn our Apple iPhone SE evaluate.

You are receiving worth alerts for Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Moto G Stylus 5G with a hand-drawn CNET logo
Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The $500 Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is without doubt one of the greatest stylus-equipped telephones you may get proper now, particularly for the worth. You get Android 12, 5G connectivity, a big 6.8-inch display screen and a spacious 256GB of storage. Sadly, the cellphone is barely promised one software program replace and three years of safety updates, which is a a lot shorter timeline than the 4 years promised by Samsung for the Galaxy A53.

But if you need a stylus-equipped cellphone, the following step-up choice is the considerably dearer Galaxy S22 Extremely at $1,200.

Learn our Moto G Stylus 5G evaluate.

Angela Lang/CNET

With the launch of the iPhone 14 collection, Apple discontinued the $500 iPhone 11, but it surely’s nonetheless broadly out there. It is perhaps a number of generations previous, however this cellphone continues to be greater than succesful, dealing with gaming nicely and geared up with two excellent rear cameras. It’s lacking 5G help, which is more and more bettering as wi-fi carriers spend money on the community, however the cellphone will work high quality on LTE and Wi-Fi. The iPhone 11 additionally doesn’t help MagSafe equipment, which have been launched alongside the iPhone 12.

Simply observe that some locations could also be promoting refurbished variations of the cellphone since Apple itself is now not promoting new iPhone 11 fashions. Greatest Purchase doesn’t carry any unlocked fashions, so you will have to join a service plan by way of both AT&T, Verizon, T-Cellular or Dash.

Learn our Apple iPhone 11 evaluate.

You are receiving worth alerts for Apple iPhone 11

Nothing Phone 1 with LEDs turned on
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Nothing Cellphone 1 is technically out there within the US for $299, however solely by way of a beta program that’s promoting a global mannequin with restricted US service compatibility. Whereas the corporate does plan to formally launch a future cellphone for the North American market, this cellphone continues to be price a glance in nations the place it is out there. It gives a putting design and first rate specs for the cash, even at its larger £399 UK worth (which converts to roughly AU$700).

The Nothing Cellphone 1 is adorned with LED strips on the again, every of which is known as a “glyph,” that mild up for alerts and notifications. That design is accompanied by two 50-megapixel cameras: a large angle and an ultrawide. Across the entrance is a 6.55-inch 120Hz show with a 2,400-by-1,080-pixel decision and a 16-megapixel selfie digital camera. The cellphone runs on a Snapdragon 778G Plus chip, with fashions that begin with 8GB of reminiscence and 128GB of storage.

All that quantities to a cellphone that compares nicely inside the worth vary, particularly given its digital camera high quality and appears. 

How we take a look at telephones

Each cellphone on this checklist has been totally examined by CNET’s knowledgeable opinions workforce. We really use the cellphone, take a look at the options, play video games and take photographs. We assess any advertising guarantees that an organization makes about its telephones. And if we discover one thing we do not like, be it battery life or construct high quality, we let you know all about it. 

We study each side of a cellphone throughout testing:

  • Show
  • Design and really feel
  • Processor efficiency
  • Battery life
  • Digital camera high quality
  • Options

We take a look at all of a cellphone’s cameras (each back and front) in a wide range of circumstances: from outdoor beneath daylight to dimmer indoor locales and night time time scenes (for any out there night time modes). We additionally evaluate our findings in opposition to equally priced fashions. Now we have a collection of actual world battery assessments to see how lengthy a cellphone lasts beneath on a regular basis use.

We have in mind further cellphone options like 5G, fingerprint and face readers, styluses, quick charging, foldable shows and different helpful extras. And we, after all, weigh all of our experiences and testing in opposition to the worth so whether or not a cellphone represents good worth or not.

Learn extra: How we take a look at telephones

Telephones beneath $500 comparability

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs. Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G vs. Google Pixel 6A vs. Apple iPhone SE (2022) vs. Nothing Cellphone 1 vs. Apple iPhone 11

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) Google Pixel 6A Apple iPhone SE (2022) Nothing Cellphone 1 iPhone 11
Show dimension, decision 6.5-inch AMOLED (2,400×1,080 pixels); 120 Hz 6.8-inch LTPS LCD FHD+; 2,460 x1,080 pixels; 120 Hz 6.1-inch OLED; (1080 x 2400); 60Hz 4.7-inch LCD; (1,334×750 pixels); 60 Hz 6.55-inch OLED show, 2,400 x1080 pixels; 6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina; 1,792×828 pixels
Pixel density 405ppi TBD 429 ppi 326ppi 402ppi 326ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.28 x 2.94 x 0.32 in. 6.65 x 2.98 x 0.37 in. 6.0 x 2.8 x 0.35 in. 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 in. 5.94×2.98×0.33 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1 mm 168.9 x 75.8 x 9.3 mm 152.2 x 7.18 x 8.9 mm 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3 mm 150.9×75.7×8.3 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 6.67 oz.; 189g 7.58 oz.; 215 g 6.3 oz.; 178g 5.09 oz.; 144g 193.5g 6.84 oz.; 194g
Cellular software program Android 12 Android 12 Android 12 iOS 15 Android 13 iOS 13
Digital camera 64-megapixel (broad), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth) 50-megapixel (broad), 8-megapixel (ultrawide/macro), 2-megapixel (depth) 12.2-megapixel (broad), 12-megapixel extremely broad) 12-megapixel (broad) 50-megapixel (important), 50-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (broad), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)
Entrance-facing digital camera 32-megapixel 16-megapixel 8-megapixel 7-megapixel 16-megapixel 12-megapixel with Face ID
Video seize 4K 1,080p 4K 4K 4K at 60fps 4K
Processor Exynos 1280 Snapdragon 695 5G Google Tensor Apple A15 Bionic Snapdragon 778G+ Apple A13 Bionic
RAM/Storage 6GB/128GB 8GB/256GB 6GB RAM/128GB storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 8GB + 128GB, 8GB + 256 GB, 12GB RAM + 256GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Expandable storage As much as 1TB As much as 1TB None NA None None
Battery/Charger 5,000 mAh (charger not included, doesn’t help wi-fi charging) 5,000 mAh (10W wired charger included) 4,410 mAh capability; 18-watt quick charging (adapter bought individually) Battery NA (20W wired charging — charger not included), 7.5W wi-fi charging) 4,500 mAh (33W wired charging, 15W wi-fi charging, 5W reverse charging) Not disclosed, however Apple claims it would final 1 hour longer than iPhone XR
Fingerprint sensor In-display Facet Underneath show Residence button In-display None (Face ID)
Connector USB-C USB-C USB C Lightning USB-C Lightning
Headphone jack None Sure None None None No
Particular options 5G-enabled; IP67 ranking; helps 25W wired quick charging, Samsung Pay 5G-enabled; OIS for important digital camera; NFC for Google Pay; 5G-enabled, 18W quick charging, Wi-Fi 6E, safety updates for five years, Android OS updates for 3 years, twin SIM, IP67 water resistance 5G-enabled; helps 25W wired quick charging; Waterproof (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging 5G, IP53, Three years of Android updates, Twin Sim, 120Hz adaptive refresh price Waterproof (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging
Worth off-contract (USD) $450 $500 $449 $399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB) N/A $499
Worth (GBP) £399 NA however converts to £405 £399 £419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB) £399 £489
Worth (AUD) AU$699 NA however converts to AU$715 A$749 AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB) N/A AU$849

Telephones beneath $500 FAQs

Are cheaper telephones price it?

For many individuals, a cellphone that prices lower than $500 will probably have every little thing you want for communication, pictures and leisure. In some circumstances, the telephones even present a number of the newest options seen on higher-end telephones like clean 120Hz refresh charges and a number of cameras.

Nonetheless, try to be conscious of — and OK with — the restrictions a cellphone might have in comparison with its dearer counterparts. For example, if you need an iPhone with a much bigger display screen than the iPhone SE and iPhone 11’s screens, your subsequent best choice is the $899 iPhone 14 Plus. That is far outdoors the $500 worth vary, however you additionally get further advantages like an improved digital camera. 

However, if you need a cellphone with a much bigger display screen and if working Android is ok, you will have loads of choices which might be beneath $500.

Are you able to get an excellent digital camera on a less expensive cellphone?

Sure, you’ll find a number of cheaper telephones that take nice photographs, whether or not it is by way of the digital camera out there on the gadget, photograph processing software program on the cellphone or — is most frequently the case — a mixture of each. 

Apple’s iPhone SE consists of the A15 Bionic chip, which helps Good HDR4 processing and Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. Good HDR4 helps with bettering colour and distinction, whereas the Deep Fusion processing helps with medium- to low-light environments. CNET Managing Editor Patrick Holland put collectively a sampling of photographs and movies taken on the cellphone throughout his evaluate, which will be watched on the CNET Highlights YouTube channel. Nonetheless, the iPhone SE additionally has just one 12-megapixel digital camera, and that digital camera doesn’t help night time pictures.

Over on the Android facet, the Google Pixel 6A consists of the corporate’s Tensor chip, which brings pictures options like Actual Tone for capturing extra correct pores and skin tones, Face Unblur for fixing an individual’s face and Magic Eraser for eradicating undesirable objects. But it surely has a 12-megapixel important digital camera paired up with a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, which takes good photographs however is a transparent step down from the 50-megapixel important digital camera seen on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 is an attention-grabbing case: Iit has a important 64-megapixel digital camera alongside a 12-megapixel ultrawide, 5-megapixel macro digital camera and 5-megapixel depth digital camera. Whereas that is extra megapixels than the 50-megapixel important digital camera on the Galaxy S22, the picture element is a step down with the S22 capable of produce photographs with higher distinction and sharpness.

What makes these telephones cheaper?

Every firm takes a unique strategy towards cheaper telephones.

The iPhone SE, for instance, has a latest Apple processor packed inside an in any other case dated cellphone design. Google’s Pixel 6A likewise consists of the brand new Tensor processor, however makes use of an older 12.2-megapixel important digital camera as a substitute of the 50-megapixel important digital camera discovered on the $599 Pixel 6.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 takes the alternative strategy. It features a processor that is slower than the Galaxy S22’s however consists of different fashionable options like a display screen with a excessive refresh price.

Extra cellphone recommendation

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