Telephones that price lower than $500 are among the many first you must think about when you’re able to improve or in search of a vacation reward. These midrange choices, which usually price between $400 and $500, make surprisingly few compromises to maintain their costs low. They usually have spectacular options, like excessive refresh charge screens, 5G and pictures processing software program. However put together for some tradeoffs, akin to lower-quality cameras or an older processor. The vacation buying season is an effective time to offset these drawbacks, as Black Friday reductions can aggressively decrease these telephones’ costs. A few of them have already seen $100 toin latest buying occasions.
Even at their decrease costs, one of the best telephones below $500 could will hit a lot of the options in your guidelines. Searching for an enormous 6.5-inch display? Many of those telephones have that, or a smaller show if that is your desire. Want a fantastic digital camera? You may 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 distinct method to make these cuts much less noticeable. Apple’s iPhone SE and Google’s Pixel 6A, as an example, have a smaller display and older digital camera setup, but embody new processors and software program from these firms. Samsung’s Galaxy A53 has a spacious display 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 pictures, gives a roomy 256GB of area and throws in a stylus, however Motorola would not present software program help for so long as its rivals.
Images and video particularly are areas the place these telephones priced below $500 take a noticeable hit compared to their dearer counterparts, however photo-processing software program ought to assist choose up among the slack. For example, whereas the iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel digital camera that doesn’t help evening pictures, its A15 Bionic chip does enable for Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. It is a related state of affairs 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 pictures with processing powered by the telephone’s Tensor chip.
You’ll be able to see the professionals and cons of every of those telephones beneath, with extra particulars obtainable in our full critiques.
Greatest telephones below $500
The Pixel 6A replaces the Pixel 5A because the $449 budget-friendly model of its flagship telephone. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco referred to as it the “greatest Android telephone below $500” in her Pixel 6A evaluation, calling out the way it retains the identical Tensor chip seen within the $599 Pixel 6 and plenty of of its options.
The telephone is barely smaller than the Pixel 6, that includes a 6.1-inch OLED show and a refresh charge of 60Hz. And it has the same 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, pictures can profit from its Actual Tone pores and skin tone characteristic, Face Unblur, Evening Sight for darker pictures and the Magic Eraser for eradicating undesirable components from a photograph.
Although the telephone is only some months previous, there are already events during which the Pixel 6A is discounted even additional to $299, which is an unbelievable worth.
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The $450 Samsung Galaxy A53 contains lots of the greatest options seen within the Galaxy S22 line, with a couple of tradeoffs to hit that lower cost. The telephone features a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 2,400×1,080-pixel decision, 5G help and a long-lasting 5,000-mAh battery. The telephone 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 specific excessive level for this telephone is Samsung’s pledge to supply 4 years of software program help, along with transport with Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1.
Learn our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G evaluation.
The $429 iPhone SE is a mixture of an older design with the most recent 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.
It is that throwback design, which continues the final form that Apple has used since 2014, that could possibly be what you’re keen on or dislike most about this telephone. If you need a bigger iPhone on this value vary, it’s also possible to think about the iPhone 11, and get an even bigger display and Face ID. However that telephone doesn’t embody 5G connectivity.
The telephone additionally solely contains one 12-megapixel important digital camera, which doesn’t help evening mode. Most different telephones on this roundup embody a number of cameras and options like evening mode, making the omission noticeable. Nonetheless, pictures make up for this by together with the Deep Fusion photo-processing method to reinforce medium-to-low gentle pictures, and Good HDR4 processing for bettering coloration 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, nevertheless it won’t embody the Cinematic Mode seen on the iPhone 13.
Learn our Apple iPhone SE evaluation.
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The $500 Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is among the greatest stylus-equipped telephones you will get proper now, particularly for the value. You get Android 12, 5G connectivity, a big 6.8-inch display and a spacious 256GB of storage. Sadly, the telephone 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 would like a stylus-equipped telephone, the subsequent step-up choice is the considerably dearer Galaxy S22 Extremely at $1,200.
Learn our Moto G Stylus 5G evaluation.
With the launch of the iPhone 14 sequence, Apple discontinued the $500 iPhone 11, nevertheless it’s nonetheless broadly obtainable. It is likely to be a couple of generations previous, however this telephone remains 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 put money into the community, however the telephone will work high-quality on LTE and Wi-Fi. The iPhone 11 additionally doesn’t help MagSafe equipment, which had been launched alongside the iPhone 12.
Simply observe that some locations could also be promoting refurbished variations of the telephone since Apple itself is not promoting new iPhone 11 fashions. Greatest Purchase doesn’t carry any unlocked fashions, so you may have to join a service plan by way of both AT&T, Verizon, T-Cellular or Dash.
Learn our Apple iPhone 11 evaluation.
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Nothing Telephone 1
Flashy and inexpensive
The Nothing Telephone 1 is not obtainable within the US. However for international locations the place the telephone is obtainable, it gives a placing design and respectable specs for the cash. The £399 telephone (which converts to roughly $480 or AU$700) is adorned with LED strips on the again, every of which is known as a “glyph,” that gentle 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 telephone runs on a Snapdragon 778G Plus chip, with fashions that begin with 8GB of reminiscence and 128GB of storage.
All that quantities to a telephone that compares nicely inside the value vary, particularly given its digital camera high quality and appears. However for now, we’ll must see if future Nothing telephone fashions find yourself getting a launch within the US.
How we check telephones
CNET assessments telephones by utilizing them day by day and evaluating them with competing telephones to evaluate their worth. We think about quite a lot of components, such because the telephone’s display, cameras, battery life, software program, efficiency, options and ease of use.
For low-priced telephones, we make sure that these units persistently work nicely when utilized in a variety of conditions. This contains many day-to-day actions like studying the information, listening to music, watching movies, texting, taking part in video games and multitasking.
We check telephone cameras in a spread of environments, taking check pictures outside within the daytime and nighttime, and indoors in darker settings. We use cameras in energetic environments, like a live performance or a sports activities recreation, and with quite a lot of topics together with folks, objects and pets. We additionally check obtainable digital camera settings, particularly these which can be rarer in these value ranges akin to Evening mode and Portrait mode.
These anecdotal telephone experiences are additionally mixed with benchmark assessments akin to Geekbench efficiency testing and battery testing. We monitor battery life in two methods: By seeing how a lot energy is often left after a day of regular utilization and by seeing how a lot battery is depleted throughout a extra intensive hour with the telephone. For the latter check, we’ll test how the telephone’s battery holds as much as a sequence of video calls, gaming, video streaming and internet searching.
Telephones below $500 FAQs
Are cheaper telephones value it?
For many individuals, a telephone that prices lower than $500 will seemingly have all the pieces you want for communication, pictures and leisure. In some circumstances, the telephones even present among the newest options seen on higher-end telephones like easy 120Hz refresh charges and a number of cameras.
Nonetheless, you need to be conscious of — and OK with — the restrictions a telephone could have in comparison with its dearer counterparts. For example, if you would like an iPhone with an even bigger display than the iPhone SE and iPhone 11’s screens, your subsequent best choice is the $899 iPhone 14 Plus. That is far exterior the $500 value vary, however you additionally get further advantages like an improved digital camera.
Alternatively, if you would like a telephone with an even bigger display and if working Android is ok, you may have loads of choices which can be below $500.
Are you able to get a very good digital camera on a less expensive telephone?
Sure, yow will discover a number of cheaper telephones that take nice pictures, whether or not it is by way of the digital camera obtainable on the machine, picture processing software program on the telephone or — is most frequently the case — a mixture of each.
Apple’s iPhone SE contains the A15 Bionic chip, which helps Good HDR4 processing and Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. Good HDR4 helps with bettering coloration and distinction, whereas the Deep Fusion processing helps with medium- to low-light environments. CNET Managing Editor Patrick Holland put collectively a sampling of pictures and movies taken on the telephone throughout his evaluation, which may 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 evening pictures.
Over on the Android aspect, the Google Pixel 6A contains 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. However it has a 12-megapixel important digital camera paired up with a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, which takes good pictures 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 in a position to produce pictures with higher distinction and sharpness.
What makes these telephones cheaper?
Every firm takes a distinct method towards cheaper telephones.
The iPhone SE, for instance, has a latest Apple processor packed inside an in any other case dated telephone design. Google’s Pixel 6A likewise contains 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 other method. It features a processor that is slower than the Galaxy S22’s however contains different trendy options like a display with a excessive refresh charge.
Telephones below $500 comparability
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs. Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G vs. Google Pixel 6A vs. Apple iPhone SE (2022) vs. Nothing Telephone 1 vs. Apple iPhone 11
|Samsung Galaxy A53 5G||Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)||Google Pixel 6A||Apple iPhone SE (2022)||Nothing Telephone 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 (huge), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth)||50-megapixel (huge), 8-megapixel (ultrawide/macro), 2-megapixel (depth)||12.2-megapixel (huge), 12-megapixel extremely huge)||12-megapixel (huge)||50-megapixel (important), 50-megapixel (ultra-wide)||12-megapixel (huge), 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 offered 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 should final 1 hour longer than iPhone XR|
|Fingerprint sensor||In-display||Aspect||Beneath show||Dwelling button||In-display||None (Face ID)|
|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, WiFi 6E, safety updates for five years, Android OS updates for 3 years, twin SIM, IP67 water resistance||5G-enabled; helps 25W wired quick charging; Water-proof (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging||5G, IP53, Three years of Android updates, Twin Sim, 120Hz adaptive refresh charge||Water-proof (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging|
|Value off-contract (USD)||$450||$500||$449||$399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB)||N/A||$499|
|Value (GBP)||£399||NA however converts to £405||£399||£419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB)||£399||£489|
|Value (AUD)||AU$699||NA however converts to AU$715||A$749||AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB)||N/A||AU$849|