Best Phone Under $500 for 2023: All the Features You Need



$363 at Amazon

Apple iPhone 11

Good all spherical, should you can nonetheless discover it

You might assume you could lay our a fortune to get a superb telephone, however that is merely not the case. The perfect telephones below $500 actually do not sacrifice a lot compared to units with a lot increased worth tags. The midrange area 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 perfect telephones below $500 might hit a lot of the options in your guidelines. In search of an enormous 6.5-inch display screen? Many of those telephones have that, or there are additionally smaller shows if that is your choice. Want an awesome digicam? 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 distinct 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 digicam 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 images, supplies a roomy 256GB of area and throws in a stylus, however Motorola does not present software program assist for so long as its opponents.

Pictures and video particularly are areas the place the telephones on this worth bracket take a noticeable hit compared to their dearer counterparts. Nevertheless, photo-processing software program ought to assist decide up among the slack. For example, whereas the iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel digicam that does not assist 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 fundamental digicam and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam, but can improve these images with processing powered by the telephone’s Tensor chip.

You possibly can see the professionals and cons of every of those telephones beneath, with extra particulars out there in our full critiques.

What’s the finest telephone below $500

The Google Pixel 6A’s stable digicam and premium design make it the perfect Android telephone below $500 proper now. So long as the Pixel 7 is not on sale. The Pixel 6A usually accomplishes its meant goal of offering lots for much less. The digicam could also be a step down from the Pixel 7, however it takes crisp and colourful images for a telephone of its worth. You additionally get the identical eye-catching design and Pixel-specific software program options like Magic Eraser and Dwell Translate.

We must always warn you that the Pixel 7A is rumored to be introduced at Google I/O on Could 10. When you can wait till then, you would possibly be capable of snag the 7A or get the 6A at a decreased worth.

Finest telephones below $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 telephone. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco known as it the “finest Android telephone below $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 telephone is barely smaller than the Pixel 6, that includes a 6.1-inch OLED show and a refresh fee of 60Hz. And it has the same digicam to the Pixel 5A, together with a 12.2-megapixel fundamental digicam and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam. However by together with the Tensor chip, images 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.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy A53 contains lots of the finest options seen within the Galaxy S22 line, with just a few tradeoffs to hit that cheaper price. The telephone features a 6.5-inch AMOLED display screen with a 2,400×1,080-pixel decision, 5G assist and a long-lasting 5,000-mAh battery. The telephone additionally comes with a 64-megapixel fundamental digicam, 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam, 5-megapixel macro digicam and 5-megapixel depth digicam.

However a specific excessive level for this telephone is Samsung’s pledge to supply 4 years of software program assist, along with delivery with Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1. Nevertheless, Samsung simply introduced a brand new model of this telephone, 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 most recent smartphone options, together with Apple’s A15 Bionic chip and 5G assist. It is also one of many few telephones available on the market that features a smaller, 4.7-inch display screen.

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 worth vary, you may also think about the iPhone 11, and get an even bigger display screen and Face ID. However that telephone doesn’t embrace 5G connectivity.

The telephone additionally solely contains one 12-megapixel fundamental digicam, which doesn’t assist night time mode. Most different telephones on this roundup embrace a number of cameras and options like night time mode, making the omission noticeable. Nevertheless, images make up for this by together with the Deep Fusion photo-processing approach to reinforce medium-to-low gentle images, and Good HDR4 processing for enhancing 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, however it won’t embrace the Cinematic Mode seen on the iPhone 13.

Learn our Apple iPhone SE evaluate.

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

The $500 Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is likely one of the finest stylus-equipped telephones you may get proper now, particularly for the value. You get Android 12, 5G connectivity, a big 6.8-inch display screen and a spacious 256GB of storage. Sadly, the telephone is just 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 telephone, 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 sequence, Apple discontinued the $500 iPhone 11, however it’s nonetheless broadly out there. It is likely to be just a few generations previous, however this telephone continues to be greater than succesful, dealing with gaming effectively and outfitted with two excellent rear cameras. It’s lacking 5G assist, which is more and more enhancing as wi-fi carriers put money into the community, however the telephone will work positive on LTE and Wi-Fi. The iPhone 11 additionally doesn’t assist MagSafe equipment, which had been launched alongside the iPhone 12.

Simply notice that some locations could also be promoting refurbished variations of the telephone since Apple itself is not promoting new iPhone 11 fashions. Finest Purchase doesn’t carry any unlocked fashions, so you will have to enroll in a service plan by 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 Telephone 1 is technically out there within the US for $299, however solely by a beta program that’s promoting a global mannequin with restricted US provider compatibility. Whereas the corporate does plan to formally launch a future telephone for the North American market, this telephone continues to be value a glance in nations the place it is out there. It gives a placing design and first rate specs for the cash, even at its increased £399 UK worth (which converts to roughly AU$700).

The Nothing Telephone 1 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 digicam. 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 effectively inside the worth vary, particularly given its digicam high quality and appears. 

How we take a look at telephones

Each telephone on this record has been completely examined by CNET’s skilled critiques crew. We truly use the telephone, take a look at the options, play video games and take images. We assess any advertising and marketing 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 look at each facet of a telephone throughout testing:

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

We take a look at all of a telephone’s cameras (each back and front) in a wide range of situations: from outside below daylight to dimmer indoor locales and night time time scenes (for any out there night time modes). We additionally evaluate our findings towards equally priced fashions. We have now a sequence of actual world battery assessments to see how lengthy a telephone lasts below on a regular basis use.

We consider extra telephone options like 5G, fingerprint and face readers, styluses, quick charging, foldable shows and different helpful extras. And we, in fact, weigh all of our experiences and testing towards the value so you recognize whether or not a telephone represents good worth or not.

Learn extra: How we take a look at telephones

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 measurement, 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 (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth) 50-megapixel (extensive), 8-megapixel (ultrawide/macro), 2-megapixel (depth) 12.2-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel extremely extensive) 12-megapixel (extensive) 50-megapixel (fundamental), 50-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)
Entrance-facing digicam 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 assist 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’s going to final 1 hour longer than iPhone XR
Fingerprint sensor In-display Aspect Underneath show House 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 fundamental digicam; 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; 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 fee Water-proof (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 below $500 FAQs

Are cheaper telephones value it?

For many individuals, a telephone 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 among the newest options seen on higher-end telephones like clean 120Hz refresh charges and a number of cameras.

Nevertheless, you have to be conscious of — and OK with — the constraints a telephone might have in comparison with its dearer counterparts. For example, if you need an iPhone with an even 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 exterior the $500 worth vary, however you additionally get extra advantages like an improved digicam. 

However, if you need a telephone with an even bigger display screen and if working Android is ok, you will have loads of choices which are below $500.

Are you able to get a very good digicam on a less expensive telephone?

Sure, you will discover a number of cheaper telephones that take nice images, whether or not it is by the digicam out there on the system, picture processing software program on the telephone or — is most frequently the case — a mix 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 enhancing 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 images and movies taken on the telephone throughout his evaluate, which might be watched on the CNET Highlights YouTube channel. Nevertheless, the iPhone SE additionally has just one 12-megapixel digicam, and that digicam doesn’t assist night time pictures.

Over on the Android facet, 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. Nevertheless it has a 12-megapixel fundamental digicam paired up with a 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam, which takes good images however is a transparent step down from the 50-megapixel fundamental digicam seen on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7.

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

What makes these telephones cheaper?

Every firm takes a distinct strategy towards cheaper telephones.

The iPhone SE, for instance, has a current 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 fundamental digicam as an alternative of the 50-megapixel fundamental digicam discovered on the $599 Pixel 6.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 takes the other strategy. It features a processor that is slower than the Galaxy S22’s however contains different trendy options like a display screen with a excessive refresh fee.

Extra telephone recommendation