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

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$360 at Amazon

Apple iPhone 11

Good all spherical, when you can nonetheless discover it

You could suppose it is advisable lay our a fortune to get a superb telephone, however that is merely not the case. The very best telephones beneath $500 actually do not sacrifice a lot compared to units with a lot greater value tags. The midrange house has a ton of competitors that provide options like high-refresh-rate screens, 5G and pictures processing software program. You may want to just accept some tradeoffs, although, reminiscent of lower-quality cameras or an older processor. 

The very best telephones beneath $500 could hit many of the options in your guidelines. Searching for an enormous 6.5-inch display? Many of those telephones have that, or there are additionally smaller shows if that is your desire. Want a terrific 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 unique strategy to make these cuts much less noticeable. Apple’s iPhone SE and Google’s Pixel 6A, as an illustration, have a smaller display and older digital camera setup, but embody new processors and software program from these corporations. 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 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 value bracket take a noticeable hit compared to their dearer counterparts. Nonetheless, photo-processing software program ought to assist choose up among the slack. As an illustration, whereas the iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel digital camera that does not help evening pictures, its A15 Bionic chip does permit for Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. It is a related state of affairs for the Pixel 6A, which makes use of a 12-megapixel principal digital camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, but can improve these photographs with processing powered by the telephone’s Tensor chip.

You may see the professionals and cons of every of those telephones beneath, with extra particulars accessible in our full opinions.

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 telephone. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco referred to as it the “greatest Android telephone beneath $500” in her Pixel 6A assessment, 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 price of 60Hz. And it has an identical digital camera to the Pixel 5A, together with a 12.2-megapixel principal 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 components from a photograph.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy A53 contains lots of the greatest options seen within the Galaxy S22 line, with a couple of tradeoffs to hit that cheaper price. 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 principal 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 telephone is Samsung’s pledge to supply 4 years of software program help, along with delivery with Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1. Nonetheless, Samsung simply introduced a brand new model of this telephone, referred to as the Galaxy A54 5G, which we’re trying ahead to testing quickly. 

Learn our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G assessment.

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.

It is that throwback design, which continues the final form that Apple has used since 2014, that might be what you like or dislike most about this telephone. In order for you a bigger iPhone on this value vary, you may as well contemplate 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 principal 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, 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 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, but it surely is not going to embody the Cinematic Mode seen on the iPhone 13.

Learn our Apple iPhone SE assessment.

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

The $500 Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is among the greatest stylus-equipped telephones you will get proper now, particularly for the worth. You get Android 12, 5G connectivity, a big 6.8-inch display 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’d like a stylus-equipped telephone, the following step-up possibility is the considerably dearer Galaxy S22 Extremely at $1,200.

Learn our Moto G Stylus 5G assessment.

apple-iphone-11-camera-6806
Angela Lang/CNET

With the launch of the iPhone 14 sequence, Apple discontinued the $500 iPhone 11, but it surely’s nonetheless broadly accessible. It may be a couple of generations previous, however this telephone continues to be greater than succesful, dealing with gaming effectively and geared up with two very good 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 tremendous on LTE and Wi-Fi. The iPhone 11 additionally doesn’t help MagSafe equipment, which had been launched alongside the iPhone 12.

Simply word that some locations could also be promoting refurbished variations of the telephone 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 via both AT&T, Verizon, T-Cell or Dash.

Learn our Apple iPhone 11 assessment.

Nothing Phone 1 with LEDs turned on
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Nothing Cellphone 1 is technically accessible within the US for $299, however solely via 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 international locations the place it is accessible. It provides a placing design and respectable specs for the cash, even at its greater £399 UK value (which converts to roughly AU$700).

The Nothing Cellphone 1 is adorned with LED strips on the again, every of which is named 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 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 throughout the value vary, particularly given its digital camera high quality and appears. 

How we check telephones

CNET exams telephones through the use of them each day and evaluating them with competing telephones to evaluate their worth. We contemplate quite a lot of elements, such because the telephone’s display, cameras, battery life, software program, efficiency, options and ease of use.

For low-priced telephones, we be sure that these units persistently work effectively when utilized in quite a few 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 photographs open air within the daytime and nighttime, and indoors in darker settings. We use cameras in lively environments, like a live performance or a sports activities sport, and with quite a lot of topics together with individuals, objects and pets. We additionally check accessible digital camera settings, particularly these which are rarer in these value ranges reminiscent of Night time mode and Portrait mode.

These anecdotal telephone experiences are additionally mixed with benchmark exams reminiscent of 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 examine how the telephone’s battery holds as much as a sequence of video calls, gaming, video streaming and net searching.

Telephones beneath $500 FAQs

Are cheaper telephones value it?

For many individuals, a telephone that prices lower than $500 will seemingly have the whole lot 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 ought to be conscious of — and OK with — the constraints a telephone could have in comparison with its dearer counterparts. As an illustration, if you’d like an iPhone with an even bigger display than the iPhone SE and iPhone 11’s screens, your subsequent most suitable choice is the $899 iPhone 14 Plus. That is far exterior the $500 value vary, however you additionally get extra advantages like an improved digital camera. 

Then again, if you’d like a telephone with an even bigger display and if operating Android is okay, you will have loads of choices which are beneath $500.

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

Sure, you’ll find a number of cheaper telephones that take nice photographs, whether or not it is via the digital camera accessible on the system, photograph 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 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 photographs and movies taken on the telephone throughout his assessment, 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 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. Nevertheless it has a 12-megapixel principal 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 principal digital camera seen on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 is an attention-grabbing case: Iit has a principal 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 principal digital camera on the Galaxy S22, the picture element is a step down with the S22 in a position to 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 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 principal digital camera as a substitute of the 50-megapixel principal digital camera 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 with a excessive refresh price.

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 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
Cell software program Android 12 Android 12 Android 12 iOS 15 Android 13 iOS 13
Digital camera 64-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth) 50-megapixel (large), 8-megapixel (ultrawide/macro), 2-megapixel (depth) 12.2-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel extremely large) 12-megapixel (large) 50-megapixel (principal), 50-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (large), 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’ll final 1 hour longer than iPhone XR
Fingerprint sensor In-display Aspect Beneath 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 principal 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 price 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

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