Best Phone

[The Top] Smartphone Available For Less Than $500

Many of us have recently become more attentive to price tags due to the present level of inflation. Despite the terrible news on your grocery bill, there is some good news to share: these days, you can purchase a very capable phone for less than $500.

While many of our recommendations cost $400 or $500 or more, there are also some excellent choices for $300 or less. A built-in stylus, a brilliant, high-definition OLED screen, or a long-lasting battery are all options. You can acquire a phone that meets your needs for half the cost of a flagship if you can focus on the one or two things that are most essential to you and you’re ready to make other sacrifices.

What shortcomings should you anticipate with a cheap phone? Almost universally, these phones have subpar cameras, slower processors, and less storage than flagship models. Most lack official water-resistance ratings, wireless charging, and NFC processors for contactless payments, and many have screens with lesser resolutions.

Additionally, even while we normally advise purchasing unlocked phones to enhance freedom, purchasing through a carrier and enlisting in a wireless plan may provide better discounts and significantly lower upfront expenses. It might be worthwhile to wait to see what your trade-in alternatives look like as a new batch of new flagship phones is most likely coming very soon, especially if you use Android.

In 2023, what will be the top smartphone under $500?

2022 Apple iPhone SE (third-generation)

The 128GB iPhone SE is the most affordable smartphone available, bar none. When you consider that it will continue to receive iOS updates for more than five, possibly even six, or seven years, it’s a fantastic offer for $479.

To avoid having to buy a new phone for the majority of the foreseeable future, think twice before purchasing a SE. Its 4.7-inch screen is relatively small and incredibly out-of-date. It’s the same size as the one on the iPhone 6, and in a time when apps and websites are made for larger screens, it’s beginning to seem claustrophobic. The SE looks archaic as a result of its large bezels, but in the future, practicality of a small screen will matter more.
Android Pixel 6A
The MSRP of the Pixel 6A is $449, although it is frequently discounted down to considerably less than that. Even though it costs full retail, if you can find it for around $400, as is very frequently the case, it’s a fantastic deal.

The Tensor custom-built chipset, which Google used in its 2021 top models, the 6 and 6 Pro, is the phone’s strongest suit. It not only makes it possible for the 6A to perform very well overall right now, but it also ensures that it will continue to do so for a very long time. If you want a cheap phone that will survive, Google guarantees five years of security upgrades for the 6A, and with an IP67 water resistant rating, it’s a strong overall bet.

The screen of the 6A, a 6.1-inch 1080p OLED with a typical 60Hz refresh rate, is its least remarkable component. It’s not horrible; it’s simply not the most cost-effective screen you can get. The display’s fingerprint sensor is also quite sluggish. Although it is substantially slower than the greatest fingerprint sensors currently available, it is still useful.

SM-A53 5G from Samsung

For its $449 MSRP, the Samsung A53 5G offers outstanding value. As expected from display manufacturer Samsung, it has one of the best panels in its class, a 6.5-inch 1080p OLED that offers richer contrast than the LCDs that are typical in this class. Additionally, it uses a top refresh rate of 120 Hz, which contributes to a somewhat more “premium” experience and smooth scrolling.

The battery life of the A53 5G is a full day, and daily duties are completed quite quickly by the Exynos CPU. The main 64-megapixel camera on the phone is a step up from the often unimpressive cameras in this class, and it features optical image stabilization to assist take more crisp pictures in low light.

Nord N20 5G from OnePlus

The $280 OnePlus N20 5G feels like it should be much more expensive. The 6.4-inch screen has a decent 1080p resolution. Even better, it’s an OLED panel in a market where LCDs with lesser contrast are considerably more prevalent. You’ll have to make do with a conventional 60Hz refresh rate, but you won’t notice the difference unless you’re coming from a phone with a quicker 90Hz or 120Hz screen. Despite the refresh rate, the screen is good and delightful to use. Additionally, the phone has a reliable fingerprint scanner hidden beneath the display, which eliminates any frustration associated with unlocking it.

Although the N20 5G is offered for sale unlocked, Verizon service is not supported. Additionally, AT&T’s network is just 4G-capable, but that’s hardly the end of the world given the carrier’s gradual rollout of its mid-band 5G network (the good 5G). The unlocked N20 is compatible with both T-4G Mobile’s and 5G networks, and if you want to take advantage of a free phone promotion or include the cost in your monthly phone bill, you can purchase a network-locked version of the phone directly from T-Mobile.

The N20 5G has a capable Snapdragon 695 processor and a sizable 6GB of RAM for excellent everyday performance. With the supplied charger, it also supports 33W wired fast charging, another feature you’d be hard-pressed to find in any of the N20’s rivals. If you’re stuck somewhere and need a quick battery boost, the phone can be charged from zero to thirty percent in just twenty minutes. For contactless payments, NFC is also provided, though many less expensive phones omit it to save money.

SM-A13 5G from Samsung

Samsung recently unveiled the Galaxy A14, the A13’s replacement, which we haven’t had a chance to test yet. The Galaxy A13 5G is still a terrific price if you can still locate it on a store’s shelf even though it comes with some hopeful enhancements, including as an additional year of security patches. It’s a straightforward $249 phone that offers the essentials.

The device’s screen is nothing exceptional, but the battery life and performance are excellent for the money, and the support policy is strong, providing three years of security updates. It’s less well-made than the N20, which has a nicer OLED, but it’s also somewhat less expensive and compatible with all major carriers (the N20 is incompatible with Verizon).

The 6.5-inch screen on the A13 is undoubtedly large, but it only has a 720p resolution and is a pretty dim, low-contrast LCD. Because the screen uses less power than panels with higher brightness, battery life is excellent. The 4GB of RAM and MediaTek 700 5G chipset deliver excellent overall performance.

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