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You could suppose it’s good to lay our a fortune to get a superb cellphone, however that is merely not the case. The very best telephones below $500 actually do not sacrifice a lot compared to gadgets with a lot larger worth tags. The midrange house has a ton of competitors that supply options like high-refresh-rate screens, 5G and pictures processing software program. You may want to simply accept some tradeoffs, although, equivalent to lower-quality cameras or an older processor. 

The very best telephones below $500 might hit many of the options in your guidelines. In search of an enormous 6.5-inch display? Many of those telephones have that, or there are additionally smaller shows if that is your desire. Want an excellent digicam? 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 illustration, have a smaller display and older digicam 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 house and throws in a stylus, however Motorola does not present software program assist 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 costlier counterparts. Nevertheless, photo-processing software program ought to assist decide up a few of the slack. As an illustration, whereas the iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel digicam that does not assist evening pictures, its A15 Bionic chip does permit for Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. It is a comparable scenario for the Pixel 6A, which makes use of a 12-megapixel principal digicam and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam, but can improve these pictures with processing powered by the cellphone’s Tensor chip.

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

What’s the greatest cellphone below $500

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

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

Greatest telephones below $500

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 below $500” in her Pixel 6A assessment, 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 fee of 60Hz. And it has the same digicam to the Pixel 5A, together with a 12.2-megapixel principal digicam and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam. However by together with the Tensor chip, pictures can profit from its Actual Tone pores and skin tone function, Face Unblur, Evening Sight for darker pictures and the Magic Eraser for eradicating undesirable parts from a photograph.

Learn our Google Pixel 6A assessment.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy A53 consists of most of the greatest options seen within the Galaxy S22 line, with just a few tradeoffs to hit that lower cost. The cellphone features a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 2,400×1,080-pixel decision, 5G assist and a long-lasting 5,000-mAh battery. The cellphone additionally comes with a 64-megapixel principal digicam, 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam, 5-megapixel macro digicam and 5-megapixel depth digicam.

However a selected excessive level for this cellphone is Samsung’s pledge to offer 4 years of software program assist, along with transport with Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1. Nevertheless, 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 assessment.

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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 in the marketplace that features a smaller, 4.7-inch display.

It is that throwback design, which continues the overall form that Apple has used since 2014, that may very well be what you like or dislike most about this cellphone. If you need a bigger iPhone on this worth vary, you too can take into account the iPhone 11, and get a much bigger display and Face ID. However that cellphone doesn’t embody 5G connectivity.

The cellphone additionally solely consists of one 12-megapixel principal digicam, which doesn’t assist evening mode. Most different telephones on this roundup embody a number of cameras and options like evening mode, making the omission noticeable. Nevertheless, pictures make up for this by together with the Deep Fusion photo-processing method to boost medium-to-low mild pictures, and Sensible HDR4 processing for bettering shade 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 assessment.

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

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The $500 Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is without doubt one of 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 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’d like a stylus-equipped cellphone, the subsequent step-up possibility is the considerably costlier Galaxy S22 Extremely at $1,200.

Learn our Moto G Stylus 5G assessment.

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With the launch of the iPhone 14 collection, Apple discontinued the $500 iPhone 11, nevertheless it’s nonetheless broadly accessible. It could be just a few generations outdated, however this cellphone continues to be greater than succesful, dealing with gaming properly and geared up with two excellent rear cameras. It’s lacking 5G assist, 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 assist MagSafe equipment, which have been launched alongside the iPhone 12.

Simply be aware that some locations could also be promoting refurbished variations of the cellphone since Apple itself is not promoting new iPhone 11 fashions. Greatest Purchase doesn’t carry any unlocked fashions, so you may have to enroll in a service plan via both AT&T, Verizon, T-Cell or Dash.

Learn our Apple iPhone 11 assessment.

You are receiving worth alerts for Apple iPhone 11

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The Nothing Cellphone 1 is technically accessible within the US for $299, however solely via a beta program that’s promoting a world 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 accessible. It provides a placing 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 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 digicam. 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 properly throughout the worth vary, particularly given its digicam 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 crew. We truly use the cellphone, take a look at the options, play video games and take pictures. 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 inform you all about it. 

We study each facet of a cellphone throughout testing:

DisplayDesign and feelProcessor performanceBattery lifeCamera qualityFeatures

We take a look at all of a cellphone’s cameras (each back and front) in a wide range of situations: from outdoor below daylight to dimmer indoor locales and evening time scenes (for any accessible evening modes). We additionally examine our findings in opposition to equally priced fashions. We’ve got a collection of actual world battery exams to see how lengthy a cellphone lasts below on a regular basis use.

We take into consideration 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 value so whether or not a cellphone 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 Cellphone 1 vs. Apple iPhone 11

Samsung Galaxy A53 5GMotorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)Google Pixel 6AApple iPhone SE (2022)Nothing Cellphone 1iPhone 11 Show dimension, decision 6.5-inch AMOLED (2,400×1,080 pixels); 120 Hz6.8-inch LTPS LCD FHD+; 2,460 x1,080 pixels; 120 Hz6.1-inch OLED; (1080 x 2400); 60Hz4.7-inch LCD; (1,334×750 pixels); 60 Hz6.55-inch OLED show, 2,400 x1080 pixels; 6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina; 1,792×828 pixels Pixel density 405ppiTBD429 ppi326ppi402ppi326ppiDimensions (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 mm168.9 x 75.8 x 9.3 mm152.2 x 7.18 x 8.9 mm138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3 mm150.9×75.7×8.3 mmWeight (ounces, grams) 6.67 oz.; 189g7.58 oz.; 215 g6.3 oz.; 178g5.09 oz.; 144g193.5g6.84 oz.; 194gMobile software program Android 12Android 12Android 12iOS 15Android 13iOS 13Camera 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 digicam 32-megapixel16-megapixel8-megapixel7-megapixel16-megapixel 12-megapixel with Face IDVideo seize 4K1,080p4K4K4K at 60fps4KProcessor Exynos 1280Snapdragon 695 5GGoogle TensorApple A15 BionicSnapdragon 778G+Apple A13 BionicRAM/Storage 6GB/128GB8GB/256GB6GB RAM/128GB storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB8GB + 128GB, 8GB + 256 GB, 12GB RAM + 256GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GBExpandable storage As much as 1TBUp to 1TBNoneNANoneNoneBattery/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 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 XRFingerprint sensor In-displaySideUnder displayHome buttonIn-displayNone (Face ID)Connector USB-CUSB-CUSB CLightningUSB-CLightningHeadphone jack NoneYesNoneNoneNoneNoSpecial options 5G-enabled; IP67 ranking; helps 25W wired quick charging, Samsung Pay5G-enabled; OIS for principal 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 resistance5G-enabled; helps 25W wired quick charging; Water-proof (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging5G, IP53, Three years of Android updates, Twin Sim, 120Hz adaptive refresh rateWater resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi chargingPrice off-contract (USD) $450$500$449$399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB)N/A$499Price (GBP) £399NA however converts to £405£399£419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB)£399£489Price (AUD) AU$699NA however converts to AU$715A$749AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB)N/AAU$849

Telephones below $500 FAQs

Are cheaper telephones price it?

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

Nevertheless, you need to be conscious of — and OK with — the constraints a cellphone might have in comparison with its costlier counterparts. As an illustration, if you’d like an iPhone with a much 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 worth vary, however you additionally get further advantages like an improved digicam. 

However, if you’d like a cellphone with a much bigger display and if working Android is ok, you may have loads of choices which are below $500.

Are you able to get a superb digicam on a less expensive cellphone?

Sure, you will discover a number of cheaper telephones that take nice pictures, whether or not it is via the digicam accessible on the gadget, photograph processing software program on the cellphone or — is most frequently the case — a mix of each. 

Apple’s iPhone SE consists of the A15 Bionic chip, which helps Sensible HDR4 processing and Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. Sensible HDR4 helps with bettering shade 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 cellphone throughout his assessment, which will 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 evening pictures.

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

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 is an attention-grabbing case: Iit has a principal 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 principal digicam on the Galaxy S22, the picture element is a step down with the S22 capable of 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 current 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 principal digicam as an alternative of the 50-megapixel principal digicam 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 consists of different trendy options like a display with a excessive refresh fee.

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