$356 at Amazon


Apple iPhone 11

Good all spherical, for those who can nonetheless discover it

You might imagine it’s worthwhile to lay our a fortune to get a wonderful telephone, however that is merely not the case. The finest telephones underneath $500 actually do not sacrifice a lot compared to units with a lot greater 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’ll want to simply accept some tradeoffs, although, equivalent to lower-quality cameras or an older processor. 

The finest telephones underneath $500 could hit a lot of the options in your guidelines. Looking for a giant 6.5-inch display? Many of those telephones have that, or there are additionally smaller shows if that is your choice. Need an amazing digital camera? You’ll 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, for example, 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 pictures, offers a roomy 256GB of house and throws in a stylus, however Motorola does not present software program help for so long as its rivals.

Photography and video specifically are areas the place the telephones on this worth bracket take a noticeable hit compared to their costlier counterparts. However, photo-processing software program ought to assist decide up a few of the slack. For occasion, whereas the iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel digital camera that does not help night time pictures, its A15 Bionic chip does permit for Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. It’s an analogous scenario for the Pixel 6A, which makes use of a 12-megapixel foremost digital camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, but can improve these pictures with processing powered by the telephone’s Tensor chip.

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

What is the very best telephone underneath $500

The Google Pixel 6A’s strong digital camera and premium design make it the very best Android telephone underneath $500 proper now. As lengthy because the Pixel 7 is not on sale. The Pixel 6A usually accomplishes its supposed goal of offering so much for much less. The digital camera could also be a step down from the Pixel 7, however it takes crisp and colourful pictures for a telephone of its worth. You additionally get the identical eye-catching design and Pixel-specific software program options like Magic Eraser and Live Translate.

We ought to warn you that the Pixel 7A is rumored to be introduced at Google I/O on May 10. If you may wait till then, you would possibly be capable to snag the 7A or get the 6A at a diminished worth.

Best telephones underneath $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 “finest Android telephone underneath $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 an analogous digital camera to the Pixel 5A, together with a 12.2-megapixel foremost digital camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera. But by together with the Tensor chip, pictures can profit from its Real Tone pores and skin tone characteristic, Face Unblur, Night 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 consists of most of the finest options seen within the Galaxy S22 line, with just a few 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 foremost digital camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera, 5-megapixel macro digital camera and 5-megapixel depth digital camera.

But a selected excessive level for this telephone is Samsung’s pledge to offer 4 years of software program help, along with delivery with Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1. However, 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. 

Read 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 newest smartphone options, together with Apple’s A15 Bionic chip and 5G help. It’s additionally one of many few telephones in the marketplace that features a smaller, 4.7-inch display.

It’s that throwback design, which continues the overall form that Apple has used since 2014, that might be what you’re keen on or dislike most about this telephone. If you desire a bigger iPhone on this worth vary, you may as well think about the iPhone 11, and get a much bigger display and Face ID. But that telephone doesn’t embody 5G connectivity.

The telephone additionally solely consists of one 12-megapixel foremost digital camera, which doesn’t help night time mode. Most different telephones on this roundup embody a number of cameras and options like night time mode, making the omission noticeable. However, pictures make up for this by together with the Deep Fusion photo-processing method to reinforce medium-to-low mild pictures, and Smart 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 embody the Cinematic Mode seen on the iPhone 13.

Read 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 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. Unfortunately, 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.

Yet if you’d like a stylus-equipped telephone, the subsequent step-up choice is the considerably costlier Galaxy S22 Ultra at $1,200.

Read our Moto G Stylus 5G evaluate.


Angela Lang/CNET

With the launch of the iPhone 14 collection, 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 remains to be greater than succesful, dealing with gaming effectively and geared up with two very good rear cameras. It is lacking 5G help, which is more and more enhancing as wi-fi carriers spend money on the community, however the telephone will work tremendous on LTE and Wi-Fi. The iPhone 11 additionally doesn’t help MagSafe equipment, which have been launched alongside the iPhone 12.

Just observe that some locations could also be promoting refurbished variations of the telephone since Apple itself is now not promoting new iPhone 11 fashions. Best Buy doesn’t carry any unlocked fashions, so you will have to join a service plan by both AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.

Read our Apple iPhone 11 evaluate.

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Nothing Phone 1 with LEDs turned on

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Nothing Phone 1 is technically out there within the US for $299, however solely by a beta program that’s promoting a world mannequin with restricted US provider compatibility. While the corporate does plan to formally launch a future telephone for the North American market, this telephone remains to be value a glance in international locations the place it is out there. It gives a placing design and respectable specs for the cash, even at its greater £399 UK worth (which converts to roughly AU$700).

The Nothing Phone 1 is adorned with LED strips on the again, every of which is known as a “glyph,” that mild up for alerts and notifications. That design is accompanied by two 50-megapixel cameras: a large angle and an ultrawide. Around 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 worth vary, particularly given its digital camera high quality and appears. 

How we check telephones

Every telephone on this record has been completely examined by CNET’s knowledgeable critiques crew. We truly use the telephone, check the options, play video games and take pictures. We assess any advertising 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 telephone throughout testing:

  • Display
  • Design and really feel
  • Processor efficiency
  • Battery life
  • Camera high quality
  • Features

We check all of a telephone’s cameras (each back and front) in quite a lot of situations: from outdoor underneath daylight to dimmer indoor locales and night time time scenes (for any out there night time modes). We additionally examine our findings in opposition to equally priced fashions. We have a collection of actual world battery assessments to see how lengthy a telephone lasts underneath on a regular basis use.

We take into consideration extra telephone 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 worth so you realize whether or not a telephone represents good worth or not.

Read extra: How we check telephones

Phones underneath $500 comparability

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs. Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G vs. Google Pixel 6A vs. Apple iPhone SE (2022) vs. Nothing Phone 1 vs. Apple iPhone 11

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) Google Pixel 6A Apple iPhone SE (2022) Nothing Phone 1 iPhone 11
Display 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
Mobile software program Android 12 Android 12 Android 12 iOS 15 Android 13 iOS 13
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 (foremost), 50-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)
Front-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 Up to 1TB Up to 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 is going to final 1 hour longer than iPhone XR
Fingerprint sensor In-display Side Under show Home button In-display None (Face ID)
Connector USB-C USB-C USB C Lightning USB-C Lightning
Headphone jack None Yes None None None No
Special options 5G-enabled; IP67 ranking; helps 25W wired quick charging, Samsung Pay 5G-enabled; OIS for foremost digital camera; 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 resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging 5G, IP53, Three years of Android updates, Dual Sim, 120Hz adaptive refresh fee Water resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging
Price off-contract (USD) $450 $500 $449 $399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB) N/A $499
Price (GBP) £399 NA however converts to £405 £399 £419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB) £399 £489
Price (AUD) AU$699 NA however converts to AU$715 A$749 AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB) N/A AU$849

Phones underneath $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 a few of the newest options seen on higher-end telephones like easy 120Hz refresh charges and a number of cameras.

However, you have to be conscious of — and OK with — the restrictions a telephone could have in comparison with its costlier counterparts. For occasion, if you’d like an iPhone with a much bigger display than the iPhone SE and that iPhone 11’s screens, your subsequent best choice is the $899 iPhone 14 Plus. That’s far outdoors the $500 worth vary, however you additionally get extra advantages like an improved digital camera. 

On the opposite hand, if you’d like a telephone with a much bigger display and if operating Android is okay, you will have loads of choices which can be underneath $500.

Can you get a great digital camera on a less expensive telephone?

Yes, yow will discover a number of cheaper telephones that take nice pictures, whether or not it is by the digital camera out there on the gadget, photograph processing software program on the telephone or — is most frequently the case — a mixture of each. 

Apple’s iPhone SE consists of the A15 Bionic chip, which helps Smart HDR4 processing and Apple’s Deep Fusion processing. Smart 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 pictures and movies taken on the telephone throughout his evaluate, which may be watched on the CNET Highlights YouTube channel. However, the iPhone SE additionally has just one 12-megapixel digital camera, and that digital camera doesn’t help night time pictures.

Over on the Android aspect, the Google Pixel 6A consists of the corporate’s Tensor chip, which brings pictures options like Real Tone for capturing extra correct pores and skin tones, Face Unblur for fixing an individual’s face and Magic Eraser for eradicating undesirable objects. But it has a 12-megapixel foremost 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 foremost digital camera seen on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 is an attention-grabbing case: Iit has a foremost 64-megapixel digital camera alongside a 12-megapixel ultrawide, 5-megapixel macro digital camera and 5-megapixel depth digital camera. While that is extra megapixels than the 50-megapixel foremost digital camera 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?

Each 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 consists of the brand new Tensor processor, however makes use of an older 12.2-megapixel foremost digital camera as a substitute of the 50-megapixel foremost digital camera discovered on the $599 Pixel 6.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 takes the alternative method. It features a processor that is slower than the Galaxy S22’s however consists of different fashionable options like a display with a excessive refresh fee.

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