The Best Smartphone You Can Buy under $500

Pick one of the top affordable phones if you’re on a tight budget but want to avoid going on quality. The issue about cheap phones is that although some are subpar and not worth your time, a select few excel in one or two areas and are, therefore, excellent values in their own right.

The best cheap phones 2023

Google’s Pixel 7A

The best phone you can get for the money is Google’s Pixel 7A. Tensor G2, the same processor found in the Google Pixel 7 Pro top model, powers it. Because of this, it is among the most rugged Android phones under $500 (at least in the US), and it also supports all of the sophisticated software features available on the Google flagships.

That includes Assistant Voice Typing, which allows you to forego the keyboard in favor of a quicker and more accurate voice typing mode superior to anything that has come before, and Photo Unblur, which uses machine learning to sharpen the faces of individuals in your images.

We enjoy Pixel phones so highly because of their clever software. They are jam-packed with genuinely helpful features that ease daily life. I frequently use Now Playing since I don’t have to look for the music because it recognizes it.

Because I seldom ever receive spam calls when using a Pixel, Call Screen is yet another lifesaver. Another benefit? This phone will be supported and secure for five years, which is a long time. Sadly, Google only guarantees three updates to the Android OS, which is oddly fewer than Samsung provides for its products.

Dislike big phones?

This phone is the one you need. Although not the smallest available, the 6.1-inch OLED display is relatively small. You should install a screen protector since Gorilla Glass 3, which guards the front, isn’t as scratch-resistant as the glass on more expensive phones. If you drop it, you have one less area to be concerned about because the back is comprised of a plastic composite. (Even though it’s plastic, it seems expensive.)

With Google’s addition of a 90-Hz screen refresh rate, interactions now appear more fluid than on the Pixel 6A. The screen is moderately bright in direct sunshine. Wireless charging is another new feature in the A-series portfolio, allowing you to recharge the battery without plugging in a cable. Additionally, it has NFC for contactless payments and an IP67 grade for weather resistance. 

Samsung Galaxy A53

The Samsung Galaxy A53 is unquestionably the most excellent affordable Samsung phone available. This appealing budget phone has an outstanding screen and even more impressive cameras, so despite its low cost, it doesn’t look cheap. Trust us; throughout our tests, we discovered that it captures photographs that are so vivid and vibrant that there isn’t much need for editing before posting them on social media.

Thanks to Samsung’s AMOLED display technology, which makes every material you view vibrant and colorful, that 6.5-inch screen is undoubtedly just as glitzy. Additionally, we were blown away by how clear the images were, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate.

Unfortunately, according to our tests, its performance and charging speed is a little slow, but these flaws are only deal-breakers if you have a fast flagship for your everyday mobile demands. This is particularly true if you are more concerned with the media you produce and consume.

OnePlus Nord N20

You occasionally come across a smartphone that performs admirably. The OnePlus Nord N20 is the phone we’d recommend for people on a tight budget seeking a cheap Android phone if they’re looking for anything that costs less than $300.

Our testing demonstrates that this OnePlus product has a smooth performance, which is commendable given the cost. However, it also has an OLED display, which was bright and vibrant and even deserved a $600 phone. It also makes text easier to read. Additionally, it stands in for the camera system, which is essentially unremarkable. 

The OnePlus Nord N20 performs well for calling, watching videos, and playing games. You won’t even realize you’re using a mid-range phone. And if you don’t mind giving up some camera features, you’ll adore it for regular use.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G, which costs under $200, provides all the features you want in a low-cost smartphone. The battery life can be measured in days, it can easily handle any simple task you throw at it, and it is compatible with all US carriers. The A14 5G is safe until early 2027, but the screen collects irritating fingerprint smudges. However, it is vast and vivid, and Samsung promises four years’ worth of update support. It also comes preinstalled with Android 13.

After years of having bad experiences with previous Galaxy phones, Samsung’s version of Android, One UI, has started to shine. The One UI on the A14 5G comes with everything you need and more, including a file manager, smart home hub, cloud storage, and Microsoft Office—in some cases, this entails replicating the functionality of preinstalled Google apps. This is in addition to its four years of update support. The A14 5G shouldn’t overwhelm you with clutter unless you choose a carrier model, which will be filled with numerous spam apps.

Budget phones are typically no longer safe to use after a year or two due to inadequate software support. In contrast, Samsung prioritizes long-term updates, and the A14 5G has assured security updates through the beginning of 2027, meaning it might outlive a $1,000 flagship device. Two new versions of Android (versions 14 and 15) will also be added, but even after the major updates have finished, you will still be protected thanks to the patches.

The best iPhone under $500

The 128GB iPhone SE is the most affordable smartphone available, bar none. Considering 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 buying a new phone for most of the foreseeable future, think twice before purchasing a SE. Its 4.7-inch screen is relatively small and needs to be updated. 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 due to its large bezels, but in the future, the practicality of a small screen will matter more.

Samsung Galaxy A03s

The most excellent phone now on the market for individuals on a tight budget is the Samsung Galaxy A03s. The A03s delivers solid software, satisfactory performance, and security-update support until summer 2026 for $160, or even less, from some carrier outlets. It may be a while before certain flagship phones receive updates.

The A03s resemble the A13 5G in appearance. However, it has a slower processor and a thinner plastic body. It does, however, have a headphone jack, a USB-C port in place of the more ancient Micro-USB port, and a fingerprint sensor—the last of which is sometimes absent in extremely cheap phones.

Unlike other inexpensive phones, Samsung didn’t overburden the A03s with unnecessary frills, which come preloaded with sluggish, cluttered software and many third-party apps. This phone has Samsung features, including one-handed mode and pop-up alerts. Although buying the A03s through a carrier will save you some money, there will probably be more included software to uninstall.

Grant Stern

Grant is a professional content writer with more than 5 years of experience in SEO & content writing. He has strong grip on content creation, copywriting, and on page SEO.

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