The Best Smartphone You Can Buy for Under $500

best smartphone

You can expect a lot from a midrange phone these days. Apple, Samsung, and Google all offer devices with many of the core features of their pricier phones, such as top-of-the-line processors, weatherproofing, and software support for five or more years. You can’t have everything, of course, but $400 or $500 goes a long way.

There are also great options for $300 and under. You can look for a bright, high-definition OLED screen or a built-in stylus or a battery that lasts for days. If you can get the one or two features that matter most to you and you’re willing to compromise elsewhere, you can get a phone that fits your needs for half the price of a flagship. What compromises can you expect from a budget phone? Some combination of the following: slower processors, less storage, and weaker cameras than flagship phones, almost across the board. Many have lower-resolution screens, and most lack official water-resistance ratings, wireless charging, and NFC chips for contactless payments.

And while we generally recommend buying unlocked phones for maximum flexibility, you can get better deals — and much lower up-front costs — by buying through a carrier and signing up for a wireless plan.

The best cheap iPhone 2022 is Apple iPhone SE. Its 4.7-inch display is starting to feel cramped in this age of giant displays, but otherwise, the SE does exactly what previous generations have done: a low-cost entry point to Apple’s iOS ecosystem and a Presents the device that will move upwards. Five years if you take care of it.

If you’re looking for the best budget Android phone, the Google Pixel 6A is your best bet right now. Like the SE, it offers the same processor as Google’s pricier flagship models, so overall speed and performance are top-notch. It doesn’t have the best screen in its class—if you’re looking for a large, fast-refreshing display, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G—but it has a great camera, good battery life, and a long five. -Year software support policy.

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