You can get an excellent smartphone at this price, whether you would like an iPhone, an enormous screen, or an excellent camera
If you’re buying a replacement phone on a budget, we’ve got good news: there are more great, affordable phones on the market than ever. Companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung are spreading the wealth of features enjoyed by their flagships right down to less costly options. Other brands like OnePlus are finding ways to challenge skilled manufacturers with budget devices that make smart sacrifices to stay costs down.
The bad news is that this makes the work of picking the simplest budget phone that much harder. Bear in mind that it’s impossible to shop for a phone that does everything at this price point; instead, prioritize the features that matter most to you. You’ll have a neater time deciding, and you’ll find yourself with an excellent phone that you simply should be ready to use for years to return.
Our pick for the simplest inexpensive iPhone is that the 2020 edition of the Apple iPhone SE. albeit it’s overflow a year old, we expect it’s still the simplest bet for many people. While it does a competent job at everything, its standout feature is that it should last four or more years if treated well.
If you’re trying to find the simplest cheap Android phone, then the Google Pixel 5A is our top choice immediately . You won’t find an enormous , show-stopping screen here, or bells and whistles sort of a fast refresh rate screen. Instead, you get a phone that covers the fundamentals rather well , plus IP67 waterproofing and timely software updates — all at a lower cost than last year’s model.
What most of the people are trying to find during a sub-$500 smartphone are an equivalent things people want during a costlier model: long battery life, good screen, good camera, and decent performance. It’s difficult to urge high straight A’s in every single one among those categories, but if you’re ready to decide where you’ll tolerate the occasional B grade, you’ll find a phone you’ll love.
THE BEST SMARTPHONE FOR UNDER $500 IN 2021
1. APPLE IPHONE SE
THE BEST SMARTPHONE UNDER $500
The phone that strikes the proper balance of camera, build quality, speed, battery life, software, and longevity for many people is that the Apple iPhone SE 2020. albeit it’s over a year old now, it should still offer you a superb return on your investment. We recommend upgrading to the model with 128GB of storage for $449, which is $50 over the bottom price but well worthwhile future .
The iPhone SE follows a really tried and true formula. it’s an equivalent body and 4.7-inch LCD screen that Apple has been using since the iPhone 6. That puts the display on the smaller end of screen sizes today and also means the phone’s bezels are bigger than anything sold on the market. High refresh-rate screens with smoother animations and scrolling are trickling down into the budget class recently, and you actually won’t find one here.
It’s a well-known design and not one that screams “modern.” But in exchange, you get tons useful . The 2020 SE is a component of the iPhone 11 generation, so its A13 Bionic processor may be a year behind the newest and greatest. (That would be the A14 chipset within the iPhone 12 lineup.) However, it’s still one among the fastest processors you’ll get on any phone, but especially one during this bracket . Normally, speed isn’t something we prioritize on phones at this price point, but it’s nice to possess.
Why that processor really matters, though, is overall longevity. Apple consistently supports its phones for four or more years with software updates. (That’s con to Android, where getting software updates on anything but the Pixel remains a struggle.) So Apple’s choice of a quick processor means, during a few years, the iPhone SE will still feel snappy and still be supported with iOS updates.
Battery life is sweet but not best in school . It should last a few day. Luckily, this iPhone supports wireless charging, which remains uncommon at this price point. and since it’s the precise same shape because the iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and 8, there’s an enormous ecosystem of chargers and cases for it. Unlike many inexpensive Android phones, finding compatible accessories for the iPhone SE are going to be a breeze.
The iPhone SE has only one camera on the rear and only one selfie camera on the front, 12 megapixels and seven megapixels, respectively. Neither is great by 2021 standards, but both are significantly better than what Apple shipped in older iPhones. It’s also fairly good by the standards of sub-$500 phones, though the Google Pixel 4A continues to win this category by a knockout. you’ll get tons of camera features on the iPhone SE, including portrait and HDR, but unfortunately, there’s no night mode.
As a complete package, the 2020 iPhone SE is that the best smartphone under $500 for many people. If you think that of it on a cost-per-year metric, it finishes up being significantly less costly than the competition because it’s likely to last four or five years if you’re taking care of it. even as importantly, it’s an excellent phone on its own merits. You get access to the vast array of iOS apps, Apple’s strong support network, and an enormous ecosystem of accessories.
2. GOOGLE PIXEL 5A
THE BEST BUDGET ANDROID PHONE
The $449 Pixel 5A features a 6.34-inch OLED screen that’s on the smaller side for the budget class, but it’s bigger than the previous-gen 6.2-inch panel on the Pixel 4A 5G. There’s a much bigger battery too, a 4,680mAh cell which will last through a full day of heavy use and well into day two if you’re a lighter user. The 5A also offers IP67 water resistance for added peace of mind within the event of accidental spills or tumbles into the water.
That’s more or less the extent of the 5A’s improvements over its predecessor, and that’s fine. The 4A 5G was already a well-equipped midrange device and therefore the 5A makes some strategic updates to its foundation. the twin standard / ultrawide rear-facing camera, Snapdragon 765G processor, and 6GB RAM / 128GB storage combination served the 4A 5G well and still deliver solid performance during this iteration.
Another thing we will calculate Pixel phones to try to to well is software, and therefore the 5A is not any exception. It ships with Google’s own Android 11 OS and is refreshingly freed from the added clutter that other manufacturers sometimes pile onto it. The Pixel 5A is additionally guaranteed three years of OS platform upgrades and security updates, which isn’t quite as long as Apple or Samsung’s standard software support timespan, but is certainly better than tons of the Android competition.
There’s also, of course, 5G connectivity. You won’t get the super-fast mmWave flavor of 5G support, but that’s a highly range-limited network that’s still pretty hard to seek out . That’s fine, but there’s a weird interrogation point over whether Google will support another set of frequencies that AT&T and Verizon will start using later this year called C-band. the corporate isn’t committing to creating the required software update to use it, despite supporting it in hardware. It’s a wierd blemish on the 5A’s otherwise strong feature set.
The 5A is additionally getting somewhat of a limited release — it’s only available within the US and Japan, and isn’t being sold through any of the main US wireless carriers. Taking all of that into consideration, the Pixel 5A remains the cheap Android phone that we’d recommend to most of the people . It’s not flashy, but it’s well priced and has it where it counts.
3. SAMSUNG GALAXY A52 5G
THE BEST BUDGET ANDROID PHONE WITH A FAST REFRESH-RATE SCREEN
On the Android side, the Galaxy A52 5G may be a great option, albeit at the very top of the worth range considered during this guide. It includes some features that aren’t too common during a budget phone, like its fast-refresh rate screen, an IP67 water resistance rating, and for now a minimum of , monthly security updates for fast access to bug fixes and enhancements.
The A52 5G’s 6.5-inch screen is an OLED panel that’s bright with good contrast that’s generally nice to seem at. But its best feature may be a subtle one: a 120Hz refresh rate that provides a way smoother appearance to animations and content as you swipe and scroll through menus and social feeds. We’ll likely see this feature make its way into more budget phones soon, except for now the A52 5G is one among only a couple of to supply better than the quality 60Hz screen in its class, and it makes the experience of using the phone that much nicer.
The phone overall performs well for its class with a Snapdragon 750G processor and 6GB of RAM. you’ll notice the occasional hesitation or stutter with heavy tasks, but otherwise everyday scrolling, app switching, and navigating is handled easily. And even with a power-hungry display, the Galaxy A52 5G’s 4,500mAh battery should get you thru a minimum of each day of moderate to heavy use before needing another charge.
One of the A52 5G’s not-so-bright-spots is Samsung’s current combat Android, which puts tons of pre-downloaded apps on your phone that you simply probably don’t want, and it even includes the occasional ad in places just like the native weather app. For a cleaner or more grown-up Android skin, look to the Pixel or OnePlus. The Galaxy A52 5G’s camera is another consideration: it’s capable, but it tends toward an oversaturated look. If you favor a more natural look to your photos, then the Pixel 4A is that the winner here.
There’s also 5G, which we still don’t think may be a feature you ought to run out and buy a replacement phone for, but it’s nice to possess the support here — particularly if you propose to carry on to your phone for a couple of years. This device doesn’t support super-fast mmWave 5G, but it’s hard to return by so that’s not an enormous loss. Importantly, it supports more widely available sub-6GHz bands and will be ready to cash in of improving 5G networks within the US over subsequent few years.
You can buy a way less costly device to urge you thru subsequent few years, and that’s just fine. But if you are doing want to form more of an investment during a phone that you simply can keep using three or four years from now, the A52 5G is your best bet immediately on Android.