Greatest low cost telephone 2023: six smartphones for below $500

Inflation has numerous us wanting extra intently at worth tags these days. Whereas your grocery receipt could also be filled with dangerous information, we’ve received some excellent news, no less than: you will get an excellent telephone for below $500 as of late.

Lots of our picks run about $400 or $500, however there are nice choices for $300 and below, too. You will discover a shiny, high-definition OLED display or a battery that lasts for days. In the event you can hone in on the one or two options which are most essential to you and also you’re prepared to compromise elsewhere, you will get a telephone that fits your wants for half the value of a flagship.

What compromises are you able to count on from a finances telephone? Some mixture of the next: slower processors, much less storage, and lousier cameras than flagship telephones, nearly throughout the board. Many have lower-resolution screens, and most lack official water-resistance rankings, wi-fi charging, and NFC chips for contactless cost. 

And whereas we normally advocate shopping for unlocked telephones to maximise flexibility, you would possibly discover higher offers — and far decrease up-front prices — by subsidizing your buy by your provider. Simply you should definitely learn the positive print and know what you’re moving into since you’ll usually want to change to a pricier plan or add a brand new line to get that “free telephone.” On the very least, you’ll be primarily agreeing to stay with the provider for the following two or three years, so be sure you’re pleased with its service.

One of the best iPhone below $500


The 2022 iPhone SE will final for over 5 years if it’s taken care of due to Apple’s glorious observe document of providing iOS updates to older units. However its tiny 4.7-inch display feels cramped now and could also be robust to make use of in 5 years’ time whereas apps and webpages proceed to be designed for larger screens.

Display screen: 4.7-inch 1334p LCD / Processor: A15 Bionic Cameras: 12-megapixel f/1.8 with OIS, 7-megapixel selfie / Charging: 20W wired, 7.5W wi-fi / Climate-resistance ranking: IP67

The 128GB iPhone SE is the very best worth on the smartphone market, interval. It’s an important deal at $479 when you think about that it’ll proceed receiving iOS updates for upwards of 5, even six or seven years.

However earlier than you choose up an SE anticipating to coast by a lot of the subsequent decade with out shopping for a brand new telephone: be sure you can reside with its very small, very dated 4.7-inch display. It’s the identical measurement because the one on the iPhone 6, and it’s beginning to really feel cramped in an age when apps and net pages are designed for larger screens. The SE’s huge bezels make the machine look dated, too, however the usability of a small display will likely be a much bigger issue through the years to come back.

The 2022 iPhone SE is a low-cost entry level to the iOS ecosystem.
Picture by Allison Johnson / The Verge

That’s the largest knock towards the SE. In any other case, it’s a implausible midrange machine. Its A15 processor is similar as iPhone 13 Professional Max, so efficiency is superb. There’s IP67 waterproofing and wi-fi charging — each unusual on this worth vary — and though it makes use of the identical 12-megapixel digicam that iPhones have used because the daybreak of time, it takes very good images and high-quality video clips. The digicam has no night time mode, which is a curious omission — many different midrange telephones provide some form of low-light photograph mode, and the telephone’s processor is actually as much as the duty. Apple gonna Apple.

This era SE provides 5G connectivity — simply low- and mid-band, which is okay. You received’t get the quick millimeter-wave 5G you would possibly encounter in an NFL stadium, nevertheless it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Battery life can be improved during the last era, and it’ll usually final a full day until you actually push it with demanding duties like gaming and streaming video.

In the event you can reside with the small display and also you aren’t bothered by the dearth of night time mode, we advocate selecting up the 128GB model. The bottom mannequin’s 64GB of storage isn’t fairly sufficient, and also you’ll be glad you spent the additional $50 while you’re utilizing this telephone for years into the long run.

Learn my full assessment of the Apple iPhone SE (2022)

One of the best Android telephone below $500

A54 5G sitting askew on top of two notebooks showing rear panel.


The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G adopts the S23-series’ rear panel design and a few different flagship-esque options, beginning with its 6.4-inch show.

Display screen: 6.4-inch, 1080p OLED, 120Hz / Processor: Exynos 1380 Cameras: 50-megapixel F/1.8 most important with OIS, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 5-megapixel macro, 32-megapixel selfie / Battery: 5,000mAh / Charging: 25W wired / Climate-resistance ranking: IP67

The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G is a straightforward selection proper now as the very best Android telephone within the class. It provides a characteristic set that’s unmatched on this class, beginning with a superb 6.4-inch, 1080p OLED with a {smooth} 120Hz refresh charge. It might nearly idiot you into considering you’re utilizing a $1,000 flagship telephone. The A54 isn’t the very best choose for digicam high quality — the Pixel 6A remains to be forward there — but when display is your precedence, you’ll be hard-pressed to discover a higher one at this worth.

The A54 is constructed with sturdy glass panels on the front and back, and it carries an IP67 ranking for cover towards mud and immersion in shallow water. It’s additionally backed up with a strong software program assist coverage. Samsung guarantees 4 years of OS model upgrades and 5 years of safety updates, which is without doubt one of the greatest insurance policies for any Android telephone at any worth. There’s additionally an enormous 5,000mAh battery that may energy by a full day of heavy use, however you’ll have to buy a charger individually if you wish to reap the benefits of its quick 25W charging speeds.

The A54’s huge OLED panel with a quick prime refresh charge is its strongest promoting level.
Picture by Allison Johnson / The Verge

Digital camera high quality is okay, nevertheless it’s not a robust go well with. Images and movies in good lighting look positive, however the A54 struggles to maintain up with any form of movement in low mild. There’s an evening mode for static topics, however getting a pointy photograph of your child or pet in dim indoor lighting will likely be troublesome, and the year-old Pixel 6A remains to be manner forward on this division.

The Galaxy A54 provides a number of creature comforts not usually seen within the finances class, together with that glorious show. It’s not the best choice for picture high quality, however as a complete bundle, it’s arduous to prime. Till we see what the Pixel 7A is fabricated from, it’s simply the very best finances selection on Android.

Learn my full assessment of the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G.

One of the best digicam on a telephone below $500


Google’s Pixel 6A comes with a comparatively small 6.1-inch OLED display however is a superb performer with digicam and battery life.

Display screen: 6.1-inch 1080p OLED / Processor: Tensor Cameras: 12-megapixel f/1.7 with OIS, 8-megapixel selfie / Battery: 4,410mAh / Charging: 18W wired / Climate-resistance ranking: IP67

The Pixel 6A is probably going on the very finish of its lifespan because the 7A is closely rumored to be arriving in early Could. So for those who can maintain off a short while, it’s value seeing what Google will deliver to its finances machine this time round. Within the meantime, the 6A is outwardly on fireplace sale. You may simply discover one for about $300, which is a heck of a deal. It’s solely scheduled to get two extra OS model upgrades, nevertheless it’ll obtain safety patches till no less than July 2027. At that time, you’re virtually earning money off your machine.

The telephone’s greatest asset is Tensor, the custom-built chipset Google used within the firm’s 2021 flagships, the 6 and 6 Professional. Not solely does it allow excellent total efficiency now, nevertheless it additionally signifies that the 6A will sustain for a few years to come back. Google guarantees 5 years of safety updates for the 6A, and with an IP67 water resistance ranking, it’s all-around guess if you’d like a finances telephone that can final.

The 6A’s least spectacular characteristic is its display — a 6.1-inch 1080p OLED with an ordinary 60Hz refresh charge. It’s not dangerous; it’s simply not the very best display you will get for the cash. The fingerprint sensor below the show can be on the gradual facet. Once more, it’s not unusable, nevertheless it’s noticeably a beat slower than the very best fingerprint sensors on the market.

The Pixel 6A is due for substitute, nevertheless it nonetheless provides the very best digicam on a finances telephone.
Picture by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

And in contrast to earlier Pixel A-series telephones, the 6A doesn’t embrace the identical cameras because the flagships, however that’s okay. It makes use of the identical 12-megapixel commonplace broad digicam because the Pixel 5A, which remains to be an excellent digicam — particularly for the midrange class. The telephone’s 4,410mAh battery is on the small facet, however total battery efficiency is healthier than its measurement would counsel. 

All that stated, the 6A provides the very best all-around bundle of important options plus a top-tier processor that you could purchase proper now for round $450.

Learn my full assessment of the Google Pixel 6A.

One of the best telephone below $300


The N20 5G features a 6.4-inch 1080p display with a quick fingerprint sensor in addition to quick wired charging with the included in-box charger.

Display screen: 6.4-inch 1080p OLED / Processor: Snapdragon 695 5G Cameras: 64-megapixel f/1.8, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel monochrome, 16-megapixel selfie / Battery: 4,500mAh / Charging: 33W wired / Climate-resistance ranking: None

The OnePlus N20 5G is a $280 telephone that feels prefer it ought to value much more. It provides a 6.4-inch display with good 1080p decision. Higher but, it’s an OLED panel in a class the place lower-contrast LCDs are far more widespread. You’ll need to make do with an ordinary 60Hz refresh charge, however until you’re coming from a telephone with a quicker 90Hz or 120Hz display, you received’t know the distinction. Refresh charge apart, it’s display that’s satisfying to make use of. Plus, there’s fingerprint scanner below the show that makes unlocking the telephone a frustration-free expertise.

The N20 5G is bought unlocked, however take observe: it doesn’t work on Verizon. It’s additionally restricted to 4G on AT&T, which isn’t the tip of the world given the provider’s gradual growth of their mid-band 5G community (that’s the great 5G). The unlocked N20 does work on T-Cell’s 5G in addition to 4G, and you should purchase a network-locked model of the telephone straight from T-Cell if you wish to reap the benefits of a free telephone provide or bundle the associated fee together with your month-to-month telephone invoice.

The OnePlus N20 5G features a 1080p OLED display, with richer distinction than the LCDs widespread on this class.
Picture by Allison Johnson / The Verge

The N20 5G is supplied with Snapdragon 695 processor and beneficiant 6GB of RAM for excellent each day efficiency. It additionally helps 33W wired quick charging — one other characteristic you’d be hard-pressed to seek out in any of the N20’s opponents — with the included charger. You may cost the telephone from 0 to 30 p.c in simply 20 minutes, which is basically useful for those who’re in a jam and wish a fast battery increase. NFC can be included for contactless cost; many cheaper telephones exclude it to chop prices.

Digital camera high quality is a little bit of a weak level for the N20. The principle rear 64-megapixel digicam is okay; the opposite two cameras (a low-res macro and a monochrome sensor) are greatest ignored. The telephone additionally ships with Android 11, which is a model behind most different new Android telephones at this level. However on the brighter facet, OnePlus is promising three years of safety updates — a fairly good coverage in a category the place two years isn’t unusual. 

It’s unlucky that the N20 isn’t an choice for Verizon subscribers, however for those who’re on T-Cell or AT&T, it’s a heck of a deal — with or with out 5G assist.

Learn my full assessment of the OnePlus Nord N20 5G.

One of the best fundamental Android telephone for Verizon prospects


The Galaxy A13 5G’s display is dim and low-res, however nice battery life, stable efficiency, and a sexy price ticket make it an important worth.

Display screen: 6.5-inch 720p 90Hz LCD / Processor: MediaTek 700 5G Cameras: 50-megapixel f/1.8 most important, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel depth, 5-megapixel selfie / Battery: 5,000mAh / Charging: 15W wired / Climate-resistance ranking: None

Samsung not too long ago introduced the A13’s successor — you guessed it, the Galaxy A14 — which we haven’t been capable of check but. It comes with some promising updates, together with a further yr of safety updates, however the Galaxy A13 5G stays deal for those who can nonetheless discover it on a retailer’s shelf. It’s a no-frills $249 telephone that delivers the fundamentals.

Its display is nothing particular, however battery life and efficiency are excellent contemplating the value, and the machine is backed up by a stable assist coverage promising three years of safety updates. It’s not as polished because the N20 with its fancier OLED, nevertheless it’s additionally a bit cheaper and works on all main carriers (the N20 doesn’t work on Verizon).

The A13’s 6.5-inch display is actually huge, nevertheless it’s a reasonably dim, low-contrast LCD with a decision of simply 720p. Associated: battery life is excellent because the display drains much less energy than brighter shows. Total efficiency from the MediaTek 700 5G chipset and 4GB of RAM is excellent, too. 

The Samsung A13 5G provides , fundamental characteristic set and works on all main US carriers.
Picture by Allison Johnson / The Verge

On the digicam facet, the A13 lacks a few options yow will discover on different finances telephones — specifically, an evening mode and an ultrawide digicam. What you do get is an efficient 50-megapixel most important rear digicam that takes reliably good images in daylight and dim indoor mild. Simply don’t count on a lot in very low mild.

In the event you can reside with a mediocre show and a fundamental digicam, then the A13 will ship on efficiency and battery life — fairly essential stuff. Simply be sure you finances a little bit further for a MicroSD card as a result of the telephone’s 64GB of built-in storage is a little bit skimpy.

Learn my full Samsung Galaxy A13 5G assessment.

Different finances telephones we examined

We additionally examined the OnePlus Nord N300, which doesn’t make an look amongst our suggestions. The N300 may be very reasonably priced at $228 however cuts too many corners to incorporate quick charging. The marginally pricier N20 that snags our suggestion above is a era behind however provides higher total efficiency and a nicer display.

We’ve additionally checked out two TCL telephones over the previous yr: the TCL Stylus 5G and 30 XE 5G. The latter supplies pretty good each day efficiency for its very low $200 worth, however in the end neither TCL telephone is value recommending over the competitors from Motorola and Samsung.

Lastly, the Motorola Moto G Stylus (2022) that beforehand appeared on this record remains to be being bought new however is due for substitute. It lacks 5G, however its built-in stylus is useful, and its huge 6.7-inch 1080p show is good for the value — which is effectively below $200 as of late.

Replace April 14th, 2023, 2PM ET: Added the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G as the very best total Android choose and moved the Google Pixel 6A to an also-consider. Eliminated suggestion for Motorola Moto G Stylus (2022).