Best phones under $500

You'd be surprised what $500 can afford.

Best overall mobile phone under $500
OPPO A74 5G
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$399
Resolution
FHD+
Processor
Snapdragon 480 5G
RAM
6GB
Best cheap phone under $500
Nokia G21
Nokia G21
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Starts at
$299
Display
HD
Proecssor
Unisoc T606
RAM
4GB
Best Samsung mobile phone under $500
Samsung A23 4G
Samsung Galaxy A23
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$399
Resolution
FHD+
Processor
Snapdragon 680 4G
RAM
4GB
Best 5G mobile phone under $500
Motorola Edge 20 Fusion
Motorola Edge 20 Fusion
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$449
Resolution
FHD
Processor
Mediatek Dimensity 800
RAM
6GB
Next best Android phone under $500
RealMe 7 5G
Realme 7 5G
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$499
Resolution
FHD+
Processor
Mediatek Dimensity 800U
RAM
8GB
Fergus Halliday
Digital Content Editor
Read More
April 03, 2022
5 min read

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Buying a phone on a budget can feel like a stroll through a minefield. There are walls in the major electronics stores covered with cheap phones, some from brands you’ve never heard of. In some ways it can feel like a greater risk buying a cheaper phone, even when you’re spending less money.

And yet, there’s never been a better time to shop for phones under $500. The evolution of smartphones has seen upgrades in hardware far outpace the needs of software, so you can now get a large-screen, multi-camera phones and zippy performance, and not give up food for a month.

Category
Product
Price [RRP]
Availability
Display size
Refresh rate
5G
Rating
Icon Star Full  LightBest overall mobile phone under $500
From
$399
6.5-inches90HzYes
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Icon Star Full  LightBest cheap mobile phone under $500
From
$299
6.5-inches90HzNo
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Icon Star Full  LightBest Samsung mobile phone under $500
From
$399
6.6-inches90HzNo
4 out of 5 stars
4
Icon Star Full  LightBest 5G mobile phone under $500
From
$449
6.7-inches90HzYes
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Icon Star Full  LightNext best Android phone under $500
From
$449
6.5-inches120HzYes
4 out of 5 stars
4

OPPO A74 5G

Best overall mobile phone under $500

OPPO A74 5G
Oppo A74 5G
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Performance
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Camera
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Design
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
From
$399
pro 5G connectivity
pro 5000mAh battery
con Only 18W fast-charging
con No telephoto lens on rear camera

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

Back when it launched, the OPPO A74 was one of the cheapest 5G phones available in Australia. It's since lost that title, but remains a compelling option nonetheless. Sacrifices have been made here when it comes the RAM and storage offered by the device, but the OPPO A74 5G is still more than capable enough for light users or those looking for a bargain.

Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G
Display6.5-inch, FHD+, 90Hz
RAM6GB
Storage128GB
Battery5000mAh
Rear camera48-megapixel (f/1.7) main camera, 8-megapixel (f/2.2) ultra-wide angle camera, 2-megapixel (f/2.4) macro camera and 2-megapixel (f/2.4) mono camera
Front-facing camera16-megapixel (f/2.0)
Connectivity5G, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1
PortsHeadphone jack, USB Type-C port
OPPO Find X5 Pro Lifestyle

Best OPPO phone for every budget

Endless OPPO-tunities await.

Nokia G21

Best cheap phone under $500

Nokia G21
Nokia G21
Our Rating
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
4
Camera
5 out of 5 stars
5
Design
3 out of 5 stars
3
From
$299
pro Streamlined software
pro Big battery life
con Low RAM
con Cheap screen

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

HMD Global's Nokia smartphones might struggle to compete at higher price segments, but there's still to like about them if you're looking to buy a new phone on a budget. The Nokia G21 makes the most of its limited specs, cutting corners where it makes sense and leaning into the things that cheaper devices tend to do well.  It doesn't have 5G, but it does offer up to three days of battery life on a single charge.

Processor
Unisoc T606
Display6.5-inch, HD, 90Hz
RAM4GB
Storage128GB
Battery5050mAh
Rear camera50-megapixel (f/1.8) main camera, 2-megapixel macro camera and 2-megapixel depth sensor
Front-facing camera8-megapixel
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5
PortsHeadphone jack, USB Type-C port

Samsung Galaxy A23

Best Samsung mobile phone under $500

Samsung A23 4G
Samsung Galaxy A23
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
4
Camera
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Design
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
From
$399
pro 25W fast-charging
pro Samsung One UI
con Doesn't come with a charger
con Cheaper TFT screen

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

Even if it's not the crown jewel of Samsung's budget-friendly Galaxy A series, the Samsung Galaxy A23 4G is still a solid pick at $399. A savvy Snapdragon processor is paired up with a sizable battery and an armada of optical hardware on the back of the device. It's far from premium, but there's plenty to like here.

Processor
Snapdragon 680 4G
Display6.6-inch, FHD+, 90Hz
RAM4GB
Storage128GB
Battery5000mAh
Rear camera50-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel depth sensor, 5-megapixel ultra wide camera and 2-megapixel macro camera
Front-facing camera8-megapixel
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5
PortsHeadphone jack, USB Type-C port

Motorola Edge 20 Fusion

Best 5G mobile phone under $500

Motorola Edge 20 Fusion
Motorola Edge 20 Fusion
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Performance
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Camera
3 out of 5 stars
3
Design
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$449
pro Affordable 5G
pro Solid battery life with fast charging
con Chunky design
con Camera is slow to focus

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

Even if it's far from compact and loses some marks for iffy camera hardware, Motorola's Edge 20 Fusion packs in an enormous amount of bang for buck. The device makes the most of its larger form-factor, combining 5G connectivity, crisp 90Hz OLED display and all-day battery life to great effect.

Processor
Mediatek Dimensity 800
Display6.7-inch FHD, OLED, 90Hz, HDR10+
RAM6GB
Storage128GB
Battery5000mAh
Rear camera108-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra wide camera and 2-megapixel depth sensor
Front-facing camera32-megapixel
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5
PortsHeadphone jack, USB Type-C port

Realme 7 5G

Next best Android phone under $500

RealMe 7 5G
Realme 7 5G
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Performance
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Camera
4 out of 5 stars
4
Design
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$499
pro Stylish design
pro Capable camera
con Battery life drained by 5G
con Low-light performance

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

If none of the above picks take your fancy, then this device might be worth a look. The Realme 7 5G comes with a gorgeous display and a surprisingly powerful rear camera, helping you to make the most of the faster 5G speeds supported by the device. It’s a good entry-level 5G device if you simply must have the fastest data speeds available, even if it does come at a cost to battery life.

ProcessorDimensity 800U
Display6.5-inch, FHD+, 120Hz
RAM8GBM
Storage128GB
Battery5000mAh
Rear camera48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel wide angle camera, 2-megapixel depth sensor and 2-megapixel macro camera
Front-facing camera16-megapixel
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5
PortsHeadphone jack, USB Type-C port

Mobile phones under $500 we also considered

Here are more mobile phones under $500 that we considered that didn't make the cut.

Motorola Moto G10

Given the low-spec hardware here, we opted to leave the Motorola Moto G10 out of our round-up. That said, if you're unwilling to stretch past the $200 mark when it comes to buying your next smartphones, then this device is definitely one to consider. 

All told, the Motorola Moto G10 packs in a surprising amount of features for a budget handset. The 720p IPS display isn't much to look at, but the 5000mAh battery ensures that it'll be visible for long time before you need to recharge.

At $199, there are always going to be compromises. Thankfully, the Motorola Moto G10 does a decent job of making the right ones.

Oppo A76

We haven't had the chance to pen our review of Oppo's latest A-series device, but the spec sheet suggests it's definitely going to live up to the brand's reputation when it comes to features and overall value.

The newly-announced OPPO A76 boasts a 6.56-inch LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a Snapdragon 680 processor. Meanwhile, the back of the device is kitted out with a 13-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor that's used to power better portrait photography. It doesn't have 5G connectivity, but it does have 33W SUPERVOOC fast-charging and IPX4 splash resistance.

If you're in the market for a decent smartphone under $400, the OPPO A76 should be a shoe-in for your shortlist.

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Mobile phones under $500 buying guide

What to look for when comparing mobile phones under $500

While the quirks and shortcomings of expensive flagship devices can sometimes take a longer period of regular usage to reveal themselves, a bad budget phone can't hide the truth for long. For that reason, the best advice we can give to those looking at buying a mobile phone under $500 is to try and get some hands-on time with it before spending the money.

Walking into your local Telstra store or JB Hi-Fi outlet might seem excessive, but it's usually the fastest and easiest way to get the answers you're looking for when it comes to buying a budget handset.

  • What does the screen look like? The screen resolution (the total number of pixels) is far less important than a good screen with good colour and good responsiveness.
  • Is the processor fast enough? Open apps like the web browser and compare how long it takes to load.
  • How much storage does it have? Cheap phones may only have 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage and you will find this disappears pretty quickly after you install your favourite apps.

How we decided our picks for the best mobile phones under $500?

How cheap is too cheap?

When it comes to the devices on the market for more price-sensitive consumers, smartphones tend to be  pretty homogeneous. Part of the reason for this is that the only options available at this end of the market are those running on Google's Android mobile operating system. With no iPhones in the mix, budget smartphones often boil down to the specs and little else.

It doesn't help that the manufacturers of sub-$500 Android devices are typically less likely to invest in the research and development than they would be with more expensive smartphones due to the smaller margins involved.

When it came to deciding on our picks for the best mobile phones under $500, we kept several factors in mind. This included:

  • Display quality and size: Resolution isn't the only thing that matters.
  • 5G connectivity: Faster speeds are good, but long battery life is better.
  • Build quality and design: Just because a phone is cheap doesn't mean it has to feel cheap.
  • Software pedigree: Invariably, the more budget-friendly a smartphone is, the more bloatware is typically involved. We try to recommend devices that veer in the opposite direction.
Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a Digital Content Editor for Reviews.org who specialises in technology, entertainment, gaming and pop culture. His work has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, Press Start Australia, The AU Review, Screen Rant, Superjump and more. You can follow him on Twitter.

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