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Top phones under $500

por Misty Stillman (2022-08-06)

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While flagship phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra might boast incredible specs, they also come with sky-high prices. Yet most people simply don't need the power and performance of elite handsets like these -- and can save a big wad of cash by looking lower in the range.The great news is that people shopping on a more modest budget have more options than ever to choose from, including brand-new affordable handsets through to discounted previous-generation models. And despite their low prices, budget phones can be extremely advanced, packing features akin to premium phones, like great multi-lens cameras, fast processors, lots of internal storage and even 5G connectivity. Further, if you're willing to buy an unlocked phone, your choices become even broader.img-2_31cb7345-b68d-442f-9451-3e37aac9eeCheck out the list below of the best phones under $500, which we update regularly, and read CNET's reviews. Note that we've linked to the unlocked version of each phone, and they should run on most of the big four US wireless carriers, unless specified otherwise.Apple iPhone SE (2020)

John Kim/CNET

With a four-year gap between the 2020  and the previous one, Apple packed its latest budget phone with a bunch of upgrades. That includes wireless charging, better camera specs and water resistance. If you're looking for a new iPhone but want to save as much money as possible, the $399 iPhone SE is your best bet for a cheap iPhone option.

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.


$400 at Best Buy

$399 at Apple

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Sarah Tew/CNET

In addition to its main , Samsung has a more cost-conscious A series line of phones. This year it launched the Galaxy A52 5G, which has four cameras including a selfie camera, an in-screen fingerprint sensor and expandable memory. Samsung released this phone in quite a few fun colors, but for those shopping in the US you are more likely to only find it in black. 

$500 at Samsung

Google Pixel 4A

Angela Lang/CNET

If you want a robust phone on a budget, the Pixel 4A is the way to go. On top of a stellar dual-camera system and respectable battery life for its low price, Google promises software updates and new features until 2023 on this model. It's a solid all around good phone, and in true Google fashion will leave you wondering why every phone doesn't do as much work to make your life easier. 

Read our Google Pixel 4A review.


$348 at Amazon

$350 at Best Buy

$379 at Walmart

OnePlus 8

Érika García/CNET

The OnePlus 8 impressed us with its solid lineup of specs, its good screen and its attractive design. Better still, it also offers 5G data speeds and its affordable launch price is now even lower and can be bought directly from OnePlus's online store for $449, making it a superb value all round.

$400 at OnePlus

Motorola Moto G Power

Sarah Tew/CNET

The  packs a robust 5,000-mAh battery that lasted an impressive four days without a charge in our testing. The phone has three rear cameras (one of which is a macro lens), a 6.4-inch display and expandable memory. Not bad for its $190 asking price.

$190 at Amazon

OnePlus Nord N10 5G

James Martin/CNET

OnePlus is expanding its more affordable Nord family of phones with the launch of the $300 . Though it doesn't have wireless charging or an in-screen fingerprint reader like higher-end OnePlus phones, it does have a 90Hz display, a headphone jack and 5G. .

$300 at Best Buy

$300 at OnePlus

Apple iPhone XR

Josh Miller/CNET

Nov 2018

The may be almost three years old, but it's still being officially sold by Apple and still receives the latest versions of iOS, making it a legitimate contender for your hard-earned cash. Currently starting at $499 off-contract with 64GB, it features a 6.1-inch LCD display, a 12-megapixel rear camera and the A12 Bionic processor. It's similar in specs to the 2020 iPhone SE, but the XR's bigger screen might be worth the extra $100.

Read our Apple iPhone XR review.


$500 at Apple

Motorola Moto G Stylus

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, the  features a stylus that you can store inside the phone along with a built-in Notes app to help with productivity. Currently priced at $280 from Motorola, the phone also features triple-rear cameras, 128GB of storage and a robust 4,000-mAh battery. It doesn't support 5G data speeds, but its successor, the Moto G Stylus 5G (seen further up this list) does offer 5G, along with more internal storage and, unsurprisingly, a slightly higher price of $400.

Read our Moto G Stylus review.


$230 at Amazon

$455 at Walmart

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