​Top 10 best Android and Apple smartphones for under $600

We compare and review the unlocked and SIM-free phones, smartfones and iPhones to buy right now in 2016

The best phones at certain price points didn't start off at those prices. (Picture: H.L.I.T, Flickr)

The best phones at certain price points didn't start off at those prices. (Picture: H.L.I.T, Flickr)

You can pay an exorbitant amount for a phone. But the top-end iPhones and Samsungs really don’t do much that half-priced alternatives can’t match. In some instances the cheaper options are actually better! We’ve reviewed most of the market lately and here's our list. We use real-world prices sourced from shopbot and, as such, there are some surprises in stock: some premium phones which scored low because of high prices and low value can now be had much cheaper making them a compelling choice!

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017

1. Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 ($649 RRP, $509 actual)

The 2017 variant of the Samsung Galaxy A5 is good (but not great at everything). We couldn't really find a weak spot on this jack of all trades phone which has decent battery life, a decent camera and even an IP68 dust and waterproof rating. We did find that the fingerprint reader could misbehave if it wasn't bone dry though and that could get (very) annoying. At RRP it's not worth touching, but it's already available at a massive discount and is subsequently great value.

Moto X Force
Moto X Force

2. Moto X Force ($599 RRP, $289 actual)

This launched in Australia after being out in the world for a year. Nonetheless, this has a great screen which is also guaranteed not to shatter for four years! It looks classy with its solid aluminium chassis and its also rugged enough to survive hard drops. The battery lasts for two days and the rear camera can perform very well. The main downsides are a lack of fingerprint reader and last-generation Android software. With the price now in free fall, it's a superb buy


3. LG G5 ($1099 RRP, $599 actual)

We’re sure that the big-boy vendors just make up prices for their flagship phones regardless of what they’re actually worth. But while Apple and Samsung pricing stays high, LG’s rarely do. The company’s flagship G5 flagged a bit in the face of premium competition but there’s a lot to like about its innovative modular-upgrade approach. At $599 it’s now great value. If you look on the grey import market you can even have it for $489. Either way, it’s our number one choice at this price.

Oppo R9s
Oppo R9s

4. Oppo R9s ($598 RRP, $598 actual)

Oppo's R9s has so many features including dual SIM and one of the fastest fingerprint unlock buttons on the market. But it can be a bit sluggish when handling powerful apps and shutter lag on the camera is annoying. However, being one of the best-looking phones on the market and a very reasonable price makes up for many sins.

Sony Xperia Z5
Sony Xperia Z5

5. Sony Xperia Z5 ($749 RRP, $549 actual)

This may seem a weird choice as it’s Sony’s last-gen phone. But we were so disappointed with Sony’s current gen phone (which isn’t as good) that it’s worth adding the Z5 to the list. It has a 4K screen, great rear camera, is water and dust resistant and has commendable speakers. The Compact variant can be had for even less. This is another flagship phone whose price drop has significantly improved the value on offer.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileMotorolaApplesonymobile phonesiPhonePhoneslgmobile phoneAlcatel

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Nick Ross
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?