​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.

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