Best Android and Apple Phones under $500

iPhone 8

iPhone 8

Credit: Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Only have $500 to spend on your next smartphones? Don't sweat. In 2021, you've got a ton of great options.

Sure, you have to be willing to make a few compromises when it comes to camera and processing power. Still, in terms of the overall experience, buying a mid-tier and budget smartphone that doesn’t suck is much easier than it used to be.

If our round-up of the best Apple and Android smartphones you can find for under $600 and $700 wasn’t good enough for you, here’s our latest list of the top 10 best Android and Apple phones you can find for under $500.

1. Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3aCredit: Google
Google Pixel 3a

The Google Pixel 3a nabs you the same slick, clean and evolved version of Android found in the flagship Pixel 3 plus a camera that’s almost just as good

It doesn't have as many premium perks like wireless charging or water-resistance or powerful processor found in its flagship counterpart but there's still plenty to like here. In our review of the Pixel 3, we wrote that "If you can live without things like wireless charging, water resistance and the ability to take photos of the moon, there are almost zero reasons to look and buying anything other than the Pixel 3a."

You can read our full review here.

Pros

  • Pixel-grade camera

  • Compact design

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Google Pixel 3a outright through the following retailers:

2. Vivo Y70

Vivo Y70Credit: Vivo
Vivo Y70

The Vivo Y70 doesn't exactly break the mold for mid-tier Android smartphones but it does tick plenty of boxes. It's got a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a build-in fingerprint sensor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of on-board storage, 33W fast-charging and a 48-megapixel triple-lens rear camera.

Pros

  • Solid specs

  • Super fast-charging

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • Forgettable form-factor

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Vivo Y70 outright at the following retailers:

The Vivo Y70 isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan.

3. Oppo Find X2 Lite

Oppo Find X2 LiteCredit: Oppo
Oppo Find X2 Lite

The Find X2 Lite might be the most modest option in the lineup, it's no slouch when it comes to specs.

Powered by the Chinese-brand’s Color OS Android skin, the Oppo Find X2 Lite features 5G connectivity, a powerful quad-lens camera on the back and a 32-megapixel selfie-shooter on the front. It’s also got 8GB of RAM, 128GB of on-board storage, 4025mAh battery and the headphone jack you’ll find missing from more modern flagships.

In our review, we said that “It’s a tad conventional for my tastes but if you’re looking for an affordable phone that feels a cut above the rest of the Android crowd, the Oppo Find X2 Lite is an easy option worth considering."

You can read our full review of the Oppo Find X2 Lite here.

Pros

  • Great battery life

  • Headphone jack

  • Quad-lens camera

Cons

  • Lacks the super zoom of other Find X2 devices

  • No wireless charging

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Oppo R15 Pro through the following:

The Oppo Find X2 Lite Lite is available on postpaid mobile plans via Vodafone and Woolworths Mobile:

4. Samsung Galaxy Note9

Samsung Galaxy Note9Credit: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Note9

Samsung's Galaxy Note9 didn't just build on the renewed momentum of the 'from the ashes' Note8, it arguably perfected the formula. The only catch? At AU$1499, that supremacy came at a pretty hefty cost. 

In our review, we said that the Note9 "is a device that offers the world. It’s got one of the best displays you can get on a smartphone. It’s got one of the best camera systems you can get on a smartphone. It’s got one of the best processors you can find in a smartphone. But so does the Note 8. And while the Note 9 is definitely the better device, savvy customers are probably wanna gonna opt for its discounted predecessor or wait for whatever comes next."

Thankfully, the Note9 is now way cheaper and only a little less compelling. You still  gets you a pretty powerful Exynos processor, the ever-useful S-Pen and a gorgeous Infinity Display. You even get access to the new One UI Android skin that Samsung debuted alongside the Galaxy S10. Software updates and price-depreciation have helped the Note9 hold its edge over the years.

Pros

  • Great display & design

  • Water resistance & wireless charging

  • Still has a headphone jack

Cons

  • Camera hasn’t aged as well as it should have

  • Looks dated compared to modern Samsung devices

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Samsung Galaxy Note9 through the following:

5. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Xiaomi Mi MIx 3Credit: Xiaomi
Xiaomi Mi MIx 3

Since Xiaomi are a relative newcomer to the Australian smartphone market, it shouldn't surprise you that they're looking to undercut the competition. Back when it first launched, the Mi Mix 3 was cutthroat but nowadays, it's downright offensively cheap for a device with flagship performance and a standout design.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 features a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, an 6.39-inch AMOLED screen with an in-display fingerprint sensor plus dual-lens rear camera setup that pairs a 12-megapixel primary sensor with a second 12-megapixel telephoto one.

In our review, we said that "If you're intrigued by the device's neo-slider form-factor, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 honestly feels like a downright steal at $899. The camera lacks the versatility or low-light performance you’d get out of the P30 Pro and it doesn’t feel as futuristic to use as something like the Samsung Galaxy S10 - but it’s still an incredibly compelling package at an incredibly compelling price and if you're looking for the best value-for-money flagship option available right this moment: this is probably it."

Pros

  • No notch!

  • Great performance

Cons

  • No headphone jack

  • Mediocre battery life

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 through the following:

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

6. Nokia 9 PureView

Nokia 9 PureviewCredit: Nokia
Nokia 9 Pureview

The Nokia 9 PureView saw HMD Global attempt to relaunch the resurgent Nokia brand back into the premium smartphone space. While it had a unique five-lens rear camera system and all the usual flagship perks like a Snapdragon processor, in-display fingerprint sensor and IP67 water resistance, the reality of using the device fell short of the lofty price tag.

Does a few years of depreciation change that calculation? Potentially.

In my review of the device, I concluded that "The Nokia 9 PureView feels like a great foundation for the next generation of Nokia devices, but it doesn’t feel like a foundation I’m rushing to lean on just yet."

You can read the full review here.

Pros

  • Unique and powerful camera

  • Clean Android software

Cons

  • Shutter lag

  • Poor battery life

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Nokia 9 Pureview through the following:

The Nokia 9 PureView is also available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra:

7. OnePlus Nord

Huawei P30 LiteCredit: Huawei
Huawei P30 Lite

Announced amidst the chaos of 2020, the new OnePlus Nord saw the brand return to its roots of offering cutting edge specs at a competitive price-tag. The Nord combines a 6.44-inch OLED display clocked at 90Hz with a Snapdragon 765G processor and a quad-lens rear camera setup.

Pros

  • Latest version of Oxygen OS
  • 5G
  • 90Hz display

Cons

  • No water resistance
  • No wireless charging

Where to buy?

The OnePlus Nord 5G isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan. 

8. RealMe 7 5G

RealMe 7 5GCredit: RealMe
RealMe 7 5G

Originally a spin-off of Oppo, RealMe recently expanded into the Australian market with the goal of shaking up incumbents like Samsung, Oppo and Huawei. Their latest device, the RealMe 7 5G, is an indication of how seriously they're taking that task.

The RealMe 7 5G features a 120Hz refresh-rate display, 30W fast charging, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of on-board storage, a 5000mAh battery and 48-megapixel quad-lens rear camera.

You can read our full review of the previous RealMe XT here.   

Pros

  • Cheap 5G connectivity
  • Fast-charging and large battery

Cons

  • Lacks distinct identity

  • Other cameras aren't as good as the main one

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the RealMe 7 5G through:

The RealMe 7 5G is not available on any postpaid plans but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan.

9. Huawei P30 Lite

Huawei P30 LiteCredit: Huawei
Huawei P30 Lite

The Huawei P30 Lite strips away of the P30 Pro's premium features but it doesn't mess too much with the thing that matters the most: the camera.

In our review of the P30 Lite we said that “The Huawei P30 Lite is a basically competent mid-tier offering with a somewhat-powerful triple-lens camera and above-average battery life.”

“If you’re looking to settle for a pretty cheap phone that can do the basic things you expect a phone to be able to do, it’ll be a good fit.”

You can read our full review of the Huawei P30 Lite here

Pros

  • Above average battery life

  • Versatile camera

Cons

  • Underwhelming performance

  • Safe design

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Huawei P30 Pro through the following:

The Huawei P30 Pro isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan.

10. Apple iPhone 8

iPhone 8Credit: Apple
iPhone 8

As the precursor to Apple's iconic iPhone X, the iPhone 8 represents the end of an era. And, sure enough, by the standards of today's iPhones, the design and features involved do feel a little dated.

But that's not to say the handset hasn't held onto some of its charms. In some ways, the story hasn't changed here. As we said in our original review, "if you’re keen on the smaller form-factor, aren’t fussed about the camera and want an iPhone that’s as snappy as they come - this is an all-round good, if a little sale, choice."

You can read our full review of the Apple iPhone 8 here.

Pros

  • A11 Bionic processor
  • iOS
  • Premium feel

Cons

  • Dated camera

  • No headphone jack

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Apple iPhone 8 through the following:

The Apple iPhone 8 is still available on a postpaid mobile plans via NuMobile.

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This article was originally written in September 2018 and was updated in January 2021.

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Tags smartphonesAppleAndroidmobile phonesPhonesOppo R15 ProOppo R17 ProHuawei P30 LiteReno ZMotorola One VisionNokia 7.2RealMe XTMoto G8 PlusSamsung Galaxy S8 Xiaomi Mi 9T

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Fergus Halliday
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