Best Phones Under $500 Dollars 2023

If you're looking for the most powerful flagships, take a look at our list of the best Android phones available. Otherwise, here's what to look for when selecting the best phones under $500.

Best Phones Under $500 Dollars 2023
Best Phones Under $500

While $1,000 flagship phones are exciting to look at, there are currently several excellent phones under $500 that are worth considering. These devices are ideal for first-time buyers or anyone looking to play games, make video calls, and download apps without spending a fortune. Importantly, they provide years of software support, ensuring that you have access to the most recent features and security enhancements, potentially extending the life of your device. While you may miss out on some of the most cutting-edge features found in premium models, such as wireless charging and high refresh rate displays, the best phones under $500 can frequently compete with alternatives that cost hundreds of dollars more, Best Phones Under $500 Dollars 2023.

Also Read: Best Phone Under 15000 in India 2023 - 91SmartTech

  • Best overall: iPhone SE (3rd Generation) 
  • Best camera: Google Pixel 6a
  • Best display: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
  • Best gaming: iPhone 11
  • Best budget: OnePlus Nord N20 5G

How we Picked the Best Phones Under $500 Dollars 2023

For over a decade, I've written about technology for publications such as TechnoBuffalo, XDA Developers, and Popular Science. I've reviewed dozens of smartphones in that time, from the Nexus 6P to the recently released OnePlus 10 Pro. I drew on my experience writing about smartphones, consulted trusted sources and professional reviewers, and researched the most popular models available to make our selections. As phones became more affordable, I began to prefer mid-range models because they meet my needs and are frequently hundreds of dollars less expensive than flagship models.

Things to Look For in the Best Phones Under $500

The truth is that you don't need to spend more than $1,000 to get a good smartphone because affordable smartphones are better than ever and often provide a similar experience to premium models. As our list shows, several good mid-range options provide excellent performance, long-lasting battery life, and eye-catching designs. If you're looking for the most powerful flagships, take a look at our list of the best Android phones available. Otherwise, here's what to look for when selecting the best phones under $500.


The central processing unit, or CPU, in your phone, like in a computer, is a critical component required to run applications and perform various tasks ranging from web browsing to video calls. Phones at this price point typically have a mix of high and mid-range specs. It's not difficult to find an affordable device with a flagship processor that's only a few months old, whereas other phones may have a processor designed specifically for mid-range devices.

Google, for example, has included its custom Tensor chip in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a, which enables powerful AI-driven features. The former was released in October of last year, and the latter in July of this year. In general, Qualcomm and MediaTek produce mid-range processors, but some companies, such as Google, Apple, and Samsung, produce custom-made silicon for their devices.

The amount of random access memory, or RAM, on your device is also important for performance because it allows applications to temporarily store data and quickly access it again. Phones at this price point typically have 6GB of RAM, give or take, which is sufficient to comfortably switch between tasks such as messaging, browsing social media, and watching videos.


You'll be staring at your phone's screen for a long time, so this is one area where you don't want to skimp. Most phones today, regardless of price, have screens between 5 and 6 inches in size, but the resolution and pixel density vary. Lower resolution liquid crystal displays (Full HD (1080p) or HD (720p)) are typically found in more affordable devices (LCD). Some of the options on our list have OLED displays, a technology in which each pixel is independently backlit by a light-emitting diode (LED).

A higher pixel density, expressed in pixels per inch (PPI), results in a sharper image. At an average viewing distance (about arm's length), the higher the PPI, the sharper the image, and the more difficult it is to distinguish individual pixels. Meanwhile, the display refresh rate of a phone, measured in Hertz (Hz), refers to how many times the screen updates what's on it each second.

The higher the refresh rate, the more smooth and fluid the animations will appear. Displays with a refresh rate of 120Hz are typically reserved for flagship devices, though there are a few notable exceptions in the mid-range market. A screen with a refresh rate of 60Hz or 90Hz is more common in the $500 price range.

Software support

Historically, software support for mid-range devices has been abysmal. However, companies have done much better in recent years to support these devices with new (and timely) software updates. These updates are critical for your device's long-term performance because they introduce new features, optimize software, and close security gaps. At a minimum, look for a device that provides two years of major software updates and three years of security updates. Often, after discontinuing software support, a company will continue to provide security support.

Carrier support

If you buy an unlocked device, make sure it supports all major US carriers. In most cases, you should be able to insert your carrier's SIM card into your new phone and begin receiving texts, phone calls, and data immediately. Retailers usually state which major US carriers a phone supports, so you should know before you buy. If you have a Verizon account, make sure the device you buy is compatible with the carrier or says it is CDMA-capable. Unlocked devices are generally compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, which are GSM carriers (and the standard for most carriers worldwide).

Also Read Best Phones Under 10000 in India (2023) 91Smarttech

Best Phones Under $500

It can be difficult to determine a phone's quality based solely on specifications, especially when many offer the same components. Our list of the best phones under $500 will help you sort through the options and find the model that is right for you. Because not everyone's needs are the same, we've broken it down into different criteria. We have you covered if you're looking for a device for gaming or taking high-quality photos.

Best overall: iPhone SE (3rd Generation)

Why it made the cut: The iPhone SE delivers flagship-level performance at a fraction of the price.


  • Display: 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750, LCD, 60Hz, 326 PPI
  • Processor: A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 2018mAh
  • Camera: 12MP f/1.8, OIS
  • Software: iOS 15; planned upgrade to iOS 16
  • Support: Apple generally provides four years or more of major OS and security updates
  • 5G: Yes, sub-6GHz


  • Powerful processor
  • Wireless charging
  • Excellent camera


  • Outdated design

Despite its legacy design and smaller 4.7-inch display, Apple's iPhone SE provides the best balance of performance, features, and software support. Notably, it uses the same A15 processor as Apple's latest iPhone 13 and 13 Pro, which feature custom silicon with a 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU. The device also has wireless charging, Touch ID, and IP67 waterproofing.

The iPhone SE has an all-day battery life and a 12MP wide camera with optical image stabilization, portrait mode, and 4K video recording support. Apple typically provides several years (five years or more) of major iOS updates to its devices, so while the iPhone SE's design may appear dated, its software will keep it feeling current. Furthermore, if you're still using the Touch ID home button instead of Face ID, this is your only option.

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Best camera: Google Pixel 6A

Why it made the cut: The Pixel 6A features a flagship-level camera powered by Google's Tensor chip.


  • Display: 6.1-inch, 1080 x 2400, OLED, 60Hz, 429 PPI
  • Processor: Google Tensor Titan M2
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 4410mAh
  • Camera: 12MP f/1.7, OIS; 12MP f/2.2
  • Software: Android 12
  • Support: Five years of security updates. Google hasn’t said how many OS updates it will receive, but the Pixel 6 has been promised three.
  • 5G: Yes, sub-6GHz


  • Fantastic display
  • Excellent software support
  • Flagship-level camera


  • Slower fingerprint sensor

Google has a reputation for producing high-quality mobile cameras, and the Pixel 6A is no exception. The device has a dual camera setup, with a 12MP main camera from the Pixel 5A and a 12MP ultra-wide camera from the Pixel 6. The Pixel 6A's Tensor chip, a custom piece of silicon designed by Google, plays an important role in this setup.

The processor enables advanced AI and machine learning features such as Face Unblur, which allows users to capture better portrait images in low-light conditions. The Tensor chip also supports HDR during 4K/60 frame-per-second video recording. The Pixel 6A's camera setup doesn't quite match that of last year's Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, but it still provides plenty of Google magic for the price.

Also Read: Best Gaming Laptops Under 70000 in India (2023)

Best display: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Why it made the cut: The 6.5-inch display on the Galaxy A53 5G looks fantastic, especially when watching videos and playing games.


  • Display: 6.5-inch, 1080 x 2400, Super AMOLED, 120Hz, 405 PPI
  • Processor: Exynos 1280
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Camera: 64MP f/1.8, OIS; 12MP f/2.2; 5MP f/2.4 (macro); 5MP f/2.4 (depth)
  • Software: Android 12
  • Support: Four years of major OS updates and five years of security updates.
  • 5G: Yes, sub-6GHz


  • Excellent battery life
  • Beautiful display
  • Powerful camera setup


  • The software can get bogged down by bloatware

The Galaxy A53 5G from Samsung feels like a device that should cost much more than it does. It has a triple camera setup led by a 64MP main camera, a powerful Exynos processor, and a long battery life. The main highlight, however, is its 6.5-inch 1080p OLED display, which offers rich contrast and vibrant colours. It also has a refresh rate of 120Hz, which makes animations look smoother than on devices with lower refresh rates. When performing daily tasks, the display looks fantastic, but it really shines when playing bright, colourful content such as videos and games.

The Galaxy A53 5G also has IP67 dust and water resistance, as well as an in-display fingerprint scanner. Samsung has also promised four years of Android OS version updates and five years of security updates, so you'll be able to admire the device's OLED display for a long time.

Also Read: Best Phone Under 15000 to 20000 (2023)

Best gaming: iPhone 11

Why it made the cut: The iPhone 11 is a great choice for mobile gaming because of its powerful processor, excellent display, and long battery life.


  • Display: 6.1-inch, 1792 x 828, LCD, 60Hz, 326 PPI
  • Processor: A13 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 3110mAh
  • Camera: 12MP f/1.8, OIS; 12MP f/2.4
  • Software: iOS 15; planned upgrade to iOS 16
  • Support: Apple generally provides four years or more of software and security updates
  • 5G: No


  • Excellent battery life
  • Great camera setup
  • Powerful performance


  • Device is a few years old
  • 64GB of storage can fill up quick

The iPhone 11 may appear to be an odd choice given its age (it was released in 2019), but its A13 Bionic processor, with its hex-core CPU and 4-core GPU, still holds up. Not only does it perform well for everyday tasks like browsing the web, editing photos, and making video calls, but it also handles the most demanding mobile games with ease—and the 6.1-inch display is ideal for media.

Whether you're into Minecraft, PUBG Mobile, or Diablo Immortal, the iPhone 11 is still capable of handling demanding apps and processes years after its initial release. Wireless charging, IP68 dust and water resistance, and an excellent camera system are also included.

Apple is known for providing several years of software support for older devices, so despite its age, the iPhone 11 should provide users with a few more years of important updates. The only significant disadvantage is that the standard iPhone 11 only has 64GB of storage, which could quickly become full of games.

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Best budget: OnePlus Nord N20 5G

Why it made the cut: The OnePlus Nord N20 5G has an excellent screen and excellent performance at a reasonable price.


  • Display: 6.43, 1080 x 2400, AMOLED, 60Hz, 409 PPI
  • Processor: Snapdragon 695 5G
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB, microSD expandable
  • Battery: 4500mAh
  • Camera: 64MP f/1.8; 2MP f/2.4 (macro); 2MP f/2.4 (depth)
  • Software: Android 11
  • Support: One major OS update and three years of security updates
  • 5G: Yes, sub-6GHz


  • Affordable
  • Fantastic display
  • Excellent performance


  • Limited software support

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is a sub-$300 phone that packs a powerful punch. It has a 6.4-inch 1080p OLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor, and 6GB of RAM, so it can handle a heavy workload. It also has a fingerprint scanner built into the display and a 64MP camera, which isn't the best we've seen, but it's adequate for a phone at this price.

The Nord N20 5G also supports 33W fast charging, allowing it to charge from 0 to 30% in just 20 minutes. While the device supports 5G, it is not compatible with Verizon and is only capable of 4G on AT&T. If you have T-Mobile, you should have no problems.

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1. Q: Do Flagship Phones Last Longer?

A modern device that is well-maintained should last three to five years. As previously stated, some flagship and mid-range phones share the same specs, so they will most likely have a similar lifespan. However, because flagship phones typically have more RAM than mid-range options, the former may experience a slower decline in performance over time. The performance gap may not be noticeable at first, but it may become more noticeable after a few years: apps may take longer to load, and multitasking may become problematic. These issues may cause those who own a mid-range phone to upgrade sooner than those who own a flagship device.

Aside from the hardware, you'll need to consider software support for the phone's lifespan. When a manufacturer stops providing critical software updates for a device, it's time to move on, even if the phone still works.

2. Q: What is the Most Popular Type of Phone?

According to statistics, Android phones have the most users worldwide—by a wide margin. A large part of this is due to the increased number of Android options. Several companies, including Samsung, Google, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and many others, offer Android devices at various price points. Apple's iPhone, on the other hand, has a smaller market share.

3. Q: What's the distinction between iOS and Android?

The short answer is that Android is more open and flexible, whereas iOS is restrictive and tightly controlled. However, the two platforms are very similar in many ways and generally provide access to the same apps and perform the same functions. Furthermore, after more than ten years of updates, they aren't nearly as different as they once were. The platform you select is ultimately determined by your personal preferences. If you're having trouble deciding which platform is best for you, this explainer can help.

4. Q: Do I need to get a 5G phone?

Most modern flagship and mid-range devices support 5G, so it's practically unavoidable at this point. There are advantages and disadvantages to owning a 5G device. Maximum download speeds can reach 1GB per second, and 5G networks provide more bandwidth, allowing for less congestion in congested areas. However, 5G coverage remains patchy across the United States, and 5G radios can drain your device's battery faster.

If you purchase a 5G device, you must also locate an area with 5G coverage and have a data plan that supports the network. You should not be concerned if you end up purchasing a device that does not support 5G. Check out our coverage of 5G for more information.

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Final Thoughts on The Best Phones Under $500 Dollars 2023

Because of technological advancements, mid-range devices can now compete with more expensive flagship models, making it easier to get a good smartphone without spending a fortune. You might miss out on features like faster refresh rates and more sophisticated cameras. Nonetheless, one of the best phones under $500 has excellent performance, features, and software support—money well spent.