Finest low-cost cellphone 2023: six smartphones for below $500

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The present state of inflation has quite a lot of us wanting more durable at value tags these days. Whereas your grocery receipt could also be filled with unhealthy information, we’ve really acquired some excellent news: you may get an excellent cellphone for below $500 as of late.

A lot of our picks run about $400 or $500, however there are nice choices for $300 and below, too. You will discover a vibrant, high-definition OLED display screen or a built-in stylus or a battery that lasts for days. When you can hone in on the one or two options which can be most necessary to you and also you’re prepared to compromise elsewhere, you may get a cellphone that fits your wants for half the value of a flagship.

What compromises are you able to count on from a price range cellphone? Some mixture of the next: slower processors, much less storage, and lousier cameras than flagship telephones, nearly throughout the board. Many have lower-resolution screens, and most lack official water-resistance rankings, wi-fi charging, and NFC chips for contactless cost. 

And whereas we often suggest shopping for unlocked telephones to maximise flexibility, you would possibly discover higher offers — and far decrease up-front prices — by shopping for by means of a provider and signing up for a wi-fi plan.

The very best smartphone for below $500 in 2023

The 2022 iPhone SE is a low-cost entry level to the iOS ecosystem.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

1. Apple iPhone SE 2022 (third-generation)

The very best iPhone below $500

The 128GB iPhone SE is the most effective worth on the smartphone market, interval. It’s an ideal deal at $479 when you think about that it’s going to proceed receiving iOS updates for upwards of 5, even six or seven years.

However earlier than you choose up an SE anticipating to coast by means of a lot of the subsequent decade with out shopping for a brand new cellphone: be sure you can reside with its very small, very dated 4.7-inch display screen. It’s the identical measurement because the one on the iPhone 6, and it’s beginning to really feel cramped in an age when apps and net pages are designed for greater screens. The SE’s large bezels make the system look dated, too, however the usability of a small display screen might be an even bigger issue through the years to return.

There’s no evening mode for brighter photographs in very low mild, which is a curious omission

That’s the largest knock in opposition to the SE. In any other case, it’s a implausible midrange system. Its A15 processor is similar as iPhone 13 Professional Max, so efficiency is great. There’s IP67 waterproofing and wi-fi charging — each unusual on this value vary — and although it makes use of the identical 12-megapixel digital camera that iPhones have used for the reason that daybreak of time, it takes very good photographs and high-quality video clips. The digital camera has no evening mode, which is a curious omission — many different midrange telephones supply some type of low-light picture mode, and the cellphone’s processor is actually as much as the duty. Apple gonna Apple.

This technology SE affords 5G connectivity — simply low- and mid-band, which is ok. You gained’t get the quick millimeter-wave 5G you would possibly encounter in an NFL stadium, nevertheless it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Battery life can also be improved over the past technology, and it’ll typically final a full day until you actually push it with demanding duties like gaming and streaming video.

When you can reside with the small display screen and also you aren’t bothered by the dearth of evening mode, we suggest selecting up the 128GB model. The bottom mannequin’s 64GB of storage isn’t fairly sufficient, and also you’ll be glad you spent the additional $50 once you’re utilizing this cellphone for years into the long run.


The 2022 iPhone SE will final for upwards of 5 years if it’s taken care of because of Apple’s glorious monitor file of providing iOS updates to older units. However its tiny 4.7-inch display screen feels cramped now and could also be robust to make use of in 5 years’ time whereas apps and net pages proceed to be designed for greater screens.

Pixel 6A home screen with an analogue clock widget.

The Pixel 6A affords the right combination of important options plus a top-shelf chipset.
Photograph by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The very best Android cellphone below $500

The Pixel 6A comes with a $449 MSRP, nevertheless it’s usually marked down for a lot decrease than that. It’s a superb purchase at its full retail value, however if you happen to catch it for lower than $400 — as is commonly the case now — it’s a screaming deal.

The cellphone’s largest asset is Tensor, the custom-built chipset Google used within the firm’s 2021 flagships, the 6 and 6 Professional. Not solely does it allow superb total efficiency now but additionally it implies that the 6A will sustain for a few years to return. Google guarantees 5 years of safety updates for the 6A, and with an IP67 water resistance ranking, it’s a superb all-around wager if you would like a price range cellphone that may final.

The 6A’s least spectacular characteristic is its display screen — a 6.1-inch 1080p OLED with a typical 60Hz refresh fee. It’s not unhealthy; it’s simply not the most effective display screen you may get for the cash. The fingerprint sensor below the show can also be on the gradual facet. Once more, it’s not unusable nevertheless it’s noticeably a beat slower than the most effective fingerprint sensors on the market.

The 6A will sustain for a few years to return

And in contrast to earlier Pixel A-series telephones, the 6A doesn’t embody the identical cameras because the flagships, however that’s okay. It makes use of the identical 12-megapixel commonplace vast digital camera because the Pixel 5A, which remains to be an excellent digital camera — particularly for the midrange class. The cellphone’s 4,410mAh battery is on the small facet, however total battery efficiency is best than its measurement would counsel. 

All that mentioned, the 6A affords the most effective all-around bundle of important options plus a top-tier processor which you can purchase proper now for round $450.

Google’s Pixel 6A stands out among $500 phones.


Google’s Pixel 6A comes with a comparatively small 6.1-inch OLED display screen however is a wonderful performer with a superb digital camera and battery life.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G provides some uncommon budget-class features like waterproofing and a stabilized main camera.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G gives some unusual budget-class options like waterproofing and a stabilized important digital camera.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

The very best cellphone display screen below $500

The Samsung A53 5G affords an excellent worth for its $449 MSRP. It has among the best screens in its class — no shock from show maker Samsung — with a 6.5-inch 1080p OLED that gives richer distinction than the LCDs which can be frequent on this class. It additionally makes use of a high refresh fee of 120Hz, which makes for easy scrolling and just a little bit extra of a “premium” expertise.

The A53 5G’s battery lasts a full day of use, and the Exynos processor will get by means of every day duties pretty easily. The cellphone’s important 64-megapixel digital camera is a minimize above the often unremarkable cameras on this class, with optical picture stabilization to assist get extra sharp photographs in poor lighting circumstances.

The A53 5G’s finest characteristic would possibly simply be its glorious software program assist coverage

It stands out from different price range Android telephones in quite a lot of methods, however the A53 5G’s finest characteristic could also be its glorious software program assist coverage. Samsung has promised 4 years of Android OS model updates and 5 years of safety updates. That provides the A53 5G an exceptionally lengthy shelf life, particularly amongst Android telephones the place two or three years of safety updates is extra frequent. Contemplating that the cellphone can also be IP67-rated for mud and water resistance, it ought to final a very long time.


A superb all-around system for its $449 MSRP, the A53 5G delivers strong efficiency, an all-day battery, a 6.5-inch OLED display screen with a 120Hz refresh fee, and an IP67 ranking.

The OnePlus N20 5G includes a 1080p OLED screen, with richer contrast than the LCDs common in this class.

The OnePlus N20 5G features a 1080p OLED display screen, with richer distinction than the LCDs frequent on this class.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

The very best cellphone below $300

The OnePlus N20 5G is a $280 cellphone that feels prefer it ought to value much more. It affords a 6.4-inch display screen with good 1080p decision. Higher but, it’s an OLED panel in a class the place lower-contrast LCDs are far more frequent. You’ll must make do with a typical 60Hz refresh fee, however until you’re coming from a cellphone with a quicker 90Hz or 120Hz display screen, you gained’t know the distinction. Refresh fee apart, it’s a superb display screen that’s gratifying to make use of. Plus, there’s a superb fingerprint scanner below the show that makes unlocking the cellphone a frustration-free expertise.

The N20 5G is bought unlocked however take be aware: it doesn’t work on Verizon. It’s additionally restricted to 4G on AT&T, which isn’t the tip of the world given the provider’s gradual enlargement of their mid-band 5G community (that’s the great 5G). The unlocked N20 does work on T-Cell’s 5G in addition to 4G, and you should buy a network-locked model of the cellphone instantly from T-Cell if you wish to make the most of a free cellphone supply or bundle the fee along with your month-to-month cellphone invoice.

The N20 5G is provided with a superb Snapdragon 695 processor and beneficiant 6GB of RAM for superb every day efficiency. It additionally helps 33W wired quick charging — one other characteristic you’d be hard-pressed to seek out in any of the N20’s opponents — with the included charger. You’ll be able to cost the cellphone from 0 to 30 p.c in simply 20 minutes, which is basically useful if you happen to’re in a jam and want a fast battery increase. NFC can also be included for contactless cost; many cheaper telephones exclude it to chop prices.

The N20 5G additionally helps 33W wired quick charging — one other characteristic you’d be hard-pressed to seek out in any of the its opponents

Digital camera high quality is a little bit of a weak level for the N20. The primary rear 64-megapixel digital camera is ok; the opposite two cameras (a low-res macro and a monochrome sensor) are finest ignored. The cellphone additionally ships with Android 11, which is a model behind most different new Android telephones at this level. However on the brighter facet, OnePlus is promising three years of safety updates — a reasonably good coverage in a category the place two years isn’t unusual. 

It’s unlucky that the N20 isn’t an choice for Verizon subscribers, however if you happen to’re on T-Cell or AT&T, it’s a heck of a deal — with or with out 5G assist.


The N20 5G features a 6.4-inch 1080p display screen with a quick fingerprint sensor in addition to quick wired charging with the included in-box charger.

The Samsung A13 5G offers a good, basic feature set and works on all major US carriers.

The Samsung A13 5G affords a superb, fundamental characteristic set and works on all main US carriers.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

The very best fundamental Android cellphone for Verizon prospects

Samsung recently announced the A13’s successor — you guessed it, the Galaxy A14 — which we haven’t been capable of take a look at but. It comes with some promising updates, together with a further 12 months of safety updates, however the Galaxy A13 5G stays a superb deal if you happen to can nonetheless discover it on a retailer’s shelf. It’s a no-frills $249 cellphone that delivers the fundamentals.

Its display screen is nothing particular, however battery life and efficiency are superb contemplating the value, and the system is backed up by a strong assist coverage promising three years of safety updates. It’s not as polished because the N20 with its fancier OLED, nevertheless it’s additionally a bit cheaper and works on all main carriers (the N20 doesn’t work on Verizon).

The A13’s 6.5-inch display screen is actually large, nevertheless it’s a reasonably dim, low-contrast LCD with a decision of simply 720p. Associated: battery life is superb for the reason that display screen drains much less energy than brighter shows. General efficiency from the MediaTek 700 5G chipset and 4GB of RAM is superb, too. 

The display screen on the Galaxy A13 5G is nothing particular, however battery life and efficiency are superb contemplating the value

On the digital camera facet, the A13 lacks a few options you could find on different price range telephones — specifically, an evening mode and an ultrawide digital camera. What you do get is an efficient 50-megapixel important rear digital camera that takes reliably good photographs in daylight and dim indoor mild. Simply don’t count on a lot in very low mild.

When you can reside with a mediocre show and a fundamental digital camera, then the A13 will ship on efficiency and battery life — fairly necessary stuff. Simply be sure you price range just a little further for a MicroSD card as a result of the cellphone’s 64GB of built-in storage is just a little skimpy.


The Galaxy A13 5G’s display screen is dim and low-res, however nice battery life, strong efficiency, and a horny price ticket make it an ideal worth.

The Moto G Stylus has an approachable stylus feature set.

The Moto G Stylus has an approachable stylus characteristic set.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

6. Motorola Moto G Stylus (2022)

The very best price range cellphone with a stylus

This 12 months’s 4G-only version of the Moto G Stylus continues to supply the wonderful steadiness of options and cost-saving measures as final 12 months’s mannequin. It’s a superb cellphone for the value, whether or not you’re a stylus devotee or simply need a large low-cost cellphone, and it really works on all three main US networks. 

The Moto G Stylus has a giant 6.8-inch 1080p LCD show, good battery life with its 5,000mAh cell, and ample inner storage with 128GB of capability. With a succesful MediaTek Helio G88 processor and a wholesome 6GB of RAM, the G Stylus performs effectively with on a regular basis duties. The cameras, although flawed, are ok to get by. You gained’t discover a tremendous evening mode or top-notch image high quality right here, however for a sub-$300 cellphone, it does the job simply high-quality. The G Stylus is lacking an NFC chip for contactless cost, and it doesn’t have wi-fi charging or an IP ranking for water resistance, that are all frequent omissions at this value.

The Moto G Stylus’ stylus lives within the system, just like the one on the Galaxy S22 Extremely. Popping it out brings up a fast menu of shortcuts to stylus-friendly apps, like its coloring guide app. It’s a characteristic set meant for a extra informal consumer than the likes of the S22 Extremely and, because of this, feels extra approachable.


The Moto G Stylus enhances its namesake characteristic with good on a regular basis efficiency and a giant 1080p show, although it doesn’t embody 5G connectivity.

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