With the start of his iPhone 12 Apple discounted some of its older models this year, including the 2018 cut iPhone XR to $ 500. This price tier has been very popular lately and many major phone manufacturers are offering great new phones in this area. One of them is the new one from Google Pixel 4A 5G, which will join the Pixel 4A from August.

More than before, people on a tight budget have more options to choose from. In addition to these new phones, there are plenty of reliable cell phones out there as of 2019 – and all of them cost around $ 500 or less. And despite their low prices, Budget phones are just getting more advanced and package features that are similar to a premium phone, like amazing cameras, fast processors, and modern software features.

For more of that

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To see our top picks of the best budget smartphone, check out the list of the Best Phones Under $ 500 (which we update regularly) and read reviews from CNET. Note that we've made a shortcut to the unlocked version of every phone and that should work on most of the four major US carriers unless otherwise noted.


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Best Cheap Phones to Try Now

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John Kim / CNET

With a four-year hiatus between the iPhone SE 2020 and the previous one, Apple has given its newest budget phone a number of upgrades. These include wireless charging, better camera specs, and water resistance. (Sorry, there is no headphone jack for wired headphone users.) If you're looking for a new iPhone but want to save as much money as possible, the $ 399 (£ 419, AU $ 749) iPhone SE is the best for you Choice for a cheap phone option.

Read our review of the Apple iPhone SE (2020).

Angela Lang / CNET

If you want an affordable 5G phone, the Pixel 4A 5G is worth considering. The $ 499 handset is available for pre-order and will ship November 19. It has solid battery life, fantastic dual rear cameras, and robust software support from Google.

Sarah Tew / CNET

In addition to the main Galaxy S20 phones, Samsung has a more cost-conscious A series. This year, the Galaxy A51 5G was unveiled, which has four cameras including a selfie camera, an on-screen fingerprint sensor and expandable storage. CNET tested the non-5G version for $ 399, though we've seen it go for just $ 280.

Read our Galaxy A51 review.

Patrick Holland / CNET

The $ 445 One 5G is one of the best and cheapest 5G phones out there. This cheap smartphone option has a total of six, even six cameras, a 90 Hz display with a high refresh rate, and fast charging technology. It is available now in the US from AT&T and at a later date from Verizon.

Read our Motorola One 5G review.

Angela Lang / CNET

Google's Pixel 4A was released in August and is priced at $ 349 (AU $ 599). The 5.81-inch Google Pixel phone is only available in one color (black) and one size (as there is no Pixel 4A XL, unlike in previous years). This Google Pixel has a headphone jack, a slightly larger screen, and a larger battery than the Pixel 4, and 128GB of storage right away.

Read our Google Pixel 4A review.

Josh Miller / CNET

The iPhone XR may be two years old, but after the SE above, it's one of the cheapest iPhones you can get new from Apple. Currently available from $ 499 (£ 499, AU $ 849) without a contract with 64GB. It has a 6.1-inch LCD display, a 12-megapixel rear-view camera and the A12 Bionic processor. It's also compatible with Apple's latest iOS 14 software update.

Read our Apple iPhone XR review.

Angela Lang / CNET

Although the Galaxy A50 came out last year (and is the predecessor to the A51 phone mentioned above), it's still a great phone for $ 350. This Samsung phone has a 6.4-inch AMOLED screen, an on-screen fingerprint reader, a front-facing camera for selfies and a headphone jack.

Read our Samsung Galaxy A50 review.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you're looking for a cheaper Note 20 alternative, the Moto G Stylus has a pen that you can keep on the phone, as well as a built-in Notes app to increase productivity. Currently priced at $ 240 from Motorola, the phone also has triple rear cameras, 128GB of storage, and a sturdy 4,000mAh battery.

Read our Moto G Stylus review.

Samsung Galaxy S9


James Martin / CNET

It's been two years since it was launched, but the Galaxy S9 is still worth considering. The Android phone is available from Samsung and other retailers at a discount of $ 400 to $ 500. It's waterproof, has wireless charging, expandable storage, and a headphone jack. The curved OLED display gives the phone a modern look that still lasts.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The Moto G Power is slightly cheaper than the G Stylus at $ 200, but it has a sturdy 5,000 mAh battery. During our testing, it took an impressive four days without a charge. The phone has three rear cameras (one of which is a macro lens), a 6.4-inch display, and expandable storage.

Read our Moto G Power review.

Further advice over the phone

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