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Once upon a time, whenever people wanted to enjoy the perks of modernity with their smartphones, there weren’t many ways around it: you had to break the bank. Fortunately nowadays, as technologies have matured and as the smartphone have really found its market, industry leaders like Apple and Samsung are able to develop their know-how from their flagship devices into lower-range models. So, why not to explore that for a bit. In this blog, we will explore the best smartphones under $500 for photography, gaming and streaming and mobility (ergonomics, battery life and connectivity).

Best smartphones under $500: Google Pixel 6A for photography and video

The best smartphone under $500 for photography

In the lineage of its predecessor (Pixel 4A), Pixel 6A perpetuates the Pixel’s legacy of great photographers with a decent system of double-sensors providing a capacity of 12 MegaPixel each, Optical Stabilization, as well as built-in wide and ultra-wide angle lenses. As for selfies and video calls, the 8 MegaPixel front camera offer 8 Mega pixels of its own… Although, this might not be as strong of a hardware set when it comes to camera features, what sets Google’s Pixel range apart from competition here is Tensor and its processing capabilities in term of treatments on the images. Finally, the core memory of 128 gigabytes also provides plenty of storage rooms for pictures and videos. 

The best smartphones under $500: Samsung a53 for battery life and display

The best smartphone under $500 for screen display

Samsung a53

On the front, it’s hard to overlook the capacities of the Samsung A53. Sure there are bigger batteries out there, but not in that price range! The Samsung A53 feature its own 5000mAh battery and a 6.5 inches Gorilla Glass Super AMOLED, 120Hz display. Add to that some 128-256GB base storage with extension capacity (via microSDXC card slot) and a respectable camera system and you get yourself a very decent handheld device.

What is refresh rate on a smartphone?

The refresh rate designate the frequency at which a given display can update the onscreen image in millisecond. The refresh rate is expressed in Hertz If a given screen display has a refresh rate of, say 120Hz, it means it will refresh each image 120 times every second. Basically, the higher the rate, the better the experience. A matter of fact, higher refresh rates provide a better sense of realism from the images being display… Therefore a more immersive experience.

Best smartphones under $500: Iphone SE3 (2022) for compact design

Apple Iphone SE is our choice for the best smartphone with smaller screen and most durable hardware under 500 dollars in 2021.

In 2020, Apple took a turn by positioning itself as a brand on budget smartphone and released the Iphone SE. More than two years later, the device still ranks high in the charts for consumers looking for compact but rather powerful smartphones.As a matter of facts, the phone strikes a right balance of camera, building quality, battery life and longevity altogether.

In its third edition, the iPhone SE remains a serious in portability category. With its 4.7 inches screen and 144g, the device doesn’t sacrifice too much is terms of capabilities with a powerful chip (Apple A15), 4 gigabytes of RAM and Optical Stabilization on its single camera rig. 

 Although it is being sold as “cheap”, Iphone SE is built to last and is likely to outlast and outrun most of its competitors within the range over the next 4 to 5 years. The device also opens consumers Apple’s extensive support network, a vast array of singular IOS apps and an extensive range of accessories.

Best smartphones under $500: Google Pixel 6A for connectivity

Most of recent smartphones are now fully 5G-ready, so having 5G connectivity is not a differentiating anymore… Although, if you’re curious about the best 5G smartphone available today, here is our article about it! Now, there are still connectivity features that can stand a smartphone aside nowadays. One of these is WiFi! See, most smartphones today are compatible with WiFi 6. That’s great. But the Google Pixel 6A support WiFi 6E (for Extended), that allows the device to provide better connectivity with a stronger signal even when far from an access point.

Now, what about Motorola’s Edge?! Indeed, at first the device could appear as a contender, here. However, with a closer look, it just happens that Pixel 6A has a better connectivity overall: with USB 3 (against USB 2 for Motorola Edge). Plus considering 5G again, Google Pixel 6A has the lead with mmWave support over the Motorola Edge.

What is mmWave and why doesn’t matters for 5G connectivity?

mmWave refers to a wider radio spectrum operating on a broader range of  frequencies (high-band 5G) which guarantee better connectivity and lower latency. Finally, you can actually find Google’s Pixel 6A for cheaper than Motorola’s Edge. So, better device and more bang for your buck!

Wrapping up

What is the most versatile smartphone under $500?

There you have it: my selection of the best smartphones under $500 in terms of photography feature, battery life, size and portability and connectivity. Now, if I had to choose today the most versatile device of all, the one that covers grounds… I would go with the Google Pixel 6A as it features a lot of valuable properties for a device in that price range. For example, the Tensor processor optimizing a lot of operational tasks while allowing the software to process things like photos and videos shots very quickly and add a variety of treatment to the file. Plus, it provide such a powerful level of connectivity with broader range of 5G that you generally find on flagship devices at this point. Now, if you don’t worry so much about 5G, a decent alternative at Apple’s would be the iPhone 11.