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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. Other brands like OnePlus are able to cut costs by sacrificing a few nice-to-haves in order to capitalize on the base market. So, why not to explore that for a bit. In this blog, we will explore the best budget smartphones out there for photography, gaming and streaming and mobility (ergonomics, battery life and connectivity).

The best smartphone under $500 for photography and video

Motorola Moto G Power is our choice for the best budget smartphone under 500 dollars for camera performances in 2021.

Google Pixel 4A

Today, finding a device with somewhat of a powerful camera is fairly easy. However, getting the actual advanced features that will make your snaps look vivid and professional is another story. Things like low-light performance and image stabilization don’t come cheap… Usually.

In August of 2020, Google released Pixel 4A. The device boast a 27mm wide-angle lense with Optical Stabilization and an aperture of f/1.7. This combo will allow focused, vivid and well-lit pictures close or far in any type of circumstances. The device is also quite lightweight and embarks image editing features, while the battery life remain very decent.

So, for a starting price of $349, the device is definitely a safe bet for the amateur of mobile photography with a very competitive price.

The best budget smartphone for battery life

Motorola Moto G Power. Our choice for the best budget smartphone under 500 dollars for battery life in 2021.

Motorola Moto G Power

With a 5.000mAh battery, Moto G Power from will allow you to stay connected for days on a single charge. It just seem the device was manufactured for increased mobility, and beyond basic use of checking e-mail, trip navigation and internet browsing, you will probably not be able to get much more out of it. 

The cameras are… functional. Nothing more, nothing less. Bright outdoor pictures will come out fine, although maybe a bit washed out, but low-light is no-go as the device is just struggling with contrast levels in such situations. Storage is tight (32GB), but since you likely don’t buy this phone for instagramming, it’s perfectly decent.

At the retail price of $189, The ranking is really not bad for the smartphone. But if you’re looking for a more versatile device and you are willing to sacrifice a bit of battery capacity for that, you should look at the others available here. Or have a peak at Motorola One 5G which ranks closer to the $500 mark but embarks the same or outperforms the specs of the Moto G Power (including that big battery pack).

The best budget 5G smartphone

Oneplus Nord N10 5G. Our choice for the best budget 5G-compatible smartphone under 500 dollars in 2021.

Oneplus Nord N10 5G

The new 5G networks are opening a whole range of possibilities for us and our smartphones. However like with everything new, devices that are capable of operating on such networks tend to be expensive as of now… Not anymore, with the Oneplus Nord N10 5G. With a price of $299, this smartphone puts you in the loop for a discount, for sure. That will come with some sacrifice, though. Like a base LCD screen and processor. For sure, you will play to the latest trilling video games on that one. But a big enough screen (6.46”) with a faster-than-average 90Hz refresh rate will let enjoy some good streaming time alright. The 64 megapixels main camera is quite good for the range and deliver good picture in plain day-light or at dawn.

Best budget compact smartphone/processor under $500

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

Iphone SE

In 2020, Apple took a turn by positioning itself as a brand on budget smartphone and released the new Iphone SE (2020 edition). Even a year later, the device still ranks high in the charts for consumer looking for compact but rather powerful smartphones.Indeed, the phone showcase a right balance of camera, building quality, battery life and longevity altogether.

The display sticks to a 4 inches canvas, so the whole device remains compact enough while maintaining higher performances. Additionally, the phone features one of the fastest processor chips on the market: the A13 Bionic. This means that the device should remain compatible with software updates for years to comes now. On another hand, the device supports wireless charging, which is uncommon enough in that price range to be noted. Finally, the camera will not compete with higher-end models but is totally accessible to the bracket we are in here, plus it’s still better than older Iphones anyway.  

 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 (the phone belongs to that same range of Iphone 6 to 11).

Most versatile smartphone/processor under $500

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is our choice for the best processor and most versatile smartphone under 500 dollars in 2021.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

If you’re looking for a smartphone that score on every grounds, consider Samsung’s Galaxy A52 5G device. The device is big enough to remain comfortable to watch for hours and fast-refresh rate of the OLED screen will provide smooth motion of animations while its contrast level will make streaming series and movie a great experience.

The camera feature Optical Stabilization and is generally better with more features than the rival in the price range: the Iphone SE. The battery capacity is also better (4500mHa) and will sustain the capacities of the Galaxy A52 5G better. As for ports, the Samsung device still features a jack input, while the Iphone SE doesn’t. Finally, although it’s not the only one in the price range, Galaxy A52 is compatible with 5G networks. Although this is not an absolute primary as of today, it’s always nice to be prepared!

Wrapping up

So here is my selection of the best smartphones under $500. The overall winner, in terms of versatility, would tends to be the Samsung Galaxy A52, but the futureproof capacities of the Iphone SE’s processor make it a valid choice all-the same, depending on what the user has their focus on. Same thing when it comes to instagramming and photography. In that alley, the winner in the category is probably Google Pixel 4A. The great news here is that smartphone market seems to have matured enough nowadays so that manufacturers are able to bring prices down and open capacities of the devices at the same time. What a great time to be alive, is it?!