​Top 10 best Android and Apple phones for under $600

We compare and review the unlocked and SIM-free phones, smartphones and iPhones to buy right now in 2019

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Credit: Samsung

It’s easy to spend too much on a smartphone these days. Apple’s iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro can cost you thousands and Samsung’s high end Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10+ aren’t that much cheaper. 

Thankfully, nowadays, it’s much easier to find a cheaper and more budget-friendly alternative to these flagship devices than ever before. The list of shared features between mid-tier devices and premium ones continues to grow, while the gap in quality continues to shrink.

Modern mid-tier smartphone shoppers are getting more for less more often than ever before. 

Here’s our latest list of the top 10 best Android and Apple phones you can find for under $600.

Reno Z

Oppo Reno ZCredit: Oppo
Oppo Reno Z

A cheaper companion to Oppo’s 5G-ready Reno, the Reno Z successfully replicates most of what makes its bigger brother the Chinese company’s most compelling flagship yet. 

Although lacking in flagship perks like wireless charging, water-resistance or the Reno’s famed 10x lossless zoom, the Reno Z still offers plenty of cutting-edge features like an in-screen fingerprint sensor, surprisingly-solid performance and a camera that’s swings above its weight.

In our review, we concluded that “the Reno Z subtracts much of what makes the mainline Reno such an exceptional device. However, for less than half the price, it manages to carve out a compelling balance between nailing the essentials and being good enough at everything else that you rarely think about what you’re missing out on.”

You can read our full review here

Pros

  • Sleek design

  • In-display fingerprint sensor

  • Great performance

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

  • ColorOS can be an acquired taste

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Oppo Reno Z outright at the following retailers:

Read more: Sony X9300D and X8500D UHD 4K TV review

The Oppo Reno Z is also available on any postpaid mobile plans via Woolworths and Vodafone. Check out the widget below for more:

Read more: Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review

Motorola One Vision

MotorolaCredit: Motorola
Motorola

If you’ve used any of Motorola’s G-series phones before, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Motorola’s One Vision offers up great battery life and a smooth-as-all-get-out software experience that’s a sneeze away from stock Android. Alternatively, if you haven’t used any of Motorola’s G-series phones before, you’re in for a treat. 

In our review of the One Vision, we said that “The Motorola One Vision is a mid-tier smartphone that swings above its weight when it comes to look and feel. It combines many of Motorola’s more-established strengths with a penchant for aesthetics and design that you might not expect from the brand.”

You can read our full review here

Pros

  • Striking design

  • Clean software

  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Camera falls short of the hype

  • No water resistance 

  • No wireless charging

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Motorola One Vision outright at the following retailers:

The Motorola One Vision isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Oppo R15 Pro

41ZfYSPmW3L.jpgCredit: Oppo
41ZfYSPmW3L.jpg

If you’ve ever spent any time with an Oppo phone before, the pitch for the R15 Pro is going to sound a little familiar. It’s got the looks of an iPhone and the tech of an Android. 

Powered by the Chinese-brand’s Color OS Android skin, the R15 Pro features a powerful dual-lens camera on the back and a 20-megapixel selfie-shooter on the front. It’s also got 6GB of RAM, IP67 water resistance, a 3430mAh battery and the headphone jack you’ll find missing from more modern flagships.

In our review, we said that “The R15 Pro sees Oppo bring more of that flagship experience to the sub-$800 smartphone space than ever before to generous effect.”

You can read our full review of the R15 Pro here.

Read more: ​LG X Power smartphone review

Pros

  • Sharp-looking design

  • Headphone jack

  • VOOC fast Charging

Cons

  • Camera is a little dated by today’s standards

  • Still uses Micro USB for charging

  • No wireless charging

Read more: Australian smartphone reviews 2016

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Oppo R15 Pro through the following:

The Oppo R15 Pro is available on postpaid mobile plans via Optus:

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 was once the king of the smartphone jungle. These days, it’s fallen some ways down the list. That being said, the things that this device excelled at back in 2017 still count for something. 

IDGCredit: IDG
IDG

Buying a Samsung Galaxy S8 these days still gets you a pretty powerful Exynos processor, a pretty decent single lens rear camera and a gorgeous Infinity Display. You even get access to the new One UI Android skin that Samsung debuted alongside the Galaxy S10 earlier this year.

Pros

  • Great display & design

  • Water resistance & wireless charging

  • Still has a headphone jack

Cons

  • Camera hasn’t aged as well as it should have

  • Kind of small by modern standards

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Samsung Galaxy S8 through the following:

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is available on postpaid mobile plans via NuMobile:

Xiaomi Mi 9T

Xiaomi are a relative newcomer to the Australian smartphone market but devices like the Mi 9T suggest they’re looking challenge even heavyweights like Huawei and Samsung. 

Xiaomi Mi 9TCredit: Xiaomi
Xiaomi Mi 9T

The Xiaomi Mi 9T features a Snapdragon 730 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 6.39-inch AMOLED FHD+ Display with an in-display fingerprint sensor plus triple-lens rear camera “situation” that touts a 48-megapixel sensor and AI enhanced image processing. 

There’s also a 4000mAh battery, which suggests it’ll deliver some pretty decent battery performance, and a 20-megapixel pop-up selfie cam that banishes the notch to the shadow realm.

We haven’t had the chance to go hands-on with the Xiaomi Mi 9T ourselves yet but look for our review in the future. 

Pros

  • No notch!

  • Triple-lens camera

Cons

  • Only FHD+

  • That 700-series processor ain’t an 800-series processor

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Xiaomi Mi 9T through the following:

The Xiaomi Mi 9T isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Read more: ​Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review

LG V30+

LG V30+Credit: LG Electronics
LG V30+

On paper, LG’s V30+ is feels like the quiet achiever of the 2018 flagship line-up. It’s got everything you’d expect: IP68 waterproofing, a Snapdragon 835 processor, a powerful dual-lens camera, face unlock, an always-on display and support for wireless charging. It’s also got some stuff you might not expect, like dedicated videography capabilities.

As we said in our review of the LG V30+, “If you’re a sucker for a good snap (or selfie), LG’s V30+ is probably not going to cut it for you. However, if you’re willing to live with photos that are only good rather than great, it’s got the makings of the best Android phones of the year. It ticks (almost) all the right boxes and does so at a price that neatly undercuts the competition.”

Pros

  • Flagship feature set

  • Videography shortcuts

Cons

  • Plain design

  • Underwhelming camera

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the LG V30+ through the following:

The LG V30+ ThinQ isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Moto G8 Plus

The Moto G8 Plus takes the advances in aesthetics that the brand made with the Motorola One Vision and applies it to a form-factor that’s more in-line with modern trends. You get a better processor, a bigger screen and a larger battery. Best of all, you don’t lose out on the clean software that made the One Vision such a treat to use. 

Credit: Motorola

In our review, we said that “Though it’s less of a significant upgrade than it might first appear to be, the Moto G8 Plus still more-or-less makes its predecessor obsolete in a big way. All the familiar strengths you’d expect are present and accounted for with a more-likable design and a more flexible camera system rounding out the package nicely.”

You can read our full review of the Moto G8 Plus here

Pros

  • Slick design

  • Clean software

  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Uneven camera system

  • Mediocre performance   

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Moto G8 Plus through the following:

The Moto G8 Plus isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

RealMe XT 

408618-Product-2-I_754d8417-233d-40d0-b333-acac7bed75a8_800x800.jpgCredit: RealMe
408618-Product-2-I_754d8417-233d-40d0-b333-acac7bed75a8_800x800.jpg

RealMe moved into the Australian market earlier this year and their debut flagship is priced at less than half that of the competition. 

In our review, we said that “Representing RealMe’s top tier offering in the market, the XT bundles together a lot of solid features for its price point. It looks to leverage its brawny camera and fast charging to appeal to buyers looking to maximise value or find a point of difference in this competitive price point.”

“While buyers may have already seen a lot of what was on offer in its competitors, the RealMe XT ticks all the boxes and could pleasantly surprise users willing to make friends with the new kid on the block.”

You can read our full review here.   

Pros

  • 64-megapixel camera lens

  • Fast-charging

Cons

  • Lacks distinct identity

  • Other cameras aren't as good as the main one

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the RealMe XT through:

The RealMe XT is not available on any postpaid plans but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan. Check below for a round-up of the best SIM only plans:

Huawei P30 Lite

huawei-p30-lite-blue-back.pngCredit: Huawei
huawei-p30-lite-blue-back.png

Huawei’s P30 Lite strips away a lot of the premium flourish found in the P30 Pro but it keeps one key thing intact: the powerful camera system. 

In our review of the P30 Lite we said that “The Huawei P30 Lite is a basically competent mid-tier offering with a somewhat-powerful triple-lens camera and above-average battery life. However, the design doesn’t do much to endear itself and the software side of the equation isn’t much better.”

“If you’re looking to settle for a pretty cheap phone that can do the basic things you expect a phone to be able to do, it’ll be a good fit. If you’re looking for the best cheap phone, I’m a little more hesitant to recommend it. There are many superior options out there.”

You can read our full review of the Huawei P30 Lite here

Pros

  • Above average battery life

  • Versatile camera

Cons

  • Underwhelming performance

  • Boring design

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Huawei P30 Pro through the following:

The Huawei P30 Pro isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Oppo R17 Pro

Oppo R17 ProCredit: Oppo
Oppo R17 Pro

With an integrated fingerprint sensor and a dual-aperture dual-lens rear camera, the Oppo R17 Pro sits at the pinnacle of what Oppo's original approach of melding the best of Android and iOS could achieve.

It’s very much a case of the brand being the best version of itself. 

In our review of the Oppo R17 Pro, we said that “Though not without a few caveats, the R17 Pro still feels like a triumph for Oppo. It’s about $100 more expensive than I’d like but it’s got a solid mix of hardware and software that’s easy to recommend to basically anyone. If you’re looking for the value here - Oppo have made it really easy to find.”

“The lack of wireless charging, headphone jack, MicroSD slot or water-resistance might sting some potential-buyers but an improved camera, slick software, Super VOOC charging and in-screen fingerprint sensor make the R17 Pro a pretty stellar option for everyone else.”

You can read our full review of the Oppo R17 Pro here.

The Oppo R17 Pro isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

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Tags mobileMotorolaApplesonymobile phonesiPhonePhoneslgmobile phoneAlcatelSamsung Galaxy S7 EdgeGoogle PixelOnePlus 5Nokia 8BlackBerry KEYOneXperia XZ PremiumHTC U UltraMoto Z

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Fergus Halliday
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