Best Android and Apple Phones under $500

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RealMe

Credit: RealMe

Only have $500 to spend on your next smartphones? Don't sweat. In 2019, you've got a ton of great options.

Sure, you have to be willing to make a few compromises when it comes to camera and processing power. Still, in terms of the overall experience, buying a mid-tier and budget smartphone that doesn’t suck is much easier than it used to be.

If our round-up of the best Apple and Android smartphones you can find for under $600 and $700 wasn’t good enough for you, here’s our latest list of the top 10 best Android and Apple phones you can find for under $500.

1. Reno Z

Oppo Reno ZCredit: Oppo
Oppo Reno Z

The Reno Z successfully emulates most - but not all - of what made the 5G-capable Reno into the Chinese company’s most compelling smartphone. 

It doesn't have as many premium perks like wireless charging, water-resistance or the Reno’s famed 10x lossless zoom but the Reno Z still manages to get plenty else right. For a mid-tier price, you get 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:

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

2. Motorola One Vision

Motorola One VisionCredit: Motorola
Motorola One Vision

The Motorola One Vision is a slimmer, sleeker vision of what the future of Motorola could look like. Like Motorola's G-series devices, the One Vision delivers great battery life and a smooth-as-all-get-out software experience that’s a sneeze away from stock Android. Where it differentiates itself is its sense of premium design.

A stark contrast to the brand's recent detour into the comfortable but conventional, the One Vision is a Motorola phone you'll want to show off.

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).

3. Oppo R15 Pro

Oppo R15 ProCredit: Oppo
Oppo R15 Pro

The pitch for the R15 Pro is going to sound a little familiar. It’s an Android smartphone with the look and feel of an iPhone. 

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.

Pros

  • Appealing 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

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:


4. Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8Credit: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung's 2017 flagship has depreciated in value significantly in the years since and it might not be the king of the jungle anymore but there's still plenty to like about it.

Buying a Samsung Galaxy S8 still nets you a powerful Exynos processor, a more-than-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

  • Water resistance & wireless charging

  • 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:


5. Xiaomi Mi 9T

XiaomiCredit: Xiaomi
Xiaomi

Xiaomi are one of several newcomers to the Australian smartphone scene in 2019 but devices like the Mi 9T suggest they’re looking challenge even heavyweights like Huawei and Samsung. 

The Xiaomi Mi 9T comes packed to the gills with solid specs and fancy features. For an asking price of less than $500, you get 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 pairs a 48-megapixel sensor with AI enhanced image processing tech. 

There’s also a 4000mAh battery and a 20-megapixel pop-up selfie cam that promptly 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+ resolution

  • 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).

6. Nokia 7.2

Nokia 7.2Credit: Nokia
Nokia 7.2
The Nokia 7.2 is a fairly by the numbers improvement on the previous Nokia 7.1 but that straightforward arithmetic tallies up to an exciting total. It's got a smaller notch, a beefier rear camera, a larger screen, a faster processor and a bigger battery.

The Nokia 7.1 provided a lot of bang for your buck and the sequel doesn't let up in that regard. You get a 6.3-inch IPS PureDisplay, 128GB of on-board storage, 4GB of RAM and a triple-lens rear camera with a 48-megapixel sensor.

Pros

  • 48-megapixel rear camera

  • Clean Android software

Cons

  • No unique features

  • FHD resolution

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Nokia 7.2 through the following:

The Nokia 7.2 is also available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra:

7. Moto G8 Plus

Moto G8 PlusCredit: Motorola
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 Motorola have done before. On top that, you also 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. 

In our review, we notes 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

  • 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).

8. RealMe XT 

RealMeCredit: RealMe
RealMe

Originally a spin-off of Oppo, RealMe recently expanded into the Australian market with the goal of shaking up incumbents like Samsung, Oppo and Huawei. Their debut flagship, RealMe XT, is an indication of how seriously they're taking that task.

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:


9. Huawei P30 Lite

Huawei P30 LiteCredit: Huawei
Huawei P30 Lite

The Huawei P30 Lite strips away of the P30 Pro's premium features but it doesn't mess too much with the thing that matters the most: the camera.

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.”

“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.”

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

Pros

  • Above average battery life

  • Versatile camera

Cons

  • Underwhelming performance

  • Safe 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).

10. 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 on the cusp of what Oppo used to be and what they've fast becoming. It's a smart fusion of what works about Android and what works about iOS and, arguably, a great example of a 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 smartphonesAppleAndroidmobile phonesPhonesOppo R15 ProOppo R17 ProHuawei P30 LiteReno ZMotorola One VisionNokia 7.2RealMe XTMoto G8 PlusSamsung Galaxy S8 Xiaomi Mi 9T

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Fergus Halliday
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