Top 10 Apple and Android smartphones you can buy for under $800

Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4

Credit: Google

In 2020, it’s all too easy to spend too much money on a smartphone - especially if you’re only looking at the most popular brands 

Apple’s top-end iPhone 12, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max can cost you thousands, and Samsung’s own high-spec Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra aren’t that much cheaper.

Thankfully, these days it’s much easier to find a cheaper and more budget-friendly alternative to these flagship devices than ever before. The amount of overlap in features for mid-tier devices and premium ones continues to grow while the gap in quality continues to shrink. The mid-tier smartphone market has never felt so flagship.

Forget spending over a grand on a device. These days, $800 can buy you a pretty good smartphone. Here are our picks for the top 10 best Android and Apple phones you can find for under or around $800 Australian dollars.

Google Pixel 4a 

Google Pixel 4aCredit: Google
Google Pixel 4a

The Google Pixel 4a doesn’t have anything particularly revolutionary inside it but, for the AU$599 asking price, it pretty much blows every other mid-ranger out of the water.

As with the previous Pixel 3a, the Pixel 4a nabs you the same slick, clean and expansive version of Android found in the flagship Pixel 4 plus a camera that’s almost just as good. 

In our review, we came away impressed and said that “If you don’t want an iPhone and you’re on a budget, then the Pixel 4a is a tremendous option. For less than six hundred dollars you get a superlative camera, guaranteed three years of software support, all-day battery life, and clean Android software with exclusive features in a phone that you can hold in one hand. It’s surprising how rare that is to find today, let alone at such a good price.”

You can read our full review here.

Pros:

  • Incredible camera

  • Clean software

  • OLED screen

Cons:

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

  • Physical fingerprint sensor & no Face Unlock

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Google Pixel 4a outright through the following retailers:

The Google Pixel 4a is also available on any postpaid mobile plans via Vodafone and Telstra. Check out the widget below for more.

Oppo Reno4 Z 5G

Oppo Reno4 Z 5GCredit: Oppo
Oppo Reno4 Z 5G

A learner, cheaper companion to Oppo’s 5G-ready Reno4, the Reno4 Z 5G successfully replicates most of what makes the former one of the more compelling sub-$1000 devices out there.

Priced at thrifty AU$599, the Reno4 Z packs in 5G-connectivity, a 6.5-inch LCD screen clocked at 120Hz, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage plus a quad-lens rear camera. You won't find flagship perks like wireless charging, water-resistance or the Find series’ famed 10x lossless zoom but you will find an in-screen fingerprint sensor, a 4000mAh battery and a surprisingly-capable camera for the price point.

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 Reno4 Z 5G outright at the following retailers:

You can buy the Oppo Reno4 Z 5G on a post-paid plan through Woolworths Mobile:

Samsung Galaxy A90

Samsung Galaxy A90Credit: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy A90

Even if the waterproofing is a conspicuous omission, the Samsung Galaxy A90 still manages to hold up as an impressively adept mid-ranger that hits a surprising amount of the same notes as its flagship inspirations. Building on the legacy of the Galaxy A70, which our review praised as "more than the smartphone you can get away with", the Galaxy A90 is Samsung's first mid-tier phone with 5G connectivity.

The device is also equipped with a 6.7-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED screen, Snapdragon 855 processor,  a triple-lens camera (48-megapixel + 5-megapixel depth sensor + 8-megapixel wide-angle lens), 32-megapixel front-facing camera, 128GB of storage, up to 8GB of RAM, a 4500mAh battery and an in-screen fingerprint sensor.

Pros

  • Great performance

  • Quad-lens camera

  • In-display fingerprint sensor

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

Where to buy

In Australia, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy A90 outright at the following retailers:

You can no longer purchase the Samsung Galaxy A90 on a post-paid mobile plan but you can pair it up with a SIM-only plan using the widget below:

Oppo Find X2 Lite

Oppo Find X2 LiteCredit: Oppo
Oppo Find X2 Lite

Oppo's Find X2 Lite sits right on the line between their formal flagships and the more affordable Reno series. It's got a lot of the same hardware guts as the Find X2 Neo and Find X2 Pro but lacks some of the thrills.

In our review of the Oppo Find X2 Lite, we said that "Though imperfect on its own, there are going to be people out there for whom the Oppo Find X2 Lite is a perfect fit. It doesn’t indulge in the decadent design or flagship thrills of its pricier counterparts but delivers more than what you’d expect when it comes to everyday utility, camera quality and battery life."

You can read our full review here

Pros

  • 5G-capable Snapdragon processor

  • Great battery life

  • Headphone jack

Cons

  • No telephoto lens, so no less zoom

  • No water resistance 

  • No wireless charging

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Oppo Find X2 Lite outright at the following retailers:

The Oppo Find X2 Lite is available on any postpaid mobile plans via carriers like Optus and Vodafone.

Huawei P30 Pro 

Huawei P30 ProCredit: Huawei
Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei's P30 Pro isn't just a great Android device, it might actually be Huawei's last truly great Android device. Launched just as the US began taking the steps that resulted in Huawei being locked out of the Google ecosystem, it combines solid hardware, smart design and incredibly powerful camera hardware.

In our review, we said that "The P20 Pro went all in on the camera, and came away with more than just pretty pictures to show for it. According to Huawei’s local division, the P20 Series outsold its P10 counterparts by almost six times as much. Aided by a year of depreciation, it’s still probably one of the best handsets you can find for the asking price."

"And riding high on that success, the Huawei P30 Pro feels like an encore. The Huawei P30 Pro doubles down on the things that worked about its predecessor and pushes the envelope for smartphone photography even further. If you want the best smartphone camera on the market, you’ve found it."

You can read our full review of the Huawei P30 Pro here.

Pros

  • Glossy aesthetics

  • Quad-lens camera with zoom for days

  • Works with Google apps

Cons

  • EMUI

  • Custom memory expansion format

Where to buy?

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

You can also grab the Huawei P30 Pro on a post-paid plan through Vodafone.

Oppo Find X2 Neo

Oppo Find X2 NeoCredit: Oppo
Oppo Find X2 Neo

If you want to get a little more premium but don't want to splash the cash required for the Oppo Find X2 Pro, the Find X2 Neo is an alternative you'll probably be thrilled with.

In our review of the Find X2 Neo, we found that "Oppo’s Find X2 Neo abandons the more unique design choices found in its flagship counterpart and opts for a more conservative camera. If those are compromises you’re willing to make, there’s an exceptionally strong case to be made here."

You can read the full review here.

Pros

  • Slim design

  • Great battery life

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • No MicroSD slot or headphone jack

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Oppo Find X2 Neo through the following:

The Oppo Find X2 Neo is still available on postpaid mobile plans through Telstra and Woolworths Mobile:

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10Credit: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S10

If you're looking for a Samsung-branded flagship that covers all the bases, the S20 is probably the phone to go with. However, if you can't stomach the surcharge, you're probably not going to be particularly disappointed with last year's Galaxy S10.

In our review, we said that “if you lean towards more compact handsets, the Galaxy S10 is one of the best Android handsets you can buy in 2019. The aggregate quality of the hardware is head-and-shoulders above most of the competition and the software experience here is arguably the best you can find on Android."

You can read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S10 here.

Pros

  • Sleek design

  • Headphone jack

Cons

  • OK battery life

  • Camera can't keep up with Google, Huawei, Oppo or Apple

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Samsung Galaxy S10 through the following:

The Samsung Galaxy 10 5G is still available on postpaid mobile plans through Optus.

OnePlus 8

OnePlus 8Credit: OnePlus
OnePlus 8

Even if they aren't *officially* available in Australia, there's a good chance you might have seen the name OnePlus around the place in recent years. This boutique brand has quickly made a name for themselves by combining razor sharp specs and flagship features with a price-tag that’s perhaps a little more reasonable than you’ll get from the Samsung and Apples of the smartphone world.

[Related: Where can I buy OnePlus if I'm in Australia?]

The OnePlus 8 features a 6.55-inch AMOLED display, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, a Snapdragon 865 processor and a triple-lens camera with a 48-megapixel sensor. That's a lot of phone.

Pros

  • Powerful camera

  • Premium display

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the OnePlus 8 through the following:

The OnePlus 8 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.

iPhone SE

iPhone SECredit: Apple
iPhone SE

The new iPhone SE pairs the tried and true 'old school' look of the iPhone 8 with the high-end processor that powers the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

In our review, we said that "It’s deliciously easy to break Apple’s latest flirtation with budget buyers down into straightforward math. An iPhone 11 processor plus an iPhone 8 design plus AI camera magic is probably going to equal a good time for those who don’t expect anything more."

You can read our full review of the 2020 iPhone SE here.

Pros

  • iOS

  • AI-enhanced camera

Cons

  • Tiny screen

  • Iffy battery life

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the iPhone 8 through the following:

The Apple iPhone SE is available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan.

Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4Credit: Google
Google Pixel 4

Google’s fourth-generation flagship was already remarkable thrifty when it came to price. A year later, that's even more-so the case.

In our review of the Google Pixel 4, we found that "At a time when the standards for what a flagship should and can be are shifting so radically, the Pixel 4 XL comes across as a little ordinary and by-the-numbers. It excels in all the ways that Pixel phones usually do but, if you're expecting a little more from it, it doesn't take long for it to fall short. Where some of the other options are looking for ways to become more, the Pixel 4 settles for just ways to become better."

"The Pixel 4 XL is good in all the ways you expect but sometimes you want to be surprised."

You can read our full review of the Google Pixel 4 here.

Pros

  • Incredible camera

  • Wireless charging and water resistance

Cons

  • No headphone jack

  • No expandable storage

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Google Pixel 4 through the following:

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are no longer available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan.

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This article was originally published in October 2018 and updated in December 2020.

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Tags smartphonessonylgsamsungOppoSony XperiaOnePlusGalaxy Note 8Essential

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Fergus Halliday
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