Top 10 best Android and Apple phones for under $600

We compare the best mid-range smartphones that you can buy now in 2021

There’s an argument that spending heavily on a high-end phone may not be the best value for your money. That argument has gotten even stronger in the last 12 months as some very impressive mid-tier handsets have popped onto the market – smartphones like the Oppo A74 and Samsung A54 that can really hold their own when compared to their premium counterparts.

And while it’s true that they may not have all the bells and whistles of feature-packed phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S21, still some with their 48-megapixel cameras, 5000mAh batteries, and Full High-Definition AMOLED displays get pretty close. They also offer tremendous value for the budget-conscious shopper. Here is our list of the best smartphones money can buy in 2021 for $600 or under.

How we selected these smartphones

Before we jump into our list of the best phones for under $600, we’d like to explain how we made our selections.   

  • Where possible we’ve relied on the hands-on experience of PCWorld editors, selecting phones that have performed most favourably in our formal review process. We’ve linked to those full reviews so you can dig below the surface and get even more information about the model in question.
  • But there are a number of compelling new mid-tier smartphones that we have not yet formally reviewed. In such cases our evaluations are based on the phone’s specifications, with special attention paid to the rear-facing camera, display, and battery life, which are key to a satisfying smartphone experience. We’ve also considered online user opinions, weighing carefully the perceived strengths and weaknesses in making our picks.


  • Oppo A74 5G                                                                                                                                 
  • Google Pixel 4a                                                                                                                               
  • Oppo Reno4 Z                                                                                                                                   
  • Samsung Galaxy A52                                                                                                                        
  • LG K61                                                                                                                                                   
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T                                                                                                                             
  • Huawei Nova 7i                                                                                                                               
  • Apple iPhone 8                                                                                                                                       
  • Oppo Find X2 Lite 5G                                                                                                                      
  • RealMe 7 5G


Oppo A74 5G

While the Oppo A74 5G can’t compete with the more premium Oppo Find X3 in regard to its processor speed, it still has an alluring list of features, like a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a large 6.5-inch Full High-Definition Plus display with 90Hz refresh rate, that makes it a good value proposition at $449.

In our review we were impressed by the A74’s 48-megapixel Quad camera that produced images with high colour saturation and good depth of field. Battery life was excellent. In our battery tests, this phone lasted more than two days after moderate battery usage during the day.

Oppo A74 5GCredit: Oppo
Oppo A74 5G

 You can read our full review of the Oppo A74 5G here

Pros

  • Display has 90Hz refresh rate for smooth video

  • The 48-megapixel camera takes great images 

  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • LCD display instead of AMOLED

  • Heavier than some phones

  • Processor speed is average

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Oppo A74 5G outright at the following retailers:


Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4aCredit: Google
Google Pixel 4a

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

A leaner, 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.

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


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't currently buy the Oppo Reno4 Z 5G on a post-paid plan but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan using the widget below:

Samsung Galaxy A52

Samsung Galaxy A52Credit: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy A52

The A52 has some of the best specs we’ve seen in a phone under $600. It features a 64-megapixel rear-facing Quad camera, which is considerably higher resolution than some smartphones for the same price. The rear-facing camera also has a x10 digital zoom for taking shots at a distance. For taking selfies, the A52 features a 32-megapixel front-facing camera. This smartphone’s Full-High Definition Plus display (1080x2400-pixels) measures 6.5-inches and also has a 90Hz refresh rate. Samsung says the A52’s 4500 battery capacity allows it to go for up to two days between charges. 

While PCWorld has yet to review the Samsung A52, online user comments have commended it for the quality of its cameras, display, and user interface. The largely positive feedback means it is a hard-to-overlook option in this category. A 5G version of the A52 is also available for $749.  

Pros

  • 64-megapixel rear-facing camera

  • Rear camera features x10 zoom

  • AMOLED display

Cons

  • The 5G version costs more 

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Samsung Galaxy A52 through the following:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9TCredit: Xiaomi
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T

The Redmi Note 9T comes with a Full High-Definition Plus display (2340x1080-pixels) measuring 6.53-inches. It’s one of the most affordable phones featuring full 5G coverage, costing just $349. It has a 48-megapixel primary rear-facing camera with autofocus, and a 13-megapixel front camera for selfies. It runs on the MIUI 12 OS, which is based on Android 10. At 64GB, the internal storage is just half that of some models in the same category, however there is an option to expand this to 256GB, via a microSD card. It features a large 5000mAh battery capacity, and weighs 199g. 

 User opinions of the Redmi Note 9T are positive in light of its strong battery life and decent screen resolution. Most users also say the camera takes detailed photographs. However, some users have experienced difficulty with this phone’s software.

Pros

  • 5G connectivity

  • Large 5000mAh battery

Cons

  • One of the heaviest phones we've seen

  • Internal storage only 64GB at purchase

Where to buy?

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

LG K61

”This is the flagship model in LG’s mid-range K-Series line-up, and as top model, the K61 has a number of features borrowed from LG’s premium line-up. It features a 48-megapixel Quad camera and a 6.53-inch Full High-Definition Plus display (1080x2340-pixels) that LG said has a hole-in design to maximise the display’s viewing area. The K61 also features a rear fingerprint sensor and DTS: X 3D surround sound for playing back audio using headphones. 

 User opinions of the LG K61 vary online. Most users say it performs well with tasks such as browsing the net, watching videos, and taking photos on social media apps. However, some users have experienced micro stuttering playing games. 

LG K61Credit: LG
LG K61


Pros

  • Has a fingerprint sensor

  • DTS:X 3D surround sound audio

Cons

  • Front camera only 16-megapixels

  • 4G-limited

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the LG K61 through the following:

Apple iPhone 8

iPhone 8Credit: Apple
iPhone 8

As the precursor to Apple's iconic iPhone X, the iPhone 8 represents the end of an era. And, sure enough, by the standards of today's iPhones, the design and features involved do feel a little dated.

But that's not to say the handset hasn't held onto some of its charms. In some ways, the story hasn't changed here. As we said in our original review, "if you’re keen on the smaller form-factor, aren’t fussed about the camera and want an iPhone that’s as snappy as they come - this is an all-round good, if a little sale, choice."

You can read our full review of the Apple iPhone 8 here

Pros

  • A11 Bionic processor
  • iOS
  • Premium feel

Cons

  • Dated camera

  • No headphone jack

Where to buy?

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

The Apple iPhone 8 is still available on a postpaid mobile plans via NuMobile:

RealMe 7 5G 

RealMe 7 5GCredit: RealMe
RealMe 7 5G

The RealMe 7 5G features a 48-megapixel rear camera, 5G connectivity and a large 5000mAh battery capacity all for under $600. It has a large 6.5-inch Full High-Definition Plus display (2400x1080-pixels) with a 120Hz refresh rate that RealMe said makes the display especially smooth playing videos and games. The RealMe 7’s battery is charged by 30W RealMe Dart Charge technology that the company said can charge the phone to 100% capacity in 65mins.

User opinions are complimentary about the RealMe 7 5G’s battery life, charging speed and cameras. Some users have found the placement of the volume button and power button inconvenient since they are on opposite sides of the phone.   

Pros

  • Large 5000mAh battery

  • 5G connectivity

Cons

  • Placement of power button

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the RealMe 7 5G through:

Huawei Nova 7i

Huawei’s Nova 7i is targeted at the mid-range user. It features a 48-megapixel rear-facing Quad camera and a 6.4-inch LCD screen with 2310x1080-pixel resolution. Huawei has incorporated a four-sided, curved design that could appeal to those liking the sleek look that we’re more accustomed to in premium smartphones. Beneath the phone’s exterior is a 4200mAh capacity battery that features Huawei’s 40W SuperCharge technology. Huawei claims SuperCharge can charge 70% of this phone’s battery in just 30mins. 

 A search of user comments online gives this smartphone the thumbs up for its performance for mobile gaming, however a lack of support for Google apps is clearly a sore point for many users. 

Huawei Nova 7iCredit: Huawei
Huawei Nova 7i

Pros

  • 6.4-inch LCD screen with 2310x1080p resolution

  • Has fast charge capability

Cons

  • Lacks full support for Google apps

  • LCD screen instead of AMOLED

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Huawei Nova 7i through the following:

Oppo Find X2 Lite 5G

With a launch price tag of $749 only a little over a year ago, the Oppo Lite Find X2 5G can now be bought for under $600, which is exceptionally good value considering its functionality hasn’t been diminished much by newer releases. While it doesn’t come with a headphone jack or telephoto zoom, it does feature cameras with decent high resolution, including a 48-megapixel Quad rear-facing camera and 32-megapixel front-facing camera. It also has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display.

In our review we thought the X2 Lite lacked a few flagship thrills (such as a 90Hz refresh rate) but nonetheless, we thought its cameras were versatile for different kinds of photography. Also, its snappy Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor makes it a compelling handset for everyday use. 

Oppo Find X2 Lite 5GCredit: Oppo
Oppo Find X2 Lite 5G

You can read our full review of the Oppo Find X2 Lite 5G here. 

Pros

  • AMOLED display
  • 32-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Snappy Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Camera lacks x10 zoom

Where to buy it?

  • MobileCiti - AU$495                                                                                                                             
  • Kogan - AU$495                                                                                                                                   
  • Amazon - AU$495                                                                                                                                                  
  • The Good Guys - AU$439                                                                                                              
  • JB HI-FI - AU$499

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This article was originally published on the 24 of September 2018 and updated by Dominic Bayley on the 6th of May 2021.