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Smartphones for less than 500 euros: Recommended models from iPhone to Galaxy

Pixel 4a vs. Oneplus Nord. (Photo: t3n)

For some, smartphones are a status symbol, which is why they always have to have the most expensive and up-to-date devices. An iPhone 13 Pro Max (test), a Galaxy S21 Ultra (test), as stylish and high-performance as they are, cost more than 1,000 euros each. A good smartphone doesn’t necessarily have to invest that much money. Those who place less value on status and full high-end equipment, but are looking for a good device with solid performance, good battery life and camera, will find models for less than 500 euros.

Table of contents

  • iPhone SE (2020): cheapest entry into the Apple world
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s: Solid middle class with long update guarantee
  • Oneplus Nord 2: Chic and good
  • Pixel 4a: Top price performance gs android in compact housing
  • Xiaomi 11T: Solid middle class with 108 MP camera
  • Oppo Reno 6: Android smartphone in iPhone look
  • Conclusion: There is no “best smartphone under 500 euros”

Sure, with cheaper smartphones manufacturers save here and there on the equipment or use a different housing material if necessary. However, there are devices in which a balanced mix has been made with regard to the selection of components and where less relevant points have been slimmed down. In our overview you will not find the “best cheap” smartphones – they don’t exist because everyone has different demands on a smartphone. However, we consider the following smartphones to be recommended, as they either offer a well-designed equipment package or are fully convincing in terms of price-performance.

When making the selection, we also made sure that the devices were not dropped by the manufacturer after one year and no longer received any updates. Updates and patches are absolutely relevant, as smartphones could become a gateway for malware or other malicious software without regular updates. Few updates get for example Motorola’s Moto G series or the inexpensive Oneplus models of the N series – they only get one major Android update and that’s it.

iPhone SE (2020): cheapest entry into the Apple world

iPhone SE – Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Apple

iPhone SE 2020. (Image: Apple)

For Apple fans it is in the under-500 -Euro price range, because there is only one model that comes into question here: the iPhone SE (2020). It costs from 479 euros and, unlike the other iPhones from the manufacturer, has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor instead of Face ID. When it comes to design, Apple has based itself on the iPhone 8, and the smartphone has more edges around its 4.7-inch display than the current devices, which come with even larger screen diagonals. Inside, despite the rather dusty shell, the latest technology is built in: Apple’s A13 bionic chip serves as the processor, which also does an excellent job in the iPhone 11 Pro Max (test).

iPhone SE (2016) neben dem neuen iPhone SE 2020 und dem iPhone 11

iPhone SE (2016) next to the new iPhone SE 2020 and the iPhone 11. (Photo: WSJ)

Apple uses a sensor with twelve megapixels and f / 1.8 aperture for the camera. It delivers decent results, but due to the lack of additional ultra-wide-angle or telephoto zoom lenses, the SE offers less variability than the more expensive iPhone models. Despite the low price, the SE is water and dust resistant according to protection class IP67: It can withstand a dive from one meter depth for up to 30 minutes. Apple’s update policy also ensures a long service life, as a result of which the 2020 iPhone SE will receive regular iOS updates until 2024 or even longer – it already runs on iOS 15.

Samsung Galaxy A52s: Solid middle class with long update guarantee

The new in August The successor to the 2020 bestseller Galaxy A51 from the South Koreans is offered with and without 5G radio. The Galaxy A52s currently costs iPhone SE (2016) neben dem neuen iPhone SE 2020 und dem iPhone 11 from less than 400 euros .

Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A52 / A52s from behind. (Photo: t3n)

The 6.5-inch Amoled screen with Full HD Plus resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 pixels has a centrally positioned punch-hole selfie camera with 32 megapixels on board. The display achieves a maximum brightness of 800 nits and, like the manufacturer’s top models, delivers a refresh rate of 120 Hertz.

A 64-megapixel sensor with f / 1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS) is used as the main camera. It is accompanied by an ultra-wide-angle camera with twelve megapixels and f / 2.2, a macro camera and a depth sensor for better portrait shots with f / 2.4 and five megapixels each. There is no telezoom.

Galaxy A52s – Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A52s is identical to the A52. (Photo: t3n)

Samsung relies on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G as the processor and, depending on the version, offers between six and eight gigabytes of RAM and 128 and 256 gigabytes of flash memory. The battery is 4,500 mAh and can be charged with up to 25 watts. In addition, the housing is protected against dust and water in accordance with protection class IP67. Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support are also on board.

Galaxy A52 – Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A52 / A52s has a 3.5mm jack on board. (Photo: t3n)

The A52s is shipped from the factory with Android 11; the manufacturer promises major updates for three years and security patches for four years. Unfortunately, very few manufacturers still deliver that.

Oneplus Nord 2: Chic and good

One of the other recommended Android smartphones is the Oneplus Nord 2, which was very decent in our test has cut off. The device has for its price of

under 400 euros a lot to offer.

Nord 2 5G – Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Oneplus

Oneplus Nord 2 5G. (Photo: t3n)

The 6.43-inch display has a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 pixels and provides a refresh rate of 90 Hertz. The processor is not a Qualcomm chip, but Mediateks Dimensity 1200 AI, which delivers surprisingly good values. The SoC (System-on-a-Chip) is supported by eight or twelve gigabytes of RAM and 128 or 256 gigabytes of non-expandable UFS-3-1 memory, depending on the version. The dual-cell battery is 4,500 mAh and, like the Oneplus 9, can be quickly charged with 65 watts per warp charge.

Oneplus Nord 2 5G next to Nord 1. (Photo: t3n)

On the camera side, the Nord 2 has a triple cam: For the wide-angle camera, the manufacturer relies on a Sony IMX 766 sensor with 50 megapixels, optical image stabilization (OIS) and f / 1.88 aperture. This is also built into the more expensive Oneplus 9 (Pro). The main camera is accompanied by an eight-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a 119.7-degree field of view and a two-megapixel monochrome camera. The two other cameras are by far not as powerful as the wide-angle solution, especially the monochrome camera could basically also be implemented using a software filter.

The Nord 2 is still delivered with Android 11, but the manufacturer promises major updates for two years and security patches for three years. The version with eight gigabytes and 128 gigabytes of memory costs 399 euros, the model with twelve gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigabytes of flash memory costs 499 euros.

Pixel 4a: Top price-performance android in a compact housing

Pixel 4a – Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Google

Like back then ™: The Google Pixel 4a has a back Fingerprint sensor installed. (Photo: t3n)

On the Android side, Google has an excellent answer to the iPhone SE with its Pixel 4a (test). With its 5.8-inch display, the smartphone is extremely handy for current conditions, and it also has an excellent camera on board, which is on par with Google’s 2020 top model, the Pixel 5 (test). As with the iPhone SE, there is only one sensor installed – but sometimes less is more, especially in these price ranges. Because Google requires for the 4a iPhone SE (2016) neben dem neuen iPhone SE 2020 und dem iPhone 11 only 349 euros .

That in the smartphone No high-end processor is built in, shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Snapdragon 730 with six gigabytes of working memory and 128 gigabytes of flash memory still does a good job. The manufacturer has also made savings on the housing and relies on plastic instead of glass or metal. Still it feels good in the hand.

Google Pixel 4a. (Photo: t3n)

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In addition to the excellent camera, the Pixel 4a especially shines because of the software comes directly from Google’s hand and is therefore always up-to-date and also not overloaded. Despite the low price, Google does without bloatware, which unfortunately is almost standard on many smartphones in this price range. Just as gratifying: Google is delivering major Android updates including monthly security patches for three years. Very few people still do that. It’s been a year under its belt, but we still consider it to be recommendable, as Google will support it on the software side until August 2023.

If you value a larger display and an ultra-wide angle camera, check out the 5G version of the Pixel 4a. The model with the slightly faster Snapdragon 765G and larger display also costs less than 500 euros and is considered the budget version of the excellent Pixel 5 (test). Relevant for some: The 4a (5G) even has a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

Xiaomi 11T: Solid middle class with 108 MP camera

11T – Smartphone für unter 500 Euro von Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 11T has a Mediatek chip of the upper middle class on board and “only” 67 watts of charging power. (Image: Xiaomi)

The second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world also has a very recommendable model with the Xiaomi 11T. The device at a street price of 420 to 450 euros comes with a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with 120 Hertz and HDR10 Plus support. The manufacturer uses the Mediatek SoC Dimensity 1200 Ultra as the computing unit, which is largely similar to the chip in the Oneplus Nord 2. There are also eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM and 128 or 256 UFS 3.1 flash memory on board. The battery is stately measured with its 5,000 milliampere hours, which can be refilled with up to 67 watts at lightning speed.

On the camera side, Xiaomi installs three sensors in the back of the 11T: The wide-angle camera has a 108 megapixel sensor with an f / 1.75 aperture, the telephoto zoom lens comes with five megapixels and f / 2.4 -Cover. The ultra wide angle sensor has eight megapixels.

On the software side, both models are delivered with MIUI 12.5 based on Android 11. A novelty for Xiaomi: the device, like its big brother the 11T Pro, is officially provided with three major Android updates and security patches for a period of four years. This means that the 11T has an update guarantee until 2025.

The MSRP of the 11T with eight gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes of storage is 549.90 euros, but the street price has only increased six weeks after the market launch leveled off below 500 euros .

Oppo Reno 6: Android smartphone in iPhone look

If you want to break out of the optical uniformity of Android smartphones, the Reno 6 5G from Oppo would be an option. The smartphone presented in September inevitably makes us think of Apple’s iPhone 13 series due to its rectangular aluminum housing with rounded edges. On the front of the 6.43-inch display, however, there is no Face ID face recognition, but a 32-megapixel selfie camera with a punch hole in the left corner.

Oppo Reno 6 5G

Oppo Reno 6 5G. (Photo: Oppo)

The screen offers a refresh rate of 90 Hertz, which is now a good thing in this price range. As a processor, Oppo uses a Mediatek-Dimensity-900-Chip for its Reno 6, which is manufactured in the six-nanometer process and can be classified in the middle class. The chip is supported by eight gigabytes of RAM and 12 8 gigabytes of UFS 2.1 storage. You can also use software tweak to increase the RAM by up to five gigabytes – for this part of the flash memory is reallocated.

A triple camera is integrated on the back, whose wide-angle sensor has a resolution of 64 megapixels and an f / 1.7 aperture. Oppo did without an optical image stabilizer (OIS), instead the manufacturer relies on an electronic one (EIS). In addition, an ultra-wide-angle camera with f / 2.2 aperture and a two-megapixel macro camera with f / 2.4 aperture are on board.

The 4,300 mAh battery of the Reno 6 can be quickly charged with up to 65 watts of “Super VOOC 2.0” fast charging technology. The smartphone can refuel from 0 to 100 percent within 28 minutes. Wi-Fi 6, 5G, NFC and Bluetooth 5.2 are also on board the smartphone.

On the software side, Android 11 is preinstalled with Oppo’s in-house user interface ColorOS 11.3. An update to Android 12 and 13 is safe, and the manufacturer guarantees security updates for a period of three years. Cost: almost 500 euros .

Conclusion: There is no “best smartphone under 500 euros”

And which is the right smartphone for me? Well, everyone has to decide for themselves. Ultimately, it depends on preferences such as size, price range, software interface and other factors. Do you “need” three camera sensors on the back, or is a good one, such as on the Pixel 4a, sufficient? You will surely get more variability when taking pictures with the other Android devices. However, the additional camera sensors tend to deliver less good results. In general, the following applies anyway: As with more expensive smartphones, there is no such thing as a “best smartphone”. Every device has its strengths and weaknesses and not every model corresponds to your personal requirements.

On the iPhone front, the case is clear, there is no getting around the iPhone SE for devices under 500 euros. If you can still spend a little more and want a more modern looking device, the iPhone 11 would be the next choice. However, this costs from around 55o euros in free trade. I would not advise you to use even older devices because the time for long updates is over with Apple as well.

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Tyler Hromadka
Tyler is working as the Author at World Weekly News. He has a love for writing and have been writing for a few years now as a free-lancer.

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