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OnePlus OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3


The ReviewGist pick for the best cellphone under $500 is the OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 3 is the third iteration from the nimble Chinese upstart OnePlus and by the looks of it they have finally managed to nail a flagship offering at a budget-to-premium price. The OnePlus 3 displays flagship capabilities across the board and is retailing right now at a decidedly mid-range $400 price point.

The OnePlus 3's flagship slaying credentials include a 6GB RAM, 64GB storage, a capable 16-megapixel camera, and a stamp by ExpertReviews:

With its blistering speed, incredible battery life and mid-range price, the OnePlus 3 shows other flagship smartphones how it's done

And CNet goes on to recommend it as the Best budget Android phone ever:

At $400, the OnePlus 3 is the best budget Android phone you can buy, with a premium look and feel, and performance fast enough to go head-to-head with any high-end handset on the market.


Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE


2. Best 4 inch cell phone under $500 which is also great for seniors

The runner up to our list of the best smartphones under $500 is the Apple iPhone SE. The iPhone SE is the latest horse from the Apple stable and looks as good as the rest of its fabled peers. It has a relatively smaller footprint at 4 inch wide and a cheaper price point, but is to the money with respect to everything else.

The iPhone SE also supports the Apple iOS operating system which has a slew of accessibilty features and a more intutitive interface than the Android phones which makes it one of the best phones for seniors under $500.

The reviews for iPhone SE fully justify puting it as the second best phone to buy under $500:

If you're good with how much the iPhone SE costs, arguably its only unappealing trait, then you're looking at a very attractive handset that is, for the time being, completely unparalleled in the mobile space.

It may not be the most exciting phone Apple has ever released, but the iPhone SE will be a godsend for those who want a high-quality phone that isn't massive.


Huawei Honor 8

Huawei Honor 8


3. Best looking phone with a great camera under $500

The Huawei Honor 8 was released in September 2016 and comes in at the 3rd position in our best cellphone under $500 list. The reviews are still coming in for the Honor 8 and there is a chance that it might just be the best mid range phone out there at the time of this update.

The reviews for the Honor 8 all point out its gorgeous looks and the dual camera setup.

The Honor 8 is a fantastic smartphone, but the price has gone up from the Honor 7. In return for the additional expense you get a fantastic dual-camera, a sleek and stylish design, a faster fingerprint sensor and a beautiful display, which combined make the Honor 8 a worthy competitor to the OnePlus 3.


Huawei Nexus 6P

Huawei Nexus 6P


4. Best Pure Android phone under $500

The Google Nexus branded Huawei 6P is our pick for the 4th best phone to buy under $500. Being a Nexus device, the 6P sports a stock Android experience and is the best unlocked mid-range phone out there. The only nit pick is the missing expandable storage.

The Google Nexus 6P is one of the best unlocked smartphones you can buy, thanks to a heady combination of powerhouse hardware, an excellent camera, a reliable fingerprint scanner, and the promise of the latest Android updates.


Xiaomi Mi 5

Xiaomi Mi 5


5. Best Phone under $500 with Premium Specs

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is the flagship offering from the Chinese manufacturer and comes at the 5th position in our rankings for the best phones under $500. The Xiaomi Mi 5 does everything right but has two major quirks: Firstly, It is hard to get in the US and you will have to scour eBay for a good deal. Secondly, it supports a modified version of Android which might take some time getting used to. If you can overcome these two shortcomings though, the Mi 5 matches the best premium devices w.r.t everyting else.

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a fantastic, affordable device that should have the big boys quaking in their boots.

Perhaps not a wise choice for first time Android users, but those comfortable in customising the setup will love the excellent-value, gorgeously designed Xiaomi Mi 5.



Browse All Top Cell Phones Under $500 - 2016 »

Comparison of the Top 5 Cell Phones Under $500 - 2016

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

OnePlus 3
Apple iPhone SE
Honor 8
Huawei Nexus 6P
Xiaomi Mi 5
OnePlus 3
Apple iPhone SE
Huawei Honor 8
Huawei Nexus 6P
Xiaomi Mi 5
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Release Date
Jun 2016
Apr 2016
Sep 2016
Sep 2015
Mar 2016
Digital Camera Resolution
16.0 MP
12.0 MP
12.0 MP
12.3 MP
16.0 MP
Installed RAM (GB)
6.0 GB
2.0 GB
4.0 GB
3.0 GB
4.0 GB
Screen Size(Diagonal)
5.5 inch
4.0 inch
5.2 inch
5.7 inch
5.15 inch
Front Webcam Resolution
8.0 MP
1.2 MP
8.0 MP
8.0 MP
4.0 MP
Processor Type
Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo
Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister, A9
Octa-core (4x2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex A53)
Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57
Dual-core 1.8 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.36 GHz Kryo - Standard edition, Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo - other editions, 1.3GHz  quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Battery Capacity
3000.0 mAh
1624.0 mAh
3000.0 mAh
3450.0 mAh
3000.0 mAh
Operating System
Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
iOS 9.3, iOS 9.3, iOS 9.3.2
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow), Android 6.0
  • Rating Unavailable

More tips on picking the best smartphone under $500

The latest feature to come in the best smartphones below $500 is the quad/octa core processor capability. Now available in limited number of high end phones, this feature offers four/eight processors to divide the processing task and hence offers very powerful multitasking capabilities. This feature is not required by basic users, but offers faster web browsing and quicker response times with multitasking.