Although the prices of premium smartphones are rising over the years, it is still quite possible to find excellent smartphones for less than 500 euros in 2020. Here are our recommendations.
The best smartphones under 500 euros at a glance
While the price of smartphones continues to soar, that does not mean that cheaper devices should be ignored.
On the contrary, it is around 500 euros that we find the best compromises between power, price and functionalities, with phones which on paper can present the same qualities as their comrades twice as expensive. Powerful processors and OLED screens, for example, are now commonplace in this segment.
Some comfort functions such as waterproofing or wireless charging are however among the absent subscribers. The other big compromise is to be found on the side of the photo, often a cut below what is best on the market. Some models like the Pixel 4A 5G, however, are capable of boxing with the best in the field.
Here is our selection of the best smartphones between 400 and 500 euros.
If you fancy a more general view, don’t hesitate to take a look at our guide to the best smartphones.
After more or less happy adventures in the high-end OnePlus returns to more reasonable prices with the North. For this, the brand does not try to reinvent the butter-cutting thread: the design is simple, but elegant and above all we end up with a comfortable terminal in hand despite a weight of 184 grams all the same.
As for biometrics, there is a fingerprint sensor under the 6.44-inch AMOLED screen. The latter is also a pleasant surprise: not only is the brightness excellent, but we are also entitled to a refresh rate of 90 Hz, with the added bonus of well calibrated colors. As for the photo, OnePlus has equipped its foal with four back sensors for a generally correct result, but which shows some weaknesses, especially in low light.
Once is not custom, OnePlus has not selected the most powerful SoC of the moment. We must be satisfied with a “simple” Snapdragon 765G which offers more than adequate performance for the vast majority of uses. Autonomy is average, supported by a very efficient fast charge with the supplied unit. Add to that the 5G compatibility. For the software we find with pleasure an OxygenOS very pleasant to use.
OnePlus simply offers one of the best references at this price point. Head to our full test of the OnePlus North to get into the details.
The Google Pixel 4A was one of our favorites for 2020 and the Pixel 4A 5G looks set to replicate the same success. Contrary to what the name might suggest, this phone doesn’t just add 5G to the Pixel 4A. It is thus gaining in scope, with a screen that goes from 5.8 to 6.2 inches, still in OLED.
The heart of the phone is evolving too, with the adoption of a more powerful Snapdragon 765G SoC than the original 730. If we find a perfectly fluid Android 11, this allows it to gain some FPS in games. The other advance brought by the chip is obviously support for 5G.
The other change that catches our attention is the second 16 Mpx ultra wide-angle lens, which brings a little more flexibility and creative possibilities. As with the classic 4A, the rendering is a model of its kind, with truly supernatural possibilities in low light. For its part, the front camera is now capable of filming in 4K at 60 frames / s. The larger screen allows the passage to carry a larger battery and scratch a few hours of additional use.
If you found the Pixel 4A a bit small or missed the wide-angle, the Pixel 4A 5G is for you. Everyone else will be interested in its excellent photo capabilities and seamless integration of all Google services.
We haven’t been able to thoroughly test the Mi 10T yet, but we can already recommend it highly. It is indeed very close to the Mi 10T Pro which is sold for 50 euros more expensive. We therefore find the same very attractive fundamentals, in particular its very good screen.
If the 6.67-inch panel ignores the OLED, it is not without qualities. Brightness and contrasts are indeed to match, as is the excellent calibration. Above all, its refresh rate goes up to 144 Hz, with the added bonus of adaptive management that only activates it when necessary to save the battery.
With a Snapdragon 865 under the hood, the device is obviously very quick in all situations. This non-Pro version, however, only has 8 GB of RAM. Besides the amount of RAM, the other major difference is to be found on the side of the main photo module which goes from 108 to 64 Mpx.
Autonomy impresses: despite the refresh rate, the smartphone lasts more than two days on a single charge. A fast charger capable of filling up in an hour is also part of the game. On the other hand, it will be necessary to do without wireless charging, no doubt sacrificed on the altar of savings. On the network side, 5G is supported thanks to the Snapdragon 865.
Available below the 500 euros mark, the Mi 10T is a very good option for those who prefer raw power and ultra-fast display.
The iPhone SE 2020 is the power of an iPhone 11 in the body of an iPhone 8. In other words, it is a product that is both extremely powerful and extremely compact. In fact, it is even one of the last smartphones under 5 inches that can be found on the market. The counterpart is therefore a small screen, only 4.7 inches, which obviously does not make it ideal for consuming video.
Since it’s an iPhone you will find all the joys of the Apple ecosystem, iOS in mind. Despite its simple 12 Mpx photo sensor, the smartphone does very well, but you obviously won’t have the versatility offered by a module with several sensors. The terminal is also decent on autonomy.
Among the other strong points of the terminal, we can mention the waterproofness. It is also the only waterproof phone in its category, and that’s a real plus. Former iPhone users will also have the joy of finding the fingerprint sensor integrated into the physical “home” button. The counterpart is the presence of wide borders. In 2020, it’s an undeniably dated design.
You will find all the details in our test of the iPhone SE 2020.
Things to know before you buy
Before buying a smartphone for less than 500 euros, many questions may cross your mind. We have listed a few here with answers that we hope will light up your lantern.
💡 What can you do with a smartphone for less than 500 euros?
If you are ready to pay this price, it is because you want to obtain an almost premium smartphone, in any case which is as close as possible to a so-called high-end experience. They will usually boast a technical sheet equivalent to those sold at double their price. Power, photo performance and autonomy are generally there to meet all the needs of their users.
🤔 What concessions should I make at this price?
Almost none. Smartphones in this price range are considered high-end, but affordable phones. This is not the case with all the references, but it is not uncommon to find the small features reserved for the top models, such as IP certification, an efficient fast charging system, or even compatibility with the wireless charging. They are also good at photography, but be aware that they will not reach the quality of the flagships of the market – even if they come very close to it.
👍 What are the trusted brands?
Champions less than 500 euros vary more often than on the more premium, we cannot therefore systematically trust a brand. We therefore advise you to refer to regularly updated buying guides, such as ours. That being said, Xiaomi, Honor and Samsung regularly feature in our picks.
📶 Which package should I choose to save money after purchasing my smartphone?
Buying a smartphone in this price bracket represents an investment. To save money, we recommend that you choose your package, including non-binding offers from the various French operators. Find the best prices of the moment thanks to our comparator of mobile plans.
Depending on your budget, do not hesitate to also consult our guide to high-end smartphones.