Top 5 phones under $500

Who says you need to spend big to get a great smartphone? Models with excellent cameras, crisp displays, dual SIM capabilities, long battery life and even 5G can all be bought on a budget. 

Here is our list of the top five under $500. 
OPPO A53 and A53s
Rating: 10. Price: $299/$349

If you were to say the A53 / A53s were ordinary, everyday, damned good budget phones you’d be right. But they exceed all you could expect from $299/349 devices. Both models provide a great CPU, excellent battery, above-average camera, and a terrific screen.
Read our full review.
PositivesNegativesBattery life – good for two daysNone reallyCamera – basic but above social media qualityDisplay – 90Hz is smooth and responsiveDedicated slots for dual sim and microSD
OPPO A54 and A74
Rating: 9.8. Price: $399/$449

The OPPO A54 and A74 5G redefine 5G entry-level price and features. There is no catch – just fantastic value, exceptional OPPO build and two-years warranty. We used the A74 for nearly two weeks (it could just have easily been the A54) and were never left wanting. That is quite an admission from someone who uses a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G at nearly five times the price.
Read our full review.
PositivesNegativesToo many to list – punches well over its price bracketNone really – truly!
Motorola e7
Rating: 9. Price: $199

The Motorola 2021 Moto e7 meets or exceeds all you can expect of a $199 budget phone. Good build quality, camera and extended battery life, and Motorola’s My UX adds value to the Android experience. It gets our unreserved ‘buy’ recommendation if you’re on a strict budget. If you are skint, then the e7 power at $149 gets a similar recommendation. 
Read our full review. 
PositivesNegativesMotorola quality and supportNo NFCEverything you need in a $199 phone
realme 7 5G
Rating: 9.7. Price: $499

After running the realme 7 through more than 70 tests, we found only a few minor issues. Battery life suffers under 5G use, but does very well on 4G. We reckon it’s the new class-leader for sub-$500 5G phones. But if you like stereo speakers, a higher spec’d camera and only need 4G, the realme 7 Pro is a step-up option.
Read our full review.
PositivesNegativesMediaTek and 120Hz screen adaptive give super smooth performanceNone – it gets the unreserved recommendation for a $499 5G deviceExcellent camera for the priceIncredible 5G value (dual 5G SIMs)Everything you could need or want
TCL 20R 5G
Rating: 8.5. Price: $349

TCL is a latecomer to the Australian smartphone scene. It is hard to get shelf space, let alone visibility at the major retailers, and this is a shame as the TCL 20R 5G at $349 exceeds all reasonable expectations.
Our only two concerns are battery life and 4/5G signal strength. On the battery life issue, it is about half that of phones that use the same chipset, but a firmware update can address that. On the signal strength, it requires good transmission tower density, so it is strictly a city and suburbs phone.
Read our full review.
PositivesNegativesGreat valueBattery life is shorter than expectedBetter than social media standard camera4/5G signal strength is for city/suburbs onlyAll Australian 4G and 5G bandsAcceptable quality and features for the price

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