New iPhone SE and Beyond: 5 Best Smartphones for Under $500

New iPhone SE and Beyond: 5 Best Smartphones for Under $500

What should you choose? 


Amid this current COVID-19 pandemic, it would be ludicrous to make consumers shell out a grand or two on a smartphone. For many on tight budgets, that could mean paying their rent or groceries for the month.

That’s why the recent release of the new iPhone SE was embraced by so many people. At just $400, you can get the internals of a top-of-the-line iPhone and, if you were really waiting for it, a physical home button. That’s indeed incredible value at a bargain-bin price.


So, let’s take a closer look at the iPhone SE and four other smartphones that can be had for under $500.

The iPhone SE seemed to hit the market at the perfect time, especially when people were looking to upgrade without financially eating into their budgets for essentials.

With a four-year gap between the 2020 iPhone SE and the previous version, Apple decided to pack some serious muscle into this phone. The SE is essentially an iPhone 8 with specs that match up well with the iPhone 11. And for about half the price of the iPhone 11, you really can’t go wrong here.

Next up is the recently launched Galaxy A51—another great option in the $400 range. There is also a 5G version that costs about a hundred dollars more. The A51 is really the answer to the iPhone SE, but it comes with four cameras, an in-screen fingerprint reader, and expandable memory.

One chief complaint with the SE is its pedestrian battery life. Samsung’s offering, though, comes with a robust 4,000mAh battery, while the SE’s battery is less than half that juice. With a generous 6.5-inch screen, the Galaxy A51 is much bigger than the SE as well.

In at No. 3 is Google’s Pixel 3A. This phone boasts a nice-sized 5.6-inch screen, a headphone jack, and the pretty astounding Night Sight camera that can capture amazing photos in the dark. If you’re particular about a certain wireless carrier, you’re definitely covered, as this device is compatible with all of the major U.S. carriers.

It has been a couple of years since its launch, but don’t forget about the feisty Galaxy S9. Now selling for about $450, this Samsung offering has wireless charging, expandable storage, a headphone jack and is water-resistant. It also features a gorgeous curved OLED display screen that’s still a force to be reckoned with even today.

Lastly, let’s stick with another Korean brand—the LG Stylo 5. If you want a top-notch stylus experience without cleaning out your bank account, this really is a great option. The LG Stylo 5 boasts a 6.2-inch display, 3GB of RAM, 3,500mAh battery and 13MP rear camera. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. He currently resides in Minneapolis.