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Best phones under £500 - 2018



6 minute read

The £500 and under price point for smartphones is where things start to get interesting. You break away from the budget devices, and get phones that have a lot more to offer without today’s premium price tag. Check out some of the top phones we recommend.

Best Smartphones under £500

We’ve seen smartphone prices rise over the last few years and the premium flagship devices cost close to a grand or more. This is far from a budget price tag but not so close to an affordable one either. Fortunately, some smartphone makers accommodate for different budgets so there’s something out there for everyone and there are some fantastic smartphones for £500 or under.

Huawei P20 - £449

Huawei P20

Huawei stepped into the smartphone market and have really impressed. Not only do they offer smartphones at great prices but they also pack in a lot of features. The Huawei P20 is a great example of this.

It boasts a 5.8” full HD+ display, which I think is the perfect size for a smartphone display. It’s not too large but it’s not small either. It’s also powered by an Octa-core Kirin 970 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 3,400mAh battery and has a storage capacity of 128GB. So, you’ll find you get good performance and lots of space to store media.

What stands out the most about the P20 is its camera. It has an AI-powered, 3rd Gen Leica dual camera (20MP + 12MP) with f/1.8 and f/1.6 apertures. That means next level mobile photography. Turn it to the front and you get an incredible 24MP selfie camera. Say cheese!

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact - £469

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

Sony’s best smartphone yet has to be the Xperia XZ3 , thanks to it’s stunning 6” OLED QHD+ display but it’s currently £599, so over our £500 budget. So, the obvious pick had to be the Xperia XZ2 Compact, which is currently available for £469 and it’s got a bunch of features to show for it too.

While it may not rock a 6” OLED QHD+ screen, the XZ2 compact comes with a reasonably large 5” Full HD+ HDR display, so it is still impressive.

On top of that, it’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 64GB storage capacity. However, it supports a microSD card up to 400GB, so you’ll never have to worry about taking too many photos or videos with its 19MP Motion Eye camera, which also has 4K HDR recording capabilities.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact also has a water and dust resistant rating of IP65/68, which is very much the norm in smartphones these days so it’s more than good enough. It’s also powered by a 2,870mAh battery, which is less than most Android smartphones but sufficient enough to get you through a whole day.

Samsung Galaxy S9 - £499

Samsung Galaxy S9

You’re probably a little baffled. I mean, the Galaxy S9 was only released earlier this year, why is it at such a good price? Well, it’s because it’s refurbished but don’t let that put you off. Refurbished phones are usually ones that have been had their physical condition improved or even just one that has been returned but is still near perfect condition. Refurbished phones go through a lot of tests to ensure they are fully functional etc so they’re almost essentially like-new, so you’ll be saving yourself £200, that’s not bad going at all.

So why the S9? Well, firstly it has an incredible 5.8” super AMOLED display and I can tell you first-hand that a great display makes all the difference. It’s also got an amazing 12MP dual aperture rear camera. Notice I said aperture? That means a whole new level of incredible photography right in your palms. On top of that, the S9 has Super Slo-mo, which is a hundred times better than the standard slow-motion you get on most smartphones. I had a play with it and loved it.

In terms of tech specs, the S9 has 4GB of RAM, 64GB internal storage with the option to expand it to 400GB, runs off an Octa-core processor and a 3,000mAh battery. What’s not to love? At £499, it’s a steal.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ - £449

Samsung Galaxy S8+

If you want to save even more money, then the refurbished Galaxy S8+ is a really good alternative to the S9. You get a bigger 6.2” infinity display and a bigger battery (3,500mAh). Everything else is essentially the same as the S9, you just don’t get Super Slow-mo and AR Emoji but is that really a deal breaker? If you love big screens then the choice may just be obvious, especially if you can save an extra £50.

iPhone 7 - £449

iPhone 7

Apple’s iPhones certainly sit at the top when it comes to premium prices so getting the latest model at £500 or under is far from possible. So, let’s take it back a few years and you’ll find the iPhone 7, which still looks very nice and runs perfectly fine. It has a 4.7” LED display, which for some may just be the perfect size, especially to hold. Not everyone loves a large display after all.

With its 12MP rear camera and 7MP front-facing FaceTime camera, it may not seem as good when comparing to the above phones. However, just remember that megapixels are not everything. There are a lot of factors that go into getting a good quality photo and the iPhone 7 still takes good photos and lets you up your mobile photography game.

It runs off Apple’s A10 Fusion Chip and as a long-term iPhone user, I can tell you that the performance is second-to-none. Apple do an incredible job in ensuring performance is high and iOS plays a major part in that too. So, with the 7 you’ll get a perfectly responsive device and I think the OS alone makes the iPhone 7 a really good smartphone.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re somebody that likes to upgrade your phone often or whether you like keeping each one for a long period of time, choosing which phone to get can sometimes be hard. There are a lot of smartphones on the market, all with similar features and of course some that have more than others but they all sit across different price points. You need to consider the features you want as well as the price you want to pay.

I think £500 is a good budget as it breaks you away from ‘budget’ phones and ties you closer to premium phones without the premium price. With that said, each one of the smartphones above is a winner in its own right but which one feels right for you?

Written by shadylady

Sadia produces tech reviews, tech tips & tutorial videos at XALIRATE.