Smartphones no longer have to cost an arm and a leg; today, they are more affordable than ever before. Plus, most budget smartphones can perform decently well, without any noticeable lag. Accordingly, the demand for smartphones under $500 has surged and continues to grow as manufacturing costs of these devices becomes cheaper – and smartphone data packages become more affordable. Consequently, the market has been flooded with cheap smartphones that look and feel like high-end devices. Nonetheless, most of them are manufactured in China using substandard electronic parts. Therefore, for a first time smartphone buyer, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the different choices – and making the wrong choice can often end up causing deep-regret. Nonetheless, as a die-hard smartphone enthusiast myself, I have compiled a list of most advanced smartphones that you can procure under $500.
Xperia M4 Aqua by Sony:
If there is such a thing as a budget smartphone that looks beautiful and is waterproof – it’s the M4 Aqua. Its overall design, look and feel reminds me of the Xperia Z3. Not only that, the battery life and the general performance can be compared to most high-end smartphones. One if its biggest drawback is the camera quality and the lack of external storage option. In summary, this is a great smartphone for users who prefer a water-proof phone but don’t have the budget to afford the Z3 or similar Samsung handsets such as the galaxy S6 Active.
Moto G (Second Gen) by Motorola:
The second gen Moto G is an overall improvement from its predecessor. The overall look and style is similar to the original Moto G. However, the second gen now comes with 4g LTE connectivity. The new version is $15 more expensive. However, you get a larger screen and a slightly better camera performance. The Moto G offers above-average performance with a larger display, but is now a little on the heavier side. In all, the Moto G is a great smartphone for those who can’t spend more than $200 on a smartphone.
One by One Plus:
The one plus is considered the poster child of budget smartphones with high-end specs. Released just last year, this device comes with a 5.5 inch screen and solid battery life. The one plus one is considered a Phablet, so its target users are those who want a phone with a large screen. However, the device does have some limitations. For once, storage space is not expandable and 4G connection only works with certain carriers. On the plus side, the phone does not use a traditional version of Android; instead it uses a modified version called the Cyanogen, boasting a more user-friendly interface. In all, the one plus gives other high-end Android devices a run for their money.
The Nexus 5x by Google:
For 2015, the Nexus 5x has been manufactured by LG. This latest device is quite capable of competing with high-end smartphones such as the S6 and note 5, Z3, and other flagship phones – plus it costs nearly half the price. The phone is capable of shooting at 12 megapixels using its rear camera and 5 megapixels using the front camera. Most importantly, the phone comes with a rear fingerprint sensor, allowing users to unlock their phones with convenience. However, the built quality on the phone feels cheap, since the body is made of mostly cheap hard-plastic. On top of everything, the best part about this phone is that there’s no bloatware. The Nexus 5X offers pure Android experience for users. Best of all, all nexus users will be first in line to enjoy the latest Android software updates.
ZenFone 5 LTE by ASUS:
ASUS considers the ZenFone 5 to be the perfect combination of a budget smartphone with high-end specs – and to some extend – ASUS has done a decent job with this phone. The phone comes with a 5inch screen with a plastic body, though overall look and feel – even with the plastic body – has a premium feel to it. On the downside, the phone has some battery issues, and tends to lose juice quicker than its competitors. The strongest features for this phone are its premium design and fast LTE connection. To sum it up, if you prefer a premium looking phone with decent specs – and don’t mind the short battery life – the ZenFone 5 is for you.