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Best phones for under $500

If you're looking for a phone on a budget, check out CNET's top 8 picks for phones under $500 -- and another deserving pick that's just a touch more.

Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola Moto G7 Play In an era where phones like the iPhone XS Max and Galaxy Fold cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, it's easy to feel that great phones are getting more expensive and out of your budget. But there are lots of devices that are fast, take great photos and offer modern-day software features that won't break the bank. While some budget phones came out this year, many handsets in this roundup launched the previous year. That doesn't mean they're obsolete -- most of them still have high-end processors and cameras that you can get for way less than when they first launched.

Note that these products are independently chosen by our editors, based on hands-on testing. We've linked to the unlocked version of each phone, and they should run on most of the big four US wireless carriers (unless specified otherwise). CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Our picks

Motorola Moto G7 Play

Sarah Tew/CNET

At less than $200 retail and often discounted, the Motorola Moto G7 Play is one of our favorite affordable phones. Compared to the slightly pricier Moto G7 (which we'll get to next), the phones both have the same processor and a water repellent coating. But the G7 Play features a tad smaller 5.7-inch display and a single 13-megapixel camera. For those who like to take a lot of selfies, on the front of the phone you'll find a flash to brighten up all those memorable moments.

$199 at Amazon
Read more about the Moto G7 Play

Motorola Moto G7

Angela Lang/CNET

The Motorola Moto G7  may not be as cheap as its G7 Play counterpart, but at $299 it's still a good deal. Though its single speaker doesn't offer the greatest sound, and it takes mediocre low-light photos and video, the Moto G7 has dual rear cameras, an enduring battery life and a sleek design. It also charges really quickly, which is useful when you need to juice up while on the go.

$299 at Walmart
Read the Motorola Moto G7 review

LG G7 ThinQ

Andy Hoyle/CNET

Though the LG G7 has a Google Assistant quick-launch button that can't be remapped, there's still lots of reasons to like this phone. It has an AI camera that gives your photos a boost before you snap them, a secondary wide-angle rear camera and a headphone jack.

$379 at Walmart
Read the LG G7 review

Google Pixel 3A

Angela Lang/CNET

The new-for-2019 Pixel 3A shaves a few features off of last year's Pixel 3: It's not water resistant, doesn't have wireless charging, and it maxes out at 64GB of storage. But it adds a headphone jack and keeps the same amazing Night Sight camera that can shoot great photos in the dark. (Daytime photos look amazing, too.) It's compatible with all the major US phone carriers as well.

$399 at Amazon
Read the Google Pixel 3A review

Samsung Galaxy S8

Josh Miller/CNET

It's been two years since its launch but the Galaxy S8 is still a phone worthy of consideration. It's water resistant, has wireless charging, expandable storage and a headphone jack. Plus, its curved screen lends the phone a modern-day look that still endures.

$399 at Samsung
Read the Samsung Galaxy S8 review

Apple iPhone 7

Sarah Tew/CNET

Though it debuted in 2016, the iPhone 7 is still a solid phone, and it's the cheapest iPhone from Apple that you can still buy for new. The phone has water resistance, a more durable solid-state home button, and still really good cameras with rear optical image stabilization.

$449 at Walmart
Read the Apple iPhone 7 review

Razer Phone 2

Josh Miller/CNET

If you play a lot of mobile games, consider a gaming phone that accommodates heavy graphics and an immersive experience. With a bright 120Hz screen, the Razer Phone 2 adds IP67 water resistance and wireless charging. It's also compatible with 2TB microSD cards for extra storage and runs a close-to-stock version of Android. Together with its amazing built-in speaker, you have the makings of a great mobile gaming experience.

$499 at Amazon
Read the Razer Phone 2 review

Samsung Galaxy S9

Josh Miller/CNET

Now that the Galaxy S10 is out, the Galaxy S9 from last year is being deeply discounted. It's a superb phone with top hardware, performance and photography. It also has a fantastic 5.8-inch display, wireless charging and a stunning design.

$499 at Walmart
Read the Samsung Galaxy S9 review

If you can spend a bit more

OnePlus 6T

Juan Garzon / CNET

We know that the OnePlus 6T costs more than $500, but we think it deserves honorary inclusion in this list because it still has high-end specs and a comparatively inexpensive price tag (at least compared to other premium phones like the iPhone XS and the Galaxy S10). Available on T-Mobile but compatible with AT&T and Verizon too, the phone has an excellent camera and a fast processor. Be aware that it doesn't have a headphone jack though, and it isn't water resistant.

$549 at T-Mobile
Read the OnePlus 6T review