From longer battery life to higher resolution photos, every smartphone maker offers a value-packed option at a budget-friendly price. Whether you’re looking for a dollar-smart upgrade or reasonably priced first phones for kids, these 6 choices all cost less than $500. Plus, we’ve got 1 budget-stretch that’s worth a look, too. 

Apple iPhone SE (2020): Fast, powerful processing in a smaller phone. 

It’s been 4 years since Apple introduced a scaled-down iPhone SE. Their newest release of that model is still smaller — 2.65 inches wide and 5.45 inches tall, just under an inch shorter than the iPhone XS Max. But its smaller size still delivers power: inside the iPhone SE shell is an A13 Bionic chip that promises speed without draining battery. In addition, the affordable phone doesn’t sacrifice screen resolution with a brilliant 4.7-inch Retina HD display. 

Bottom line: The robust 13-hour battery life and water resistance makes this iPhone deal a great phone for on-the-go tweens and teens. Price: $399.99 (64GB); $449.99 (128GB)

Bonus: There’s Portrait mode (a.k.a. selfie perfection) on the 12 MP camera.

Samsung Galaxy A51: Camera flexibility at a friendly price. 

The Galaxy A51 packs 4 cameras in just 1 device: a main 48 MP, a front-facing 32 MP option featuring Flaw Detection, a 12 MP ultra-wide lens and a 5 MP macro lens. All of these features mean you can shoot anything well, from landscapes to details. The Galaxy A51 also has a hefty 128 GB of built-in memory and can expand its storage to 512 GB with a micro SD card. Finally, if you forget to charge your phone, it’s no cause for worry: there’s a Fast Charging option. 

Bottom line: The Galaxy A51 is great for movie and TV fans, with an edge-to-edge Super AMOLED screen and vivid, rich colors. Price: $399.99 (128GB)

Google Pixel 3a XL: Long battery life and lots of photo extras.

Quick charging is definitely a plus for many new budget-friendly phones, and the Pixel 3a XL is no exception. Its Adaptive Battery supplies 7 hours of use after charging for just 15 minutes. And this Pixel learns too: once it figures out which apps you use the most, the phone will reduce power to the ones you don’t. Plus, low-light pictures turn out great thanks to the Night Sight function, which provides detail without a flash on the 12.2 MP camera. Finally, the Pixel 3a XL offers a security boost with a Titan M security chip, which helps prevent fake log ins. 

Bottom line: For people who snap lots of photos, the Pixel 3a XL includes free unlimited storage for photos, and built-in Google Assistant. Price: $479.99 (64GB)

Motorola moto z4: A classic convenience and pro photo extras.  

Not every phone has a headphone jack, but the moto z4 still offers that old-school amenity. The battery supplies plenty of muscle — up to 45 hours of usage time — and like many other phones under $500, there’s a quick-charge TurboPower™ feature. This Motorola phone keeps pace with more expensive smartphones, with a 48 MP camera and a 25 MP front-facing camera. Other features include pro-level photo tools such as artistic blurring and AI-based beautification as well as Night Vision mode and Auto Smile Capture, which helps you take the perfect group photo. 

Bottom line: For people who want to get even more from a smartphone, the Motorola phone lets you snap on a moto mod to add functions such as a 360° camera and battery pack. Price: $499 (128GB)

LG Stylo 5: Superior display with a built-in stylus.

Well over half of smartphone owners watch movies and TV on their devices, and that number is only expected to grow. Luckily, the Stylo 5 makes that viewing even better with an HD, edge-to-edge display. There are 2 Google tools that add more function — and fun — too: Google Assistant lets you take photos and control those movies, hands free, and Google Lens lets you find out more about your photo subjects just by pointing your camera their way. And the built-in stylus lets you draw and write on photos and more, too.

Bonus: Another reason movie fans will love the affordable Stylo 5: the surround sound DTS:X 3D functionality has been optimized for mobile. Price: $240 (32GB)

Bottom line: For people who want a smartphone but could do without constant distractions, the Palm Compact Phone offers a customizable Life Mode that shuts off digital distractions. Price: $349.99

OnePlus 8 5G UW: A bonus for a budget with stretch.  

With a little wiggle room in your budget, you can gain access to 5G with the recently released OnePlus 8 5G UW. Featuring a powerful Snapdragon 865 processor and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, the OnePlus has up to 27 hours of usage time and a Warp Charge feature that increases battery life from 1 to 50 percent in just minutes. The phone has 3 rear cameras — 48 MP, 2 MP and 16 MP — which take professional-quality photos even in low light and fast-moving conditions, and a 16 MP front-facing camera for selfies.

Bottom line: Gamers, take note: OnePlus’s speed ensures a quick load time for colorful graphics. Price: $799 (128GB)

Functions plus features, all in budget-smart phones.

Getting pro-like camera functions doesn’t have to be out of reach for a smaller phone budget. Extra storage, multiple cameras and quick-charge features are all nearly standard on a host of new phones that cost under $500. In addition, check out the Verizon Certified Pre-Owned devices if you have your heart set on a particular model but want to save. Click here for even more phones and options.  

5G Ultra Wideband available only in parts of select cities. 

All prices based on retail price and are subject to change.

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