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The Best Smartphones for Less Than 500 Euros

November 2021 update. Not too long ago the price bracket between 500 to 600 Euros was occupied primarily by flagship devices. Nowadays, these have moved on and can usually be found in price ranges north of 1,000 Euros, leaving the bracket around 500 Euros for occasional affordable high-end devices as well as older top-of-the-line premium smartphones. The latter may not be up-to-date any longer but can still be a great alternative.
Mike Wobker (translated by Finn D. Boerne), 🇩🇪 🇳🇱 ...

Upper-class smartphones are located in the price range of between mainstream and high-end models and are targeted towards users who are not willing to pay more than 700 Euros (900 USD) for an expensive high-end phone, but still want good performance, good cameras, and nice build quality.

The price range of up to 500 Euros (600 USD) includes both powerful upper-class models as well as old high-end smartphones. The latter are an interesting alternative, because the specifications are usually still very good and often receive at least one major update. The following rankings might be interesting for you as well:

The Best Premium Smartphones

Position
Total Rating
Date
Image
Model
Height
Weight
Screen-Body
Ratio
Size
Refresh-Rate
Resolution
OS
187.7 %
02/2021
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5GSamsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Qualcomm Adreno 650
6 GB Memory, 128 GB 
8.4 mm190 g86 %6.50"120 Hz2400x1080Android 10
286.9 %
12/2020
new!
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5GXiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Qualcomm Adreno 650
8 GB Memory, 256 GB 
9.33 mm218 g85 %6.67"144 Hz2400x1080Android 10
386.7 %
05/2021
Xiaomi Redmi K40 ProXiaomi Redmi K40 Pro
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 660
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
7.8 mm196 g86 %6.67"120 Hz2400x1080Android 11
486.3 %
12/2020
Xiaomi Mi 10T 5GXiaomi Mi 10T 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Qualcomm Adreno 650
6 GB Memory, 128 GB 
9.3 mm216 g85 %6.67"144 Hz2400x1080Android 10
585.9 %
05/2021
Xiaomi Poco F3Xiaomi Poco F3
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 650
6 GB Memory, 128 GB 
7.8 mm196 g86 %6.67"120 Hz2400x1080Android 11
685.7 %
07/2021
realme GT 5Grealme GT 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 660
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
8.4 mm186 g86 %6.43"120 Hz2400x1080Android 11
785.7 %
05/2021
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5GXiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 780G 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 642
8 GB Memory, 128 GB UFS 2.1
6.81 mm159 g85.3 %6.55"090 Hz2400x1080Android 11
885.4 %
05/2021
Motorola Moto G100Motorola Moto G100
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 650
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
9.7 mm207 g84 %6.70"090 Hz2520x1080Android 11
984.9 %
09/2021
Samsung Galaxy A52s 5GSamsung Galaxy A52s 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 642L
6 GB Memory, 128 GB UFS 2.1
8.4 mm189 g83 %6.50"120 Hz2400x1080Android 11
1084.9 %
08/2021
OnePlus Nord 2 5GOnePlus Nord 2 5G
MediaTek Dimensity 1200
ARM Mali-G77 MP9
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
8.3 mm189 g86 %6.43"090 Hz2400x1080Android 11

The table above contains an overview over the best smartphones for less than 500 Euros reviewed by Notebookcheck over the course of the past 12 months as well as still relevant and available older products. In cases of identical score the more recent device is listed first. All prices in above table and price comparisons are updated daily and can thus differ.
Link: all devices in this class reviewed

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Editors' Comments

Due to its age, the OnePlus 8T had to be removed from this list and replaced by the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G that now qualifies thanks to reduced prices.

1st – Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Thanks to a price drop to less than 500 Euros the entry-level SKU of Samsung Galaxy S20 with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage managed to enter the realm of affordable smartphones. Even though its successor, the Galaxy S21, is already available this Exynos 990-powered smartphone is still better than many newcomers.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 offers optimized battery life, an extremely bright display, and good cameras.

Many users will be drawn to the S20 by its comparatively compact 6.2-inch display that doesn’t seem to follow current oversized displays trends. Accordingly, the device remains both comparatively compact and lightweight. Thanks to software updates most annoyances and bugs have been ironed out by Samsung, and camera performance has been improved significantly compared to when the phone was first launched. It comes with an excellent and extremely bright display with accurate colors.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is not officially sold in North America. Unlocked international models can be found on Amazon with prices starting at slightly below $500.

Pricecompare

2nd – Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G

The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G's high-end So Cis well capable for all kinds of applications and tasks, among others also due to its 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage for apps and data. It also comes with NFS, a fingerprint reader, Wi-Fi 6, and 5G connectivity.

The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro performed very well in almost all scenarios.

We also liked its large 144 Hz 6.67-inch HDR display as well as its 108 MP camera. The latter took excellent photos with popping colors and high details. Battery life was very good despite its high-performance hardware.

Xiaomi smartphones are not available in North America.

Pricecompare

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3rd – Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro

Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro

It will be hard to beat the Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro’s overall package in this price class. Its SoC offers excellent performance, its 128 GB of storage are blazingly fast, its 8 GB of RAM are aplenty, and the 64 MP camera takes excellent photos. And while it may lack an optical zoom it does come with an ultra-wide angle and a macro lens instead.

If you prioritize display and performance, you will be hard pressed to find a better smartphone than the K40 Pro in this price class.

Thanks to its Super AMOLED display the Android smartphone offers great colors and an extremely high contrast ratio. Its maximum brightness is also very high, which means it can be easily used in bright environments. Battery life is very good, and it even supports 5G.

The Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro is not officially sold in North America.

Pricecompare

4th – realme GT 5G

realme GT 5G
realme GT 5G

According to its spec sheet the realme GT 5G is supposed to offer flagship performance at a low price, and it most certainly does not disappoint in this regard. Smartphones equipped with a Snapdragon 888, dual-speakers, 120 Hz OLED display, 64 MP camera, and a large battery tend to be much more expensive. With prices of around 450 Euros it is a direct competitor to Xiaomi’s Poco F3 with a surprisingly similar concept but a slightly different focus.

The realme GT 5G offers an overall attractive package with room for improvement.

Unfortunately, realme failed to provide adequate cooling for the powerful SoC, which becomes noticeable when playing demanding games. Overall system performance is very good, which cannot be said about its triple-camera. The main lens takes decent photos but is thwarted by the supported lenses. Nevertheless, the reamle GT 5G is a good and, considering its low price, very attractive smartphone.

The realme GT 5G is not officially sold in North American. Unlocked international models can be found on Amazon with prices starting just below $500.

Pricecompare

5th – Xiaomi Poco F3

Xiaomi Poco F3
Xiaomi Poco F3

The Xiaomi Poco F3 offers a great price-performance ratio. Thanks to its Snapdragon SoC and 6 GB of RAM it is capable of running through most tasks very smoothly, and its 128 GB of internal storage are not too skimpy either. It also features fast Wi-Fi 6, LTE and 5G, NFC, a fingerprint reader, and face recognition.

Xiaomi’s Poco F3 offers a high-end display and plenty of performance.

We also liked its extremely bright 120 Hz AMOLED display a lot. Colors are not only powerful but also well balanced. And finally, its camera takes decent photos with its three sensors. Overall, a well-balanced overall packaged at a low price that has just become even more attractive thanks to recent price drops.

The Xiaomi Poco F3 is not officially sold in North America. 

Pricecompare

6th – Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G

Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G

The Mi 11 Lite 5G is a very lightweight and thin smartphone with plenty of performance for churning smoothly through everyday tasks thanks to its fast and powerful Qualcomm SoC. It offers 8 GB of RAM as well as 128 GB of internal microSD-expandable storage. Supported communication standards include 5G as well as Wi-Fi 6.

The Mi 11 Lite offers competitive hardware housed in a slim case.

Its great display features a 90 Hz AMOLED panel with great picture and, thanks to support for HDR10, also excellent color representation. Its camera takes decent photos, and the device’s battery life as well as its support for fast charging ensure proper power delivery at all times.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite is not officially sold in North America.

Pricecompare

7th – Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G

Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G
Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G

The Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G comes with a 6.67-inch large display running in FHD+ resolution at a refresh rate of 144 Hz. It is powered by a Snapdragon 865 supported by 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Its triple-camera took decent photos as long as the main lens was used. Neither the ultra-wide nor the macro lens proved to be particularly good.

Its 5,000 mAh battery allows for very long battery life, and the Xiaomi smartphone offers a decent overall connectivity including IR blaster. It lacks a headphone jack as well as a microSD card slot. Another downside is the fact that it uses PWM to regulate display brightness.

Pricecompare

8th – Samsung Galaxy A52s

Samsung Galaxy A52s
Samsung Galaxy A52s

The Galaxy A52s 5G does not have any drawbacks in the areas of case, cameras, display, speakers, and battery life. Its processor is very fast, and its GPU performance has been increased. Fast Wi-Fi, 5G, and expandable storage are also available.

The Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is a slightly more expensive upgraded model with a decent performance boost over its predecessor.

Other benefits include its bright display and IP-certified case. The display is not only very bright but also very colorful thanks to its underlying OLED technology. A high 120 Hz refresh rate makes for buttery smooth animations and images.

The Galaxy A52s 5G is not officially sold in North America. Imported international GSM-only devices are available on Amazon starting at $450.

Pricecompare

9th – OnePlus Nord 2 5G

OnePlus Nord 2 5G
OnePlus Nord 2 5G

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G offers various improvements over its predecessor rendering this device a worthy competitor to much more expensive smartphones in some regards. It charges extremely fast, offers fast internet, supports modern communication standards such as 5G connectivity, performs very well, and comes with a decent camera array.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is a true flagship killer.

Unfortunately, unlike true high-end smartphones it lacks an IP certification, offers subpar case material, a mediocre color accuracy, and poor audio quality. However, most users will not mind these caveats considering the device’s overall performance, and the OnePlus Nord 2 5G manages to stand strong and keep its head up high against much more expensive competitors.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is currently not available in North America.

Pricecompare

10th – Motorola Moto G100

Motorola Moto G100
Motorola Moto G100

Motorola’s Moto G100 is a fast smartphone with 128 GB of fast storage. Its performance is adequate enough for smooth gaming at 60 FPS on its large and capable 6.7-inch display. Performance remained consistent over time.

In addition to being a very fast smartphone the Moto G100 also offers a unique desktop mode.

Its highlight is the support for a docking station and desktop mode. It worked great in our tests, and can be a useful alternative should a PC not be available. The device also supports 5G connectivity.

The Motorola Moto G100 is not officially sold in North America. Unlocked international GSM-only models are listed on Amazon starting at $500.

Pricecompare

Best Smartphones for Less Than 500 Euros in Comparison

Size Comparison

168.4 mm / 6.63 inch 74 mm / 2.91 inch 9.7 mm / 0.3819 inch 207 g0.4564 lbs165.1 mm / 6.5 inch 76.4 mm / 3.01 inch 9.33 mm / 0.3673 inch 218 g0.4806 lbs165.1 mm / 6.5 inch 76.4 mm / 3.01 inch 9.3 mm / 0.3661 inch 216 g0.4762 lbs163.7 mm / 6.44 inch 76.4 mm / 3.01 inch 7.8 mm / 0.3071 inch 196 g0.4321 lbs163.7 mm / 6.44 inch 76.4 mm / 3.01 inch 7.8 mm / 0.3071 inch 196 g0.4321 lbs159.9 mm / 6.3 inch 75.1 mm / 2.96 inch 8.4 mm / 0.3307 inch 189 g0.4167 lbs159.1 mm / 6.26 inch 73.3 mm / 2.89 inch 8.3 mm / 0.3268 inch 189 g0.4167 lbs160.53 mm / 6.32 inch 75.72 mm / 2.98 inch 6.81 mm / 0.2681 inch 159 g0.3505 lbs158.5 mm / 6.24 inch 73.3 mm / 2.89 inch 8.4 mm / 0.3307 inch 186 g0.4101 lbs151.7 mm / 5.97 inch 69.1 mm / 2.72 inch 7.9 mm / 0.311 inch 163 g0.3594 lbs
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Mike Wobker (Update: 2021-11-22)