The best smartphones for less than 500 euros

Xiaomi, Samsung, Honor… We have selected the best high-end and mid-range smartphones between 300 and 500 euros.

SMARTPHONES – Very fashionable since 2017, obviously driven by Apple, high-end smartphones at 1,000 euros have quickly tired the most budget-conscious consumers.

While they are of course an indispensable technological and design showcase for a brand to showcase its know-how, these models like the iPhone 11, Google’s Pixel 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 only speak to a tiny minority of the market.

A dialogue of the deaf between users with limited purchasing power and manufacturers anxious to make the most of expensive com’ campaigns and research and development that has created a niche: that of high-end killers or “flagship killers”.

Thus, new players such as OnePlus and especially Xiaomi have tricked out a sector by offering models with technical specifications worthy of a top-of-the-range product but with much lower prices.

But with these mid-range ranges rubbing shoulders with the high end and vice versa, it is difficult to find one’s way around, as the price range fades away as a marker to make way for ranges of use, such as for photography or gaming.

That’s why we have drawn up a selection from our many tests of the best smartphones for less than 500 euros, according to your uses and expectations.

Editorial choices

Google Pixel 3a, the best for photography

The right choices

  • A very good Oled screen
  • The same photo module as the Pixel 3, still as powerful as ever.
  • A good autonomy
  • Its price

Could be better

  • The Snapdragon 670 chip is not as strong as the Snapdragon 845 chip in Pixel 3.
  • The design is too “plastic”

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro, the most comprehensive

The right choices

  • A very neat premium look
  • The Snapdragon 855 chip
  • Its excellent autonomy
  • The well-calibrated Amoled screen
  • Its price

Could be better

  • Too little progress in pictures compared to the Mi 9T
  • Does not make major changes to the range

How we have selected these products

We regularly buy and tests most smartphones coming onto the market. In each of these tests, the notion of value for money is one of the main threads that govern the model evaluation protocol as well as the writing of the article.

Our tests are then compiled into more global comparisons in order to keep only the best models for a given category. As far as price ranges are concerned, we try to divide the current offer into several levels in order to propose selections adapted to all budgets.

Apart from this article, we have already made selections of the best smartphones for less than 200 euros as well as those for less than 300 euros. In order to limit the radius of the selection to the most relevant models, we will only focus here on smartphones between 301 and 500 euros.

In addition to our tests and in order to enrich our knowledge of the market and consumer

What budget are the Europeans willing to spend on a smartphone in 2019?

For each product selected, the price taken into account is not necessarily the same. Thus, for a smartphone released recently before the writing of this article, it is the launch price (that of the manufacturer) that will be taken into account.

But for a smartphone whose release is much earlier (in 2018 for example), it is the price charged by retailers that is taken into account. It is therefore more a range of prices than a price range that is the determining criterion here.

That’s why you will find in this selection top-of-the-range models, whose very high introductory price a few months ago may have been considerably lowered.

Google Pixel 3a, the best for photography

Google Pixel 3a: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A very good Oled screen
  • The same photo module as the Pixel 3, still as powerful as ever.
  • A good autonomy
  • Its price

Could be better

  • The Snapdragon 670 chip is not as strong as the Snapdragon 845 chip in Pixel 3.
  • The design is too “plastic”

With Pixel 3a, Google wants to democratize to the greatest number its photo formula launched earlier with the first Pixel 3 of the name. In most cases, the photos are of high quality and impressive when we know that it has a limited power compared to the model from which it is inspired.

Even at night. A time of day when most smartphones get their brushes tangled and Pixel 3 excels. While the Snapdragon 670 processor is less powerful than the Pixel 3’s 845, the Pixel 3a does very well even for video games, despite a slight tendency to heat up.

For the rest, the 5.6-inch Oled screen is very well calibrated and keeps the smartphone compact. The battery life is more than adequate and the Pixel 3a will last one to two days without any problems, which is much better than its predecessor.

The performance is therefore quite honest, especially for 399 euros, half the price of Pixel 3 when it was released. However, the Pixel 3 XL is still a step ahead in terms of power.

The Pixel 3a therefore presents itself as an excellent photo alternative for someone whose power is not a “deal breaker”. It also offers the added advantage of working with Google’s software interface and taking advantage of quickly deployed updates.

Xiaomi Mi 9, the most balanced

Xiaomi Mi 9: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • Its 6.4-inch Oled screen in Full Hd+.
  • 855 Snapdragon SoC Sound
  • Its Price

Could be better

  • The battery is a little weak (compared to the top of the range).
  • The 8 GB of RAM

While OnePlus timidly tries to break out of the high-end killer niche to snatch a place on the podium of the best premium smartphones, Xiaomi continues to offer smartphones with a price/performance ratio that defies competition.

With the launch of the Xiaomi Mi 9, the Chinese manufacturer offered the first smartphone equipped with the latest Snapdragon 855 chip in France. This power monster is, for example, able to run Fortnite with high graphics at 60 fps or 30 fps in “Epic” mode.

Its 6.39-inch diagonal Oled panel made in Samsung offers a Full HD+ definition of 2340 x 1080 pixels and is of very good quality, despite the presence of a notch.

Xiaomi Mi 9T, the best value for money

Xiaomi Mi 9T: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • Beautiful Amoled screen
  • The triple photo sensor is very good for daytime use
  • An excellent finish
  • Good autonomy
  • Better value for money than the Mi 9T

Could be better

  • No pro version (and therefore no Snapdragon 855) unlike the Redmi K20
  • Night photos below a Pixel 3a
  • Not the best alternative in this price range

While it’s priced like a Redmi, the Xiaomi Mi 9T lives up to its new name and offers the essentials of a high-end smartphone at a price that defies (almost) all competition.

In addition to its very respectable spec sheet with a beautiful 6.39-inch Amoled Full HD+ screen without any notches and its Snapdragon 730, the Xiaomi Mi 9T is not to be outdone when it comes to photography either, even if you shouldn’t expect transcendental shots.

With its triple photo lens, the smartphone for less than 400 euros offers good daytime shots, despite difficult exposure management, especially on scenes with complex dynamics.

The x2 optical zoom works quite well but quickly shows its limits as soon as you push the magnification beyond it. The Portrait mode is rather successful with a rather clean cut and a more or less well managed “Bokeh”.

In selfie, the pop-up camera is slow enough to show the tip of its nose, the light and sound effects that accompany its activation were anything but essential.

The rendering doesn’t really make up for all that, the selfies are suffering from excessive smoothing. On the other hand, it does have the merit of optimizing the Xiaomi Mi 9T’s size/screen ratio.

On the other hand, one would forgive him almost all these faults for the surprising quality of his night mode. The shots are sufficiently detailed and the digital noise, which is present, does not spoil the image quality too much. Exposure is perfectly managed, especially for strong light sources such as street lamps, which the Mi 9T manages to attenuate effectively.

Overall, the photo rendering of the Xiaomi Mi 9T is very good for its price, hard to find better on smartphones with an introductory price of less than 400 euros.

The Samsung Galaxy A50, launched for 350 euros, which we tested last April, did much less well on the picture, especially in night mode.

However, if your budget allows it, we’ll still advise you to invest a little more and go for a Pixel 3a that can be found for around 400 euros and is still the best choice for a photo smartphone in this range.

You can also hope and wait for the pro version of the Mi 9T to come out as the technical specifications of its Asian equivalent, the Redmi K20 Pro with a nice Snapdragon 855 is a dream come true.

Samsung Galaxy A70, the best midrange … at Samsung

Samsung Galaxy A70: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A very large and beautiful screen
  • Excellent autonomy
  • The efficient Exynos 9610 chip
  • A design that exudes high-end quality
  • Its price

Could be better

  • The camera not convincing
  • Not the best alternative in this price range

Sensitive evolution of the Galaxy A50, the Samsung Galaxy A70 embeds the same SoC Exynos 9610 coupled with 6 GB of RAM (compared to 4 GB for the A50). The whole thing runs all Google Play applications without any problem and without overheating, even on the most resource-intensive games.

As far as the screen is concerned, the Galaxy A70 offers a flawless Super Amoled panel, Samsung requires, of 6.7 inches (compared to 6.4 for the A50). In terms of size, it’s a size worthy of high-end smartphones, which won’t necessarily make it easier to use the phone with one hand.

As for photography, like the A50, the A70 is equipped with a triple sensor at the rear, but with a main module of 32 MP (compared to 25 for the A50), a second sensor of 5 MP and an ultra-wide-angle lens of 8 MP.

On the whole, the trio is doing as well as the A50, i.e. below the competition, especially the Google Pixel 3a which remains THE reference on this price range.

But the last difference is significant and concerns autonomy. Indeed, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is equipped with a 4500 mAh battery against 4000 for the Galaxy A50. It thus easily lasts one day longer than its little brother and its USB-C charger of 25 Watts allows a faster recharge than the 10-watt block of the Samsung Galaxy A50.

Still, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is the best mid-range Samsung for less than 400 euros. But it is far from being the best overall choice in this price range, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE offering a better price/performance ratio, for example.

If you’re looking for a good mid-range but cheaper and want to stay with Samsung, you can definitely fall back on the Galaxy A50.

Apart from the smaller screen, a slightly shorter battery life and a camera with a few fewer megapixels, it is in all respects identical to the A50 and costs 100 euros less.

Honor View 20, “This is what a top-of-the-line should cost.”

Honor View 20: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • The powerful Kirin 980 chip
  • A well-calibrated IPS LCD screen
  • The punch hole is less annoying than the notch…
  • Record autonomy
  • The classy design

Could be better

  • The unconvincing single-sensor photo, especially at night
  • Not the best choice in this price range

No Honor is not Huawei’s low-cost line. A frequent confusion as the two companies are so close and share a part of their production (R&D in particular).

But Honor is much more than just Huawei’s entry-level model, it is a brand in its own right and also offers top-of-the-range models.

Specifically, the Honor brand offers its models in six ranges, in ascending order of price: A, C, N Lite, X, N (N for number) and View. Each of these acronyms is accompanied by a number, which represents the generation of the range.

The View range, whose latest model is the Honor View 20 that we are talking about here, can be considered as the one that welcomes the brand’s flagship or top-of-the-range products with a much more contained price than what can be found at Huawei.

For less than 500 euros, the Honor View 20 offers a 6.4-inch IPS LCD panel. It’s the first smartphone screen in France to swap the notch in the middle of the panel for a punch hole in the top left corner, which is much more discreet (Samsung followed suit with its Galaxy S10 range just afterwards).

On the design side, the coating on the back draws a V for “View” when the light is reflected and the glass finish is very licked… but obviously catches a lot of fingerprints.

Not content to offer a high-end data sheet at a contained price, the Honor View 20 embeds the Kirin 980 chip (like a Huawei P30/Pro) coupled with 6 GB of RAM.

The photo module at the rear is made up of a single 48MP sensor and a TOF (time of flight) sensor that models a 3D scene by emitting and receiving light rays.

During the day, the photos are very good and rich in detail, but the smartphone completely loses its grip at night by drowning the photos under an exacerbated digital noise. The View 20 relies too much on its AI, which results in software processing that forces contrasts too much. Is not the Google Pixel 3 that wants to…

With its 4000 mAh battery compatible with 22 W fast charge (55% autonomy in 30 minutes), the Honor View 20 lasts nearly 20 hours, making it one of the best students on the market.

So this is definitely not a mid-range model. The interest is that Huawei does not design its ranges according to a price range, but rather according to a use. The P range focuses on photography, the Mate range on performance. The P Smart, although cheaper, cannot really be considered as entry-level.

This is where Honor comes in and where his more affordable models become relevant. More than just an entry-level model “made” in Huawei, Honor is a real alternative, a brand in its own right, covering a market sector in which Huawei has very little positioning.

Oppo Reno2 Z, a mid-range that is changing

Oppo Reno2 Z: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A glass back of the most beautiful effect
  • There are no less than 4 photo sensors in the back…
  • It is compatible with Oppo’s ultra-fast charge, Vooc

Could be better

  • A heavy smartphone
  • ColorOS, the interface of Oppo smartphones, can divide
  • Processor a little less powerful than the Oppo Reno 2 processor

Given the speed at which he is updating his smartphones, Oppo seems to have the intention of establishing himself in France and making a name for himself. The Chinese manufacturer has unveiled two new mid-range models for the end of 2019, the Oppo Reno 2 and the Reno2 Z that we tested.

The latter is the lighter version of the two, but also the cheaper: 350 euros. And at that price, you’ll get your money’s worth. The Reno2 Z has a large 6.55-inch side-by-side screen to start with, but also a beautifully designed glass back. Your smartphone will be instantly recognizable.

The rear has 4 photo sensors: a 48 MP main lens, an 8 MP wide-angle lens, a 2 MP monochrome lens and a 2 MP telephoto lens for portraits. It’s not enough to shake the Pixel 3a, but the results are on the whole rather good (the contrasts are less important).

The SoC MediaTek that equips the Reno2 Z is more than enough to play the latest releases in very good conditions. Similarly, the navigation in ColorOS is very fluid. Nevertheless, its design could put off some people because of its extremely colorful side.

Being compatible with Oppo’s ultra-fast Vooc charging technology, the 4000 mAh battery only needs about 30 minutes to reach 50%. A feature that can be enjoyed on a daily basis and works wonders.

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro, the flagship killer par excellence

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A very neat premium look
  • The Snapdragon 855 chip
  • Its excellent autonomy
  • The well-calibrated Amoled screen
  • The price

Could be better

  • Too little progress in pictures compared to the Mi 9T
  • Does not make major changes to the range

If there’s one reason to recommend the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro, it’s that it will make you regret rushing the base Mi 9T when it was released last month.

It is identical to its predecessor in design and screen layout, but the rest of the improvements are minimal and overshadow the basic version.

Enough to disgust the impatient ones who were already seduced by the Mi 9T recipe but who would like to enjoy these few details like the Snapdragon 855 today.

With its excellent range, premium design and correct camera (except at night) the Mi 9T Pro embodies the spirit of the high-end killer that Xiaomi has made its flagship.

If you’d still prefer a Pixel 3a for the photo, the Mi 9T Pro is an excellent reference on this range that are smartphones at less than 500 euros.

Huawei P30, the flagship that’s become affordable.

Huawei P30: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • The same Oled display as the Pro version but more compact
  • Excellent in photo despite a sensor less than the Pro version
  • Better autonomy than the Pro version
  • Its price
  • The powerful Kirin 980 chip

Could be better

  • Lower optical zoom than the Pro version
  • The too classic design (glass back – metal slices – curved screen with notch)

Sold for 799 euros when it came out in April 2019, the Huawei P30 is now less than 500 euros in MarketPlace (and excluding imports from China, moreover). A more than competitive price for what remains one of the best high-end photo smartphones.

Although it lacks the fourth Tof (time of flight) sensor of its Pro version, the basic P30 is an excellent choice nonetheless. Its beautiful 6.1-inch Oled rimless display, its high-performance triple photo sensor at night and its high-performance 3650 mAh battery make it one of the best flagships of 2019.

On the power side, we also find the Kirin 980 chip, which still holds up very well, especially as we risk not seeing the 990 embarked in the Mate 30, whose release is not yet planned in France.

Add to that Huawei’s “Super Charge” quick recharge, which is among the best in the business, alongside OnePlus’ “Warp Charge”.

If you’re concerned about the consequences of the US embargo on Huawei, especially regarding the availability of Google’s services, you should know that the Huawei P30 is not affected and should even benefit from the upgrade to Android 10.

Honor 20 Pro, an excellent photo smartphone

Honor 20 Pro: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A versatile photo module
  • The “optical” zoom is very good in x3
  • An efficient night mode
  • The “bokeh” of Portrait mode well mastered

Could be better

  • The 4th “ultra macro” sensor a bit gadgetary
  • A white balance sometimes a little hot
  • Colour processing too aggressive in IA mode

When it was released at the end of August 2019 at a price of 600 euros, it was difficult to have a clear-cut opinion on the Honor 20 Pro as competition is thin in this price range (between 500 and 600 euros).

What is certain is that the Honor 20 Pro does much better in pictures than a OnePlus 7 or an Asus Zenfone 6 which have about the same price claims.

However, it is a bit behind in zoom, portrait mode or night mode compared to the Huawei P30 Pro, which remains the best photophone on the market. All the more so as if the Huawei flagship was selling for nearly 1000 euros when it was launched, we can currently find it between 670 and 700 euros new.

But since its release, the Honor 20 Pro has seen a drop of nearly 100 euros on its introductory price. For just under 500 euros, it is quite simply one of the best compromises in terms of value for money.

In addition to its photo performance, it features the Kirin 980 processor, 8 GB RAM and a generous 4000 mAh battery. It can be considered as the equivalent of Huawei’s P30 Pro, but much cheaper than Honor’s sister brand’s model.

If you are not ready to make budget concessions and the Honor 20 Pro is still too expensive in your eyes, we advise you to fall back on the Google Pixel 3a or its XL version, which are very good in photos, but whose technical specifications are much less interesting.

In any case, the Honor remains on this very special price range, one of the best if not the best choice and deserves to be considered as a top of the range photophone.

Huawei Nova 5T, a revisited copy of the Honor 20

Huawei Nova 5T: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A high-end looking smartphone at an aggressive price point
  • Good grip for a smartphone with a 6.26-inch screen
  • Presence of a quadruple photo lens

Could be better

  • No jack plug
  • A simple LCD screen
  • A battery that won’t last a day, but no more than a day…

Being part of the same group, it’s not surprising to see Huawei and Honor sharing their smartphone datasheets. So much so that they can easily be confused like the Honor 20 (listed above) and the Huawei Nova 5T.

The Huawei 5T has a Kirin 980 SoC (like the P30), 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of internal storage space (not expandable). Then there’s a 6.28-inch LCD screen, but punched like the Galaxy S10. This provides a large display surface that is very enjoyable in games as well as in video.

The grip is also excellent simply because the screen is high and not wide as on many references. The manufacturer has also taken advantage of this by placing the fingerprint sensor on the right-hand side. A good idea, but one that might be a nuisance for left-handed people.

But the special feature of the 5T is to have a quadruple photo sensor at the rear. It is comfortable in many configurations (wide angle, depth and macro sensor) like its cousin from Honor. It does not reach the level of a Pixel 3a, but the results are very good even at night.

One could summarize that the Huawei Nova 5T has a revisited copy of the Honor 20 (no matter what the brand says). But is that a bad thing? Not at all since we keep a very interesting quality/price ratio. It’s close to the top of the range on a lot of points. If you’re looking for power at a contained price and the presence of an LCD screen doesn’t bother you, it’s all good.

Oppo Reno, the unknown soldier

Oppo Reno, the unknown soldier: the best smartphones for less than 500 euros

The right choices

  • A beautiful Oled screen without edges (and notches)
  • Sufficient autonomy

Could be better

  • The Snapdragon 710 chip
  • Photo modules not very convincing
  • The banal design (and the not very sexy green color)

Arriving on a new market with a 1000 euros smartphone, Oppo seems to have learned its lesson since its complicated launch with the Find series in France in 2017.

The Reno range does not sign a real comeback for the brand, which remains rather marginally known by consumers. But it’s impossible to deny that the Reno released this year for less than 500 euros is a little more anchored in a logic of “flagship killer” or “high-end killer”.

If his camera did not really convince us during our test, the retractable front module in the shape of a shark’s fin has the merit of allowing a 6.4 inch Oled slab without edges with a size/screen ratio of 90%.

The Reno is equipped with the Snapdragon 710, a mid-range chip that does a pretty good job when coupled with 6 or 8 GB of RAM (depending on the version) despite a certain tendency to overheat.

Its 3675 mAh battery allows a classic use for at least a day and a half which places it in the high average of the market. On the other hand, the smartphone does not allow fast recharging, despite a 20 W power supply.

For less than 500 euros, the Reno is therefore absolutely not the best choice, but Oppo seems to have finally understood the need to offer contained prices in order to establish itself in a new market.

Tips for choosing the right smartphone

When you decide to invest up to 500 euros in a smartphone, it’s best not to make a mistake. Below you will find purchasing tips to help you make the right choice.

Selling a smartphone for 1000 euros in 2019, is that reasonable?

It’s a far cry from the high prices offered by luxury smartphones, which stand out mainly because of their multiple photo sensors and curved Amoled screens.

This strong budget lag could explain, at least in part, why the global smartphone market is at half-mast. In the first quarter of 2019, the market experienced its sixth consecutive quarterly decline with 310 million units sold, or 6.6% less than in 2018.

In terms of volumes, giants such as Samsung and Apple sold 8.1% and 30.2% fewer units respectively than in 2018, giving way to Huawei, which is currently making a breakthrough with its generally cheaper models (+ 50.3% units sold over the same period).

Rejected by this budget glass ceiling, the less affluent consumers (who are also the most numerous) often turn to other, more affordable brands such as OnePlus or Xiaomi, which has really “tricked” the sector.

The manufacturer that has made “flagship killers” (high-end smartphones at highly competitive prices, editor’s note) its trademark has recently entered the Top 5 global manufacturers in terms of market share.

SoC, RAM, Oled or LCD, size/screen ratio… How to decrypt the data sheet of a smartphone?

Tests and comparisons of specialized or non-specialized sites are swarming with them, but the technical terms used to designate each component of a smartphone’s data sheet are not the clearest.

In order to simplify your life and above all to allow you to choose your smartphone, we have tried to decipher or at least define each element in the light of which the quality of a smartphone can be appreciated.