Do we really have to break the bank to give a smartphone for Christmas? The answer is no. The arrival of Chinese manufacturers has shaken up the market and split into two main parts. On the one hand, there are enthusiasts and affluent consumers willing to spend more than 1000 euros on a smartphone. On the other hand, we find users with more limited budgets or with fewer needs.
In 2020, they are spoiled for choice. The majority of smartphones launched each year are marketed between 200 and 700 euros. And their pricing doesn’t mean they meet your needs less. If you are on a budget, we recommend that you read our guide to the best smartphones under $ 300. If you are ready to invest a little more, here is our selection of the best smartphones under 500 euros.
Important note: all models in this guide have been tested by the editorial staff.
If you have another budget, check out our other guides:
OnePlus Nord: the new benchmark
After focusing its strategy on the premium segment, OnePlus returned to the fundamentals this year. With the OnePlus North, the manufacturer undoubtedly offers the best smartphone under 500 euros. Marketed at 399 euros, the North has almost everything you would expect from a high-end smartphone for a low price.
Behind its sleek design and sublime 6.44-inch 90Hz AMOLED screen, the Nord hides a Snapdragon 765G chip optimized for the gaming ensuring very good performance. The smartphone lives up to the reputation of its predecessors and displays excellent battery life. OnePlus delivers it with a fast charger Warp Charge 30T allowing it to be recharged to 70% in 30 minutes.
If he’s not the best at photography, he doesn’t have to be ashamed of his talents. Its trio of lenses (wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, macro) associated with a ToF ensure a certain versatility. Its only weakness is the average quality of the night photos.
Other sacrifices made by the brand include the lack of waterproofing and wireless charging. Small flaws that we accept without flinching as the OnePlus North is attractive.
OnePlus Nord 256 GB at the best price
Base price: 499 €
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Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: the complete one
Launched just a few months after the Mi 9 (top of the range of the brand), the Mi 9T Pro has some welcome improvements for a low price. For 430 euros, the Mi 9T Pro ships a good package of high-end technologies: Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB of RAM and up to 128 GB of storage.
It stands out especially with its 6.39 inch Full HD AMOLED display without notch or punch. The front sensor is housed in a mechanical system commonly called a “pop-up”. The multimedia experience is only better.
Photo side, the Mi 9T Pro is armed with a triple sensors of 48 + 8 + 13 megapixels, or a less muscular arsenal than its predecessor. Nevertheless, it is difficult to see the difference in quality between the two models.
As enduring as the Mi 9, the Mi 9T Pro inherits fast charging. However, to distinguish it from the premium model, Xiaomi took away the wireless charging. Not enough to weaken our enthusiasm. The Mi 9T Pro remains a very complete model for its price, and logically takes first place in our guide to the best smartphones under 500 euros.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10: the 108 megapixel sensor
Xiaomi, again, stood out this year with the Mi Note 10, a smartphone equipped with a 108 megapixel photo sensor. If the figure impresses, it is above all the versatility of the photophone that is emphasized. In addition to the possibility of shooting 108 megapixel shots, the Mi Note 10 incorporates an ultra-wide-angle lens, a macro sensor and a telephoto lens capable of zooming up to 5x.
Good photographer, the Mi Note 10 is also a durable smartphone. With a 5260 mAh battery, the opposite would have surprised us. So allow more than two days of autonomy for versatile use before going through the charging box. Xiaomi also provides a 30 W fast charger.
Note all the same that the performance of this smartphone remains average since it has a mid-range Snapdragon 730 processor. The 6 to 12 GB of RAM handle multitasking and resource-intensive uses well. Good point on the other hand for 6.47-inch screen based on Amoled technology. Offered at the limit of 500 euros (499 euros exactly), the Mi Note 10 does not lack arguments to seduce, and is one of the best.
Realme X2 Pro: the power
While the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 lacks a bit of power, the Realme X2 Pro is not. With his Snapdragon 855+ processor and 12 GB of RAM, it stands out as the best performing smartphone in this ranking. Add to that a 6.5 inch Super AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate and we get a successful cocktail for the players.
Cherry on the cake, its autonomy reaches a day and a half, a very good performance for a model of this range. Realme additionally provides a 50W fast charger which allows the X2 Pro to fully recharge in just over 30 minutes.
Overpowering for its price, the X2 Pro is also effective in photos although he has some difficulty in low light. Realme does not sell its smartphone as a photo reference. With this model, the manufacturer rather offers a successor to the Pocophone F1, powerful and affordable. Marketed between 400 and 480 euros according to dealers, the X2 Pro will appeal to players and power lovers.
Realme X2 Pro at the best price
Base price: 469 €
Google Pixel 4a 5G: the king of photography
After the excellent Pixel 3a, Google launched the Pixel 4a this year and then the Pixel 4a 5G. If both deserve their place in this top, our choice fell on the 5G version for obvious reasons of durability. Indeed, the Pixel 4a 5G embeds, like the OnePlus North, a Snapdragon 765G chip, more powerful than that of the Pixel 4a therefore.
Always dressed in plastic, the 4a 5G displays a beautiful 6.2-inch OLED screen, it is as such the largest of the Pixel family. With this smartphone Google confirms above all its know-how in optimizing mid-range chips. The Pixel 4a 5G displays a autonomy of almost two days and fully recharges in 1h30.
Obviously, the real originality of this model lies in its photo module. Google opts for a double module (wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle) which could seem very light compared to the competition.
And yet. Thanks to the American’s expertise in algorithm development, the Pixel 4a 5G won the title of king of photography by hand. It even rivals the top-of-the-range Pixel 5 from Google, equipped with the same photographic equipment.
Of course, Google has to sacrifice a few features to contain the costs. Also the Pixel 4a 5G is not not certified waterproof and is not compatible with wireless charging, like the OnePlus Nord. But for 499 euros, these little flaws are more than acceptable. As far as we are concerned, the Pixel 4a 5G is our little darling.
Google Pixel 4a 5G at the best price
Base price: 499 €
iPhone SE 2020: the compact
2020 is arguably one of the busiest years for Apple. If at the end of the year all eyes are on the four new iPhone 12s, the American relaunched an iconic model earlier this year. The iPhone SE 2020 has landed in all humility on the official Apple site. Yet this compact model has its followers.
For this new edition, Apple uses the ingredients for the success of the first version. The iPhone SE 2020 is therefore based on the design of an old model (here the iPhone 8) with the latest components. Under its glass shell, it contains the A13 Bionic chip, the same that powers the iPhone 11 Pro. Suffice to say that the performances are there.
If it has a single photo sensor, the iPhone SE 2020 enjoys a software optimization onions. Also, it captures excellent shots. However, it lacks versatility compared to the competition, especially in more difficult conditions (from afar, in low light). Another weak point: its autonomy is very poor and its charging system (5 W charger) is from another time.
Still, it is the only compact model so complete. Above all, it comes with iOS 14 and will benefit from incomparable monitoring. Also, the iPhone SE 2020 can accompany you for 4 to 5 years. Finally, the iPhone SE 2020 is one of the few smartphones in its category IP68 certified and compatible with wireless charging. Real assets.
iPhone SE 2020 64 GB at the best price
Base price: 489 €
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Our guide to the best smartphones under $ 500 stops here. We will update it regularly according to the announcements of the manufacturers. In the meantime, do not hesitate to tell us which model you slide well under the tree.
Apple iPhone SE 2020 64 GB