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Best smartphones under AU$500

Have the prices on flagship phones got you reaching for your heart medication? Don't worry! You can still get good quality handsets for under AU$500.

If you want a so-called flagship phone these days, you're going to be paying serious money. If you were after the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, for example, you'd pay AU$65 for every character in its overly long name. (that's AU$1,299 for the 64GB model, in case you're still doing the maths).

This is why people tend to find themselves in extensive contracts with carriers, because that initially outlay to own the phone outright represents a big chunk of cash. So before you get that second mortgage, ask yourself if you really need a top of the line smartphone with all the imaginable bells and whistles?

Maybe you're after a cheaper handset for travel, or something that you don't mind getting knocked around a little. Maybe you're buying for a younger family member or maybe your own track record with shattered screens and lost phones means you're looking for something cheaper. If so, you're in luck because there are some great phones you can buy new and outright for under AU$500. Well, assuming you're not after anything from Apple: The lowest cost iPhone you can get new is still the 16GB iPhone 5S and that'll cost you AU$749...

Aloysius Low/CNET

Oppo R7 AU$449

Sleek, slim and with a stunning metal frame, Oppo's R7 is the less expensive phone in the family that includes the R7 Plus and R7s. It's got 4G compatibility, but you will need to use Oppo's proprietary Android skin, which might be a turn off for some.

  • 5-inch display with 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution
  • 143 by 71 by 6.3mm and 147 grams
  • 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor from Qualcomm
  • 16GB of storage (expandable memory of up to 128GB)
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 2,320mAh embedded battery
Sarah Tew/CNET

Moto G (Late 2015) AU$369

The soon-to-be-departed Motorola love the Moto G name so much, we have to differentiate them by when they come out. This version improved the G design, added water-resistance (very cool), LTE/4G and packed in a very good battery life.

  • 5 inch, 720p display with 1,280x720 pixels
  • 142.1 by 72.4 by 11.6mm and 155 grams
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera
  • 1.4 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 2GB of RAM and 16GB onboard storage
  • 2,470mAh nonremovable battery

Sony Xperia C4 AU$499

Yes, it may be from the middle of 2015, but the C4 remains a great low-cost Xperia, especially if you're after some solid selfie-action, thanks to that front-mounted LED flash. It's not Sony's best looking phone, but it packs in a lot of bang for your buck.

5.5-inch display with 1,920x1,080 resolution

  • 150.3 by 77.4 by 7.9 mm and 147 grams
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera with Exmor R and flash
  • 1.7 GHz Octa-core processor
  • 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage
  • 2,600mAh battery

Google Nexus 5X AU$479

Although it launched at a slightly higher price, the Nexus 5X is now under AU$500 and a bargain as well. The Nexus is always the purest Android experience around the 5X offers great performance, top-notch pictures and a relatively small, lightweight chassis as well.

  • 5.2-inch display with 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution
  • 147 by 27.6 by 7.9mm and 136 grams
  • 12.3-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera
  • 1.8GHz six-core Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 2GB RAM and 16GB storage
  • 2,700 mAh embedded battery
Dave Cheng/CNET

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL AU$399

Don't feel like an Android phone? It's ok -- you can get last year's Lumia 640 XL for under AU$400 if you need that Windows experience. Well made with a great camera, it's a solid option for anyone not stuck on the Google OS.

  • 5.7-inch IPS display with 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution
  • 157.9 x 81.5 x 9mm and 171 grams
  • 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera
  • 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor
  • 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage
  • 3,00mAh battery