When you buy something, you want the best. We are happy to tell you what we think is the best, in all kinds of areas. “Best” is of course an opinion, and in this case ours. With Bright Stuff, base that view on a few things. With affordable phones, we look at a number of things, like screen, speed, manufacturer promises to update, and design. Based on these requirements, we can recommend these smartphones in the category up to around 500 euros.
Google Pixel 6a
In the most expensive segment we find Pixel 7 Pro Best Buy, but the Google Pixel A models at least offer a lot of bang for your buck. Google Pixel 6a is one of the smallest Android phones with a size of 6.1 inches. Still, the 1080p OLED screen looks great, even if it’s only 60Hz: you can’t get everything for this price. What you get is a well-chosen balance of great hardware features and subtle software.
Pixel 6a has pure Android: pure Google experience with no frills, no duplicate apps, and the latest Android version is always available right away. You also get the three latest versions of Android after launch and five years of security updates. The chip in the Pixel 6a is Google’s first proprietary smartphone chip, Tensor. It performs excellently, above average for its price range, and is very good at AI tasks.
Artificial intelligence is a bit of a buff for Google, especially when it comes to cameras. You can see it: on the back there is an ultrawide book and a prime lens, both at 12 megapixels – not very eye-catching on paper, but the AI squeezes a lot, from the beautiful night photos to functions such as the Magic Eraser, which allows you to erase unwanted photos At the touch of a button. Remove objects from photos. The design is unobtrusive but quirky. The biggest drawbacks: no fast charging and no wireless charging.
the Google Pixel 6A Available in black, white and green, from 349 euros.
Samsung Galaxy A54
The Galaxy S series offers the best that Samsung can do, and the A series offers the best Samsung box for half the money. The A54 has a large 6.4-inch OLED display: nice and bright with 1,000 nits, and wonderfully smooth with 120Hz. Powered by an Exynos 1380 chip, it’s great and fast, with 6 or 8GB of RAM.
The Galaxy A54’s cameras are excellent: a 50MP main camera, a 12MP wide-angle lens and a 5MP macro lens. As with many similarly priced phones, the main camera is all-important and best, and the A54 delivers on that thanks to its optical image stabilization. Even in the dark, though, the night mode isn’t always attractive, and sometimes it more than makes up for it. Moreover, the device is water resistant and supports 25W fast charging, but there is no wireless charging.
A big advantage of Samsung phones is that they are guaranteed for five years of Android updates. With so many similar devices, you can be happy with one new Android release, the A54 comes with Android 13 and can count on Android 14, 15, 16 and 17 updates with security updates for a while. Updates through March 2028, though, is a solid promise, especially at this price point.
the Samsung Galaxy A54 Available in black, white, purple and green, from 489 euros.
The first phone from the young technology brand is nothing by former OnePlus CEO Carl Pei and the Swedish company Teenage Engineering. Just like the Nothing earplugs, the device has a stunning transparent design. The back shows part of the interior, where the strips of white light are fused into different shapes. These strips are multifunctional and together they make up the interface of the Glyph: blinking and lighting in positions that you can set yourself.
Nothing Phone (1) has a 6.55-inch 1080p OLED display with 120Hz dynamic refresh. This screen looks sharp, clear, bright, and scrolls smoothly. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G + chip, which is not the fastest, but in practice this is not always noticeable, although you do not want to play games on this device. But that’s exactly the point: with its beautiful design and excellent performance, this device naturally resists above its weight class.
Sometimes with difficulty: the two 50-megapixel cameras on the back do well for the price, but at the same time they are the most obvious weak point compared to a much more expensive device. Nice: This phone can quickly charge 33W and wirelessly recharge other gadgets via the back of the device: your earplugs, for example. Add to that an elegant, distinctive interface and a transparent design and it turns out that nothing is a phone (1) that is without a doubt the most beautiful phone in its class.
the none phone 1 Available in black and white, from 419 euros.
Xiaomi 13 Lite
The Chinese often know how to offer an impressive amount for a competitive price. The Xiaomi 13 Lite is distinguished by its very thin screen edges and iPhone-like tablet screen. Large 6.55-inch screen: OLED, 120Hz and even Dolby Vision support – features you’d expect from a much more expensive phone.
Despite such a large screen, the 13 Lite lives up to its name: at 171 grams, it’s the lightest phone on this list. And this pill-shaped notch is there for a reason. This midsize sedan has an excellent 32MP selfie camera, which is aided by an 8MP depth sensor. This way, you can take beautiful photos and videos with a perfectly convincing artificial depth of field, in selfie mode.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is an impressive chip for a device in this class: very fast and economical enough. And another Chinese feature: very fast loading. You can fly from 0 to 100 percent in 40 minutes with the included 67-watt charger. The three cameras on the back of the device vary from excellent to superfluous: no one needs a 2MP macro camera. Unfortunately, this device is not waterproof.
the Xiaomi 13 Lite Available in black, blue and pink, from 499 euros.
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