Best Premium Smartphones Under $600 to Buy in 2023

NextPit Best Phones Under 500 Dollars 2023
© sodawhiskey / Adobe Stock / NextPit

With smartphone prices trending upwards, and many flagship models way beyond a thousand dollars, sub-$600 phones still offer a good balance between features and performance. Whether you are looking to play games, take great pictures, or simply have a reliable phone which will last you many years, keep reading to find out the best phones on the market for less than 600 dollars.

With true flagship phones costing (way) above $1000, intermediate models started to trickle around the $500 price range. Even then, there are still a couple of smartphones around $600 that still offer a true flagship-level experience, without the tradeoffs found in the intermediate segment.

Editor's note: the prices highlighted in this article may vary depending on discounts offered by the manufacturers.

The best smartphones under $600

  Editorial tip Apple's alternative Best camera Long software support Fast-charging option
Product OnePlus 10T 5G
Picture Google Pixel 7a product image
Apple iPhone 12
Google Pixel 7
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
OnePlus 10T 5G
Display 6.1-inch OLED
1080 x 2400 pixels
90 Hz refresh rate
6.1-inch OLED
1170 x 2532 pixels
60 Hz refresh rate
6.3-inch OLED
1080 x 2400 pixels
90 Hz refresh rate
6.4-inch OLED
1080 x 2340 pixels
120 Hz refresh rate
6.7-inch OLED
1080 x 2412 pixels
120 Hz refresh rate
Processor Google Tensor G2 Apple A14 Bionic Google Tensor G2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888  Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Memory 8 GB RAM
128 GB storage
64 / 128 / 256 GB storage
128 / 256 GB storage
6 / 8 GB RAM
128 / 256 GB storage
8 / 12 / 16 GB RAM
128 / 256 GB storage
Software Android 13 iOS 14.1 Android 13 Android 12 with One UI Android 12 with Oxygen OS
Camera Main: 64 MP, f1.89, OIS
Ultra-wide: 13 MP, f/2.2
Main: 12 MP, f/1.6, OIS
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.4
Main: 50 MP, f/1.9, OIS
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.2
Main: 12 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.2
3x telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4
Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide: 8 MP, f/2.2
Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4
Selfie 13 MP, f/2.2 12 MP, f/2.2 10.8 MP, f/2.2 32 MP, f/2.2 16 MP, f/2.4
Battery 4,385 mAh
18 W wired charging
5 W wireless charging
2815 mAh
20 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
Charger not included
4355 mAh
20 W wired charging
20 W wireless charging
Charger not included
4500 mAh
25 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
Charger not included
4800 mAh
125 W wired charging (US)
Charger included
  • Compact design
  • Top-notch performance
  • Versatile and trustworthy camera
  • All-day long battery
  • Wireless charging
  • Still a good performer in 2023
  • Bright OLED display
  • Excellent iOS support and integration
  • Well-calibrated 90Hz Full HD+ OLED display
  • Premium design (Gorilla Glass Victus, aluminum frame, IP68)
  • Efficient dual camera module
  • Android 13 with lots of exclusive features
  • Excellent battery life
  • Competitive price
  • Bright, smooth and responsive 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Snapdragon 888 performance without overheating issues
  • Neat and modern design (despite all the plastic)
  • Convincing wide-angle and 3x zoom camera module
  • Night Mode works great
  • 3 major Android versions and 4 years of security updates
  • IP68 certification
  • High performance led by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC
  • 100% battery life in less than 20 minutes
  • Quality 120Hz AMOLED display
  • 3 Android updates and 4 years of security updates
  • Competitive price
  • Slow charging time
  • No power adapter in the box
  • Average battery life
  • 60 Hz refresh rate display
  • 64 GB of storage is too low
  • Slow wired charging
  • Charger not included
  • No 120 Hz refresh rate
  • 20W wired charging is too slow
  • Back design is less beautiful than last year's
  • Charger not included
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Archaic 25-watt charging
  • No microSD port or 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Charger is not included in the box
  • The price is not competitive
  • No IP certification
  • No Alert Slider
  • Limited camera module performance
  • No Hasselblad branding
Read the Pixel 7a review
Not yet rated
Read the Google Pixel 7 review
Read the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review
Read the OnePlus 10T 5G review

What to expect from a sub-$600 phone

Different from other price categories, sub-$600 phones don't make specific tradeoffs to reach the price point. Each brand usually chooses different features to distinguish smartphones in this category from the true flagships.

Their software update support is usually on the same level as the high-end devices but you can expect to find sacrifices in camera versatility—e.g. fewer lenses—, slower or fewer charging options, slightly downgraded display, or older generation processors.

The best smartphones under $600

Google Pixel 7a: All-in-one package phone

Google Pixel 7a review images
A dual camera setup that functions like three! / © NextPit

Read the full Google Pixel 7a review

Our pick for the best smartphone under $600 is the newly released Google Pixel 7a. Although the A-series has seen a $50 increase in its initial price, it has also seen a significant improvement in camera quality, with a 72% increase in the size of the main camera sensor and overall enhancements to all lenses. The device now supports wireless charging (albeit at a slow 5W rate) and maintains the top-notch Google Tensor G2 SoC inside.

On the software side, the Pixel 7a comes with Android 13 out of the box and includes the feature drop over time. This means it will receive Google's newest and sometimes Pixel-exclusive software features. The device is expected to be supported up to Android 16 and should receive at least five more years of security patches.

The Pixel 7a received a 5-star rating on NextPit because it redefines our understanding of the premium mid-range category. Priced at $499, this budget-friendly smartphone even makes us question the value of high-end devices with top-tier hardware specifications.

Apple iPhone 12: Ecosystem ties

Apple iPhone 12 mini
The iPhone 12 is almost indistinguishable from the 13 and 14 models. / © NextPit

For those invested in the Apple ecosystem, the best option in the sub-$600 category is probably the iPhone 12. The first 5G iPhone is still a powerful and versatile smartphone in 2023, with performance on par with its Android alternatives.

The iPhone 12 features a beautiful 6.1'' OLED display with an excellent contrast ratio and a design inspired by the classic iPhone 4 that was kept on the 2021 and 2022 successors. As usual for the non-Pro Apple phones, the iPhone 12 features a dual camera module, both with 12-megapixel sensors and great performance in both daylight and night shots.

Energy efficiency is one of the low points of the iPhone 12, with worse battery life than its more efficient successors. Another issue is that 64 GB of storage may not be enough for most people. In that case, it might be worth considering getting the 3rd-generation iPhone SE which features a more efficient processor but has an older design based on the iPhone 6.

Google Pixel 7: The best camera

Google Pixel 7 review
The dual camera module of the Google Pixel 7 with its main lens can "simulate" a x2 optical zoom and up to x8 in digital. / © NextPit

Read the full Google Pixel 7

The Google Pixel family is well-known for its camera performance, and the Pixel 7 is no exception. The Android flagbearer is usually on top of camera comparisons and offers excellent results from both its main 50 MP camera and the 12-megapixels ultra-wide lens.

Being the Google reference phone, the Pixel 7 gets monthly security fixes and is first in line to receive new Android versions. Performance is top-notch, with the same processor used in the flagship Pixel 7 Pro. And all that with excellent battery life, without software bloat and exclusive software features thanks to the Pixel feature drops.

As a tradeoff, the Pixel 7 is limited to a 90 Hz OLED display—while its Android rivals go up to 120 Hz—and the performance of the Tensor G2 chip is not on par with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8+ Gen 1.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Long-term support

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The Galaxy S21 FE looks like every other Samsung phone viewed upfront. / © NextPit

Read the Galaxy S21 FE review

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE had a very difficult task to fulfill, to succeed the popular Galaxy S20 FE. Worse, launched during the COVID pandemic, its release was delayed probably due to component shortages and ended up reaching shelves right before the Galaxy S22 was announced.

The result is a capable phone brought down by the fact it is powered by the power-hungry Snapdragon 888 processor. Despite offering excellent daily performance, battery life and heat management were issues we found during our review.

Still, the Galaxy S21 FE is a good option in the price range, with good camera performance and the promise of long-term support. The S21 FE should receive Android 16 in 2026, with security fixes until the beginning of 2027.

 OnePlus 10T: The right compromises

OnePlus 10T 5G review
OnePlus 10T 5G supports 125W fast charging (150W in global versions). / © NextPit

Read the full OnePlus 10T review

Our pick for the fast-charging option smartphone under $600 goes to the OnePlus 10T 5G. The Chinese brand did a curious balance of features and performance, ditching wireless charging in favor of superfast 125 W wired charging, for example. Therefore, this makes the device the fastest-charging phone on this list, achieving a full battery capacity of 0 - 100% in only 17 minutes.

Another compromise is in the camera department, without a telephoto lens and only an 8 MP ultra-wide sensor. Even so, OnePlus equipped the phone with a capable main camera that shouldn't disappoint. Additionally, the OLED display is top-notch, with 120 Hz refresh rate, vivid colors, and enough brightness for outdoor use.

Better still, the OnePlus 10T is equipped with the powerful Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, that not only is faster than its predecessors, it does so with less energy consumption. And on the software side, the 10T should be supported up to Android 15, with at least four more years of security patches

Alternatives to purchasing a more expensive smartphone

Mark these deals days down in your 2023 calendar:
Event Date
Amazon Prime Day July 2023 (rumored)
Singles' Day 11 November 2023
Black Week 20 to 24 November 2023
Black Friday 24 November 2023
Cyber Monday 27 November 2023

Contract discounts

Flagship and premium phones are the models with the biggest (and best) discounts when buying with a phone contract. That's why we added contract options in the deals links above, in case you are a customer of one of the mentioned carriers, be sure to check them out!  

Refurbished and used smartphones

If removing the protective film on your new device does not spark joy, you can pick up more expensive smartphones from the second-hand or refurbished market. It is particularly advisable to use devices that carry a refurbished guarantee.

These are used smartphones that have been checked and refurbished by reputable companies to ensure that they are in tip-top condition. Refurbished devices are particularly worthwhile to check out when they come with an extended warranty. This is how you protect yourself when picking one up just in case the handset gives up the ghost just a few weeks down the road.

Other best of lists on NextPit:

Do you think we forgot a phone model? What would you change on this list? Share your opinion in the comments below!

Our 'Best Smartphones Under $600' list was updated in May 2023 to incorporate the newly released Pixel 7a as our editorial choice.

NextPit receives a commission for purchases made via the marked links. This has no influence on the editorial content and there are no costs for you. You can find out more about how we make money on our transparency page.
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Rubens Eishima

Rubens Eishima

Having written about technology since 2008 for a number of websites in Brazil, Spain, Denmark, and Germany, I specialize in the mobile ecosystem, including various models, components, and apps. I tend to not only value performance and specifications, but also things like repairability, durability, and manufacturer support. I tend to prioritize the end-user's point of view whenever possible.

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