​Top 10 best Android and Apple phones for under $600

We compare and review the unlocked and SIM-free phones, smartphones and iPhones to buy right now in 2019

Credit: Google

It’s easy to spend too much on a smartphone these days. Apple’s iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro can cost you thousands and Samsung’s high end Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra aren’t that much cheaper. 

Thankfully, nowadays, it’s much easier to find a cheaper and more budget-friendly alternative to these flagship devices than ever before. The list of shared features between mid-tier devices and premium ones continues to grow in size, while the gap in quality continues to shrink.

In 2020, modern mid-tier smartphone shoppers are getting more for less more often than ever before. With that reality in mind, here’s our latest list of the top 10 best Android and Apple phones you can find for under $600.

Oppo Reno Z

Oppo Reno ZCredit: Oppo
Oppo Reno Z

Although lacking in flagship perks like wireless charging, water-resistance or the Reno’s famed 10x lossless zoom, the Reno Z still offers plenty of cutting-edge features like an in-screen fingerprint sensor, surprisingly-solid performance and a camera that’s swings above its weight.

In our review, we concluded that “the Reno Z subtracts much of what makes the mainline Reno such an exceptional device. However, for less than half the price, it manages to carve out a compelling balance between nailing the essentials and being good enough at everything else that you rarely think about what you’re missing out on.”

You can read our full review here

Pros

  • Sleek design

  • In-display fingerprint sensor

  • Great performance

Cons

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

  • ColorOS can be an acquired taste

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Oppo Reno Z outright at the following retailers:

Read more: Sony X9300D and X8500D UHD 4K TV review

The Oppo Reno Z is also available on any postpaid mobile plans via Woolworths and Vodafone. Check out the widget below for more:

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4aCredit: Google
Google Pixel 4a

Read more: Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review

As with the previous Pixel 3a, the Pixel 4a nabs you the same slick, clean and expansive version of Android found in the flagship Pixel 4 plus a camera that’s almost just as good. 

In our review, we came away impressed and said that “If you don’t want an iPhone and you’re on a budget, then the Pixel 4a is a tremendous option. For less than six hundred dollars you get a superlative camera, guaranteed three years of software support, all-day battery life, and clean Android software with exclusive features in a phone that you can hold in one hand. It’s surprising how rare that is to find today, let alone at such a good price.”

You can read our full review here.

Pros:

  • Incredible camera

  • Clean software

  • OLED screen

Cons:

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

  • Physical fingerprint sensor & no Face Unlock

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Google Pixel 4a outright through the following retailers:

The Google Pixel 4a is also available on any postpaid mobile plans via Vodafone and Telstra. Check out the widget below for more.

Oppo Reno4 Z 5G

Oppo Reno4 Z 5GCredit: Oppo
Oppo Reno4 Z 5G

A learner, cheaper companion to Oppo’s 5G-ready Reno4, the Reno4 Z 5G successfully replicates most of what makes the former one of the more compelling sub-$1000 devices out there.

Priced at thrifty AU$599, the Reno4 Z packs in 5G-connectivity, a 6.5-inch LCD screen clocked at 120Hz, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage plus a quad-lens rear camera. You won't find flagship perks like wireless charging, water-resistance or the Find series’ famed 10x lossless zoom but you will find an in-screen fingerprint sensor, a 4000mAh battery and a surprisingly-capable camera for the price point.

Pros

  • Sleek design

  • In-display fingerprint sensor

  • Great performance

Cons

Read more: ​LG X Power smartphone review

  • No wireless charging

  • No water resistance

  • ColorOS can be an acquired taste

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the Oppo Reno4 Z 5G outright at the following retailers:

Read more: Australian smartphone reviews 2016

You can't currently buy the Oppo Reno4 Z 5G on a post-paid plan but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan using the widget below:

Samsung Galaxy Note9

Samsung Galaxy Note9Credit: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Note9

Compared to when it first launched, the Samsung Galaxy Note9 is now way cheaper and only a little less compelling.

You still  gets you a pretty powerful Exynos processor, the ever-useful S-Pen and a gorgeous Infinity Display. You even get access to the new One UI Android skin that Samsung debuted alongside the Galaxy S10. Software updates and price-depreciation have helped the Note9 hold its edge over the years.

In our original review, we said that the Note9 "is a device that offers the world. It’s got one of the best displays you can get on a smartphone. It’s got one of the best camera systems you can get on a smartphone. It’s got one of the best processors you can find in a smartphone. But so does the Note 8. And while the Note 9 is definitely the better device, savvy customers are probably wanna gonna opt for its discounted predecessor or wait for whatever comes next."

Pros

  • Great display & design

  • Water resistance & wireless charging

  • Still has a headphone jack

Cons

  • Camera hasn’t aged as well as it should have

  • Looks dated compared to modern Samsung devices

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Samsung Galaxy Note9 through the following:

The Samsung Galaxy Note9 is available on postpaid mobile plans via Telstra:

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Xiaomi Mi MIx 3Credit: Xiaomi
Xiaomi Mi MIx 3

Since Xiaomi are a relative newcomer to the Australian smartphone market, it shouldn't surprise you that they're looking to undercut the competition. Back when it first launched, the Mi Mix 3 was cutthroat but nowadays, it's downright offensively cheap for a device with flagship performance and a standout design.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 features a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, an 6.39-inch AMOLED screen with an in-display fingerprint sensor plus dual-lens rear camera setup that pairs a 12-megapixel primary sensor with a second 12-megapixel telephoto one.

In our review, we said that "If you're intrigued by the device's neo-slider form-factor, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 honestly feels like a downright steal at $899. The camera lacks the versatility or low-light performance you’d get out of the P30 Pro and it doesn’t feel as futuristic to use as something like the Samsung Galaxy S10 - but it’s still an incredibly compelling package at an incredibly compelling price and if you're looking for the best value-for-money flagship option available right this moment: this is probably it."

Pros

  • No notch!

  • Great performance

Cons

  • No headphone jack

  • Mediocre battery life

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 through the following:

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Read more: ​Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review

LG V30+

LG V30+Credit: LG Electronics
LG V30+

On paper, LG’s V30+ is feels like the quiet achiever of the 2018 flagship line-up. It’s got everything you’d expect: IP68 waterproofing, a Snapdragon 835 processor, a powerful dual-lens camera, face unlock, an always-on display and support for wireless charging. It’s also got some stuff you might not expect, like dedicated videography capabilities.

As we said in our review of the LG V30+, “If you’re a sucker for a good snap (or selfie), LG’s V30+ is probably not going to cut it for you. However, if you’re willing to live with photos that are only good rather than great, it’s got the makings of the best Android phones of the year. It ticks (almost) all the right boxes and does so at a price that neatly undercuts the competition.”

Pros

  • Flagship feature set

  • Videography shortcuts

Cons

  • Plain design

  • Underwhelming camera

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the LG V30+ through the following:

The LG V30+ ThinQ isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Apple iPhone 8

iPhone 8Credit: Apple
iPhone 8

As the precursor to Apple's iconic iPhone X, the iPhone 8 represents the end of an era. And, sure enough, by the standards of today's iPhones, the design and features involved do feel a little dated.

But that's not to say the handset hasn't held onto some of its charms. In some ways, the story hasn't changed here. As we said in our original review, "if you’re keen on the smaller form-factor, aren’t fussed about the camera and want an iPhone that’s as snappy as they come - this is an all-round good, if a little sale, choice."

You can read our full review of the Apple iPhone 8 here

Pros

  • A11 Bionic processor
  • iOS
  • Premium feel

Cons

  • Dated camera

  • No headphone jack

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Apple iPhone 8 through the following:

The Apple iPhone 8 is still available on a postpaid mobile plans via NuMobile:

RealMe XT 

Realme XTCredit: RealMe
Realme XT

RealMe moved into the Australian market earlier this year and their debut flagship is priced at less than half that of the competition. 

In our review, we said that “Representing RealMe’s top tier offering in the market, the XT bundles together a lot of solid features for its price point. It looks to leverage its brawny camera and fast charging to appeal to buyers looking to maximise value or find a point of difference in this competitive price point.”

“While buyers may have already seen a lot of what was on offer in its competitors, the RealMe XT ticks all the boxes and could pleasantly surprise users willing to make friends with the new kid on the block.”

You can read our full review here.   

Pros

  • 64-megapixel camera lens

  • Fast-charging

Cons

  • Lacks distinct identity

  • Other cameras aren't as good as the main one

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can buy the RealMe XT through:

The RealMe XT is not available on any postpaid plans but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan. Check below for a round-up of the best SIM only plans:

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 ProCredit: Huawei
Huawei Mate 20 Pro

To say we're fans of the Mate 20 Pro would be putting it lightly. Even two years later, the device arguably represents the apex of Huawei's smartphone business. The P30 Pro might have let you take photos of the moon but it never quite matched the highs of the Mate 20 Pro.

In our review, we said that "the Mate 20 Pro really is far and away the best smartphone Huawei have produced to date. It's not quite the same leap forward for smartphone photography that the P20 Pro. However, it holds its own on other fronts that serve to propel it to the top of the category."

The device itself is equipped with a Kirin 680 processor, 6.39-inch OLED display, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 4200mAh battery and a triple-lens rear camera.

You can read our full review of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro here.

Pros

  • Fast processor

  • Triple lens camera

Cons

  • NanoMemory storage
  • No MicroSD

Where to buy?

In Australia, you can find the Huawei Mate 20 through the following:

The Huawei Mate 20 isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

Oppo Reno2 Z

Oppo Reno2 ZCredit: Oppo
Oppo Reno2 Z

The first Reno Z felt like a response to the escalation of competition in the mid-tier segment of the Android smartphone market prompted by the Google Pixel 3a and the Reno2 Z continues to raise the stakes.

The device features a Helio P90 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a headphone jack, a 4000mah battery and a quad-lens rear camera. You won't fancy features like wireless charging or water resistance but you will get a device that excels at the fundamentals.

In our review, we concluded that "The Reno2 Z is everything the previous model was and then some. It’s better where it counts, distinguishes itself from the competition in some key ways and it manages to provide more than enough value to stand out in a post-Pixel 3a world of mid-tier phones. In an alternative timeline where Google's budget phone didn't force the world to re-calibrate what smartphone photography at this price-point can look like, the Reno2 Z would be a slam dunk for the year's best mid-tier device."

You can read our full review of the Oppo Reno2 Z here.

Pros:

  • Flagship design
  • Slick software

Cons:

  • Camera can be inconsistent
  • Slow face unlock

Where to buy it?

The Oppo Reno2 Z isn’t available on any postpaid mobile plans via Telstra, Optus or Vodafone but you can always pair the device up with a SIM-only plan (see below).

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This article was originally published on the 24th of September 2018 and updated by Fergus Halliday on the 2nd of October 2020.

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