Light On The Wallet, Heavy On Premium Features — Smartphones Under $500

The global smartphone marketplace is slowly shifting towards a more budget-minded era. You’ve got phones like the iPhone XR, Samsung S10e and now the Google Pixel 3a – all geared towards the cost-minded consumer.

Why? Perhaps people don’t want to spend as much or maybe prices have escalated too far (got my eyes on you Apple). But the lowdown is this: everyone who wants a smartphone has one, and the phones they are purchasing are so good that there isn’t a need to upgrade as often.

This pushes companies into a totally different territory: low-cost, high-performance devices. So, if you fall into that category of buyers, we’ve rounded up a list of high-performance devices under $500 that you should check out.

Neffos C7 Lite – $99

The first and most affordable on our list is the Neffos C7 Lite. Although just under $100, it does have one thing going for it – exceptional signal. After all, it is a subsidiary under TP-Link, a well-known and established brand in the Wi-Fi market. So, it comes as no surprise when they announced on April, 22 the Neffos C7 Lite – a smartphone retailing at just $99 that touts exceptional signal quality as its key feature. Allowing for ultra-fast, wireless internet, and superior cellular signal quality.


Neffos C7 Lite with a 5.45” FullView display

It has a nice compact design that hails to the good ol’ days of one-handed use and comes with a large enough 5.45” FullView display. There’s also a built-in 16GB memory storage and before you start frowning, it comes with an additional slot for expanding memory up to 128GB.

Check out the full list of specifications here.

But for a device going at such a price, you have to take the crookeds with the straights, which is sadly, its camera. On the back of the phone is a dismal 8MP camera and on the front its a 5MP one. Probably not a lot of selfie-taking happening with this phone. Then again, if the Neffos C7 Lite has piqued your interest, I’m willing to bet it’s not for the camera.

The Neffos C7 Lite is only available in Silver finish and will retail at a local retail price of only $99 and is available now at leading retailers such as Challenger, Best Denki, Sprintcass Stores and Neffos authorized retailers island-wide.

Honor 20 Lite – $338

Just announced last Friday 10 May, Honor unveiled the lite version of the Honor 20 series. Targetted at young people, it’s attractively priced at $338 with surprisingly premium features. Such as its super 32MP selfie camera. For comparison, the iPhone XS, which costs a whopping $1,649, only has a 7MP selfie camera.

Honor 20 Lite (Phantom Red)

Honor claims it’s their “best front-facing camera set up yet” and you’ll be able to covert those selfies into “2.3×1.7m-sized celebrity posters without compromising on detail,” which I don’t doubt. Its primary camera is not to be trifled with either – a 24MP with a 120-degree ultra-wide lens.

Not only that, it has an impressive 91.6% screen-to-body ratio with a 6.21” FullView HD display. Feel free to take all the selfies you want with its 128GB built-in storage. If that’s not impressive enough, it has the world’s first dynamic holographic glass back design to boot. Just take a look below. If that doesn’t scream premium, I’m not sure what will.


The Honor 20 Lite is available for pre-order at $338 from May 15 onwards at Honor’s official store on Lazada, Shopee & Qoo10.

Vivo V15 – $499

Nearly scratching the $500 mark, is the Vivo V15. Although the V15 Pro (retailing at $699) is the more celebrated of the two for obvious reasons, for a $200 discount you still get a pretty sweet deal.

Vivo V15 (Topaz Blue)

Released in March, the Vivo V15 runs on an MTK P70 2.1GHz octa-core processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB internal store (expandable to 256GB) and comes with a 6.53” LCD display (2,340 x 1,080 pixels). Now, the part where you rub your hands in glee is for the camera. Similar to the V15 Pro, it runs a 24MP, 120-degree wide angle, triple-lens rear camera set up and a pop-up 32MP selfie camera.

Vivo V15 Pop-Up Camera

Yes, pop-up.

So, no more ugly notch and experience an unencumbered “Ultra FullView Display” with a 90.95% screen-to-body ratio. There’s also a very nice 4,000 mAh battery with a fast charge feature.

Check out the rest of the specifications here.

The V15 is available at $499 (without contract) in Glamour Red and Topaz Blue through telcos M1 Limited (M1), and StarHub, and authorized dealers.

If you’re looking to upgrade that 3-year-old phone and not willing to break that piggy, we’ve listed a few viable options from a $99 smartphone all the way up to just about $500. So, take your pick! But if it were up to me, I’d go with the Honor 20 Lite. Not even classed as a flagship phone yet it comes with all the features of a flagship. All at an affordable price of $338.