(Pocket-lint) – Choosing a new smartphone isn’t as simple as it used to be. They come in lots of different sizes, with plenty of different features and, critically, at plenty of different price-points.
For some the camera is important, for others it will be battery life, or perhaps biometric login. These days it isn’t just the very best flagship smartphones that offer these features though. There’s another breed of smartphones – the mid-rangers – that offer great specs at a lower price.
Here we’ve rounded up the best devices that sit between the £/€/$200-400 mark – yes our European and American readers, we have you covered – as fully reviewed here on Pocket-lint. Want something even cheaper? Then check our best budget phones feature.
Google Pixel 4a
The Google Pixel 4a has a clean and smooth software interface, coupled with the excellent Pixel camera, offering a great point-and-shoot experience.
The Pixel 4a offers plenty of power, a great display, a compact form and some great speakers. It might be too small for some and it doesn’t have the latest hardware, but for those looking for a compact phone we can’t really see why you’d need to look any further.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Samsung’s flagship phones might steal the limelight, but it’s also been putting out really solid mid-range handsets this whole time, with its A series the most interesting. The A52 5G is the latest lower-priced star, and we’re suitably impressed. Perhaps its most impressive aspects are in design, where you could honestly be fooled into thinking it’s a premium handset.
The display is great, and while you might not have loads of power under the hood it’ll do nicely for most people. Battery life is also solid, and an under-display fingerprint scanner works well for unlocking. You even get a quad-camera setup to make sure that you can play with the big boys while shooting.
The OnePlus Nord is an excellent mid-range device. It offers a large display, 90Hz refresh rates, 5G connectivity and a great battery life.
There are more cameras than there need to be, it’s not available everywhere and the edges are a little plasticky, but what OnePlus has quite expertly done is make a phone that doesn’t leave you pining for a greater experience.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is a great Android device for the markets where the Nord (above) doesn’t exist.
It offers an affordable price point, smooth and reliable performance, physical fingerprint sensor and headphone jack and it comes with expandable storage.
The camera isn’t the best and the original Nord is better in most departments, but in the markets where this device is the only Nord-branded phone, it’s a well-priced, affordable Android device with few major negatives.
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro
The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is a fabulous phone for its price. It has huge amounts of performance, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a solid battery and a lovely OLED display too, not to mention decent camera performance for the most part.
The MIUI software might put some off, low light camera performance isn’t brilliant and it has a fairly chunky build with no water or dust resistance, but this device has unrivalled spec for its price. In fact, it’s quite simply bonkers this phone sells for the money it does.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite offers class-leading spec for its price, a smooth experience, great OLED display and a decent battery life, as well as very capable main camera.
The quad cameras is an oversell, there’s some software bloat and the notch looks a little dated but as the market hots up to deliver a more affordable 5G phone, this Xiaomi offering is high up the scale.
Motorola Moto G 5G Plus
The Motorola Moto G 5G Plus isn’t just a great phone because it offers 5G future proofing. It’s a great phone for all it offers, from the excellent battery life, the big screen experience, power and super smooth hardware.
It is a little plasticky, the cameras are an oversell and there is no in-display fingerprint sensor, but otherwise there’s little within this class that can touch this Moto.
Motorolal Moto G8 Power
This phone is all about battery life – that’s why it has ‘Power’ in its name. It lasts for an absolute age, comes in at the lower end of our budget, and is a surprisingly smooth handler too.
At this price point you won’t get the best cameras going, but if you want longevity and as little outlay as possible then it’s simply superb.
Realme 8 Pro
The Realme 8 Pro really only has one drawback – the very loud branding on the phone’s back. If you’re okay with that, you get a heck of a lot of phone for the price.
You get impressive battery performance, an impressive camera unit, and really decent specs featuring a Snapdragon 720G to add up to an extremely solid mid-ranger.
Oppo Reno 2 Z
The Oppo Reno 2 Z has a clear and crisp display, a premium look and feel and a great battery life. It isn’t a flagship phone, but it gets you most of the way there for an astonishingly good price.
The finish is a little slippery and the low light images aren’t as good as the Google Pixel 4a, but the Oppo Reno 2 Z offers super fast-charging and you get an awful lot for your money, making it easily recommendable.
Motorola Moto G Pro
The Motorola Moto G Pro offers a stylus without the typical associated cost, a clean software experience, good battery innings, ample power and a capable main camera.
There are no decent palm rejection or pressure levels for the stylus and the additional cameras are of limited worth, but if you’re looking for a stylus in a phone and all the functionality that brings, but don’t have a big budget, the Moto G Pro is just the ticket.
How to buy a mid-range phone
Buying a phone is a delicate business, with a lot of different elements to be considered, but there are some key questions to ask yourself that we’ve laid out here.
What’s your budget for a mid-range phone?
While the phones we’ve included in the list you’ve just browsed should all come in under £400 or $400, that doesn’t mean that’s a figure you have to spend. As you’ll have seen, there are plenty of price-points to be found.
Therefore it’s certainly a helpful first step to work out what your budget is, so that you can see what your exact price can fetch you.
Mid-range phone cameras
A big variable between different phones at the moment comes down to the approach to photography. If you want it, you can easily find quad-camera arrays at this price, giving you loads of options for shooting in different ways.
Equally, though, if you’re happy with fewer lenses of higher quality, that’s something you can keep an eye out for. We think that a standard shooter and an ultra-wide are both nice to use, but aren’t always won over by macro or telephoto lenses at this price.
Mid-range phone operating system
You might notice that we’ve only got Android phones on this list – that’s because you still can’t find a new iPhone for a truly budget price that we think is good enough for this list.
Of course, you can buy used if you want iOS over any alternative, but you’ll have an easier time of it if you’re happy to use Android.
Mid-range phone display size
Another big variable is around the size of phone you want – it’s increasingly difficult to find truly small phones, but there’s still variation in how big they are.
Check out the photos in our reviews to see how big a phone is if you’re interested and compare their dimension to make sure you don’t accidentally end up with something way too big for your hands!
Writing by Britta O’Boyle. Editing by Max Freeman-Mills.