Top five best mid-range mobile phones
By Callum Tennent
Don't want to spend a fortune on a high-end new smartphone, but still want a capable model that will last and take good photos? A mid-range smartphone could be perfect for you - here are some of our favourites.
We always say that price is no guarantee of quality, but we also understand it can be hard to break out of a flagship smartphone upgrade cycle. Fortunately mid-range phones are more capable than ever, so you may not need to compromise on features and could significantly cut down your monthly spend.
A cheaper handset won't just save you money if you're buying outright, but will also result in a cheaper contract. Avoiding a top-of-the-line £800 handset in favour of one that costs £400 can save you as much as £50 per month, depending on how much you pay up front.
Mid-range smartphones used to be widely ignored, leaving shoppers feeling compelled to buy into the budget vs flagship binary, but smartphone technology has come a long way in the past five years. For those not obsessed with gigahertz and megapixels, a mid-range handset will do everything you ask of it and more.
As you can see from the chart above, mid-range handsets (which we've defined as costing between £200 and £400) tend to outperform cheaper models when it comes to battery life, camera quality, performance and ease of use. But how do they fare overall?
|Price range||Overall average test score|
|Budget phones (<£200)||52%|
|Mid-range phones (£200-400)||67%|
|Premium phones (>£400)||77%|
Average scores correct as of May 2019
Based on average overall score in the same three price brackets, you are more likely to get a solid phone if you spend big - which should be no real surprise. But an average of 67% for phones costing between £200 and £400 is quite respectable. We reveal the pick of the bunch below.
Or to browse all the mobile phones we've tested, visit our mobile phone reviews.
Top mid-range smartphones
This emerging brand has turned heads in our test lab before, and has landed yet another Best Buy with this excellent smartphone. As with its other models, battery is a huge strength on this phone, but it also takes beautiful pictures with its quadruple rear lens array, led by a 48Mp Sony camera.
This brilliant mid-range smartphone proves that you don’t need to pay a premium to get a phone with great battery life or a big screen for watching videos. A 6.7-inch Full HD+ display is great for its price and after lasting for 27 hours of call time on a full charge, it’s safe to say this model ticks the right boxes.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the premium flagships, this manufacturer has just what you’re looking for, with only a handful of compromises to keep it at a reasonable price. When we put it to the test, we were particularly impressed with how fast it charges and the quality of its videos, both when recording and making video calls.
This brand launched yet another affordable smartphone this year, which certainly appears ready to compete with the other mid-range phones on the market. It has more to offer than just a large display and high resolution cameras; our tests found that it’s got a great battery as well as impressive security options. Read our full review to find out how well it scored.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of July 2020.
What to look out for in a mid-range mobile phone
Just because you're saving a bit of cash doesn't mean you should feel the need to compromise. Here's a list of what you can expect to get for £200-£400 – don't settle for anything less:
- 1080p Full-HD display – There are occasional exceptions, but nowadays any handset outside of the bargain-bucket price range should have a Full-HD display. With screens as big as they are nowadays, anything less and the quality will take a noticeable nosedive.
- 3GB of Ram – You may well be able to find handsets with even more than this, in which case that's even better for you. The important thing to remember is not to go for anything less than this, though - apps will load sluggishly and multitasking will be a nightmare if you do.
- Fingerprint scanner – Once a luxury reserved for flagships, fingerprint scanners are commonplace now. More importantly, they still work brilliantly, even on cheaper handsets. Once you've gotten used to using one you'll never go back.
- Android 7 Nougat – It may not be the newest version anymore, but it's still new enough to be feature-filled, reliable and secure. You shouldn't be purchasing a handset with anything older on it, as there's no guarantee that it will be kept up to date in the near future. If you can find a model with Android 8 Oreo then so much the better.
Still looking to spend less? With an average test score of 49%, the budget phones market can be tricky to navigate. But there are still some great models around – our guide to the best cheap mobile phones reveals the cream of the budget crop.