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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.

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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) 51%
Mid-range phones (£200-400) 66%
Premium phones (>£400) 74%
Table notes
Average scores correct as of December 2018

 

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 66% 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

75%
£399.00
Reviewed

It may come in at the very top of the price bracket, but its performance in our tests was streets ahead of the other models in this table. A fantastic value handset from a big-name brand.

73%
£370.00
Reviewed

This is an incredible mid-range device. It has a fantastic battery life for such a powerful phone, and a great display. There are a couple of features missing - like waterproofing, but overall this is superb value for money.

73%
£190.00
Reviewed

This phone has a large 5.5-inch display and two rear camera lenses, which is a rarity at this cost. Combine that with a slick metal body and you have a handset that seriously outperforms its price tag.

72%
£250.00
Reviewed

With so many smartphones from this brand, it can be hard to know which one to go for. This model may not look like anything special on the outside, but its performance in nearly every one of our tests makes it one of the very best at this price point.

69%
£279.00
Reviewed

This phone performed admirably in our tests, with good screen quality and a decent battery. In fact it's one of the best we've ever tested at this price point, leaving us to wonder if it's really worth paying more.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of November 2018

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.

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