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22 December 2020

Top five best mid-range mobile phones

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.
Callum Tennent

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.

Which? test lab scores for key smartphone features vs price

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) 60%
Mid-range phones (£200-400) 70%
Premium phones (>£400) 79%
Table notes

Average scores correct as of August 2020.

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 70% 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

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Best Buy

If you’re in the market for a smartphone with a mammoth screen but don’t want to pay a premium price, the Samsung Galaxy A71 might just catch your eye. Its 6.7-inch display looks impressive enough for a mid-range phone, but with a quad rear camera and pretty big battery, it looks as though it could compete with more premium rivals. Specs aside, how did it perform in our tough tests? Our review of the Samsung Galaxy A71 reveals all.

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Oppo has long positioned itself as the go-to brand for camera phones, so it’s no surprise that the Reno2 leads with promises of exceptional camera quality. Oppo brags of its quad rear lenses, led by a 48Mp Sony IMX586 camera and what it claims to be ‘the world's first pop-up camera with bokeh effect video’ for portrait mode footage. But are its cameras as good as they sound or are these claims all just techy marketing draws? We put its many lenses to the test, so read our Oppo Reno2 review to find out.

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The Google Pixel 3a is a surprising mid-range release from Google, which takes many of the features from the high-end Google Pixel 3 and builds them into a cheaper device. But can the Pixel 3a compete with the punchy flagship version, or does it sacrifice too much in order to keep costs down? Read our full review to see what our experts thought.

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Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of August 2020.

Looking for a pair of heaphones for your new mobile phone? Read our guide on the best wireless headphone deals.

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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