Top five best mid-range mobile phones
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.
You'd be surprised how much you can get for half the price of a flagship these days. Although the very best screens and cameras and fancy features like waterproofing and wireless charging are usually reserved for top-of-the-range handsets, you can still find an excellent phone in the mid-range category. Look carefully and you can find a phone with brilliant battery life, a very capable processor and a high-resolution OLED display. 5G connectivity is becoming the standard too, so it won't cost the earth to futureproof your phone.
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 (<£250)||63%|
|Mid-range phones (£250-600)||72%|
|Premium phones (>£600)||76%|
Average scores correct as of April 2021.
Based on average overall score, you are more likely to get a great phone if you spend big – which should be no real surprise. But an average score of 72% for phones costing between £250 and £600 is respectable. We reveal the pick of the bunch below.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of April 2021
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 £250-£600 – 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. Look carefully and you might even find an OLED at this price range too.
- 4GB of Ram – You may well be able to find handsets with even more than this (a couple even go up to 8GB). Avoid models with less though – apps may be slow to load, multitasking will be sluggish, and overall it won't be as enjoyable an experience using the phone.
- Multiple cameras – not so long ago you needed to spend big on a flagship to get a good camera, or benefits like an ultra-wide lens. Many mid-range phones impress on this front though, so there's no need to compromise.
- 5G – similarly, 5G has now made its way down from expensive models, and a lot of new mid-range phones include it as standard. Even if you're not planning on getting a 5G Sim quite yet, it doesn't hurt to future-proof.
- Android 11 – The latest version of Android used to be reserved for premium phones, but more and more manufacturers are releasing handsets on the latest OS. This means your phone will come equipped with the latest usability features, and it will likely be supported with crucial security updates for longer.
Still looking to spend less? With compromises on computing power, display resolution and camera quality, the budget phones market can be tricky to navigate. But there are still some great models around – our guide to the reveals the cream of the budget crop.