Not everyone can afford a flagship phone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro, but the good news is that plenty of cheaper devices offer an excellent experience all the same.
Some are half the price or even less, so don’t panic if your bank account is looking a little bare and you’re in need of a new smartphone. We’ve reviewed and ranked the best mid-range phones you can buy today.
Mid-range smartphones aim to combine flagship-level features with great value. You may have to compromise slightly on one aspect or another, like the camera or build quality, but it’s often totally worth it to save hundreds – and some of the phones at the top of the price range are flagships in their own right.
Phones from the likes of Realme, Xiaomi, and Poco are prime choices, but note that many of these don’t release in the US and Canada, where OnePlus, Motorola, and Google are better buys. Read past our rundown for more mid-range phone buying advice.
Best mid-range phone 2022
OnePlus Nord 2 – Best overall
- Excellent software
- Great design
- Strong all-rounder
- Only 90Hz display
- Slightly thick
An outstanding follow-up to 2020’s best mid-range phone, with great performance, 5G, OnePlus’s signature Oxygen OS user experience, and a near-flagship main camera. What’s not to love?
What the OnePlus Nord 2 really demonstrates is the company’s ability to prioritise the features that users are looking for right now and wrapping them up in an attractive package with a compelling price point.
The Nord 2 misses out on flagship niceties like wireless charging and waterproofing, but those are really the only compromises made here.
There’s also the OnePlus Nord CE 5G available, which delivers a stripped-back version of the original Nord for a slightly lower price.
Read our full OnePlus Nord 2 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro – Best budget option
- Astonishing value
- 120Hz AMOLED display
- High-resolution camera
- No 5G
- Big camera bump
- Not our favourite software
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is one of the best phones you can buy at its price point, with Xiaomi delivering exceptional value for money.
Highlights here start with the stunning screen, offering AMOLED technology and a 120Hz refresh rate, and continue with an excellent set of cameras. The headline is a 108Mp whopper which is backed up by a reasonable ultra-wide and a surprisingly decent telemacro.
Core specs are decent, hinging on the Snapdragon 732G to ensure smooth performance. However, the Redmi Note 10 Pro doesn’t support 5G, which might be a deal breaker.
MIUI is also a downside with its overly complex interface that’s simply not as stylish or easy to use as many rivals – even if you can make it a lot better than default with some tweaking.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review
Google Pixel 6 – Best camera
- Excellent software
- Great cameras
- Strong value
- Only 90Hz display
- Divisive design
- Slow charging
The Pixel 6 is an eye-catching phone for a few reasons. For one, the price impresses, with what’s essentially a flagship phone clearly undercutting what you’d expect to be the rivals from Apple and Samsung.
There’s the design too though. Dominated by a jutting camera bar, the Pixel 6 doesn’t look like anything else on the market – well, except its Pixel 6 Pro big brother – and the aesthetic is nothing if not divisive. It’s pretty big and heavy too, so won’t suit anyone hoping for a small phone.
What you do get is one of the best cameras around at this price, with an exceptional main lens backed up by an equally strong ultrawide. Both benefit from a few clever AI tricks delivered by Google’s new in-house Tensor chip and can take a few shots that no other phone can.
The only real downsides are a screen that’s 90Hz rather than 120Hz, and relatively slow 30W charging – with no charger included in the box either.
Read our full Google Pixel 6 review
Moto G200 – Best cheap flagship
- Flagship specs
- 144Hz display
- 108Mp camera
- LCD screen
- Only one OS update confirmed
- Plain, plastic design
The Moto G200 is the most powerful Motorola phone around right now, which makes the affordable price tag all the more impressive.
The Snapdragon 888+ chipset is blisteringly fast, as is the 144Hz refresh rate display – though it’s admittedly only LCD, not OLED. That makes this a great phone for gamers and the performance-obsessed, but less so for Instagram and Netflix sessions.
A big 5000mAh battery and 33W wired charging are decent too, as is the 108Mp main camera – though the ultrawide leaves a little more to be desired.
Read our full Motorola Moto G200 review
Asus ZenFone 8 – Best compact phone
- Compact build
- Snapdragon 888
- IP68 waterproofing
- Plain design
- Weak battery life
Like the Realme GT, the Asus ZenFone 8 is in many ways a proper flagship phone – it’s simply one that’s been priced aggressively enough to make the cut in our mid-range chart.
You get flagship features like a Snapdragon 888 chipset, fast RAM, and even an IP68 water-resistance rating – though there’s still no wireless charging, sadly.
It’s also lightweight and compact, with a 5.9in display and weighing just 169g, making it one of the smallest Android phones around – though sadly this does come with an inevitable compromise on battery life.
We much prefer the ZenFone 8 to the more expensive ZenFone 8 Flip, though that phone does boast a neat flipping camera module.
Read our full Asus ZenFone 8 review
Honor 50 – Best display
- 120Hz curved OLED screen
- Fast 66W charging
- Slim & light
- No wireless charging
- Average specs
The Honor 50 is the first phone to launch globally since the company split from former owner Huawei – and as a result it’s also the first Honor phone in years to run Google software.
Setting the software aside, it’s the beautiful curved OLED display that really excels by mid-range standards, made better by being squeezed into a phone that’s only 175g and 7.8mm thick. That makes this one of the best choices around if you want a big, beautiful display without a bulky phone.
The Snapdragon 778G delivers solid specs and 5G, but the base 6GB RAM is a little low for the price. Solid battery life and fast 66W wired charging help though.
The main 108Mp rear camera is also impressive, but the other lenses on the back are mostly just taking up space. Selfie shots are great though, and extra video options make this a top choice for vlogging.
Read our full Honor 50 review
Poco F3 – Slim with strong specs
- Fast chipset
- Slim design
- Great display
- Weak battery life
- MIUI not our favourite
Poco’s X3 Pro is the best budget phone around, and the F3 is almost as impressive in the mid-range market.
The big selling point is the near-flagship Snapdragon 870 chipset, making the F3 one of the fastest phones in this chart.
At 7.8mm thick it’s also one of the slimmest, mid-range phones around, which helps it feel compact despite the large 6.67in, 120Hz AMOLED display – though for a really thin phone keep on reading.
The 48Mp main camera is also surprisingly strong, but battery life could be better – and MIUI is still far from our favourite Android skin.
If performance and design are your priorities on a tight budget though, it’s hard to do much better.
Read our full Xiaomi Poco F3 review
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G – Thinnest 5G phone
- Slim & light
- Solid specs
- Glass back
- Middling MIUI software
- Better value elsewhere
The Mi 11 Lite 5G is one of the slickest looking and feeling mid-range phones thanks to the decision to combine a glass back with the thinnest design in any 5G phone at the time of writing – just 6.81mm.
Specs are solid, with a 90Hz AMOLED display and Snapdragon 780G chipset, but you will find more bang for your buck elsewhere if performance is the priority.
Outside of the omission of OIS the camera is also a strong point, with a capable 64Mp main lens and 20Mp selfie shooter – both great in daylight, if a little lacking in the dark.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G review
Red Magic 6S Pro – Best for gaming
- Snapdragon 888+
- Fast charging
- Highest refresh rate display
- Bulky build
- Weak camera
- Gamer aesthetic
Nubia’s Red Magic 6S Pro manages the trick of delivering the top-tier specs demanded by a gaming phone without breaking out of the mid-range pricing bracket.
The 165Hz refresh rate is the fastest around right now – besting even the priciest gaming phones around – and you also get a Snapdragon 888+ chipset combined with up to 16GB of RAM and 256GB storage. You’ll also get 66W fast charging for the sizeable 5050mAh battery.
Like most gaming phones the camera is a little lacklustre, and the design is…specific. But if that’s what you’re looking for, the Red Magic 6S Pro is hard to beat on value right now – except perhaps by its own cheaper sibling, the Red Magic 6R.
Read our full Nubia Red Magic 6S Pro review
Xiaomi 11T Pro – Fastest charging
- 120W fast charging
- Solid 108Mp main camera
- 120Hz display
- Dull design
- MIUI software
The Xiaomi 11T Pro is a cheaper spin-off of the company’s Mi 11 flagship.
Like that phone it boasts a 120Hz display and 108Mp main camera – though the former is a little lower resolution and the latter uses a smaller sensor, so there are clear compromises compared to the original.
You do get one big upgrade, which is 120W fast charging – enough for a full charge in just 20 minutes.
This doesn’t feel as premium or polished as some other phones on this list – especially for the price – but on performance alone it’s hard to beat. Consider the even cheaper Xiaomi 11T to save a little extra by swapping processors and dropping to “just” 67W charging.
Read our full Xiaomi 11T Pro review
Specifications to look for in a mid-range phone
It’s difficult to define a mid-range phone by its specification, hence why we’ve opted for a price bracket instead.
Some mid-range phones will take the all-round good-value approach, with capable specs in each area; others will focus on a key trait, such as the camera or display, and promise flagship-rivalling capabilities in that one aspect; others still used to be those flagships, so will offer fantastic specs at a brilliant price, but may be running on slightly older hardware.
One common element is that you’ll likely have to give up on nice-to-haves like wireless charging or a waterproof rating – these still tend to be reserved for the most expensive phones on the market, though a few mid-range devices do offer one or the other.
Chinese phones are a great choice in the mid-range market because they balance very good specifications with a lower price than you’d expect – but sadly few go on sale in the US. You may have heard of Xiaomi, Realme, and OnePlus offering staggering value, but there are plenty of other less well-known Chinese manufacturers that can also offer a very good deal.
Note that there is one mid-range iPhone on the market – 2020’s iPhone SE – but we don’t think it offers great value compared to Android rivals. Consider it if you know you need an iPhone, but otherwise steer clear.
We also haven’t included Google’s affordable Pixel 5a – mostly because it’s only available in the US and Japan, and as a result we haven’t been able to review it yet.
Try to remember that it’s not always about specs either. We’ve hit something of a ceiling when it comes to smartphone tech anyway, so although these phones may not be as fast as your average flagship, they are almost certainly fast enough for most users. Go for a phone that balances value, performance, features and design in a way that appeals to you and your needs.
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