Your buying guide for the best mid-range phones in 2017
This price criteria means that our list includes new phones that fit the price bracket, but also flagships from the past year or so for which the price has dropped significantly. This can make them a better deal than any recently released phone at the same price.
For that reason, this chart is a bit different to our other group tests. Usually you'd be interested only in what sat right at the top of the chart, but here you might find a phone much lower down the rankings is a better buy, depending on your requirements and priorities.
Our chart automatically pulls in the RRP, so for these older flagships you should ignore this. Much more important is the live pricing - what you'll pay today if you decide to buy that handset. All these links are clickable, so you can go straight to the retailer at which we found any given price. Also see: Best kids' phones 2017
Star ratings are awarded at the time of review, so bear this in mind when comparing older models with more recent ones.
Also see The best phones of 2017 for the latest handsets.
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 area such as the camera or display and promise flagship-rivalling capability; and others still used to be those flagships, so will offer a fantastic spec at a brilliant price.
Chinese phones are a great choice in the mid-range market, because they balance a very good specification with a lower price than what you would expect to find in the UK. You may have heard of Xiaomi and OnePlus offering staggering value when compared to some of the better known brands, but there are plenty of other less well known Chinese brands that could also offer you a very good deal.
Try to remember that it's not always about specifications. We've hit something of a ceiling when it comes to smartphone tech anyway, so although these phones may not be as fast as the flagships 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 only you.
1. LG G5
- Reviewed on: 5 May 2016
The LG G5 is one of the most radical phones to come along in a while and we’re glad the firm has shaken things up with the modular design. The G5 is innovative and interesting with unique features but it’s a shame the design and build feels unfinished in areas. It’s a top-notch device which can hold its own with the best phones in performance and cameras, but it’s LG’s modular design which is the real selling point here. There is bags of potential but the future of this is unclear so it’s hard to be definite right now. The G5 is one of the best phones around but for completely different reasons to the Galaxy S7.
Read our LG G5 review.
2. Moto G5 Plus
- Reviewed on: 6 April 2017
The Moto G5 Plus is an impressive phone for under £250. It's barely any bigger than the normal model which is odd but it might well be worth spending the extra to get more storage, a better processor and a significantly better camera.
Read our Moto G5 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 18 January 2016
Samsung's Galaxy S6 is the best Android phone of 2015 so far, although we've yet to see what's to come from the LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z4. It's fast, it's well built, it has a gorgeous screen and the software isn't overly intrusive. The fingerprint scanner is vastly improved, the heart-rate scanner a potential draw for some users, and the wireless- and fast charging welcome inclusions. We'd like to see the price come down (which we are sure it will) and it's a shame we've lost the removable battery, waterproofing and microSD support, but these are all things we can live with.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S6 review.
4. Xiaomi Mi6
- Reviewed on: 26 May 2017
This really is an amazing phone, and only the Chinese software puts us off recommending it for a UK audience. It is crazy fast, crazy beautiful and crazy priced. If you know your way around Android go and get one, and you won’t be disappointed.
Read our Xiaomi Mi6 review.
- Reviewed on: 27 March 2017
Overall, the A3's improvements for 2017 are pretty significant and make this nice-size, reasonably priced phone even more appealing for those who like the idea of the Galaxy S7 but can't quite stretch their budget that far. Its waterproofing and fingerprint sensor are both convenient and practical, and the good-looking design makes it easy to forget that this phone has a price tag that's half that of many flagship phones.
That said, there are alternatives if you're willing to look to other brands, and you might be surprised to find that you'll get more for your money. We'd recommend checking out the Moto G5 and Nokia's new offerings before you buy the Samsung Galaxy A3 to see whether they appeal to your wallet a bit more.
Read our Samsung Galaxy A3 review.
- Reviewed on: 21 April 2017
The UMIDIGI Z Pro offers fantastic value at just over £200. It has a large battery, a decent screen and powerful performance. The dual-camera doesn't offer quite the relief we were hoping for following poor performance from the UMI Z, but this is still a great phone.
Read our UMIDIGI Z Pro review.
7. iPhone SE
- Reviewed on: 21 March 2017
The SE is what many iPhone fans have been asking for, and it's a great upgrade if you're still using an iPhone 5. For 5S owners, things aren't quite as clear cut. If you're not happy with the 5S's performance, the SE should solve that problem. However, unless you really want to shoot 4K videos, you're not going to notice a massive improvement in photo quality. There's a much bigger jump in quality if you're coming from an iPhone 5 (or earlier), however. In 2017 the SE might be more expensive but Apple has doubled the storage making it a more attractive buy.
Read our iPhone SE review.
- Reviewed on: 12 April 2016
Those looking to upgrade from a Nexus 5 will be happy and sad in almost equal measure. The 5X is a fantastic phone overall, with excellent cameras, a good turn of speed and an excellent screen. But it's noticeably bigger than its predecessor despite the small increase in screen size, it has limited storage compared to the Nexus 6P and it lacks a couple of camera features due to the slower processor. The absence of wireless charging is another blow for some, but additions such as the fingerprint scanner will make it a great upgrade for others.
Read our Google Nexus 5X review.
- Reviewed on: 15 December 2015
Overall, the Moto X Play is a decent mid-range phone. But, it's not the great upgrade which Moto X owners were looking for. The camera is good, as is the screen, but performance could be better - as could battery life. Had Motorola offered the dual-SIM version in the UK and made the phone waterproof, it would have had enough to be a decent alternative to the OnePlus 2. For many, this more powerful rival will be more appealing. It's also cheaper and has optical stabilisation and the option to shoot 4K video. Yet, if you like the idea of creating your own custom phone and don't want the hassle of getting an invite to buy a OnePlus 2, it's really not a bad deal at all.
Read our Motorola Moto X Play review.
- Reviewed on: 4 July 2016
After time with the Smart Platinum 7 it becomes very clear that this is a premium phone, but one attempting to be ever so slightly more premium than it actually is. If you want the best Android phone on the market, get a Samsung Galaxy S7. However if you want to buy a smartphone outright without breaking the bank and are after a larger screen, fingerprint sensor, stock Android and great design (on Vodafone’s network) then this is a solid choice. We do recommend the OnePlus 3 which is almost the same price, though.
Read our Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 review.