Not everyone can afford a flagship phone like the Samsung Galaxy S20 or iPhone 11 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 you're bank account is looking a little bare and you're in need of a new smartphone. Here, we have reviewed and ranked the best mid-range phones you can buy today.
We're defining a mid-range phone as one that costs between £250 (the higher limit of our even cheaper budget phones chart) and around £500 in the UK on a SIM-free basis.
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 Motorola are prime choices, and we've listed our current favourites below. Read past our rundown for more mid-range phone buying advice.
1. OnePlus Nord
An outstanding affordable buy for 2020 with great performance, 5G, OnePlus' signature Oxygen OS user experience and a more diverse camera setup than the company has ever used on a phone. What's not to love?
What the OnePlus Nord 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.
Read our full OnePlus Nord review
2. Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
Due to it's unusual release timing, the Galaxy S10 Lite doesn't really feel like an S10. It has arrived around a year after the other S10 phones and therefore very close to the S20 range.
It also looks like an S20 so we're a bit confused. Naming aside, this is an excellent phone for the money with an excellent screen, decent cameras and more powerful internals than you might expect. There's also features like an in-screen fingerprint scanner, solid battery life and speedy charging
What you miss out on is things like wireless charging and waterproofing - oh and there's no headphone jack. Unless you can find the S10 or S10+ at a similar price, this probably the model to get if you can't afford an S20.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review
3. Realme X3 SuperZoom
It's hard to consider the Realme X3 SuperZoom without also taking into account the OnePlus 7T.
The OnePlus costs the same and offers a more premium design and user experience, while the Realme wins out with extra memory, an even higher 120Hz refresh-rate display and an impressively versatile camera that you don't find at this price point.
Read our full Realme X3 SuperZoom review
4. Google Pixel 3a
The Pixel 3a might not be the all-singing, all-dancing mid-range option and, in some ways, there are better phones at the same price.
However, you probably have different reasons for wanting this phone. The Pixel 3a will appeal to those wanting a cheaper option to get Google's design and pure Android across areas such as the camera and the OS at a whole.
Then there's the promise of updates for years to come which is something not many rivals can deliver.
Read our full Google Pixel 3a review
5. Xiaomi Mi Note 10
With Mi Note 10 Xiaomi has made a giant step forward in design, and complements its elegant body with enhanced MIUI 11 software.
Its USP is the penta-lens 108Mp camera, which wows on paper but can't stand up to the best cameraphones. More successfully, then, battery life is incredible.
This is not a flagship phone, but it’s a strong all-round mid-ranger, and thanks to an attractive price point it has serious appeal.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Note 10 review
6. Asus ZenFone 6
Rather than following the trend of notches and hole-punch camera cutouts, the ZenFone 6 offers an innovative Flip Camera system that provides a high-end shooting experience on the rear and front, without compromising on screen real estate.
Images captured are detailed and vibrant, and the ability to record at [email protected] with EIS is a nice touch, too. It's a versatile bit of kit, and more than a gimmick.
Beyond the camera setup, the ZenFone 6 is a stunning bit of kit; it boasts a curved rear that fits nicely into the palm of your hand, a glossy design and most importantly, a 6.4in full-screen display free of bezels and notches.
And with a 5,000mAh battery that comfortably provides all-day usage, there’s not much to complain about - especially at such a cheap price point.
Read our full Asus ZenFone 6 review
7. Moto G8 Plus
The Moto G8 Plus delivers in principal areas like photography, performance and battery life. It also brings a premium-looking design, a clean user experience and some smart modifications on top the Android experience to the table.
The biggest challenge it faces is pricing. Despite being a touch cheaper than its predecessor, the competition has grown more fierce over the past year and newcomers, primarily from Chinese manufacturers that weren't previously established in Europe now throw their weight around with more impressive specs or lower price tags for equivalent performance.
Read our full Moto G8 Plus review
8. Apple iPhone SE (2020)
The iPhone SE is a phone devoted to function over form, prioritising raw performance and camera capabilities over design or aesthetics (though battery life gets caught in the crossfire), all in the name of hitting its £419/$399 starting price.
That makes it a very un-Apple iPhone, but that’s unlikely to help it win over Android users, who can still get a lot more for less by resisting the Apple allure - with the exception of the impressive inclusion of the top-tier A13 processor at a mid-range price, along with luxuries like wireless charging and waterproofing.
It’s hard to entirely forgive the choice to save money on a budget 720p LCD display and dated design, and you’ll be committed to carrying a battery pack with you every day. Still, if you want a reliable camera, fast performance, and guaranteed iOS updates for years to come without breaking the bank then this is the iPhone for you.
Read our full Apple iPhone SE (2020) review
9. Oppo Find X2 Lite
The Oppo Find X2 Lite is a well balanced mid-range phone. It offers good features across nearly all the key areas, with its solid processor enabling excellent performance and great battery life.
The points in its favour don’t stop there, as the phone is well-suited for mobile gaming and the camera offers some superb image stabilization.
The exterior of the phone makes it obvious we’re not dealing with a flagship, although that doesn’t mean the design is poor in any way. The camera is prone to oversaturation, but it generally takes very good photos.
Read our full Oppo Find X2 Lite review
10. Moto G 5G Plus
The Moto G 5G Plus doesn't necessarily have the wow-factor compared to some of the competition, but it more than makes up for it under the hood, sporting the same combination of the Snapdragon 765G and 4/6GB of RAM as the OnePlus Nord and Realme X50 Pro, offering lag-free performance at a slightly cheaper price, and the tall 21:9 6.7in display is great for watching movies on-the-go.
There’s also a decent camera setup fronted by a 48Mp rear snapper, even if the 5Mp Macro lens is a little pointless, and the 5,000mAh battery is certainly enough to get you through the day, even with moderate-to-heavy use.
It’s not the perfect smartphone, but it’s a decent all-rounder at a tempting price.
Read our full Moto G 5G Plus 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.
Chinese phones are a great choice in the mid-range market because they balance very good specifications with a lower price than what you would expect to find in the UK. You may have heard of Xiaomi, Realme and OnePlus offering staggering value when compared to some of the better-known brands, but there are plenty of other less well-known Chinese manufacturers that can also offer a very good deal.
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.