Not everyone can afford a flagship phone like the Galaxy S9 or iPhone X, but the good news is that plenty of cheaper devices offer an excellent experience. Some are half the price or even less so don't panic if you're on a bit of budget. We review and rank all the best mid-range phones you can buy.
Your buying guide for the best mid-range phones in 2018
We're defining a mid-range range phone as one that costs between £200 (the higher limit of our budget phones chart) and £500.
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 like the Galaxy S8!
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.
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.
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 2018 for the latest handsets that might cost you a little more.
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. Honor 9
- Reviewed on: 11 December 2017
The Honor 9 is an undeniably impressive phone for an unmatched price right now. In performance terms, it's nipping at the heels of the year's top flagships, and only lacking flashy features like waterproofing or a bezel-less screen. It looks great, it runs fast, and it costs less than £400. We're sold.
Read our Honor 9 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 January 2018
The Moto G5S Plus is not only the best Moto G phone ever, it’s the best phone under £300 you can buy today. Yes, it is slightly more expensive than the G5 or the Nokia 5, but what you gain in build quality, photography and performance are well worth the extra spend.
It costs roughly half what the OnePlus 5T does and you don’t lose an awful lot by spending this much less. It's also a better buy than the smaller, cheaper but underpowered Moto G5S.
Read our Motorola Moto G5S Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 3 January 2018
Samsung has taken the best phone from 2016 made it even better with an impressive Infinity screen and premium design. It ticks a shedload of boxes - as you'd expect from a flagship. It's one of the best phones of 2017, and is nearly half the price of the iPhone X. But the biometrics are a let down.
If you want a slightly larger screen and battery, then the S8+ also gets our approval. Though now, the OnePlus 5T, for a non-Galaxy choice, offers staunch competition on specs and price.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S8 review.
4. OnePlus 5T
- Reviewed on: 4 January 2018
The OnePlus 5T isn’t a surprise, both in its existence and the fact it’s very similar to the OnePlus 5. It stands as a reminder that 2017 was the year every company quickly produced a phone with an 18:9 display to make sure its bezels didn’t look outdated on the store shelf.
But OnePlus isn’t on many store shelves given its online retail approach, and its many vocal core fans who bought the 5 will be annoyed by the 5T. OnePlus needed to update its design language quickly to keep up with the wider market where it is yet to make a dent, and the 5T is overall a better device than the 5.
And let's not forget that for £449, the OnePlus 5T is an exceptionally well rounded smartphone. It is at least £100 cheaper than similar handsets, and sometimes close to £300 less.
If you buy into the design (without waterproofing and wireless charging) and price but can accept that the camera isn't top draw and it’ll probably be superseded in six months, then it’s a great choice.
Read our OnePlus 5T review.
5. LG G6
- Reviewed on: 11 December 2017
The LG G6 is no doubt a striking smartphone. Metal and glass shimmer while the huge 18:9 screen is impressively brought to life with the improved software and its rounded corner design. It is a more refined smartphone than both the G4 and G5, and should appeal to a broader audience – even if its features aren’t the same globally.
There’s a lot to cover with the G6, and it’s a complicated phone to assess. The differences in hardware and the tweaks in software mean that is a phone that reveals itself to you slowly than the immediacy of, say, a Samsung Galaxy S. The design looks uniform at first until you realise how well it all comes together.
LG has quietly managed to build a mature phone with next to no bezels and some genuinely unique tweaks to software, leaving it feeling fresher and more creative than any Android phone we’ve seen for a while.
The age-old question for LG though – will people buy it?
Read our LG G6 review.
- Reviewed on: 4 January 2018
The Honor View 10 is another flagship device from a company that promises a lot with high specs and low prices. The phone is much more similar in look and feel to the Honor 8 Pro than the recent Honor 9, and loses the attractive glass back in favour of AI software perks and Android Oreo.
At £449 you could opt for the same-price OnePlus 5T which has more attractive software design, but it could turn out that the Honor View 10 is an intelligent choice with Android Oreo out the box thanks to promising, if unrefined, AI features and strong dual cameras.
Read our Honor View 10 review.
7. Nokia 8
- Reviewed on: 8 November 2017
With a Snapdragon 835, attractive hardware and decent display, the Nokia 8 is a cheaper but high end alternative to more expensive Android smartphones.
While its RRP is £499, at the time of writing it is available for £349 in the UK with Carphone Warehouse. Expandable storage, dual cameras and now Android Oreo means this is an excellent way to get a high end phone for less than the £700+ of most other flagships.
It's the best Nokia phone you can buy at the moment.
Read our Nokia 8 review.
- Reviewed on: 6 November 2017
We’re pleased to see that Motorola has revived the Moto X. For the most part, we like the new glass design and the specs and features are good for the £350 price - it looks like a more expensive phone.
Waterproofing and the dual-lens camera sets this apart from rivals, and we like the 5.2in screen size for comfort and practicality.
It's slower than the Honor 9, and has half the storage as standard, but if you'd prefer the water-resistance over the extra speed, the Moto X4 is a great choice for anyone that can’t afford the hefty price tags of the current flagships.
Read our Motorola Moto X4 review.
9. HTC U11 Life
- Reviewed on: 9 February 2018
Overall, the HTC U11 Life is a solid mid-range phone. Design and specs are largely decent for the price – especially getting 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM as standard. Meanwhile Android One keeps software clean and simple if that's what you're after. This, and Edge Sense, are the main reasons to buy this phone over rivals but there's strong competition.
At the same price, the Moto X4 has better cameras and a bigger battery if those things are important. A little more will get you the even better Honor 9 and the outstanding OnePlus 5T isn’t much more than that.
Read our HTC U11 Life review.
10. 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.