What’s the best mid-priced mobile phone you can buy?
While there’s a general understanding of what’s meant by ‘mid-range’ when talking about smartphones, it’s hard not to ignore the fact that the definition has undergone somewhat of a transformation in recent years.
That’s thanks primarily to the sheer competition waged between modern phone makers. As phones, like the iPhone XS and Galaxy Note 10 series from Samsung, get more expensive there becomes a bigger gap left.
The end result is a richly-competitive mid-range space offering an impressive amount of bang for your buck from a number of established manufacturers.
With this in mind, we’ve tested the best mid-rangers out there right now and compiled this list so you can get the most of what you want for your money. Read on for a full look at each.
- Best value flagship: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Best performance: OnePlus 7
- Best for features: Honor View 20
- Best camera: Google Pixel 3a
- Great value: Pocofone F1
- Best for design: Galaxy A7
- Best for software: Nokia 7 Plus
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How we select the best mid-range smartphones
Just as with any of our other ‘best mobile phone‘ rankings, this list is designed to reflect the best that the current smartphone market has to offer based on constraints like price and feature-set. We review every phone we consider before it can be placed in a line-up such as this, slipping our SIM cards in and using each phone as our main device solidly for a week at the very minimum.
We test claims on performance and battery life with both real-world and artificial benchmarks, we trial new features and cast a careful eye over every facet and flaw that these phones might possess, all in the pursuit of providing a clear, concise review of the latest smartphone to make your buying decision as easy as possible.
And if you are still not sure, check out our list of the best budget phones.
Related: Best Mobile Phone Deals
1. Xiaomi Mi 9
Best budget flagship of 2019
- Versatile camera experience
- Superb value for money
- Fantastic performance
- Excellent screen
- Slightly temperamental fingerprint sensor
- No IP certification
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is unquestionably formidable. It’s Qualcomm’s latest and greatest chipset, the Snapdragon 855, plus it packs in all sorts of other goodies including fast wireless charging, HDR visuals and a triple rear camera array, headed up by a 48-megapixel primary sensor.
For the same price as the OnePlus 7 (which sits just below on our list), the Mi 9 lives the Daft Punk methodology of harder, better, faster and stronger, albeit with less of the ‘cool factor’ that its rival has accumulated over the years.
The Mi 9 is able to go up against the might of Apple and Samsung for a lot less, and that’s something to keep in mind when you come searching for a new smartphone.
2. OnePlus 7
Serious performance for the price
- Oxygen OS user experience
- Top-notch performance
- Great battery life
- Lacks Pro’s camera versatility
- No wireless charging
- No water resistance
If you don’t fancy the Mi 9, the OnePlus 7 is your next best option. The phone uses the same Snapdragon 855 chipset as the Xiaomi, can be specced with up to 8GB of RAM and has impressively long-lasting battery life.
Based on its appearance and performance, it’s essentially a halfway-house between last year’s OnePlus 6T and this year’s OnePlus 7 Pro. You get an improved in-display fingerprint sensor, a dewdrop front-facing camera set into a beautiful OLED screen and a precision-engineered glass and metal body, along with signature OnePlus traits like its Oxygen OS user experience, 20W Fast Charge tech and a physical alert slider.
You lose out on the Pro’s swanky 90Hz display, triple rear camera and 30W Warp Charge capabilities but this phone still performs like a champ and would serve you well over a couple of years or potentially more thanks to OnePlus’ commitment to software updates.
3. Honor View 20
Interesting features for the price
- New screen design looks great and deals with the notch issue
- Good battery life and very fast charging
- Very capable camera
- A headphone jack
- No wireless charging or IP rating
- Strange performance quirks
- Software still needs work
The Honor View 20 made a splash as the first big flagship of 2019. Going up against OnePlus is no mean feat, however, the View 20 has all the right ingredients to counter its fellow Chinese phone maker’s top dog.
The design alone is eye-catching with an ‘Aurora nanotexture’ back that gives the phone its distinctive V-shaped reflective pattern. You’ll also spot a multi-camera array up top with a primary sensor that boasts a staggering 48-megapixels, meaning it can capture unbelievably crisp stills. There’s also a secondary 3D ToF (time of flight) camera that lets you grab depth information for all sorts of things, including augmented reality experiences.
Flip the phone over and its front-facing snapper counted as a world-first when it was first unveiled. We’d heard talk and seen images of cut-out camera designs for a while but the View 20 was the first to get this technology out into the market. Of course now you’ll find it on every phone from the Samsung Galaxy S10 to the Moto One Vision.
The phone’s extended 6.4-inch Full HD+ display features a camera that’s surrounded by pixels. Aside from looking cool and feeling cutting-edge, its 25-megapixel resolution paired with the phone’s AI vision smarts means it’s well-equipped to take great selfies too.
On the inside, the phone also packs a powerful 7nm Kirin 980 chipset and a whopping 4000mAh battery that delivers excellent longevity and boasts impressively rapid 22.5W SuperCharge fast charging.
4. Google Pixel 3A
- The best camera you’ll find at this price
- The best screen you’ll find at this price
- Great size
- Headphone jack
- No IP certification
- Lack of wireless charging
There’s so much to like about the Google Pixel 3A and it’s comfortably one of the best phones you can for £399.
The highlight here is the camera. Like the much pricier Pixel 3, the 3a packs a 12-megapixel f/1.8 camera with a load of Google’s excellent AI software on board. You’ll find phones with more megapixels out there but unless you end up paying a lot more you won’t get a camera that’ll take snaps this good.
Camera aside, the Pixel 3a packs a glorious screen too. It’s an OLED panel with punchy colours, excellent viewing angles and no notch to speak of.
Sacrifices are made in some areas and if you want every spec and feature going you’ll probably want to pick up something else, the Xiaomi Mi 9 for example. There’s no IP rating or wireless charging, the mid-range Snapdragon 670 chipset in merely ‘ok’ and the body is made of plastic.
5. Pocophone F1
- Excellent value for money
- Superb performance
- Fantastic battery life
- Decent cameras
- MIUI for Poco will take some getting used to
- Thick bezels
- Plastic build
- No NFC
Being supported by Chinese tech giant Xiaomi’s manufacturing infrastructure has allowed new player Pocophone to make a serious splash with its first handset, the Pocophone F1. For around $/£300 you get a liquid-cooled Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with at least 6GB of RAM, a huge 4000mAh battery, a decent notched Full HD+ display and a surprisingly good pair of AI-enhanced main cameras.
The MIUI for Poco skinned Android experience will take a little getting used for anyone who hasn’t used a Xiaomi phone before, but the price/performance balance this handset strikes borders on astonishing.
It comes in three polycarbonate finishes (red, blue or black) or, if you’re willing to fork out a little more cash, the Kevlar-backed ‘Armored Edition’ seen above.
6. Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Best for design
- Great OLED screen
- Solid value
- Ultra-wide camera is fun
- Weak GPU
- Slow charging and no USB-C
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is a lower-cost alternative to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It’s a compelling choice with some neat extras including an extra ultra-wide camera and a strong OLED screen; two things you’d rarely normally find at this price.
This is far from a gaming phone, though. The Galaxy A7 has a solid CPU but its graphics chipset is among the weakest in this class and we’d recommend something else if you love mobile gaming.
The ultra-wide secondary camera is a great feature too, giving some variety to the shots you take. The main camera is perfectly adequate, especially at the £309 price.
7. Nokia 7 Plus
Best for ease-of-use
- Big, bright screen
- Impressive battery life
- Android One has potential
- Lots of app crashes and software bugs
- Could do with some design tweaks
A big display, a big battery, lossless optical zoom on its primary dual camera and a clean and up-to-date Android One experience make the Nokia 7 Plus an easy recommendation.
One of HMD Global’s best phones since licensing the Nokia brand, the Nokia 7 Plus left us pleasantly surprised by what it brought to the table, considering it can be had for under £350. The polycarbonate body of the Plus comes with the Nokia line’s signature copper accents, helping it stand out from the crowd. There’s a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor too.
The Snapdragon 660 processor is more conservative than what the majority of phones in this lineup come packing but paired with clean Android One software onboard, this phone feels just as fast and fluid as any more premium handset.
Still not sure what to buy?
- Best Android phones – our guide to the latest and best Android-specific phones
- Best Samsung phones – what’s what in the world of Samsung
- Best budget phones – what to buy if cost is a consideration
- Best camera phones – phone snappers ranked for you
- Best Apple iPhone – our guide to the right iPhone for you
- Best phablet/big phone – our guide to the best of the bigger phones
- Best smartphone – where to start