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Best mid-range smartphones: 6 excellent options that won’t break the bank

After thorough testing, Trusted Reviews ranks the best mid-range phones to buy right now – discover the leading mobiles offering top-notch capabilities at a fraction of the price of full-fat flagships

Flagship phones are great, but with most costing in excess of a grand and the cost of living going up by the minute, many are beyond a regular person’s budget, especially if you plan on buying them SIM-free.

A few years ago this would have been a problem as the mid-range phone market was in a pretty sorry state, with most handsets offering sub-par performance, no software update guarantees and generally looking pretty shoddy.

Thankfully, if you’re on a budget but still want a reliable phone with key things like guaranteed software updates and a decent camera for capturing your adventures then we’re pleased to report things have improved. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of features traditionally reserved for flagship phones trickle down to the mid-range market.

But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a number of terrible phones doing the rounds. This is where Trusted Reviews and its team of tech experts come in. We’ve created this guide detailing the best mid-range phones we’ve tried and tested that are still on the market to make sure you get a handset that’s worth your hard earned cash.

Every phone on this list has been used by one of our reviewers for at least a week, during which they enact a series of lab and real world tests to gauge all the most important factors people care about when picking a phone. These include build and screen quality, camera performance, and battery life, so you can trust our buying advice.

If price isn’t such a concern and you’d actually prefer to compare the best flagship phones, you’ll want to check out our best phones guide. On the other hand, if your budget doesn’t stretch as far as the devices listed below then you can head over to our best cheap phones page to find the most affordable handsets we’d recommend right now.

Best mid-range smartphones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test mobile phones

All the devices in this list have been thoroughly tested and used by one of our expert reviewers. We don’t review a phone purely on specs or benchmark scores and we use them as our everyday device for the review period, which is usually at least five days but often a lot more.

When we review a phone our expert will put their personal SIM card into the phone, sync across their most-used apps and log into all their typical accounts. We do this so you’ll feel confident in our review and trust our verdict.

Our review process includes a mixture of real-world tests, along with more than 15 measured tests and industry-standard benchmarks.

Realme GT 2 Pro

Best mid-range phone
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Pros

  • Gorgeous display
  • Flagship-grade performance
  • Excellent battery life and fast charging

Cons

  • Lacks a dedicated telephoto camera
  • Paper-like design will divide opinion
  • No wireless charging or IP rating

All in all, the Realme GT 2 Pro is the best mid-range phone you can buy right now. It includes everything we want from a phone at this price, while only ditching aspects we feel are luxurious extras many will be happy to do without.

Importantly, it’s a fast phone that’s reliable to use and Realme has promised three years of major Android updates – so you won’t be forced into upgrading again anytime soon. Frankly such software support is a rarity on Android, with many mid-range and affordable phones coming with no such guarantees.

We compared the Realme GT 2 Pro against far pricier Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus and Oppo Find X5 Pro and found that in our suite of benchmark tests, the cheaper GT 2 Pro actually performed just as well. It was a similar story in real world tests too – when you open up a demanding game like Genshin Impact on both you’ll find that there’s very little difference.

What’s more, this is just one of many areas the GT 2 Pro impressed. The papery finish on the back is unique, and offers a nice change of pace from a glass and metal slab, especially in this minty green hue we reviewed. There’s 5G connectivity too – something you’ll find on all these phones – and snappy charging available using the included plug. We managed to go from a completely depleted phone to fully charged in around 33 minutes – that’s far quicker than the Pixel 6 and Galaxy S21 FE.

Not only does it have the fastest charging of any of the phones on this list, but it also has the best screen too. The OLED panel is flat, packs a 1440p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. Increasing the refresh rate makes for a smoother experience, whether you’re just scrolling through Instagram or playing games.

As with any phone of this price, there are some sacrifices to be found here. You won’t find wireless charging support here and it doesn’t carry an official IP rating for water and dust resistance. Look at the Pixel 6 if those are two key features you care about. A zoom camera is missing too, though that’s often a weak spot for phones in this segment; most affordable zoom sensors deliver results that are merely usable at best.

Reviewer: Tom Morgan
Full review: Realme GT 2 Pro Review

Google Pixel 7

Best for camera performance
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Pros

  • Great camera
  • Good screen
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Few upgrades from the Pixel 6
  • No telephoto camera
  • Slow charging

If you’re searching for the best of what Google has to offer, then you’ll be feeling lucky when you hit upon the excellent Pixel 7.

With a modest $599/£599 price tag, this handset nevertheless offers a premium-looking design that’s plenty robust (thanks to IP68 water resistance and Gorilla Glass Victus), along with truly wonderful camera performance that gives top-line flagship phones a run for their money. 

The 6.3-inch screen is also plenty good enough for watching films or playing games, and the battery life offered us enough juice for a heavy day’s usage on just one charge. Some gripes included the relatively slow charging speeds, but for its price you’ll be hard pushed to find better than this, especially as it hands you all of Google’s latest software smarts as well.

At £599, the Pixel 7 is also cheaper than the GT 2 Pro and the S21 FE. However, there is an option that’s cheaper still in the form of the Pixel 6a. This doesn’t offer quite such a strong spec sheet, missing out on features like the 50MP camera and 90Hz display, but it remains a good pick if you’re after the simple software and sleek design of a Pixel phone.

Reviewer: Peter Phelps
Full review: Pixel 7 Review

Asus Zenfone 9

The best small mid-range phone
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Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Top-tier processor
  • Very high quality camera hardware
  • Has a headphone jack

Cons

  • The finish does not seem hard-wearing
  • Charging is a little slow
  • Camera image processing lags behind the best

Pushing up to the upper end of mid-range market, the Asus Zenfone 9 is our top choice if you’re looking for a great all-round performer that is also easy to fit into your hand or slide into a petite pocket.

With a 5.9-inch screen, the Zenfone 9 is not for you if you subscribe to the “bigger is better” mantra, but that’s what makes it ideal if you would struggle to get to grips with some of the other massive mid-rangers on this list. 

On top of its appealing size, this handset offers great photographic results thanks to a twin of sensor on its rear (50-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultrawide), and it’s got a snappy chipset too that should comfortably see you through any difficult processing tasks, including mobile games.

However, charging speed is on the slow side and the matte finish may not stand up to much hard-wearing use.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams

Full review: Asus Zenfone 9 review

Moto G200 5G

Best mid-range Motorola phone
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Pros

  • Sharp 108-megapixel Ultra Pixel camera
  • 144Hz refresh rate
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • The front camera looks unnatural in low light

If the two phones above are still a little on the expensive side for your liking, then the slightly cheaper Moto G200 5G is a strong choice. Our reviewer was impressed by the images shot with the sharp 108MP main rear camera, and also by the endurance of the 5000mAh battery.

The Moto G line from Motorola was the original impressive, affordable phone and it showed the world that cheaper handsets needn’t sacrifice basic tech for a slashed retail price. The line has expanded a lot since, but the G phones tend to remain reliable buys based on our experience reviewing them over the years.

Where the G200 5G stands out with its display. This is the only phone on this list to pack a gaming-focused 144Hz display, meaning it can refresh up to 144 times every single second. As a comparison, the Pixel 6 refreshes 90 times per second and the Realme GT 2 Pro at 120 times per second. This faster display should appeal to gamers who want the best performance going, but it also adds extra zip to scrolling and swiping that will be appreciated by all users.

The performance here is great, owing to the high-end Qualcomm chipset at the heart of the phone. It can’t quite compete with the Realme GT 2 Pro in benchmark tests, but the difference in actual day-to-day use is minimal. Games and apps still open very quickly, and 5G is present if you have the right plan.

Another nifty trick is the Ready For feature, which is a way of outputting your phone onto a larger display. This makes it easy to cast content onto desktop monitors and TVs to see your work, gaming and video calls on a bigger screen, which we found useful while working from home.

Like many other devices listed here, there’s no wireless charging and the IP53 rating means it’s only mildly splash-proof. Still, it remains a strong phone for the price based on our testing.

Reviewer: Hannah Davies
Full review: Moto G200 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Best for a huge set of features
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Pros

  • A very complete package
  • Bright, colourful screen
  • An IP rating and Qi charging

Cons

  • Overpriced compared to the competition
  • Camera not as good as Pixel 6
  • Average battery life and charging speeds

We were big fans of the Galaxy S20 FE and the updated Samsung Galaxy S21 FE remains a sure-fire hit for fans of Samsung phones. It has a rich feature set and is a great choice if you’re happy with the Samsung ecosystem but aren’t fussed about some of the pricier devices, like the Galaxy S22 Plus.

What the S21 FE does well is to include just about every feature going, even if they’re not always the best around. It’s one of the only phones included in this list to feature wireless charging, an IP68 rating water resistance rating and a telephoto camera for zoomed shots. The 6.4-inch OLED screen isn’t the very best one you’ll find on this list, but we still found it to be wonderfully bright and perfectly usable in sunnier conditions during our time reviewing the phone.

Out of the three rear cameras, it’s the main 12MP sensor that impressed us the most and since it’s pretty much the same unit that features in the regular Galaxy S21, photos are reliable in all manner of conditions based on our testing.

However, if camera quality is key, then we’d confidently say the Pixel 6 is a better choice. Comparing snaps from the two phones, Google’s Pixel 6 is more reliable in darker situations and its daylight shots are more pleasing as well.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

iPhone 13 Mini

Best iPhone under £700/$700
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Pros

  • Great camera
  • Better battery life than the previous Mini
  • The most powerful small phone around

Cons

  • No ProMotion
  • No optical zoom
  • Still can’t compete with the other iPhone 13 models for battery life

If you’re an Apple fan, and dead-set on getting an iPhone, then there are a couple of options on the market at the moment. At £779, the regular iPhone 13 is too expensive for what we consider a mid-range phone, so that’s crossed off the list. But the cheaper iPhone 13 Mini is within budget and a great choice if you want a smaller device.

You’ve got to be really comfortable with this smaller form-factor to enjoy the iPhone 13 Mini, and it probably isn’t for those who watch a lot of media or play lots of games on the go. We found the screen is too small for that.

But, if you use your phone more for messaging, social media and taking pictures then the smaller size might be of benefit. It’s also the most comfortable phone to use one handed on this list, especially if you’ve got smaller hands.

Feature-wise, the iPhone 13 Mini is the same as the pricier iPhone 13. Performance is the best out of any mid-range phone both in stringent lab tests and real-world use, while the duo of cameras on the back are the only ones listed that can compete with the Pixel 6. You’ll also get multiple years of support through iOS updates.

Wireless charging is here, as is an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. It’s also just a very nice looking phone, with multiple tasteful colour options available.

If you want a cheaper iPhone, the iPhone SE 2022 packs the same high-end performance but in a slightly dated body with a smaller screen.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: iPhone 13 Mini Review

FAQs

How much does a mid-range phone cost?

The team at Trusted Reviews defines mid-range smartphones as any handset costing ideally under £700/$700. We raised our definition last year, following a gradual rise in prices in the top end of the market.

Are mid-range phones good?

Over the last few years the mid-range phone market has blossomed, with key companies including Google, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo and Samsung creating mid-range handsets with features traditionally reserved for flagship devices. Recent highlights have included 5G connectivity, high refresh rate screens and improved rear camera sensors. The team of experts at Trusted Reviews recommend most users consider a mid-range smartphone before investing in a flagship as a result.

Are there 5G mid-range phones?

5G is an increasingly common site in the mid-range market with Samsung, Oppo, Motorola, OnePlus and Google having mid-range phones supporting the connectivity.

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Comparison Specifications

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Battery
Wirless charging
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM
Colours
Stated Power

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Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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