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Best mid-range smartphone 2022: Great, affordable smartphones you can buy today

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Looking to save money on your next smartphone? Forget the flagships and check out these excellent mid-range options

Today’s top-tier smartphones are undeniably desirable; just look at Samsung’s Galaxy S22 lineup or Apple’s latest iPhone series. But we don’t all have massive wads of cash burning holes in our pockets – and the good news is, there’s no need to spend four figures to get a smartphone that combines top performance with a gorgeous design.

READ NEXT: The best budget smartphones

Indeed, not only do the latest mid-range smartphones look and feel as slick as their “flagship” counterparts, they can actually outperform them in key areas. So even if you’re considering splashing out on a top-of-the-range handset, you’d be well advised to check out the mid-range before spending the cash.

Here’s our guide to what to look for – along with our regularly updated selection of the best mid-range smartphones in 2022.


Best mid-range phone: At a glance


How to buy the best mid-range smartphone for you

What is a “mid-range” smartphone?

When we talk about mid-range smartphones, we generally mean handsets that cost between £300 and £500 to buy outright. It’s true that the latest and greatest smartphones keep on getting more and more expensive – Huawei recently announced a foldable phone costing £2,000 – so strictly speaking the middle of the market is a moving target. But our price bracket is the one to focus on, as it’s where you’ll find the best balance of price and features.

Should I buy SIM-free, or does it make sense to commit to a contract?

A 24-month contract keeps your up-front costs to a minimum, but if you sit down and calculate the total amount that you’ll end up paying over the course of those two years, you’ll almost always find that the SIM-free option works out a lot cheaper. That said, it’s always worth checking for special offers, as occasional deals can be highly competitive. The other advantage of going SIM-free is that you can sell your phone on and upgrade whenever you want, rather than having to wait for the end of your contract – by which time your handset may well be distinctly out of date.

What should I look for in a mid-range smartphone?

Everyone’s priorities are different – so it’s a good idea to work out what yours are. Is a lengthy battery life at the top of your wish-list? Or are you more interested in taking better-quality pictures?

In all cases we’d suggest you take a look at the phone’s internal specifications: you’ll want a processor that’s powerful enough to keep up with all the applications you’re going to use, now and in a year or two’s time. While you’re at it, check that there’s plenty of internal storage too. If this can be expanded with a microSD card, that could be a big bonus.

The phone’s display is also crucial – after all, this is the bit you’ll be staring at. You can find plenty of mid-range handsets with great-looking screens, but you can’t take this for granted, so make sure to read our reviews before buying.

Where are all the mid-range iPhones?

Apple seems to be focused on the upper end of the smartphone market at present. Cost-cutting models such as the iPhone SE are sadly no longer being made; the current “cheap” iPhone is the 11, which starts at a not-exactly-wallet-friendly £739. Hopefully, Apple has something up its sleeve, but right now, if you’re looking for a new phone on a budget, Android is your best option.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Android. It might take some getting used to if you’re accustomed to iOS, but the two operating systems aren’t all that different these days. Probably the biggest issue with making the switch is that you won’t be able to bring your iOS apps and accessories with you.

The best mid-range smartphones you can buy

1. OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: The best mid-range smartphone

Price: £299 Buy now from OnePlus

If there’s one thing we’ve been able to rely on in the fast-moving world of smartphones in recent times, it’s that every time OnePlus releases a smartphone, it goes straight to the top of the charts for value. With OnePlus straying away from its budget roots in recent times, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is much closer in value to what we've come to expect from the Taiwanese company previously. It's essentially flawless at this price, too.

Sacrifices have to be made in order to bring the price down (it's well over half the price of the OnePlus 9) but for the most part, these cuts have been made in the right places. The screen is flat, rather than curved, and it lacks any official IP rating but that's pretty much your lot. Otherwise, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is as good as phones costing hundreds more.

It's a smart-looking smartphone with plenty of cameras and one of the latest 5G-enabled chipsets: the MediaTek Dimensity 900. What's perhaps most impressive, however, is that not only does it offer speedy 65W charging (going from zero to 50% in just 12 minutes), but battery life is also phenomenal, lasting over 24 hours in our tests. With nothing but positives, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is the best choice for anyone put off by flagship prices.

Read our full OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.4GHz MediaTek Dimensity 900; Screen: 6.43in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 64MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 11

Buy now from OnePlus


2. iPhone SE 3 (2022): Apple's best-value iPhone

Price: £419 l Buy now from Amazon

Latest iPhone SE 3 contract deals

It might look like a bit of a relic, but the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is Apple's best-value smartphone yet. Apple might prefer customers to spend more on the iPhone 13, but the lower asking price for the iPhone SE 3 makes it a far more exciting value proposition, and your wallet will likely breathe a sigh of relief in return.

Despite costing more than half the price, the iPhone SE 3 (2022) uses the same speedy processor as the iPhone 13 – the A15 Bionic – and its camera is up to the job, too. The only fly in the ointment is that its battery life is rather short by modern standards, but that's nothing the speedy 20W charging can't fix. The iPhone SE is also a solid choice if you aren't a fan of those big-screened handsets of late – the small 4.7in screen is perfect for one-handed use.

If you'd rather not spend the silly amounts of dosh for an iPhone 13, and don't mind sacrificing a few camera features and a smaller design, then the iPhone SE is absolutely the best-value Apple phone you can buy right now.

Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 3.23GHz Apple A15 Bionic; Screen: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Camera: 12MP; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 512GB; Operating system: iOS 15

3. Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G: A flawless flagship killer

Price: £260 l Buy now from Amazon

The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G is the perfect handset for the budget-conscious buyer. The brand might still be a bit of an unknown in the UK, but the Poco X4 Pro 5G is stupendously good value for money, and it even outperforms handsets that cost double, and in some cases triple, the asking price. 

An easy recommendation if you aren't comfortable handing over £700+ on the latest and greatest handsets, the Poco X4 Pro 5G is fitted with all the best bell's and whistles: it has a Full HD AMOLED screen, a 5G-supported Qualcomm speedy Snapdragon 695 chipset, a large 108MP camera sensor and a solid battery life as well.

Its bargain price is its main appeal, of course, but since there are so few compromises the Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G is a no-brainer if you're itching for great value for money.

Read our full Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695; Screen: 6.67in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 11

4. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: Astonishing value

Price: £319 l Buy now from Amazon

With flagship-class specifications at a vastly reduced cost, Xiaomi's well-priced Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G is a cut above the rest, with astonishing performance courtesy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset, along with an exemplary triple-camera array (which includes a huge 108MP sensor). 

The Redmi Note 11 Pro's 120Hz Full HD display is also a highlight, allowing for silky smooth scrolling and high frame rate mobile gaming. If your buying budget can't quite stretch to some of the other options on this list, then there's no doubt that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G should be at the very top of your smartphone buying agenda.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695; Screen: 6.67in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Storage: 64GB, 128GB; Operating system: Android 11

5. Samsung Galaxy A52 5G: Samsung's best-value handset

Price: £341 | Buy now from Amazon

The Samsung Galaxy series of phones doesn't begin and end with the S and Note lines. Samsung's A-series lineup is a very different proposition, offering flagship-like goodies without the high price tag – and the Galaxy A52 5G is no different. An impressive, affordable smartphone that not only looks good, the A52 5G also has a great screen and more than enough power for most people – even if its processor isn't as fancy as its siblings.

It also takes great pictures for the price, and if battery life is at the top of your smartphone-buying agenda, then you're in luck: the Galaxy A52 5G lasted over 18 hours in our battery life test. If you're a Samsung fan, or simply want a reliable yet impressive smartphone that doesn't cost the earth, then the Galaxy A52 5G might be the phone for you.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G; Screen: 6.5in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 64MP, 12MP (wide), 5MP (macro), 5MP (depth); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 11

 

6. Motorola Moto G200: Top performance for less

Price: £400 l Buy now from Motorola

If you're hoping to squeeze as much power out of your phone without having to spend too much, then the Moto G200 is the best candidate. For half the price of recent flagship handsets, the Moto G200 is equipped with Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 888 Plus – and it came off exceptionally well in testing. For a phone that costs this little, you'd be surprised just how fast it is.

But that's not all. The Moto G200 also comes with a massive 108MP main camera, a clean Android installation (completely free of bloatware) and its 5,000mAh battery lasted over 21 hours in our video rundown test. There's absolutely no phone quite as feature-rich as this one, without having to spend flagship-sized sums. 

Read our full Motorola Moto G200 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.99GHz Snapdragon 888 Plus; Screen: 6.8in, 2,460 x 1,080; Camera: 108MP, 13MP (wide), 2MP (depth); Storage: 128/256GB; Operating system: Android 11

Buy now from Motorola

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