(Pocket-lint) - Choosing a new smartphone isn't as simple as it used to be. Nowadays, they come in lots of different sizes, with plenty of different features and, critically, at plenty of different price points.
For some, the camera is important, but others may prioritise battery life, size or biometric identification.
Thankfully, it isn't just the very best flagship smartphones that offer these features, either. There's another breed of smartphone - the mid-range models - that offer great specs at a lower price.
Here, we've rounded up the best devices we've reviewed that sit around the $200 - $400 mark - or £200 - £400 / €200 - €400, for those in the UK and Europe.
Want something even cheaper? Head on over to our guide to the best budget phones.
Best mid-range phones in 2022
- Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
- OnePlus Nord 2
- Apple iPhone SE (2022)
- Redmi Note 11 Pro+
- Motorola Moto G200
- OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
Best mid-range phone: Our top pick
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
- Solid design and IP67 water/dust resistance
- Impressive display
- Better value than the Galaxy S22 range
- No 3.5mm headphone port
- UI can stutter/lag sometimes
- The Ultrawide camera isn't as strong as the primary
While it's not a massive upgrade on its predecessor, the A53 does an excellent job of following on from the Galaxy A52.
The display is vibrant, the battery life is very good and overall speed and performance are as good as you'll find. Plus, it has one decent camera in that array of lenses on the back.
At this price point, it has lots of competition from the likes of Redmi, Realme and OnePlus (some even cost less). However, few of those offer the same speedy and consistent software and security updates.
If you want a modern Samsung experience without the price tag required to get an S22 Series phone, the A53 is a superb pick that does well in all the key areas.
Mid-range phones we also recommend
While the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is at the top of our list, we know it won't be the right phone for everyone. We all look for different things in a smartphone. Maybe you need the beefiest battery life, or maybe your top priority is a bright crisp display. With that in mind, we've also selected the following devices for you to consider.
OnePlus Nord 2
- Speedy performer
- Really fast charging
- Bright and smooth display
- Pretty chunky
- The ultra-wide camera isn't great
The Nord 2 offers a very flagship-like experience without the flagship price tag. Performance-wise, it's zippy and can handle gaming with no issues.
Battery life is fantastic and support for 65W fast charging means that you'll never have to wait long when it needs topping up.
The only area that lets it down slightly is the cameras, we found the primary 50MP camera to be fairly good but the 8MP ultra-wide is far from impressive.
Still, unless you're constantly taking ultra-wide photos, we reckon you'll be smitten with the Nord 2.
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
- Flagship-level power
- 5G support
- Great battery life
- Design is very tired
- No MagSafe
- Camera performance is mixed
The third-gen Apple iPhone SE represents a bit of a quandary for those interested in an iOS smartphone. While it's a much-improved version of the device that launched in 2020, now coming with 5G support and the same A15 Bionic chip housed inside the iPhone 13 range, it does also feel like a bit of a missed opportunity.
Apple hasn't really moved the design of this phone on in five years, and though there will be some users out there who enjoy the familiarity of the two-bezel design and Touch ID, it would have been good to see a tweak - perhaps MagSafe charging, at the very least.
Still, considering the price tag, the SE delivers a powerful, smooth experience. Some of the photography features that come with the iPhone 13 are on board (Photographic Styles and Smart HDR 4), and the zippy performance and all-day battery life ensure you won't massively feel like upgrading any time soon.
Ok, it's a little over the $/£/€400 mark - but it's close.
Redmi Note 11 Pro+
- Good display
- Staggeringly fast charging
- Solid overall performance
- Good speakers
- 120W charger included
- Clunky software experience
- Outdated Android version
- Flaky Bluetooth performance
- Smaller battery than cheaper sibling
In both price and performance, the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G doesn't differ hugely from the Note 11 Pro 5G. You do get that fast charger for a little more money, and, admittedly, that charging speed is impressive, but across the rest of the device there's little else to mark these phones apart from a minor processor boost.
The out-of-date Android is a really big shortcoming of this device.
As an all-rounder, though, the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ is perfectly competent, offering good performance and value for money, with fast charging being the bonus. Just be aware that this is the only real flicker of excitement - the rest of this phone pretty much plays it straight.
Motorola Moto G200
- Software without the quirks of near-priced competitors
- Top-tier (2021) processor delivers strong and without overheating
- Plasticky build quality
- Cameras an oversell - and no optical stabilisation
- It's rather big and chunky
- Battery suffers a little
Where the Moto G200 really wins is in context to its competition. It delivers a faster refresh-rate screen than many a rival, has software that's particularly easy to use - and without the bugs of its MIUI or ColorOS competitors - and with this degree of power on board it weighs up to be a more measured option at this appealing price point.
That said, however, the plasticky build isn't all that, the rear cameras remain an oversell (no zoom, no stabilisation), and such powerful innards don't eke the very best out of the battery (although it's perfectly passable and the device doesn't overheat).
OnePlus Nord CE 2
- Bright and vivid display
- Great battery life
- Transparent camera hump is a nice touch
- Lots of competition
- Cameras could be better
- Glossy plastic attracts fingerprints
- Looks more Oppo/Realme than OnePlus
For its price, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 is a solid offering. It might not be the most exciting phone on the market, but it gets the job done without any serious compromises.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 delivers about as complete a package as you could expect on a budget, with a great display and battery life - and that clean OnePlus interface that fans love.
Then there's the inclusion of a 65W charger, meaning you can recharge the battery in no time at all.
Other products we considered
When trying to figure out what we believe to be the best mid-range handsets currently available, we spent hours testing real-world performance, battery life and gaming; as well as getting out into the real world and taking pictures. We consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices - and also when a new device enters our top five selections. This isn't just our own testing, either, with consumer reviews, brand quality and value all taken into account, as well.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
Of course, with the introduction of the Google Pixel 6a in the coming months, you might want to wait for that phone before committing.
How to choose a mid-range phone
Buying a phone is a delicate business, with a lot of different elements to be considered, but there are some key questions to ask yourself.
What's your budget for a mid-range phone?
While the phones we've included in the list you've just browsed should all come in around the $400 / £400 / €400 or below, that doesn't mean that's a figure you have to spend. As you'll have seen, there are plenty of price points to be found.
Therefore, it's certainly a helpful first step to work out what your budget is so that you can see what your exact price can fetch you. And watch out for versions with higher RAM or storage that might push the price up.
Mid-range phone cameras
A big variable between different phones at the moment comes down to the approach to photography. If you want it, you can easily find quad-camera arrays at this price, giving you loads of options for shooting in different ways.
Equally, though, if you're happy with fewer lenses of higher quality, that's something you can keep an eye out for. We think that a standard shooter and an ultra-wide are both nice to use, but we aren't always won over by macro or telephoto lenses at this price.
Mid-range phone operating system
This segment of the market is dominated by Android devices where you'll find lots of choices, lots of hardware differences and some great premium designs. We've included the most affordable iPhone and while that's a great device, it's design is compromised compared to others on this list.
But Android is not all made equal and you'll find some devices - like those from Motorola and Nokia - much cleaner than those from others, like Xiaomi or Oppo.
Mid-range phone display size
Another big variable is around the size of phone you want - it's increasingly difficult to find truly small phones, but there's still variation in how big they are.
Check out the photos in our reviews to see how big a phone is if you're interested and compare their dimension to make sure you don't accidentally end up with something way too big for your hands!
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
A phone is something you use all day, every day, so we've used all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up in the real world. We've tested battery life, gaming performance, connectivity, camera performance and everything else you could possibly need to know. Then we've given you all the data you need to help with your buying decisions.
As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each product is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.