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Best mid-range phones 2022: Reviewed and rated picks that blend affordability and performance

, Contributing editor · ·
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(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? Then head on over to our guide to the best budget phones.


  1. OnePlus Nord 2T
  2. Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
  3. Realme GT Neo 3T
  4. Apple iPhone SE (2022)
  5. Redmi Note 11 Pro+
  6. OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G 

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The OnePlus Nord 2T is similar to its predecessor in many ways, but that's no bad thing. We loved almost everything about the Nord 2 and this one bumps up the charging speed and houses a newer processor. Easily making its way into our top spot.

Day-to-day performance feels flagship level, as does the smooth software experience and lack of bloatware.

The main camera is super and while the ultrawide isn't quite so impressive, it's undeniably useful from time to time.

With Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 and 5G connectivity on board, it's pretty future proof. Meanwhile, a solid battery and fast charging make it an ideal daily companion.

While the OnePlus Nord 2T 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. 

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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.

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The Realme GT Neo 3T is a bit of a performer, and its standout feature is the luscious 120Hz display. Using this phone feels fluid and snappy, and if it wasn't for the presence of some bloatware you could easily mistake it for a top-tier flagship.

Gamers shouldn't be put off by its slightly older processor, it'll still handle the majority of games with ease and some nice software integrations really elevate the gaming experience. The blisteringly fast 1000Hz touch-response rate is a real rarity too.

The cameras are, unfortunately, a bit of a weak area. The primary camera is good but could benefit from OIS. While the other lenses are just unimpressive.

If you're not too bothered about camera performance, the 3T has a lot to offer. With a big 5,000 mAh battery to keep you going all day and a speedy 80W charger to top you up, the Realme GT Neo 3T is an excellent mid-ranger.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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!

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.

Writing by Luke Baker.