One of the most exciting shifts in the smartphone world over the last few years has been the increasing availability of great mid-range options. Everybody loves a sleek flagship phone, but not everybody can or should spend the money on one — they're just overkill for some people's needs.
A lot of people just want a phone for casual gaming, social media, or photography, and while that all does tend to be a little better on flagships, that's not a reason to drop upwards of $1000. You can easily get away with spending half as much or even less to accomplish the same things — and if savings aren't a good enough reason on their own, here are a few more reasons you might want to go for a mid-range phone next time you're shopping around.
You don't have to sacrifice design anymore
Build quality used to be a big reason to go for a flagship instead of its cheaper, plasticky counterparts, but these days phones of all prices are really, really well-made. The OnePlus 6 and Moto Z3 Play are about $500 a piece, and both feature highly refined metal and glass designs, complete with the elongated aspect ratios and dual cameras you'd expect of a high-end phone in 2018.
Even going well below the $500 price range, a phone like the Honor 7X runs as cheap as $200 and still features a sturdy aluminum build with dual cameras and a fast fingerprint sensor. You really can't ask for a better value than that.
See at OnePlus (opens in new tab)
The cameras are getting pretty great, too
I'm not going to pretend like flagships don't still take the best pictures — the Galaxy S9 remains my pocket camera of choice, particularly for its excellent low-light performance. Mid-range phones are capable of taking some pretty great shots too. I spent a week in New York earlier this month and left my S9 behind to take the Moto Z3 Play out for a spin. The results were actually pretty great — take a look at some of the shots I got walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn.
I was definitely impressed with the photos I was able to take with a phone that goes for just $450 on Amazon (opens in new tab). It might not have as much dynamic range as the S9 (and it certainly doesn't have the low-light capabilities), but with a bit of work in an app like VSCO, you can get some pretty great results. Other phones like the OnePlus 6 or the original Google Pixel (depending on your viewpoint, that could be a mid-range phone, an old flagship, or both) do even better — the point is that there are plenty of affordable phones that take great photos.
See at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The money you'll save can be better spent elsewhere
What would you rather have for the same money: a flagship phone without any kind of protection, or a mid-range phone with an assortment of cases, some nice headphones, and maybe a portable battery pack or a Bluetooth speaker? The money you would otherwise spend getting a top-of-the-line phone can go towards any number of accessories for your mid-range phone, with enough cash left over to buy yourself a nice dinner and even pay your phone bill — or whatever else you'd want to use it for, it's your money.
What phone is right for you?
It's hard to define exactly what constitutes as a mid-range phone these days — back when flagship phones only cost about $650, $400 felt the upper end of mid-range, but with today's phones reaching the quadruple digits in price, even $600 or $700 feels somewhat reasonable.
Whatever the case, have you stopped buying flagships and started going for mid-range phones instead? If so, how has your experience been so far? Let us know in the comments below!
Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.
There are not many mid-rangers that have great cameras. I'd rather pay the money and get a stellar camera. The pixal, s9+ or the Apple phones!
Or just buy a professional grade camera
The Huawei Mate SE is actually very decent for $200. The low light photography is on par with last year's 1+5.
They could charge an extra $100 and the Honor 7X/Mate SE is still worth it. Best in class camera and good performance too.
Was so close to getting a Mate SE. Both of those are great devices.
The Moto X4 with the Google Camera port is pretty great, so is the Moto G6. The only time I'm reaching for my Canon 5D or Panasonic GX85 is for low light or something that requires a different focal length.
Camera is very important. More important to me is battery life. I had an Axon 7, it was a great phone. What wasn't so great was it's battery. Always would have to make sure I had either my charger or battery backup. Now on a Nokia 6.1 and it's about 90% of what I did with a flagship. Yes camera could be better. What's fantastic is the battery life. I can take this off charge and be good all day with at least 30% left. If I didn't use it as much. I'd expect a good day and a half before charging. I'll take that any day.
last year i got my mum Galaxy A3 2017 for £180,
TouchWiz UI skin performance is good.
Facebook, twitter, YouTube perfomace is good.
video quality is good...
screen quality is good
sound quality is good
software is good.
hardware is good.
gaming performance bad on some games.
has same features as some flagship phone waterproof, always on display, theme store, etc..
camera is bad.
internal storage 16Gb is bad
overall is good enough for average user.
I was going to agree but I strongly disagree when it comes to the camera. It isn't great but it is comparable to various other phones I have tried, including the XZ1 Compact, which is a lot more expensive. I like to use the A3 as a comparison device when it comes to the camera with other mid-range phones or just phones in general, unless I know the phone is VERY good, like the Pixel series.