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Top 3 Reasons You Should Buy a Mid-Range Phone Over a Flagship in 2022

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

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.

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I was definitely impressed with the photos I was able to take with a phone that goes for just $450 on Amazon. 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

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.

98 Comments
  • 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.
  • I went with the lower mid-range and got a Stylo 4 which I was rather impressed. the camera is great on this phone considering it's only a 13 megapixel. the stylus Works excellent for editing pictures in Snapseed. It also has NFC , USB type c Quick Charge, it support OTG and the Q Lens is fun to play with. 2 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of storage. And I've played pugb mobile and Asphalt 8 with no hiccups or stutters.
    And though it's not certified I've seen it submerged in water for a minute and a half and still work fine and survive a drop test from shoulder height without breaking. Very impressive for less than $200
  • When I had to downgrade from flagships to more affordable phones I thought my tech life was over. Turns out it's not so bad. Phones in the sub $200 tier actually serve my purposes pretty well. Phones like the LG Xcharge, Stylo 3 or 4, or Moto E5 plus offer most of what I require. I know the tech snobs will find such pedestrian offerings laughable and thats ok. When Jesus was here he walked. He didn't drive a Lincoln Navigator. As long as my needs are met adequately Im ok.
  • Jesus also lived before cars... Terrible analogy.. 
  • I thought it made the point in a more interesting way. But ok lets call it a golden chariot. Happy?
  • Much better ha. 
  • I stopped buying flagship phones with the advent of the "glass sandwich"phones. I'm still hunting for the OnePlus 5T. Mid-range phones offer great value for money. Particular if one isn't been on having A GREAT CAMERA on the phone.
  • It's getting more and more difficult to get a flagship metal unibody phone.
  • So agree. Love metal phones. Love the feel and the sturdiness. Glass phones have their place and are way too popular to ignore, but mid-range phones at least have options in both categories to chose from.
  • I gave my wife my iPhone X and my daughter my Galaxy s9+ and kept my OP6. Two flagships killed with one phone lol.
  • What did you do wrong?
  • Buying an iPhone X and a S9 😂
  • I'm in my 60's and I need a phone that has great connectivity, good camera has plenty of storage with a good processor and battery life. That's it. Yes I'm still in the game for a new Pixel 3 XL or the new mid-range phone with the 700 series processor. I don't need an - ultimate gaming phone. But one that will handle most apps - Maps - Google Assistant - Messaging - Scheduling etc. And be daylight viewable. With frequent updates. 👍
  • It's sad when a ~$500 is consider mid range in 2018 when in 2016 a ~$400 was considered mid range
  • I guess having $1k phones skewed the whole thing now...
  • Phones? Or one phone?
  • To be fair, if I remember correctly, the Note 8 is very close. The Sony XZ2 Premium is $1k.
  • As usual, the one place where Apple sets the standard was price. As soon as other manufacturers found out people would shell out a grand for an iPhone, the "why not us" price increases happened. ugh.
  • Great battery life and performance is all I need for a phone. Camera can be crappy and I wouldn't care less.
  • Battery life is definitely important to me as well as having flagship internals (Processor and RAM) and a group camera and Google's version of Android which my phone gives me all thank and more.
  • Way to go genius! Your pixel 2xl is the midrange phone. Oh wait...
  • My Pixel 2 XL is no way mid range, it's camera is flagship quality along with have the then flagship SoC Snapdragon 835 and 4GB RAM and IP67 water resistance. Try again troll.
  • Instead of a mid-range phone, I usually buy a 1 year old flagship... I own a Pixel XL 128gb, and payed €500 for it on amazon.es... brand new, I'll probably go looking for a Pixel 2 when the Pixel 3 comes out. Good software with regular updates, a good camera and decent build quality are important to me. However, there are some seriously good mid-range phones out there...
  • I like this idea, very cool.
  • Agree. Last year but new flagship for 400-450$ always better than all current midrange. I do that with Samsung
  • I have a co-worker that just bought an iPhone 6, paid about half price for it and knows he will continue to get updates for another 2 years - hopefully.... And he makes a point to rub it in too... Yep.
  • Haha, my friend is finally upgrading from her iPhone 5 to the 6s, so this is true.
  • The downside of the updates is running a device that wasn't designed to handle the newer OS. My father had that issue with the iPhone 4, and the same thing happened to the Nexus 7. Both of my coworkers had the Nexus 7, one became slow and unusable after the updates, the other one is still used daily since he blocked the updates from day 1. For work phones, the iPhone 6 was garbage. A lot of them failed in our office, mine died in the first year. I'm on my 2nd iPhone in two years, whereas my boss is on his 3rd or 4th.
  • Nexus 7 on Android 6 works great on it but I wouldn't go Android 5 aka Lollipop. It slowed my tablet down for a couple of years.
  • It's flagships or nothing for me now, too many regrets after buying cheaper phones that can't game as well and the graphics have to be set lower. It can't take as good pictures, slower, lower resolution inferior quality screen ect.
  • Xperia XA1 Ultra for £200. Good performance from the Mediatek P20, only the most intense games don't run well on the Mali T880. It's just a damn good phone for the price and I think it's better value than the XA2 Ultra because that carries an unnecessary Qualcomm premium.
  • Phones as a group are getting better every year, and what was 8 or 900 dollars a couple of years ago can be had for half or a third of that today. If anything, it makes it easier for me to wait and see what the next six months will bring, because the phone I already have does what I need. Even my previous phone sitting in the drawer for backup would be more than adequate until something I can't live without comes along.
  • I stopped wasting money on so called flagships years ago after realizing what I actually do with my phone. No games, rarely use the camera, hardly use any storage. Battery life is most important to me. So, I now have a Moto E5 plus with 5000 mAh battery, 3 GB ram 32 GB memory... it's works for me. As for the cameras, like they say, the best camera is the one that you have on you at the moment. Besides, for price of those phones I can buy a new phone annually with the lastest OS for three years.
  • My thoughts exactly!
  • Is that the one you can use mods on? The camera may for that is great.
  • I do not play games on my phone, (that's why I have the PS 4 and XBOX One S), so I needed a phone that do basic s**t. I thought that my Moto G5 Plus was my choice and I was ALMOST correct. The only problem is UPDATES!!! Next phone in Pixel 3 XL!!
  • May I ask how did not having latest security patches or os version ruined your experience? I mean is fb, youtube, tweeter etc works slower or you have some specific app not working on nugat or what?
  • Some people need a great camera, others don't. It all depends on your particular needs. My girl is not a camera nut or heavy gamer. So I picked her up the moto g6 for 240.00. She loves it. The 450processer acts like the 625, you really can't tell the difference. So for her this phone fulfills all her needs. Not everyone has to spend a fortune to get very good performance!
  • Even buying a year old flagship would be better than most of these mid range devices. I bought an original pixel as a backup, and it still performs great, even with it coming to almost 2 years old. 
  • I've wondered about that myself, but when I compared my Android One Moto X4 to the original Google Pixel, it seems like it's about a wash to me. My Moto X4 has certain advantages that the original Pixel doesn't have, namely, the IP68 rating. And my guess is the SD 630 is pretty much on par with the SD 821. The update situation is a wash, as the Android One X4 will be getting Android P as well. The original Pixels will be reaching official EOL status for software updates soon. Plus, they're still more expensive that most mid-rangers, at least from what I've seen.
  • The pixels can be found on various sites for under $200. Yes the Moto x4 is comparable but also more expensive. You won't find another mid range that competes with the pixel in terms of performance and camera. 
  • The Moto X4 is usually 200 dollar refurbished from Best Buy. The camera on the Pixel is better, but isn't a versatile as the Moto X4's cameras, the wide angle gives more choice and is incredible to use for establishing context of a scene. The best phone camera I've used so far is on the LG G5, but it sucks at making a phone call.
  • A phone that sucks at making a phone call lmao 🤦‍♂️
  • Sd630 is on par with sd821? Right... Both do everything you throw at them but so do sd420 😉
  • I've never felt the need to buy a flagship phone, and I've never felt deprived because of not doing so.
  • I got the OP3 on launch and used it for 2 years and now have the Op6. My daughter has my old OP3, my son is on the moto g6 and my wife is on the moto g5s. No regrets!
  • Sold my Note8 a month ago and switched to a Moto G6. Does everything I need it to without hick-ups. No need for mobile pay. And the camera is good enough for the occasional shot. I will never spend $1000 for a phone again!
  • Whoa that's such a big change!
  • #4 send a signal that the prices are getting outrageous.
  • Bought my wife a new LG G5, my daughter got the Moto G6, and I have the ZTE Blade V8 Pro. All of them now considered low to mid range. All with 32Gb of storage, full HD (or better) and most importantly, USB type C. And none of them were over $250.
  • The manufacturers are pushing the flagship price envelope way beyond acceptable levels because they know their foolhardy fan base will still throw there hard earned at them without question. Very sad state we're in now. Midrange for me for sure.
  • I stopped buying flagships a couple of years ago. Don't miss it at all. You save a ton of money. If you were to resell your midranger it doesn't depreciate as much as a flagship would do. Phones that use a Snapdragon 6XX chip is fast enough for me since I don't play graphic intensive games. And the biggest benefit... battery life. No more charging your phone everyday because of the battery sucking display and power hungry processor. I don't even worry about my battery. The anxiety of plugging in your phone is gone. The majority of people would benefit using a midranger. Most just do social media, text, calls, pics etc. A midranger can do that perfectly fine. Flagship phones should really be marketed as 'Camera Phones' or 'Gaming Phones' since that's where they excel at.
  • I agree. All you're really paying an extra $500 for is a better camera at this point. It's ridiculous.
  • Yes, 100%. I never take low light shots anyway.
  • Agree. Only a camera... Oh and the screen... Oh and IP rating... Ok wireless charging too... And here and there audio Dac, pen, latest updates, speakers...
  • There are mid-rangers with a few or a lot of those things. There are flagships missing some of those things. The only real difference is the cameras.
  • Well the OnePlus phones and Huawei /honor phones don't work on my Carrier. So based on the list above only the Moto z 3 play is left. Which, according to Daniel Bader, senior editor for Android Central, has mediocre camera, especially in low light. Might be ok for those who don't care too much about cameras, by not me. Anyhow I only paid $463 for my s9+, albeit with a 2 year payment plan through my carrier. I don't plan to leave my carrier anyway so it is a better choice for me.
  • edge case man. haha
  • Also you mention that $600 to 700 feels somewhat reasonable. Is that extra $20 for the s9 really going to make it unreasonable?
  • The OnePlus 6 to me isn't a midrange phone - it's a flagship with a low (midrange) price.
  • I find midrange phones to be more interesting. While I talk about the flagships for sure, I am more amazed with really good ones like the Honor 8 was! I have had my Galaxy A3 2017 for a year and I think it's probably one of my favorite Android phones to date. My only gripe is the performance at times but such a solid phone for me.
  • The Huawei P20 Lite is a fantastic phone. It looks as good as any high-end phone and I have had 2 people ask if it was an IPhone X. It is very light and the battery life is better than any phone I've ever had. The cameras are very good, but not great and the screen is readable in direct sunlight. It feels nearly as speedy as my Note 8 and S8 and after 3 weeks I haven't had the urge to use either of them. There is a toggle to get rid of the notch, but the notch is very small and for me it's not bothersome at all. At under $300 I think its the best phone out there right now.
  • Yes, certainly seems to be the best in the £300 range.
  • Only reason I can think of is price. I've gotten pretty dependent on having a great camera and audio.
  • Just buy last year's flagship for the price of a new mid-range. You will be getting a better phone for the same price 😉
  • 👍
  • I've just waited for the flagship phones to drop to the 500-600 price range and then purchase the phone. Have to wait it out a bit, but why pay over a grand for something that you can get in a few months time for a fraction of the price?
  • Plus, and I've learned from being a sucker... If you wait 6 months, they get better. Cheaper and better.
  • I got a Nokia 7 Plus after previously having an HTC 10. Both look brilliant (although when side by side the HTC looks slightly like a toy), both are built like tanks, and both run fantastic but at drastically different prices. And the new SD660 SoC is running better and with slightly more features that i actually use than the SD820 SoC, just at a better price point.
  • The Nokia 8 also looks like a good deal.
  • I have some thoughts. 1. I love the idea of what can I do with the cheapest phones. 2. I am using an iPhone 6s 64gb still and it is just as good as the 8. Milliseconds slower is no big deal. Wireless charging, no big deal since I use an iPad charger to fast charge. I am thinking about getting a stylo 3 for another device. It’s interesting and inexpensive. I also want to try some cheap stuff from gearbest. Just for ***** and giggles.
  • Do you get Wifi calling on T-Mobile with the Oneplus 6?
  • What would be considered the best mid-range options for Verizon users?
  • I don't buy a mid range, but, I don't pay 1,000 bucks either.
    What I do is wait until a new "flagship" is released, and then start watching...the price of last years
    next best thing will sometimes DROP by 1/2 or more, to clear out inventory.
    It's the last of the production run, should have any hardware bugs squashed, and should hopefully
    come with the latest version of android. Given how I use my phone (non gamer), it will do what I need
    it to do, and didn't cost an arm & a leg.
  • This is a great strategy.
  • IIRC, my Galaxy s7 edge that I bought a year ago was $350. It was called either a refurb or old stock, I don't remember, but it looked brand new in retail packaging. It looks good and works really well, speedy and has more bells and whistles than I use. As far as cameras go, all phone cameras are 'snapshot' cameras to me. I put aside my Sony mirrorless interchangeable lens camera for a while and just used the phone's camera. I then went back to the Sony. Huge difference. Then I started comparing other phone cameras to the Sony and the difference is huge. Phone cameras are convenient, but if you want a good image none of them is good enough.
  • who actually has time to scroll through photos they have taken? or who actually gets around to looking through their photos? i bet the majority don't. Who here actually zooms into to the finer details and analyses like a photographer? i bet most dont.
  • I'm one that's an exception. The formula is to take a lot of photos with the hope some will turn out to be gems. It's about 10% 'gems' since the modern age of digital photography in cell phones/smartphones began circa late-2002. I had the Sanyo SCP-5300 in that era. My co-workers were actually amazed at seeing their images captured contemporaneously. It was four years later that a prohibition regarding the use of camera phones was enacted in our workplace; those were some heady days. I lost some photos which had been uploaded to Sprint's website when I left them to go with Verizon; it's those photos, grainy, crude and very low megapixel shots that I regret losing the most as some of those images are of loved ones whose walk with me ended some time ago.
  • Nokia 7 plus
    Yes that's the best phone period.
    3800 mah battery, bigger than any flagship as we speak
    Dual real camera, 18:9 screen ratio, android one program benefits, and that solid Nokia build that seems like a tank.
    Half the price of the s9.
    Still has 4gb ram, 64 internal, sd card, 2 ghz processor.
  • This year's flagship will be considered top end midrange in a year or two, tech moves quicker than the majority of the users, most people could buy a Galaxy S8+ and be happy with it for the next 3 years no problem.
    Thing about flagship devices like Notes/pixels etc... Is that once you went that route you won't compromise and settle for 2nd best anymore
  • Fear of missing out; FOMO. Ever since I purchased the Sanyo SCP-6200 in early 2002 I have felt it necessary to have what I perceived as the best device available; my two previous cell phones, dating to May 2000, were nondescript Samsung clamshell-types. I have all of my old devices (dozens now) which still can be powered-up to display what was in their memories up until the moment they were decommissioned. I see the need to get the best smartphone available as an exercise in self-aggrandizement; that has been this year's theme since February.
  • My brief experience with a cheap smartphone was pretty good; performance and battery life were satisfactory. I actually prefer the non-curved screens Samsung uses on its low cost models. Unfortunately, I'm too used to flagship features, like QuickCharge, better cameras, audio, etc. I'll likely consider a mid-range Pixel 3 with the Snapdragon 710 if rumors are true, though.
  • Did the mid-range device with my Moto X Pure. Never truly enjoyed it. So when it died wanted to go a different route. Was really close on pulling a trigger on a more recent Hero device, but after all was said and done I went over 2 1/2 years old and grabbed a almost-new LG V20. Was patient (been using an old Windows Phone 8 device for almost 2 months now) and found a really good deal from a very good (99.6%) seller on eBay. While that may be a tad later than most tech enthusiasts would deal with, at 200$ I get a much loved device and all the toys I wanted (IR Blaster, replaceable batter, headphone jack with a bonus DAC). If it ends up being a problem, I can afford to get a better phone next year. Do not think I will do mid-range again, even as I was VERY tempted by the Honor View 10 and Huawei Mate SE, and I kicked the tires on the Moto Z Play, I think a one or two year old Hero device is where I will go from this point on (LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8 Active were also on my short list).
  • The V20, even now as it approached its 2nd birthday, is no slouch for everything you've cited. I also have the powerful but quirky V10 that I purchased on November 6th, 2015, after Samsung 'emasculated' the Note 5 in stripping the micro SD card slot. What a shock, for me, to see the Note 4 succeeded by the Note 5. I had the same reaction, having been a Motorola Droid/RAZR 'aficionado' in 2013, when the micro SD slot was deleted from those devices. The V20 improved on battery life over the V10 as I'd bought two spares and seldom would need even one. I had gotten accustomed to the V10's power-hungry ways and would sometimes have to go to the third battery.
  • Replacing batteries is a bonus, but my main motivation is the fact most of my phones have become dumpster weights due to batteries dying. I love the security of just tossing a bad battery, not an entire device. That being said, everyone raves about huge selection of batteries to be had for the V20. I am all over it, and happy with idea of leaving the days of "wall hugging" behind. Do you have a preference in battery types or chargers, by chance (shameless brain picking here)?
  • Or could wait 3 months after release and get flagships for ¾ the price. So the price they should have been basically
  • I love my LG Stylo 3 plus, getting the LG Stylo 4 real soon! On metro PC's!
  • My current phones are a Note 8, LG V30, and an S9 Plus. I'll probably never buy another flagship. It's an update thing. Why get a phone with the hardware of a Note 8 that gets crippled in 6 months with an update? My latest security patch update killed my battery. I struggle to get 3 hours screen on time with it. Before the update, 6 hours screen on time.
  • If you care about camera, security and software updates then other than the Android One phones and especially the Nokia phones, then then you're better off buying a flagship
  • Love my HTC U11 Life, in the sapphire blue and small form factor was just $300. I have not seen another phone that looks as good, anywhere, and it works great for the price. I travel extensively and carry 4 phone at present. It has my favorite fingerprint sensor in the front bottom of any. I use my thumb much more naturally than those on the back. Since I have to take pictures for work and memories I carry a $360 Sony Wx350 camera that has a 20X optical zoom with stabilization in an extremely small form factor, so a super high end phone camera is not necessary. This phone has a good 16MP cameras and I feel well equipped.