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Greatest mid-range smartphone 2022: the highest telephones that will not break the financial institution

On the search for the best mid-range smartphone below $500/£500? You’re in the right place.

Time was, any phone short of a pricey top-tier flagship would inevitably serve up a disappointing experience. Bland designs, poor build quality, and a slow, stuttery experience all featured frequently in mid-range smartphone bingo. But those days are over.

Today, you can buy cracking handsets that are night-on inseparable from smartphones that cost twice as much, covering almost all of your needs without bleeding your wallet dry. From premium builds to nippy performance, all-day battery life, and even decent cameras, there are plenty of handsets out there that more than nail the basics, while capable of serving you well for years to come.

The best mid-range phone to buy today

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The new iPhone SE (aka the iPhone SE 3, released in 2022) is one of the best-value iPhones ever made. While it looks rather old fashioned by today’s standards thanks to its home button and thick bezels, it more than makes up for it on the inside — despite costing less than half the price of the iPhone 13, it’s still rocking the same incredibly powerful A15 Bionic processor.

If you prefer dinkier screens for easy one-handed use, then its 4.7in LCD display (sadly not OLED) will be an absolute joy to use, banishing over-stretched thumbs for good. If you don’t mind the fact that it’s only got a single camera, smaller battery, and no Face ID smarts, then this should definitely be a consideration for Apple fans on a budget.

Tech Specs

Display: 4.7in HD+ LCD ● Processor: Apple A15 Bionic • R.A.M: 4GB ● Storage: 65/128/256GB • Cameras: 12MP rear, 7MP front • Batteries: 2018mAh • Weight: 144g

Realme 9 Pro+

The Realme 9 Pro+ will probably be the best overall choice for most people reading this list (unless, of course, you’re after an iPhone).

Its primary selling points are a 90Hz OLED display, and a best-in-class main camera that genuinely goes to toe with premium flagships come day or night. It can even shoot HEIF 10-bit photos like the iPhone 13 Pro, for smoother gradients and colors for enthusiasts to work their editing magic. Its digital zoom isn’t too shabby either, and the same goes for its 8MP ultra-wide snapper.

As usual the third macro camera isn’t really worth using more than a few times for experimentation, but given the imaging quality elsewhere, that’s fine by us. Powerful enough for smooth gaming with 60W charging thrown in for good measure, this is one of the best mid-range handsets currently available, at a borderline budget price tag.

Poco X4 Pro 5G

The Poco X4 Pro 5G is a cheaper 5G alternative to the OnePlus Nord 2T. With looks that believe it’s mid-range status, its large rear camera bump and “laser-like” reflections help it stand out from the crowd — especially if you opt for the bright yellow model.

Looks aside, one of its best features is its buttery-smooth 120Hz FHD+ AMOLED display, which is up there with some of the top flagships we’ve ever tested. It’s powered by a large 5000mAh battery for all-day stamina too, with speedy 67W fast charging letting you top up in a flash if you do run low.

As with most mid-range handsets, the main camera is comfortably the best one on offer here, and the only one of the X4 Pro’s cameras to offer a dedicated night mode. If a large, speedy-charging battery, crisp display and main camera performance are high on your list of priorities, this could very well be the choice for you.

OnePlus Nord 2T 5G

The OnePlus Nord 2T 5G might have a horrifically convoluted name, but it more than makes up for it with a beautiful, premium design, bolstered by quality specs and performance in all the right places. Slathered front and back in gorilla glass, it’s available in gray or a head-turning Jade Fog finish, making it one of the best looking mid-range handsets money can buy.

Ready for super-fast 5G, it’s powered by MediaTek’s powerful Dimensity 1300 processor, which has made a name for itself as one of the best mid-range CPUs currently available. It’s got a triple-camera setup too, though its main snapper will be the one that gets the majority of the legwork done.

Throw in speedy Google, Samsung and Apple-trouncing 80W fast charging, a 90Hz AMOLED display, and a dual-SIM slot for extra flexibility, and you’ve got one of the top mid-range Android picks around.

Tech Specs

Display: 6.43in 90Hz FHD+ AMOLED ● Processor: MediaTek Dimension 1300 • R.A.M: 8/12GB ● Storage: 128/256GB • Cameras: 50+8+2MP rear, 32MP front • Batteries: 4500mAh • Weight: 190g

Poco X4 GT

If you’re after power above all else, then the Poco X4 GT definitely warrants a closer look. The most powerful phone on our list after the iPhone SE, it’s powered by MediaTek’s flagship Dimensity 8100. Coupled with it’s incredibly smooth 144Hz display, it’s an ideal choice for serious mobile gamers.

The price for that higher-than-average refresh rate though, is an LCD screen as opposed to an OLED one, which means you won’t be enjoying true blacks and super-vivid colours. Battery life doesn’t take a hit though, and we comfortably got through a day’s worth of heavy use on a single charge. There’s also 67W fast-charging on the cards, surpassing far more expensive handsets from Samsung and Apple.

As usual, only the main 64MP camera is worth writing home about, with good shots in bright environments. Night shots are okay, though you’ll need a steady hand to get the best out of them due to the lack of a dedicated Night Mode or optical image stabilization.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Despite rumors suggesting there’s no plans for a Galaxy S22 FE in the works at Samsung HQ, the Galaxy S21 FE remains a formidable option in the mid-range category. It’s got Qualcomm’s mighty Snapdragon 888 CPU running the show, for a start, along with up to 8GB RAM for multitasking shenanigans.

Unlike most of its rivals, it’s got a decent camera setup across the board too, with 3x optical zoom offering the ability to get closer to subjects without sacrificing on detail. There’s even a 32MP camera for selfie lovers, and, of course, the premium design and build you’d expect to find in a Samsung handset.

It’s certainly a lot less garish and more muted compared to some of the competition, and we particularly like the more minimal rear lens setup. At just under £500 though its considerably more expensive, and only offers 25W charging speeds.

honor 50

The Honor 50 resembles the more expensive Huawei P50 Pro, and despite its plastic build, looks just as smart, feeling like a premium bit of kit in the hands. Crucially, unlike Huawei’s offering, it has the full Google app experience, unlocking the full power of the Play Store.

Round the front you’ll find a 120Hz OLED display that’s up there with some of the best we’ve seen, though it doesn’t quite reach the retina-searing brightness levels of more expensive flagships like Samsung’s Galaxy S22 range. While the rear camera setup looks impressive, only the main 108MP camera delivers truly good results however, capturing buckets of detail with each shot.

Despite having a smaller battery than some rivals we found that it could comfortably last more than a whole day of use, with nippy 66W fast charging included for extra convenience. You can get slightly better performance for the money, but if you’re chasing the P50 Pro’s looks for much less, this has you covered.

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