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updates on: The BEST Mid-Range Smartphones For 2017 – KILLER Value For Money

What are your best options for the mid-range price bracket?



Ah, the mid-range bracket. Or perhaps we should call it the Goldilocks bracket; you don’t want to spend too little, or too much, just enough to get something that has a decent spec for your needs. It doesn’t have to be a super-flashy flagship powerhouse with all the latest bells and whistles, just “quite good” in terms of performance, camera, and battery life, with a display that doesn’t look like a pool of vomit, and a relatively affordable price tag that makes all this possible. But not “cheap”, nope, you want to spend a bit for peace of mind, just not loads of money.
Fortunately, in many regards this is the easiest bracket to go for, in the sense that you have a ton of very good options available, because it comprises both new handsets aimed at the mid-tier, and older flagships that have gone down in price but are similarly specced.
That said, it can also be true that having the most options can also make it harder to make a decision.
Our budget smartphone article focuses on handsets under £200, so for that reason this article will go from £200 up to about £400-£450 or so. Much above that and you’re really into flagship territory (£500+), though it must be said many of the key players in the industry seem determined to push base flagship prices up into the £800-£1000 region, which is a bit nuts if you ask us.
Obviously there’s quite a bit of difference between a £200-£300 phone and a £300-£400 one, so we will divide the list up into upper-mid-tier and lower-mid-tier to help you hone in on your exact budget.

Upper-Mid-Tier

Samsung Galaxy S6 & Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge


The current Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 flagships are stuffed with all the latest high-end tech and cost an absolute bomb, as they’re both brand new. But even if you drop down to the Galaxy S7 series you’re still looking at flagship prices - it’s still a highly competitive phone, and indeed I’ve advised several friends looking to upgrade on their contracts to go with the Galaxy S7 inside 2017 with happy results.
To jump down into the mid-range price point though, you’re looking at 2015’s Samsung Galaxy S6 series, which is still by no means a bad place to be. Indeed, this is where Samsung’s current design ethos - which is awesome - started out. As such, you’re looking at a sleek bodyshell design made from premium metal and glass.
Performance wise this is still a heavy hitter even on the current market, as apps and games haven’t become much more demanding and the processor tech is still very capable. Battery life should be decent too, during the year of its launch it was one of the best out there.
The camera is also superb - this is the phone that started my ongoing love affair with Samsung's approach to imaging hardware and software, and although it’s been tweaked and tuned on subsequent models, the overall formula hasn’t really changed. Likewise, by this point Samsung had already honed its Super AMOLED display technology to be the best on the market, and nothing has really topped it. Again, even subsequent Galaxy S flagships have mainly just tweaked the winning recipe a bit rather than ushering in massive overhauls.
Are there any disadvantages? Sure. This is the first-gen of the firm’s premium design which unfortunately, for some reason, meant it missed out on the water and dust proofing. It doesn’t have an IP water and dust resistance rating, unlike the plastic Galaxy S5 before it and the subsequent metal and glass Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 series. That means you have to be a bit more careful with it around the wet stuff, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means; you can always get a waterproof case.
For a brand new, mint-condition Galaxy S6 (32GB storage) you’re looking at around £310-£380, while the curved-screen Edge variant will be more expensive still. There are, however, plenty of options when it comes to refurbished handsets which you can find priced as low as £160 in some instances, but more typically in the £240-£290 range.

LG G5


Pretty much a similar deal to the Galaxy S6 above, except that this is last year’s LG flagship (2016) rather than the two year-old model. This one hasn’t retained its market value quite as well as the Galaxy S6, probably because it didn’t sell as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 at the time it launched, which sadly seems to be the same old story with LG year-on-year.
Quite why this is the case remains a mystery, because there isn’t actually anything wrong with the LG G5; it was and is a fantastic handset, and was easily as good as its Galaxy S7 rival when it launched. The CPU performance is just as capable as the Galaxy S7, which means it can still keep up with all the apps and content you’ll find out in the current market.
Similarly, the camera experience LG managed to hone in on with the last few generations of its flagships - including the LG G5 - is on a par with what Samsung offers in its Galaxy S flagships. The LG G5 also has one much sought-after feature (one which LG’s subsequent models no longer offer) - a removable battery cell.
It's a full metal build, but it does also lack waterproofing like the Galaxy S6.
You can typically find this phone for the £320-£350 mark, although it can go as high as £430-ish. Refurbished, naturally, drives it down even cheaper, where it can be found for as little as £189 if you have a good poke around.

OnePlus 3T


OnePlus has only been around a short time, but it simply cannot be stopped from producing well-specced flagship-grade smartphones at much more reasonable prices than many of the big hitters. The current lead model for 2017 is the OnePlus 5, but the generation before it, the OnePlus 3T is still well worth a look (yup, the OnePlus 4 was skipped as the number four is apparently“bad luck”).
Again, this phone is just as fast as the previous two as it runs of the same hardware, making it plenty competitive in today’s market. It also runs a very clean and well-optimised software suite based on Android Marshmallow (upgraded to Nougat) and packs both a large battery pack and a hefty 16MP camera.
Direct from OnePlus, the OnePlus 3T costs €439, which when converted into UK pounds just scrapes inside the budget at £393. However, elsewhere it can be readily picked up from around £300 up to £370ish.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)


The Samsung Galaxy A series was specifically made to slot into the mid-tier and there is a fresh batch of all three models for 2017. The latest Samsung Galaxy A7 boasts an impressive all-metal design, a 5.7in 1080p Super AMOLED display and a speedy Exynos 7880 octa-core processor. It also has a 16MP camera with a wide f/1.9 aperture for high quality imaging and a large 3,600mAh battery. Unlike the Galaxy S6, this one has IP68 water and dust proofing.
The Galaxy A7 retails for between £270 and £300.

Huawei P9 & Huawei P9 Plus


The Huawei P9 is the Chinese firm’s flagship from 2016, and there’s the slightly larger Huawei P9 Plus with a similar spec line-up. They pack 1080p displays at 5.2in and 5.5in respectively, feature elegant metal and glass bodywork, and use Huawei’s own insanely powerful CPU tech - the HiSilicon Kirin 955.
They’re also fitted with an impressive Leica-branded dual-12MP camera.
The regular model has a 3,000mAh battery while the Plus is up-rated to 3,400mAh. The price ranges from £250 to around £350.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)


As per the Galaxy A7 listing above, there's a lot to like about the 2017 Galaxy A line-up and in particular the Galaxy A5 is a standout example. You're looking at an all-metal build, a 5.2in 1080p Super AMOLED display, full IP68 water and dust proofing, a 16MP camera, an Exynos 7880 octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage and a 3,000mAh battery.
It'll cost you between £235-£320.

Apple iPhone SE


What? You didn't think it was all just about Android did you? Well it isn't. Apple may charge a premium for devices carrying its branding, but it does offer a "lower cost" option as well. Just the one, the iPhone SE. It's basically a miniaturised iPhone 6, with the same processor and a 4in Retina display.
At £349 it's at the higher end of our pricing bracket, but then again you do get Apple's rather good software and content ecosystem, as well as the luxury of timely updates.
And let's face it, you're getting what most people pay Apple for; the experience, the optimisation, the fact that it just works no-fuss, and the style and prestige that goes with the brand.

Moto Z2 Play


The Moto Z2 Play packs a 5.5in 1080p display, a Qualcomm MSM8953-Pro Snapdragon 626 octa-core CPU, a 12MP camera, and a 3,00mAh battery and is priced variably between £300-£400. However, the really great thing here is the modularity; the Moto Z2 Play is compatible with Motorola's full range of MotoMods, which allows you to clamp various accessories to the back panel, from your basic battery booster, right up to camera enhancements, full stereo sound systems, and even a projector.

Moto X Style


The Moto X Style came out in 2015, but it's still an outstanding mid-ranger all round. The Snapdragon 808 SoC may be a bit long in the tooth, but the point here is that this phone came about at that golden point when Motorola had really aced its value proposition business model, which offered competetive prices, stock Android, and well-optimised hardware.
The display is a gorgeous 5.7in IPS LCD panel with a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution at a super sharp 520ppi. It also has 3GB of RAM onboard and options for 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage, as well as microSD support.
The camera is a real star of the show as well; a 21MP f/2.0 aperture sensor with a dual-LED flash. Stereo front-facing speakers and a 3,000mAh battery round things off nicely.

Lower-Mid-Tier

Moto G5 Plus


The Moto G series has been popular for several years in the budget category, but for 2017, Lenovo and Motorola put out a slightly more premium model alongside the new generation Moto G5, dubbed the Moto G5 Plus.
The specs (and price) have been bumped up enough that it can reasonably be considered a mid-ranger, albeit a lower-level mid-ranger. Compared to the regular Moto G5 it has a slightly larger display (0.2in bigger at 5.2in, but the same 1080p resolution), more RAM (4GB), a faster and higher-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with an accompanying GPU upgrade, a bigger battery, and a more refined camera with a wider aperture, dual-LED dual-tone flash, and 2160p video recording.
You can find it for as little as £193 in some places, but more typically it'll cost £269.99.

(Huawei) Honor 9


Honor is Huawei's off-shoot brand, aimed at the younger demographic and with a nod to affordability as a result. Typically, the Honor series pilfers bits of tech from Huawei's main brand and also shares the same Emotion UI over Android.
Pretty much every Honor handset to date has been a very slick and stylish bit of kit; you get something very premium on the outside for your money, to be sure.
The Honor 9 is the flagship Honor handset launched inside 2017; it features a 5.1in 1080p IPS LCD display, Android 7.0 Nougat, and Huawie's own very powerful octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 960 CPU. You also have options for either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, with 64GB or 128GB of storage, as well as a dual-sensor 20MP+12MP primary camera with 2x lossless zoom. There's a lot of bang for your buck here with a typical price range of between £300-£380.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

We already mentioned the other members of the Galaxy A series for 2017. The Galaxy A3 is the smallest size option with a 4.7in 720p Super AMOLED display, and also the cheapest at around £200-£260. It has the same appealing metal build and design as its stable-mates, together with a powerful Exynos 7870 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage (plus microSD expansion). On top of that, both the 13MP primary and 8MP secondary cameras have wide f/1.9 apertures for very good shooting at this price point.

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