if you’re looking for a best budget smartphone, Brands like Samsung, Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus offer phones that cost far less than an iPhone and deliver serious gaming performance, impressive displays, and capable cameras for capturing the exciting moments in your daily life with improve battery life. Here’s my personal selection of the very best mid-range smartphones early 2024.
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1. Google Pixel 7a
Now, if you fancy a Google flagship but find the asking price a bit much, consider the Pixel 7a. Despite being more affordable, it’s nearly as good as the regular Pixel 7 flagship. While the materials might not be as premium, the Pixel 7a looks just as stunning as its flagship counterparts, and the hand feel is truly magnificent.
boasts the Tensor G2 chipset, and Yes, it can get a bit warm at times, but the phone can handle anything you do, including playing games like Genshin Impact. The 6.1-inch OLED screen offers a pleasing 90Hz refresh rate, and the stereo speaker setup is decent.
On the software side, you get the lovely stock Android vibes, no heavy clunky launches added. The phone features excellent security and privacy, and being a Google device, it comes with years of software support. You’ll struggle to find a better smartphone camera at this price.
The 64MP quad-camera sensor and Tensor’s slick image processing deliver great-looking pics even in challenging conditions. However be aware that the Pixel 7a’s battery life isn’t as good as some other phones in this mid-range roundup. If you’re using constantly to your smartphone, you might want to consider something else.
2. OnePlus Nord 2T and 3
One of the Pixel’s most impressive rivals at this price is the OnePlus Nord 2T, It enhances overall performance, especially for gamers. The OnePlus Nord 2T runs on MediaTek’s Dimensity 1300 chipset, which effortlessly powers through any Android game or app. Games like Genshin are handled effortlessly with dedicated gaming tools.
It features an OLED screen, this time a 6.43-inch AMOLED panel, with the added benefit of a faster 90Hz refresh rate. Additionally it boasts a decent stereo speaker setup, making it great for enjoying Netflix or bold tech content.
The Nord 2T’s 4,500mAh battery provides sufficient screen-on time for long, intensive days, even for demanding users, and supports 80W fast charging when plugged in, a remarkable feature at this price point.
OxygenOS remains highly customizable, with a few years of promised software updates for freshness and security. While the 50MP primary camera sensor may not capture images as cleanly as the Pixel, it handles everyday snaps and sharp-looking home videos well.
3. OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite
if your budget can’t quite stretch to above Nord smartphones, no worries. For a bit less cash, you can grab yourself a OnePlus Nord C3 Lite, It might be cheaper, but it’s still a very capable device.
The design has been downgraded to plastic but spruced up a bit with a lovely lime paint job, While the OLED screen is swapped out for a more basic LCD panel, the visuals are still sharp, and the refresh rate is boosted to 120Hz.
Once again, you have a stereo speaker setup with added headphone jack. The sizable 5,000mAh capacity battery ensures all-day play with no worries unless you absolutely torture the living hack out of this thing. Complete with nippy 67W fast charging when you do run dry, gaming is smooth and satisfying on lighter titles like PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile, and even Genshin Impact if you keep the graphics settings low.
This is helped along again by that gaming mode, while the Snapdragon 695 chipset handles everything else just as capably. Even the 108MP camera is a bit of a cracker, serving up good-looking pics in all kinds of difficult conditions.
4. Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
Now, another solid option for a mid-range budget is Samsung’s fresh new Galaxy A54, a significant step up from last year’s clunky and rather disappointing Galaxy A53. Firstly, that glass finish looks and feels almost as premium as the Galaxy S23 flagship, with a choice of four colors, all of them awesome if you’re inclined to believe Samsung’s nomenclature.
However I do absolutely adore the IP67 dust and water resistance, which is tricky to find at this price outside of the Pixel phone. Samsung fans will enjoy the feature-filled One UI 5 experience that’s not too different from those flagship devices.
Unlike Google with its Pixel phone, Samsung has guaranteed several years of Android OS and security updates for the Galaxy A54, so you shouldn’t have to replace it anytime soon.
The 6.4-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED screen earns a thumbs up, delivering sharp full HD Plus images complete with Samsung’s trademark colors that positively pop. Although you can opt for a more natural output if you want, it’s definitely good for your Disney Plus, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and all that good stuff. You even get microSD memory card support and a bit of NFC action for your contactless payments.
Unfortunately there’s no headphone jack action on Galaxy A54 5G, which is a bummer. Nonetheless, I found that the 5,000mAh capacity battery can keep you going all day long, no worries.
Despite being powered by another Samsung chipset, the Galaxy A54 serves up a much smoother everyday experience than the Galaxy A53, even coping quite well with Genshin Impact and heavier gaming titles. Samsung has even upgraded the camera tech for this year’s model, making it a bit better in lower light, although the lethargic shutter speed can scupper some shots of lively subjects
5. Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
For a bit more cash, Samsung also provides the Galaxy S23 FE (The Fan Edition), priced at $599. It’s essentially a slightly scaled-down version of the Galaxy S23 flagship. Additionally, the regular Galaxy S23 is expected to see substantial discounts soon since the Galaxy S24 series is set to launch in January 2024.
6. Nothing Phone 1
One of the more distinctive smartphones you’ll find in this price range is the Nothing Phone 1, starting from $399 and offering decent specs to rival the Google Pixel 6a. Disregard the flashy lights on the back end because chances are, after tinkering with them for your first day or two, you’ll basically forget they even exist.
Once you get past all that attention-seeker, you’ll find yourself with a very capable mid-range mobile. After several updates, various bugs and the less-than-impressive battery life have mostly, thankfully, been sorted out.
Now, you can just about generally squeak through a full day of use on a single charge, and also have support for wireless charging, an incredibly rare feature at this price.
The OLED screen is delightful, and like most rivals, the stereo speaker setup is decent. This device is nippy enough to handle any game out there, Genshin Impact included. Plus if you want an Android that looks like an iPhone for whatever fraking reason, this is probably the closest you’ll come with its chunky, flat-edged frame.
Nothing’s Phone 1 camera setup is gloriously streamlined you won’t find any pointless macro nonsense or any other budget phone. It’s good enough to capture good-looking pics and home movies even in reasonably testing conditions. Only in proper low light does the camera stumble a bit, and the Pixel 6 begins to show its dominance. Apart from that, it’s hard to nitpick much about the Nothing Phone beyond the usual complaints, like the lack of a headphone jack and the absence of microSD memory card support etc.
7. Nothing Phone 2
Nothing has recently launched a more premium version of the Nothing Phone 1, the Nothing Phone 2. The more accurate title would be the Nothing Phone Plus because it’s not actually replacing the original Nothing Phone. it’s just an alternative option if you’ve got a bit more cash to splash and you want something a bit more jazzy, a bit more beefy, a bit more all that.
The Nothing Phone 2 is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, which should mean smoother performance for longer. A slightly larger battery, combined with our energy-efficient chipset, means you’ll get a wee bit longer out of every charge. You’ve got a bigger, brighter display, an upgraded rear and front camera, and that glyph disco lighting has been redesigned with even more zones than before, plus some nifty new features. Nothing Phone 2 certainly a solid rival to the likes of the Pixel 7.
8. Vivo V29 and V29 Pro
Now, Vivo’s smartphones are a bit tricky to get a hold, but the Vivo V29 and V29 Pro could be worth tracking down, especially if you fancy a super-slim design with a curved display.
In the case of the regular Vivo V29, you’ve also got a dazzling selection of bright and bold colors. Both Vivo blowers boast a spacious 6.78-inch AMOLED screen with pin-sharp 1.5K resolution, plus HDR10+ streaming support for your movies and a 120Hz refresh for your games. Factoring in the boppy stereo speaker setup, the V29 is cracking for a bit of Netflix on the go.
The regular V29 has Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G packed inside, while the Pro model upgrades that to MediaTek’s Dimensity 8200. So, both of these phones can cope with Genshin Impact, although not on the higher graphic settings, and despite those cooling layers, they will still occasionally warm your hands when you’re gaming in winter.
Serious gamers should look elsewhere, maybe find something with a flat display instead, But Vivo does at least cram in a great selection of gaming tools, and this dandy duo somehow have a 4,600 milliamp capacity battery crammed inside with some nippy 80W flash charge action.
The Pro model also offers an upgraded 50-megapixel camera, which is usually pretty good for your everyday snaps, despite some occasional post-processing june. And both models also rock Vivo’s fancy pants Aura Flash, which can be manually adjusted to make the tone either warmer or colder.
9. Honor 90
if you want a fancy-looking blower stashed in your shorts but you don’t want to pay premium prices, well the Honor 90 (review) is well worth. It’s a proper stunner with a curvy design that’s also pleasingly tough. It’s good to see Honor offering three years of software updates here as well, although admittedly, not everyone will get on with that Magic OS launcher.
Honor 90 a bit bulky at times, and frankly, it does occasionally get on my nerves. Still, you’ve got loads of storage to make up for the lack of memory card support, while that 6.7-inch AMOLED screen is sharp, supremely bright, and creamy smooth, topping off at 120Hz. Audio is less impressive, however as the Honor 90 only serves up a single solitary speaker. But power is provided by an accelerated Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, which can capably cope with any game you chuck at it.
A massive vapor chamber helps to keep the Honor 90 nice and cool when you’re smashing ten bells out of hairy hillgos and Genshin Impact. Despite that slender frame, Honor has somehow managed to cram a 5,000mAh capacity battery inside the Honor 90. So, I found I never ran out of juice; I suddenly had plenty left in the tank when I was clambering into my PJs at nighttime. You get pretty nippy 66W wide recharging speeds as well, although admittedly, no wireless recharging.
As for that 200-megapixel primary camera, well, it’s not bad at all for everyday shots with decent HDR chops. Although photos can look a wee bit flat, and bright, vibrant colors don’t really pop the way that I really hoped they would, while softer lighting makes for quite grainy pics. If photography is a priority, you’ll be better served by that Pixel for sure.
10. Poco F4 GT
For gaming fans out there looking for a dependable phone, should have a proper good squint at one of my favorites, the Poco F4 GT. This absolute unit is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which can run a little bit hot but also blaze its way through any Android title out there, helped by P’s rather essential coolant tech.
The gaming chops are further cemented by some very handy pop-up shoulder triggers, which can really take the pain out of more complex titles. Plus, the 4,700mAh capacity battery means you can game for a good few hours on this Poco phone before you’ll need to plug it back in, while the 120W charging support means you can power this bugger right back up to full in less a hour.
Poco’s 6.67-inch AMOLED display is a proper stunner, bold and bright with full Dolby Vision support, and compatible games can enjoy up to a 120Hz refresh rate for a fluid finish. There’s also Dolby Atmos action with crisp audio spaffed out by the quad-speaker arrangement. Overall, cracking stuff for watching flicks as well as playing games, although not everyone will get on with the MIUI launcher that is slapped on top of all Poco and Xiaomi smartphones.
And also the OS updates and the security updates tend to dwindle out after just a year or two compared with the years of support you’ll get from the likes of Samsung or a Pixel.
11. Poco F5 and F5 Pro
A pair of fresher mid-range options for 2023 are the Poco F5 and Poco F5 Pro, which cost around 70 quid more. These beasts are nearly 6.7 inches in size and similar in many ways. For instance, they both sport a 64MP camera with optical image stabilization, backed by an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens and a 2MP macro shooter.
Though the Pro can shoot 8K video thanks to the beefy chipset stuffed inside, you’ve got a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 running the show on the Poco F5 Pro, which was the brains of many a flagship phone just last year. So unsurprisingly, this mid-ranger is a fantastic option for gamers.
The Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 that powers the bug standard Poco F5 is still more than nippy enough to handle the biggest Android games. Both of these Poos rock a 120Hz AMOLED screen, although the Pro’s panel is sharper, brighter, and boasts Dolby Vision support. Either way, you’ve got a stereo speaker setup and a generous 256GB of storage.
The regular Poco 5 does have one upper on its more expensive sibling as well, and the fact it’s actually got a headphone jack, which is an increasingly rare feature in 2023 for any mobile. You won’t find one of those on the Pro, for instance, and the Pro’s battery is a smidge bigger than the regular Poco F5’s, but both will last you a long intensive day on a single charge, no worries at all.
And you’ve got N 67W wired recharging, although only the Pro can be charged wirelessly. So overall, two cracking phones, best and brilliant specs for a mid-range price, as long as you don’t mind all of that MIUI software.
12. Poco X5 Pro
For under $400, you can also grab yourself the Poco X5 Pro, which boasts a 6.67-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen and a 5,000mAh battery. While the camera’s megapixel count has been boosted to 108MP, the performance has been kicked down a bit to a Snapdragon 778G.
The Poco X5 Pro can still handle games like Genshin Impact, Call of Duty, etc., without bursting a blood vessel, and it looks rather tasty doing so in this bright yellow jacket.
13. Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus
Another solid mid-range choice is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G, A clunky name for sure, but a decent handset boasting smooth performance thanks to the Dimensity 1080 chipset.
That MediaTek brain can breeze through games like Genshin Impact on regular settings, while battery life is also rather decent. Even if you do run dry during the day for whatever reason, well, no worries—the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G supports 120W fast charging, which is proper mental.
The massive 6.7-inch Super AMOLED screen is another stunner, supporting Dolby Vision streaming shenanigans plus a 120Hz refresh. You’ve also got stereo speakers, a headphone jack, all the goodies we love to see. On the software side, it is once again Xiaomi’s MIUI launcher and all of its back mental splendor, complete with those tardy rollouts. But one of the true standout features is the 200MP main camera sensor, which can capture great-looking evening shots thanks to the clever clogs pixel binning tech.
14. Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro Plus
And it is a big old but, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus will be succeeded by the Redmi Note 13 Pro Plus in the imminent future. It has already launched over in China; it’s just waiting for a proper global release.
It’s another beefy 6.67-inch, the same as the previous model, but this time with a slightly curved screen as well as a leather-style finish. If you don’t like the patchwork color effort here, you can grab the Note 13 Pro Plus in basic black or white.
The frame may be made of plastic, but you’ve got Gorilla Glass Victus up front, and this phone is IP68 water and dust resistant, so it can handle getting a bit wet. MIUI is once again a love-it-or-hate-it style scenario, but you’ve got a generous 256 gigs of storage, which is pretty much impossible to hate on.
And that 6.67-inch OLED display isn’t just sharper than the older model; it’s also super bright. Performance is upgraded to the beefcake MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Ultra with 12 gigs of that RAM stuff to help keep your apps and games running as well as possible.
So, even Genshin Impact won’t have this phone evacuating its metaphorical bowels. And you’ve got the same battery tech as that Note 12 Pro Plus as well—a mighty 5,000mAh capacity cell shoved inside of there with 120W HyperCharge support. Although, once again, there’s no love for wireless charging.
And those camera specs may also sound strangely familiar, with another 200MP main shooter for capturing your precious memories and sharing them with absolute strangers on social media.
15. Xiaomi 13T
if you’ve got a bit more cash well, I would hardly recommend the Xiaomi 13T, it’s also looks proper smart with its fake leather finish, although there is a glass last model if you don’t really fancy it. It’s once again a water-resistant finish for those moist moments.
The Xiaomi 13T also comes with a bit of added peace of mind with five years of security updates and four years of OS updates as well. Plus that same generous 256 gigs of storage. That 6.67-inch AMOLED screen is similar to the Redmi, but this time you’ve got both HDR10 Plus and Dolby Vision support. The peak brightness is higher, and the refresh skills all the way up to a creamy smooth 144Hz.
Speaking of which that performance is also a step up thanks to MediaTek Dimensity 8200 Ultra, which is kept nice and cool thanks to Xiaomi’s stainless steel Vapor Chamber shenanigans. However when you drain that 5,000mAh capacity battery, you are refilling with comparatively slower 67W so-called HyperCharge. It’s still super fast compared with what you get on a Samsung, Google, and Apple phone, which costs, you know, twice as much.
And while that 50MP main camera may sound like a bit of a downgrade, you do have some proper Leica processing smarts which help to produce sharp, detail-packed snaps at pretty much any time of day. Plus, a very respectable, feature-packed Pro mode and a 50MP telephoto camera for getting a bit closer to the action. So overall, the Xiaomi 13T is a bit of a banger and well worth that mid-range asking price.
16. Realme GT Master Edition
For my final mid-range smartphone recommendations right now, starting with the Realme GT Master Edition, which at just over $300 is a bit of a bargain. This slick-looking 6.4-inch blower boasts many of the same advantages as its peers, including a gorgeous Samsung Super AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh—a proper bit of eye candy when you’re streaming endless Netflix or blasting through your favorite games, all of which run beautifully courtesy of the Snapdragon 778G chipset and dedicated coolant tech.
You’ve got full 5G support as well as Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, so no endless buffering when you’re trying to enjoy a nice bit of tentacle hentai action. The 4,300mAh battery isn’t as big as some others in this roundup, but you shouldn’t struggle to last a full day, while there’s 65W SuperD charge support if you need to give it a top-up. And Realme’s GT Master Edition 64MP rear camera and 32MP selfie shooter are pretty respectable for this price point too.
17. Realme 10 Pro Plus
One of the most recent mid-ranges to launch globally is the Realme 10 Pro Plus. This 6.7-inch smartphone is ridiculously thin and light, with a display that pretty much entirely fills that front end. I have experienced some slight responsiveness issues as the screen does curve around the edges, so it is easy for your palm flab to intrude, but that’s one of my only real complaints here.
Besides that, the Realme 10 Pro Plus is mostly a joy to use, the 120Hz OLED screen is matched with a powerful stereo speaker setup, so movies and games look and sound fantastic. The MediaTek Dimensity 1080 handles Genshin Impact and other memory-hogging titles impressively well, even on those higher graphic settings.
However the camera once again, isn’t as good as the Pixel 6, often struggling with moving subjects. It’s not a bad snapper by any means; it’s just not one of the better efforts in this roundup.