The choice for a phone used to be simple: either a flagship model, like the uber-expensive iPhone or Blackberry or a low-budget ‘no frills’ version. The past few years, however, have seen a huge shift in how consumers spend when it comes to cell phones.
In 2020, the mid-range phone is king (or queen!). For the past few years, mid-tiers have overtaken both budget and flagship phones in terms of global sales. This gap is predicted to increase, with unit sales poised to reach almost 600 million by 2022.
Think it’s time to pull the plug on that expensive top-of-the-range iPhone? Or perhaps that cheapo option just isn’t cutting it anymore? In this guide, we’ll tell you what to look for, and which models may work for you.
What You Should Look For
The mid-range phone is exactly that: mid-range. No matter how much companies want you to believe they’re every bit as good as the latest iPhone, they probably aren’t.
You’re spending hundreds of dollars less for a reason. The good news? In 2020, mid-range phones are just about as good as flagship models. You just need to know what to look for.
Ask Yourself: What Do You Need It For?
All mid-range phones have strengths and weaknesses. You, therefore, need to ask yourself why you’re buying the phone in the first place. This will set your priorities when you go out looking for a new cell phone.
If you’re a would-be Instagrammer, for example, we’re pretty sure that a decent camera is an absolute must. Blurry and out of focus just isn’t going to cut it (unless you want to lose followers!). While live streaming with a phone will ask for a high-end multi-lense camera system. Traveling, no matter how simple it sounds, could on the other side, require great memory capacity, functionality and fast processors, depending on how many apps you maneuver. However, if you’re into eCommerce arbitrage business (online ‘trading’ of retail goods), or into purchasing and/or selling of currencies (Forex business), you’ll need plenty of screen real estate to quickly review relevant broker information and easily read trading guides.
You get the idea. Look for features that your mid-range phone excels at. These will be 2 or 3 key features, nothing more. Don’t believe the sales spiel that tells you it can do everything; it can’t.
How Big is Your Wallet?
Mid-range phones can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. There’s quite a difference between the cheapest mid-ranger and something that reaches near-flagship prices. Figure out how much you want to spend and go from there.
You may also want to opt for a pay monthly contract that includes a phone for a reduced price, but bear in mind that these are usually more expensive in the long-run. Do the calculations before signing on the dotted line.
Platform: Android or iOS?
This is one of the most important questions you need to answer. If you’re someone who is used to the iOS ecosystem, the move to Android can be downright painful. Others find iOS extremely limiting and view Android as the liberating choice.
If you’re thinking of moving to one to the other, see if you can try before you buy. Ask your friends for their experiences, maybe even borrow their phone for a little bit. Don’t make the switch without doing the research first.
Our Top Picks
Apple iPhone SE
When Apple enters the mid-range market, you know that it’s a big deal. Rumors had been flying recently about the return of the SE. And that day has come. This fan favorite comes with a 4.7-inch body, the bezel of the pre-iPhone X days, and the welcome return of the TouchID.
This phone isn’t an iPhone X or anything close to it. However, it packs a super punch for its price. It has the same A13 bionic chip you get in the latest version, the iPhone 11. It’s a mini Speedy Gonzales with great speed and features. If you’re an Apple fan, this one is the mid-ranger for you.
Samsung Galaxy M31
There’s one major reason why this phone makes the list: battery life. The brainiacs over at Samsung have really figured out how to squeeze the most juice out of their batteries, because this thing beats any other model out of the water.
For example, the Galaxy M31 can play over 30 hours of video without skipping a beat. Forget to charge your phone overnight? No problem, it should have enough to keep you going the next day. Oh, and the specs are great too. The camera is particularly good for this price point.
Google Pixel 4a
The Galaxy M31 takes the battery crown, but Google runs away with the prize for the best mid-range camera. The Google Pixel 4a has the same tech that the company’s flagship model offers, and it seriously gives any other camera on the market (yes, including expensive models) a run for their money.
The Pixel 4a is a well-rounded piece of kit that won’t let you down in any category. Sure, it’s not quite as flashy as its flagship counterpart, but it’s no slouch either. And the camera, oh the camera.
There Are Many More
The good thing about a growing mid-tier phone market? There are loads of choices. The bad thing? There are loads of choices. It can be a little mind-boggling to pick one, but we’ve given you a head start.
But that doesn’t mean they’re the best, or that they’ll fit your specific requirements. All we can say is that each is a solid piece of kit, and if you’re the average consumer any of these will have more than enough firepower to handle your day to day.