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9 ex-flagships that you can now buy as great mid-range smartphones

Posted: , by Florin T.

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9 ex-flagships that you can now buy as great mid-range smartphones
Have you noticed that it’s easier to find a perfect mid-range smartphone than a high-end one? That’s because, alongside all the new mid-range devices, you also have the option of buying a former flagship that’s old enough to be downgraded to the mid-range category. There are plenty of ex-flagships that can still provide a great user experience - assuming that you don’t necessarily need the very latest CPUs, or crazy screen resolutions that were unimaginable some years ago.

Of course, in addition to having more options to choose from, getting a mid-range smartphone also saves you money (though, as you’ll see, that’s not always the case). This being said, check out our selection of ex-flagships that can now be purchased as mid-range handsets, and let us know if there's any other device that we should've included in the list - which, by the way, is in alphabetical order. 

Apple iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S 8GB is Apple’s only smartphone that’s available for less than $500 off-contract. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s cheap: at $450, it’s still pretty expensive for what it’s offering - including a 3.5-inch display with 640 x 960 pixels. But, hey, that’s how Apple rolls.

Apple iPhone 4S review


BlackBerry Q10

If you’re a fan of old-school BlackBerries - with their great hardware QWERTY keyboards - the Q10 should be the first on your list of mid-range phones to consider buying. Released in the first half of 2013 for a hefty price, the Q10 can now be purchased for less than $300, either directly from BlackBerry, or from Amazon. Alongside a large QWERTY keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10 offers a 3.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 720 x 720 pixels, an 8 MP rear camera, dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of expandable internal memory. The Q10 runs BlackBerry 10 OS.

BlackBerry Q10 review


Google Nexus 4

Manufactured by LG, Google’s flagship smartphone form late 2012 may have its shortcomings (like the mediocre 8 MP camera and the somewhat fragile glass-based construction), but it’s undeniably a very good smartphone for its price - you can buy the 16 GB version, unlocked, for around $280 via Amazon.

Google Nexus 4 review


LG Optimus G Pro

Introduced in February last year, the Optimus G Pro was seen by many as being too big - and that’s because the handset sports a 5.5-inch 1080p display. Since then, however, extra-large displays have become more popular. If you don’t mind the fact that the Optimus G Pro is powered by the not-so-high-end Snapdragon 600 processor, you can buy the handset right now for around $300.

LG Optimus G Pro review


Motorola Droid Maxx

The Motorola Droid line has been very successful at Verizon Wireless, and the Droid Maxx is one of the best smartphones in the series. The Droid Maxx is similar to the Droid Ultra, but adds a very large 3500 mAh battery, this being a bit thicker. You can get the Droid Maxx fro Verizon for $49.99 on contract, or $499.99 without any agreement.

Motorola Droid Maxx review


Nokia Lumia 1020

It’s hard, if not impossible, to find a smartphone that can take better photos than the Nokia Lumia 1020. That’s because this Windows Phone handset (released about a year ago, and recently updated to Windows Phone 8.1) features a 41 MP camera with PureView technology, thus being able to capture incredibly detailed photos, and even videos. The problem - if we may put it this way - with the Lumia 1020 is that it still carries a premium price tag: Microsoft is selling the handset for $549.99.

Nokia Lumia 1020 review


Samsung Galaxy S III

Yes, the Galaxy S III is still around, and it’s currently available for less than $300 unlocked. The S III was Samsung’s best selling smartphone in 2012, and won’t disappoint you if you think a 4.8-inch 720p display is enough for your mobile needs.

Samsung Galaxy S III US version review; Samsung Galaxy S III international version review


Samsung Galaxy Note II

The Galaxy Note II was Samsung’s other flagship of 2012, being released in the second half of that year. The Note II built on the success of the very first Galaxy Note, offering more advanced features, an improved 5.5-inch display, and an enhanced S Pen experience. The Note II currently costs a tad under $400.

Samsung Galaxy Note II US version reviewSamsung Galaxy Note II international version review


Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Some say that the water-resistant Xperia Z Ultra is a phablet, though Sony announced it as an extra-large smartphone. The handset sports a 6.4-inch display with 1080 x 1920 pixels, and is only 6.4mm-thin. Unlocked, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra currently costs around $400.


83 Comments
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posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:25 12

1. xPnoyStar (Posts: 7; Member since: 25 Jan 2014)


What's with the Xperia Z Ultra?

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:36 4

6. Florin.T (Posts: 124; Member since: 16 Dec 2013)


Just added it, thanks for reminding us!

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:30 11

23. Professor (Posts: 177; Member since: 02 Aug 2013)


What about the Nexus 5. At $349 new at the PlayStore still cheaper and a better deal than most of those...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:36 14

25. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 252; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


it's not an ex-flagship, it's a flagship

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:45 9

32. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3164; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


It's an ex-flagship killer :)

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:38 9

27. Busyboy (Posts: 388; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)


Exactly. Remove that iPhone 4s and replace it with the Nexus 5.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 11:49 2

62. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8810; Member since: 14 May 2012)


This.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:30 8

2. tiara6918 (Posts: 1492; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


Out of all these the iphone 4s is still the best selling midrange phone out of the 8 pa listed even up till now. Just shows that people care about that logo and the high resale value compared to its competitors. I can still remember the note 1 was sold around the time the 4s was, and now note 1 has no more value while the 4s still has that price tag

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:35 1

5. tiara6918 (Posts: 1492; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


edit*it's 9 phones*

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:39 7

7. Settings (Posts: 581; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)


4S barely handles the iOS8 very well. If there is a brand new 4S with iOS7 installed it will still sell pancakes

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:46 8

11. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2055; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


Still better than an S3, who doesn't even have KitKat, never mind Android L.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:01 15

17. Carlitos (Posts: 340; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


The s3 has already recieved kitkat

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:14 4

20. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2055; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


Only the US versions have received KitKat. The most popular version of the S3, i.e. the Exynos one, is stuck on 4.3.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:41 4

50. boosook (Posts: 1073; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


There's not much difference between jb 4.3 and kitkat (I use both), and Android 4.3 is more powerful than both ios and wp anyway.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:24 3

21. Iodine (Posts: 487; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)


iOS 8 runs excellently on the 4S. If we take the iOS 7 and iPhone 4 the RAM wasn't a bottle neck (runs fine on 512 MB) the CPU also wasn't (very light on CPU) , but the GPU wasn't enough to handle all of those animations, transitions and translucency. Also the iPhone 4 was the only device excluded from the iOS 8 update list compared to iOS 7. So the 4S with about 7x faster GPU will animate the entire system flawlessly and I don't see anything preventing it form getting iOS 9 or even iOS 10 (5-6 years of software support=>unprecedented) until something other becomes a bottleneck. I think Apple will have to support the Apple A5 devices for quite some time as it is a rather large portion of their users.

And btw all iPhone 4S'es are pre installed with iOS 7, iOS 8 wasn't released yet at it will take some time for Apple to sell all 4S with iOS 7 (if they will ever make iPhone 4S after iOS 8 release).

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:22

46. shamashu9 (Posts: 108; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


I bought a brand new ip4s last August 7, 2014 ... iOS7 was already installed.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:41 5

9. amiaq (Posts: 495; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)


Dear tiara6918, Yeah, that's because there's more people with average IQ than the higher brackets. Go figure.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:48

13. tiara6918 (Posts: 1492; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


True, at my school tons of people have a 4s. I don't really think they care about what they get after having that kind of phone. They just want the logo for their status symbol

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:09

19. Vexify (banned) (Posts: 570; Member since: 16 Jun 2014)


Android warrior over here.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:37 4

26. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 252; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


I would rather have a Note 1 than an empty 8gb craappy iTurrible 4s

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:45

31. twens (Posts: 694; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


Very stupid comment. Numbers doesn't mean anything. It's true the iPhone 4s may run ios7 or 8 and yet will still luck in features than an old s3 running 4.1. You're fooled by the OS number. Please be wise, IOS 8 is just android 4.1 in features. So to me I still think the s3 is much more capable if you decide to stick with the stock OS it shipped with.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:55 2

33. HugoBarraCyanogenmod (Posts: 293; Member since: 06 Jul 2014)


This is the 1st time I have to agree this American -favor statement, like it or not, iPhone 4s is still the best choice due to veriety of apps, and better camera, while it's equivalent android phone has no value to sell and so forgotten.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 20:44 1

74. domfonusr (Posts: 372; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


I just about gagged when I caught myself looking at the iPhone 4S for too long. It has a small screen, which is my preference, and is free with a new contract at AT&T right now... though, new contract would mean not qualifying for discounted rate. I am pretty sure that I cannot sucker my parents into signing new contracts for new devices at this point - so, I won't be getting a free phone of any kind, and since I have almost no money, that means no new device any time soon.

I am frustrated with the LG Viper that I have. It showed me that Android is just too different from one device to the next to be predictable in any way, and that some of Android's powers are simply not available on some models, even if they are from a major OEM. Aside from playing with QPython on the phone, my developer days are done, and my prior scientific career is behind me (until I can finish a whole new set of schooling to go into a new path... and that is years away from completion), and so I don't need the features of Android, anyway.

For a little while there, I thought that Windows Phone was going to be my next eventual destination, but I don't think so at this point. It just isn't better enough in certain areas to make it seem worth it. I won't jump out of the 'Android' frying pan just to end up in the 'Windows Phone' fire.

Enter this article, and the iPhone 4S right at the top. I found myself thinking about how simple and smooth the operation of such a device could be, how small and easy to handle the 3.5" screen would be, and how inexpensive to acquire it would be (under specific conditions, of course), and then remembered that it is an Apple product (made in China) that I am considering here, and that the thing has an 800 MHz dual-core processor and 512 MB of RAM. Not only that, but here I was considering a device that, a couple of years back, was the latest and greatest elitist status symbol to come out of Apple. What a horrible realization that was. I just about gagged. I think I need some more time away from mobile technology. I have got to stop thinking about smartphones and such.

posted on 01 Sep 2014, 06:22

77. jojon (Posts: 102; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)


An excellent self analysis Mr domfonusr, never say never, you may even yet end up owning a WP device of some sort. Wish you well anyway

posted on 13 Sep 2014, 00:19

81. lawsofeffect (Posts: 38; Member since: 04 Jun 2014)


4s was a great camera, it sucked as a phone (can I say that here?). 4s commonly dropped calls right in front of your face; you could see it happen and there was nothing you could do about - if I remember correctly, pretty sure it even happened to Jobs at the 4s's reveal

posted on 01 Sep 2014, 07:49

78. mschmal (Posts: 13; Member since: 01 Sep 2011)


The 4S is still popular because most people are buying it subsidized. $0.00 on Verizonwireless.com with new contract.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:30 4

3. techperson211 (Posts: 704; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)


Lg G Pro is the best buy here.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:31 3

4. KoensSocialLife (Posts: 7; Member since: 08 Feb 2013)


At many webshops here in Belgium, the Lumia 1020 is about 500 euro (657 dollar).
I just pay 300 euro (394 dollar) for the same phone at Proximus (a provider in Belgium).
It is a SIM Free phone :)

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:46 4

12. tiara6918 (Posts: 1492; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


Add in the lumia 920, htc butterfly/droid dna, xperia z,huawei ascend p6

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:56

34. Dumbledora (Posts: 11; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)


These are not flagship phones...
L

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:16

39. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


These are ex flagship phones. -__-

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:57

35. Dumbledora (Posts: 11; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)


These are not flagship phones...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:44

51. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3022; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


They once were...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:53 1

14. salaal (Posts: 106; Member since: 08 Dec 2013)


Z ultra costs 350 on amazon

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:53

15. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3164; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Xperia Z1. It's still flagship specs but it's sold in midrange prices at least in Finalnd.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:39

28. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 252; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


yes, it's an awesome phone, at 380 here. so the price is perfectly midrange.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:06 2

18. Awalker (Posts: 537; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)


Ebay has the HTC One M7 for $250 right now.

Edit: It's factory refurbished

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:28

22. datphoneguy (Posts: 140; Member since: 15 Sep 2013)


Yup, the M7 is a great "former flagship" device - and HTC has done a great job keeping it up to date by pushing out Android/Sense updates.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:33 4

24. master-mkk (Posts: 23; Member since: 27 Aug 2014)


the lg g2 should be in the list !!!!!

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:41

29. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 252; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


1020 at 400 here, 1520 at 420 ... Z1 at 380 .. Note 2 at 350 .. GS4 at 380 .. S3 at 280 .. iphone 5 at 500 .. 4s 8gb at 360 and 4s 16gb at 380 all brand new by the way .. glad where I live smartphones are cheaper than this site and others state

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:44

30. Planterz (Posts: 984; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


The Nexus 4 can be had brand-new off eBay for $220 (16gb).

I wholly agree with recommending the Galaxy S3, as long as it's the Snapdragon powered version with 2GB RAM, not the Exynos powered one with only 1GB RAM.

Another phone I've recommended many times is the Sony Xperia SP. Under $250 off Amazon. It's not a former "flagship", but it's still a great buy. 720p screen and LTE, microSD slot, decent camera, plus that groovy status light bar at the bottom. Better buy than the Moto G LTE, in my opinion. Just make sure you buy the right version C5302/3 for Europe, C5306 for North America.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:47

53. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3022; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


That's my current phone...love it. Been using it long enough to get the camera settings right!! Not the best but it works for me.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:13

37. csoulr666 (Posts: 92; Member since: 04 Nov 2013)


I'd easily recommend anyone the Nexus 4, mainly because despite it crossing it's 18-month update cycle it will get an update to Android L. Plus it is the best looking Nexus you can buy

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:48

54. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3022; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Best looking?? I doubt that...Nexus 5 is better for me.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:15 3

38. D.Lamore (Posts: 196; Member since: 15 Aug 2014)


Please iphone 4s should be in the low end category. The logo is the only thing that matters in that phone. Can't believe a human being would choose that crap over nexus 5 ,also at a higher price. We really have a problem in this world

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:27 2

47. shamashu9 (Posts: 108; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


People chose ip4s over nexus 5 simply because they don't want a laggy ppphoonnnne.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:45 6

52. Planterz (Posts: 984; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


I think you got that backwards.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:50 1

55. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3022; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Get the respective latest update and you can talk...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 12:47

65. Canaan (Posts: 131; Member since: 25 May 2014)


The Nexus 5 doesn't lag as it runs on stock android. Also, the reason it doesn't sell as well is because it's barely promoted. However, it's likely sold between 6-9 million which is quite the feat for a phone that is barely marketed by Google.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:16 2

40. GreekGeek (Posts: 844; Member since: 22 Mar 2014)


Note 2 and S3 are underpowered by today's gaming standards, I would get "at least" a Snapdragon 600.
Great phones if you're not into gaming though.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:19

42. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


They are still great for gaming. having no issues gaming on my old note 2 and the gs3 the wife is using as backup has no issues either.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:20

45. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3164; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


You know, some people are very much into gaming and still they don't give a shi* about mobile games. If we look at the big image, even SD805 is underpowered for gaming.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:51 1

56. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3022; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Adreno 320 is is still good enough man...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:17 5

41. HugoBarraCyanogenmod (Posts: 293; Member since: 06 Jul 2014)


Fanboy aside, my 1st recommendation is still the lumia 1020 as it's still the best camera phone for travellers. Bb q10 is still the best qwerty phone for enterprise. While I don't like iPhone 4s tiny screen, it's the best tiny screen phone on the market as it has more variety of apps, decent camera and solid build.

Not saying ex-android flagship bad, but competition is so stiff that Lenovo current phablet monsters price the same as note 2, Huawei current monster price the same as s3 and XiaoMi 3 price the same as nexus 4 with better camera bigger screen with 1080p screen and beefy battery life. Because of stiff competition, android phone easy to obselete unlike camera phone and qwerty phone from other platforms

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:19 4

43. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Why is GS3 included here? It's laggy, stuck on Android 4.3, it's not even a good mid range phone imo.

The LG G2, Xperia Z1, One M7 and Nexus 5 should be included here.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:19 2

44. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


yay iphonearena puts the iphone first of course. Bend over more phonearena

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:36 9

49. Florin.T (Posts: 124; Member since: 16 Dec 2013)


Here, maybe you can see it now:http://imgur.com/RjV16gl

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:32

48. TinyTesla (Posts: 3; Member since: 25 Aug 2014)


What about htc one x ?

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:55

57. Paximos (Posts: 76; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)


Under iPhone 4s, is it "But, hey, that’s how Apple rolls" or "But, hey, that’s how Apple rules"?

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 11:18 1

58. rdaex (Posts: 95; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


How in the hell is Apple still selling a 4S for that price? That phone should be extinct.

Anyhow... how we can recommend any of those over a N5 for 350, a G2 for about 400, or a MotoX for around 300 is amazing to me.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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