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Best mid-range phones: top 10 Android phones from $300 and under $400 (February 2016)

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Best mid-range phones: top 10 Android phones from $300 and under $400 (February 2016)

Are you looking for a new smartphone and don't want to spend tons of cash on the latest iPhones and Galaxies? If you don't want cheap, affordable phones, but something a step above, read on.

If you are looking for a great mid-range Android phone at a budget of under $400, good news is that there is plenty of great choice right now, in February 2016.

At this price, you get solid phones that only lack some fancy features

At this price, you should want a device that has all the basics checked: good-looking display, camera, performance and battery life should all be there. What should you be prepared to compromise with, though? You might not get the fancy stuff: Quick Charging might not be there on all phones, pressure sensitive displays, video stabilization, premium materials and fingerprint scanners.

For all else, though, these days you get a very solid experience if you pick one of these phones that have made the cut in our selection of the top 10 Android phones from $300 and under $400.

#10: Moto X


Price: $300

The 2014 Moto X has aged fairly well: you can still build and fully customize yours with Moto Maker, and at $300 it is quite the great value for the money.

We love its clean and lean, fast, nearly stock version of Android (with the useful Moto additions like Glance notifications), we love its customization options, we love the metal frame and the camera is a fairly decent performer as well. It has its downsides, though, the screen is far from perfect and so is the battery life, but if you are looking for a 5.2" phone and want customization freedom, this is as good as it gets.

Best mid-range phones: top 10 Android phones from $300 and under $400 (February 2016)

#9: Samsung Galaxy Alpha


Price: $300

For a short while in late 2014, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha was the star of the show: the first phone to come with 20nm SoC, the Galaxy Alpha arrived with not only the chops, but the sleek visual style that impressed.

At its current price of just $300, it's a good value, and a rare small, extremely compact phone, convenient for single handed use. Just don't expect it to ever get Android 6.0 or any fancy updates, it will probably forever remain on Android Lollipop, but for all else, it's a great phone: good in performance, very good in terms of camera, and above average in terms of battery life.

Best mid-range phones: top 10 Android phones from $300 and under $400 (February 2016)

#8: Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016 edition)


Price: $380 - $400

The new Galaxy A5 6 (aka 2016 edition) is a thing of beauty: a metal frame sandwiched between two pieces of glass, good looking display, one of the longest lasting batteries we've seen and... a terribly sluggish performance.

Yep, powered by the weak Snapdragon 615, it struggles with the 1080p 5.2" display and lags and stutters way too often. The camera is also middling for the price, far from great. If you care about visual excellence, though, the Galaxy A5 (2016) has it, and it also comes with a fingerprint scanner with support for Samsung Pay.


#7: Xiaomi Mi Note | Pro


Price: $330 - $400
Specs Note | Note Pro

The Mi Note is the best phone of one of the fastest growing phone companies in the world that you may have never heard of - Chinese Xiaomi.

Once known for making Apple knock-offs, Xiaomi's flagship phone is an original design that not only looks great, but seems to be the inspiration for others (that's only a theory, but just look at how similar to it the new Galaxy Note looks!). The Mi Note is an exceptional value for the money: it has that sharp visual style, but also a very-well polished MIUI skin with tons of features and a very smooth performance, it has a great camera, and very good battery life. The big issue with it is that it's not officially available in the United States - you can import it for a slight premium, though, to have a phone unlike any others.


#6: Nexus 6


Price: $350

The gigantic, 6-inch Nexus 6 has gone down in price tremendously, and you can now get it for just $350.

It's all about the large display, of course: for many, a 6" display would be an overkill, for others - a joy. Pick your side. For all else, this is a Nexus at its best: pure Android that runs fast, latest version (6.0 Marshmallow) and a promise for quick future updates, Google's blessing, a very good camera and performance. The cons? We are not huge fans of the design, nor the colors of the AMOLED screen which are skewed and terribly oversaturated.


#5: Motorola Droid Maxx 2


Price: $380

The Droid Maxx 2 is neither the prettiest, nor the fastest mid-range phone out there, but if you are looking for the absolute best battery life at that price: it delivers.

In fact, this is among the longest lasting phones we have ever tested! It is available on Verizon Wireless only, and features nice extras like a super bright screen and water-resistant body.

It has its downsides, though: the display colors are a bit too cold, it comes pre-loaded with bloatware and the camera stuggles in low light, but for many, the compromise could be worth it.


#4: OnePlus 2


Price: $350

At its new price of $350, the OnePlus 2 is great value for the money.

The second phone of Chinese start-up OnePlus, the 2 features a metal frame and you can swap the back cover for bamboo, wood or some other exotic material. Apart from looking good, it has a sharp 5.5" 1080p screen with pleasing colors, the solid performance of the Snapdragon 810 system chip, and a very good (a step below excellent) camera.

Good news is that you no longer need to wait for invites: you can buy the phone right away in the United States from the OnePlus website.


#3: Moto X Pure


Price: $380 - $400

The Moto X Pure is a sharp-looking big phone: it runs on nearly stock Android 5.1 Lollipop with the promise of very quick update as long as Android 6.0 Marshmallow is out. With a metal frame, the phone feels solid and it has a curved back that makes it lay very comfortably in the hand.

The 5.7-inch Quad HD display looks great, while the Snapdragon 808 chip allows it to run at a fairly zippy pace. The Moto X Pure comes with a 21-megapixel camera that records 4K videos and it's got a 5-megapixel snapper for selfies. It also has a rather average-sized, 3000mAh battery.

What makes it special really is the killer combination of a $400 price, the quality behind the Motorola logo, and the nearly stock Android it runs on.


#2: LG G4


Price: $380

The LG G4 came amidst modest expectations, but it not only lived up to them, but also exceeded what one expected from it. The G4's most impressive feature is its great 16-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization, and - hands down - the best, most convenient manual shooting mode of any smartphone out there.

As a bonus, the LG G4 is a 5.5-inch device with a thin side bezel and a nice size for its 5.5" screen. It comes in plastic and a slightly more expensive leather version, and you should get the leather one - it's a much smoother, premium feel for the device you will carry every day in your pocket. And finally: the annoying lag from the LG UI in the G3 is practically non-existent on the G4, which feels refreshingly quick.



#1: Nexus 5X


Price: $280 - $300

The Nexus 5X is the best mid-range phone at its price, period.

A solid number one, it grabbed our hearts with its latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow (with the guarantee for quick future updates), it also features the neat USB Type C connector that plugs in both ways and has a fast and accurate fingerprint reader. It brings a hugely improved camera also: it is the first phone to ship with the new 12-megapixel Sony IMX377 image sensor, one of the largest ever on an Android phone that captures outstanding images even in dim light. Best of all, the Nexus 5X price now stands at just $280 - $300, an absolute steal.


24 Comments
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posted on 11 Feb 2016, 11:27

1. jan25 (Posts: 469; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)


my list, Nexus 5x, Moto Pure, OnePlus 2, and i wouldn't care about the rest.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 11:30 5

2. SamsungPhanboy (banned) (Posts: 765; Member since: 31 Mar 2015)


A lot of these phones aren't really "mid-range"...

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 23:37 1

22. Technoboy (Posts: 3; Member since: 08 Nov 2015)


I agree...especially the G4.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 11:52 3

3. Coconut00 (Posts: 425; Member since: 13 Jan 2015)


Again, PA recommending low rated phones. Also, I read that the Galaxy Alpha will get Marshmallow, and while I wouldn't be too surprised if it didn't get it all leaked Samsung update roadmaps pointed to the Galaxy Alpha getting it along with the S5.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:39

11. marorun (Posts: 2859; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


The Galaxy Alpha has horrible reception lol otherwise its a nice device.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 17:15 1

15. Coconut00 (Posts: 425; Member since: 13 Jan 2015)


Seriously? Mine has pretty good reception but I guess that changes since I heard that the G850M model (the one I own) has a better speaker than other Galaxy Alpha models. Guess the same could apply for reception.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 11:53 9

4. jellmoo (Posts: 1455; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)


Ah yes, the OnePlus 2. A device you rated as a 5.8, and called the call quality unacceptable. Now it's "...great value for the money." Yeah...

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 15:05

12. Victor.H (Posts: 631; Member since: 27 May 2011)


There were some issues with our review unit that influenced the score hugely, but it seems that those were related to a faulty unit. The OnePlus 2 has also received solid updates and with price cut looks more appealing.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 15:29 5

14. jellmoo (Posts: 1455; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)


If that's the case, might I suggest making an update on the OnePlus 2 Review and adding a note about it here? It's disjointed to have a recommendation for a device here, and a link to a review that more or less recommends against it.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:33

5. Lmao2013 (Posts: 44; Member since: 05 Dec 2013)


Where is the moto g 3gen

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:03 1

8. sebstin (Posts: 66; Member since: 03 Dec 2015)


he is giving price range 300-400 only.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:41

6. Moose (Posts: 223; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


Should have included Asus Zenfone 2.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 15:06

13. Victor.H (Posts: 631; Member since: 27 May 2011)


It's in our selection under $300

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 00:19 1

17. TheOracle1 (Posts: 41; Member since: 04 May 2015)


The 128gb Zenfone 2 could and should be there. It's just over $300. You should add "available in the US" in the title because there are countless phones that are better than those on your list. PA's obsession and subsequent inclusion of the two year old Moto X is laughable. Including the two year old Galaxy Alpha further reinforces that this list is a joke.

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 06:55

18. Victor.H (Posts: 631; Member since: 27 May 2011)


We are a US-based website, so it goes without saying that those are phones for the US market and/or Western markets such as the UK and Europe.

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 10:43

19. TheOracle1 (Posts: 41; Member since: 04 May 2015)


Really? I suppose the 128gb Zenfone 2 is only available on Pluto then? Again, there are some good phones in this price range that you have overlooked for the PA favorites. The ZTE Axon and Axon Pro spring to mind for example. The Asus and two ZTE's are all officially sold in the US with factory warranties. There are probably more but I think you get the point.

posted on 14 Feb 2016, 06:15

24. Moose (Posts: 223; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


Yes, you may be US based but you have a global audience, so maybe you should widen your horizons a little or at least put "available in the US" in the title or do a similar post on best international mid range phones. Besides, you included the Xiaomi Mi Note/Note Pro which do not work on any US carrier on LTE so aren't you contradicting yourself?

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:56

7. majp89 (Posts: 166; Member since: 18 Jun 2013)


The Nexus 5x has way too many performance issues still to be taken seriously. On paper, everything about it is great when it works.

Kind of funny how the G4 is a flagship that has came so far down in price that it is now lumped in with mid rangers. In my opinion it is the best out of all of them.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:31 1

9. marorun (Posts: 2859; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


My moto x play has the same SD615 and dont lag or stutter... what on earth could make the A5 2016 edition lag? ( hint its start with touch)

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:38 1

10. marorun (Posts: 2859; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


I just found out thats the moto droid max 2 is the moto x play rebranded and with an added CDMA modem lol...

its look exactly like the moto x play too.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 20:18 1

16. Yash891 (Posts: 5; Member since: 14 Jul 2015)


My Galaxy Alpha performs nicely and I love the design. Just unsure about the Marshmallow update. Does anyone know if it will get the update?

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 11:33

20. Coconut00 (Posts: 425; Member since: 13 Jan 2015)


Leaked Samsung update roadmaps point to yes but I wouldn't count on it just yet.

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 08:01

21. boys.noize (Posts: 17; Member since: 03 Jan 2016)


NEXUS 5X is €429 here in Belgium for the 16GB model, that's such a huge difference with the states!

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 23:37

23. Technoboy (Posts: 3; Member since: 08 Nov 2015)


The G4 is considered mid-range now?

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