7 old flagships that you can buy as great mid-range smartphones right now (March 2015)


The debate on whether it's better to buy an old flagship or a brand new mid-range smartphone is an old an undying one, as opinions seem to be, in most cases, split right down the middle. It is definitely a question you should be asking yourself if you are planning on buying a handset that's somewhere between entry-level and high-end.

On one hand, you have the lucrative new devices that have been designed to look fresh, sleek, and modern and represent the newest trends in smartphone industry, but have had some corners cut and while they will be rocking a current-gen SoC, it will most probably not be a top performer. On the other hand, you have 12-month and above old flagships, which used to be the cream of the crop in their own day, but are now aging.

The general consensus is that new midrange processors are usually about the same in performance when compared to the highenders of yesteryear. However, as we've seen with the recent Lollipop rollouts, flagships tend to get more love from the updates department of their respective manufacturers, as companies aim to keep the highest-paying customers happy, instead of investing obscene amounts of resources into updating a wide range of midrangers – something, which may or may not go unnoticed by the users. So, as long as you are not worried that you will not be getting a 64-bit processor, you really shouldn't dismiss the notion of grabbing an old flagship. Trust us, it will be a long, long while before app developers turn their back on 32-bit compatibility, and grabbing a midranger right now does not make it future-proof just because of the 64-bit capable SoC – it will still be cut off from software updates in about a year (educated guesstimate), and will probably give up on running the latest and greatest of apps at about the same time the older flagship does.

So, now that we've thrown this viewpoint out there, let us back it up with a selection of some old flagships that could make for great midrangers nowadays!

1. HTC One (M7)


A hot topic right here, as the new One M9 has only recently been released to a mixed response. Well, if you don't wish to shell out for a full-fledged flagship, the old HTC One (M7) can be picked up for around $300 new, and for that price tag you get a Snapdragon 600, a 4.7” 1080p screen, and stereo front-facing boomsound speakers. The handset sits somewhere between the Desire 620 and Desire 820 in terms of performance, but makes up for it with the iconic metal unibody design that the HTC One series is known for. Unfortunately, the One (M8) is still hovering around the $400 mark, which is why it didn't officially make it in this list, but hey – here's a mention!



2. Xiaomi Mi 3


Xiaomi is making waves in the smartphone world by already offering pretty highly spec'd smartphones at very low prices. Its Mi 3 ex-flagship can be found for around $270, if you can hunt one down, and for the price you will get a Snapdragon 800 SoC, complemented by 2 GB of RAM, a 13 MP main camera with a 2 MP selfie snapper, a 5” 1080p screen, and the Xiaomi MIUI (on top of Android 4.4.2) experience. The company's current flagship is the Mi Note, which is a phablet-class handset, while the Mi 4 is still holding a price of around $400.



3. LG G2


When it comes to a mid-range purchase, the LG G2 is always a device that comes to mind. The flagship was great when it came out in 2013, and it is still stunning with its thin bezels and 76.28% screen-to-body ratio. Under the sleek hood, it sports a Snapdragon 800 and 2 GB of RAM, while a 13 MP / 2.1 MP camera combo takes care of the memorabilia. A browse through Amazon showed us that the handset can easily be picked up for around $200 or less, and we'd call that a bargain!



4. iPhone 5c


OK, technically, the 5c was marketed as a midranger by Apple, but in reality – it's an undercover iPhone 5 with a slightly better camera. If you are craving the iOS experience, and don't mind the 4” screen, you shouldn't look away from the iPhone 5c, as it can be bought for around $350 from various retailers and we'd say it will be at least 'till 2016's September before you can call it “obsolete”.



5. Google Nexus 5


Mr. Vanilla Android has been dethroned from the Google signature flagship spot by 2014's gargantuan Nexus 6. The former was pretty popular for being affordable back in its own day, and is currently hovering around the $350 - $400 mark. For this price, you get a pure Google Android experience, shown on a 5” 1080p screen, and backed up by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2 GB of RAM under the hood. The phone's 8 MP / 1.3 MP camera combo is underwhelming and its battery life is far from great, but we still find the Nexus 5 to be an attractive handset – probably due to the light weight and snappy UI.



6. Huawei Ascend P7


Released in May of 2014, the Ascend P7 is a premium looking and feeling handset. It comes with a 5” 1080p screen, 13 MP / 8 MP camera combo, a homebrewed Kirin 910T quad-core 1.8 GHz processor, and 2 GB of RAM. Its metal-and-glass chassis is not too large, providing a sleek 70% screen-to-body ratio. The handset can be had for around $320 from various retailers, and we'd say that's a pretty good price.


7. Nokia Lumia 930 / Icon


Calling it an “ex-” flagship is a bit awkward, as the Lumia 930 (Icon for Verizon) is still the most current Windows Phone flagship – Microsoft has been busy with the whole Nokia acquisition and the Windows 10 development, and while it has pushed a few entry-level and midrange Lumias out on the market, it seems it will be holding out on a new flagship until it releases its newest OS at least. However, this has not stopped the aging Lumia 930 / Icon's price from dropping and it can now be had for about $360. This kind of cash gets you a Snapdragon 800, 2 GB of RAM, a 20 MP PureView camera and a 1.2 MP selfie snapper, all rolling under a Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, which will be updated to Windows 10 once that rolls out.

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42 Comments

1. Phonedingo

Posts: 399; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

The z1 compact is around ~$300 The z2 and z3 compact are around ~$400

9. TyrionLannister unregistered

S4: 250$ S5: 430$. Moto x(2013): 230$ Moto X(2014): 450$ Galaxy alpha: 420$ These are pretty good phones(for their prices) in my country currently. And obviously the ones mentioned above. P.S. There is no Z2 compact.

10. maherk

Posts: 6878; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Galaxy Alpha is sold for $340 here in Lebanon, and i am noticing more and more people are getting it.

11. TyrionLannister unregistered

That beasty processor with 720p makes the alpha perform really well. It's a very good compact phone for the price.

38. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Bought alpha (Snapdragon version AT&T) on ebay (new and unlocked) for 259.99

15. Phonedingo

Posts: 399; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

I'm referring to the z2. The alpha is around $300 on Amazon.

24. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Alpha was selling for 280$ on ebay.

27. faizan-sharif

Posts: 98; Member since: Jun 26, 2013

he did nt say z2 compact, he told u price for z2

34. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 455; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

There is actually a Z2 compact, it's called the Z2a

32. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I would not have added the iPhone 5c on the list at all. Its specs are so out dated for that price. Considering that processor came out in 2012.

33. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There are others on that list which offer much more and at a better price.

2. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Moto X (2013) for about ~$200. That's a pretty great deal IMO...

12. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

yea but it wasn't a flagship when it originally came out, it would be considered a 2012 flagship.

23. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

It didn't really have flagship-grade specs, but it was Motorola's 2013 flagship...

3. lhtbinh1909

Posts: 94; Member since: Apr 02, 2013

LoL Lumia has no new flagship, since when 930 becomes mid range

8. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

And still holds it's own quite well, no games push the gpu, the os is not bloated so runs smooth. The camera is still one of the best out there second probably only the 1020. Things people are wanting in the 940 will be slightly bigger screen from 5 to 5.2 possibly. I dont care about higher than 1080p, bigger battery. Windows 10, and possibly a jump in Camera from 20 to 24 or 30MP. Of course a newer SoC i would prefer Intel but the 810 is probably what will be in it. Of course not loosing the 5.1 surround recording either nor its directional recording. For me its all opinion, when my exflagship still runs smooth with 150+ apps installed i am not hurting.

20. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

You don't care about bigger battery - I do because 930 has very short battery life.

29. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

meant to say people wanted a bigger battery. I don't mind because it constantly lasts 10-16hrs with normal usage for me. Which is a few game check ins, 9gag, youtube, browsing and other various apps I use throughout the day. Could it be longer? Sure. RIght now I have used my phone lightly through the day, sitting at 50% and 9hrs of use. I am rarely far from a charger, I get home by mid day after 8hrs of work so a quick charge of 30mins on my tablet 2.1a charger gives her juice to last till I hit the sack at 11pm. Plus I have a car charger which I spend a good hour a day in. Enough to keep it slightly juiced and not 'die'. Now if it had 6hr battery I would be pissed. But it doesn't.

4. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Asus PadFone S (without dock) is also a great deal, at around $270 with SD801.

5. maherk

Posts: 6878; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Lg G2 would definitely be my pick.

6. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

The iPhone 5C is already obsolete since it's launch.

18. vuyonc

Posts: 1090; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Not enough cold water for the buuuuurn.

31. faptastic

Posts: 65; Member since: Aug 19, 2014

I've been using it for a while recently. While the iphone6 is already more than a year behind other flagships in hardware and features, the 5c is just an embarrassment. It's similar to most 90usd devices in almost every way and its hardware is about 3 to 4 years old and it shows. It's not very fluid with iOS8 at all. I've never been so happy as to use my Lumia again. It just feels light years ahead in every way. Stuff on WP just works like you expect on iOS and then you have a file explorer and many of the advanced Android coolness without the risks. Everything, including complete apps can go on an SD card as well on WP and the screen of my Lumia 735 blows the iphone6 one out of the water. Paying such an obscene amount of money for a device that is in every way a low budget offering is just wrong. Also the touch screen of the 5c is horrible and inaccurate. That's my biggest gripe with it. Sure it responds quickly but barely ever registers at the right place. You don't really notice how bad it actually is until you try a good screen. Same goes for all iOS devices actually.

7. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

Best choice seems to be the LG G2, judging from the prices.

13. 2faraway

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

LG G2, has the screen, the camera, battery life, hardware and hopefully major carriers will updated to lollipop and continuing to do so in the future, I won't called it mid range smartphone but just little above! For 200 to 2half you don't get this level of smartphone in the the mid range segment!

30. murron

Posts: 162; Member since: Jun 10, 2014

I picked me a up a used one for $170 with screen protector and case included months ago! I love it

39. 2faraway

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

Had mine since January last year. Upgraded it from the them so powerful 6 months old Gaalaxy S4. Tired of the battery life gave a try to the G2! I was surprised in comparison it performed like a phone from years to come! And then the 4.4.2 update came, camera response, battery life and many more areas were improved, with this a wanna say hopefully 5.0 comes with all around improvements so I can keep it for a while. PEOPLE THIS IS THE FIRST PHONE EVER MADE THAT I DIDN'T FEEL IN NEED TO UPGRADE! It is just that good and that why makes it the best bargain out-there!

14. NexusX

Posts: 613; Member since: May 16, 2013

2015 is gonna be hard year to convince buyers to pay full retail price for flagships. i have a oneplus one and nothing i see is worthy of an upgrade

17. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Except for Apple.

21. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Including Apple.

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