Best mid-range affordable flagship phones this year

Best mid-range affordable flagship phones this year
These days, you can get a phone with a flagship-grade look, feel and even performance for just about $400 to $600. And since this trend has been taking over in the last couple of years, many people would just call these phones "affordable flagships".

The price on these phones has fluctuated a bit, but generally has hovered around these prices, and considering the quick astronomical growth of phones from Apple, Samsung and even Huawei, these phones look like an even better value for the money today.

The phones that we've picked below all excel in terms of performance and their design and overall finish. While not all of these phones are available on US carriers, most will be compatible with at least T-Mobile and AT&T, and are readily available via retailers like Amazon or B&H.

With all this in mind, let's get started: here are the best mid-range "affordable flagship" phones.

1. OnePlus 7T


Pros

  • 90Hz display
  • Impressively fast performance
  • Good battery life
  • Recharges very quickly

Cons

  • Low-light camera performance not quite flagship grade
  • No wireless charging
While it's technically outside of our established price range, OnePlus remains our top choice for a budget flagship this year.

The OnePlus 7T has a 90Hz display just like the Pro version and a triple camera setup as well, which means the only difference is the curved-edge display and the pop-up camera. For many user those are actually advantages,

The 7T remains true to the OnePlus fundamentals: extremely zippy performance thanks to the Snapdragon 855+ chip under the hood, the clean, clutter-free experience and the improved camera quality. Add to that an impressive battery life, flagship-grade design and super fast charging, and the OnePlus remains the best option for most buyers that don't want to spend $800+ on a flagship.



2. Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL


Pros

  • Incredible, best-in-class camera
  • Smooth performance
  • Clean software, years of guaranteed software updates

Cons

  • Dated looks, plastic body
  • Chip is not the fastest around

The Google Pixel 3a bring a small revolution in affordable phones: at just $400 for the small 3a and $470 for the larger 3a XL model, these two gadgets bring the flagship Pixel camera phone experience, something that simply no other phone in this price range can match. So if you want a cheap phone and a great camera, that's pretty much your only option.

Google makes a few compromises to get the 3a to be so affordable: first and foremost in terms of styling and looks as the 3a series are made of plastic and don't quite have the solid build quality of a modern flagship, and secondly, the bezels that are definitely way bigger than on contemporaries and give the phones a decidedly dated look.

But if you don't care about that, you would be pleased with the performance and the 3 years of timely software updates are another great thing that you will not get on other devices.


3. Xiaomi Mi 9


Pros

  • Premium build quality
  • A good combination of rear cameras
  • Fast performance
  • Super competitive price

Cons

  • The fingerprint sensor is a bit unreliable
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the most affordable phone with the newest Snapdragon 855 on board and it is probably the most affordable phone with that flagship chip on board. It features a very sleek, thin design, excellent camera performance and a battery that lasts a long time.

The only big downside is the MIUI custom interface that serves ads in certain countries like India (you don't get ads in the MIUI version on Xiaomi phones in Europe, however).



4. Honor View 20


Pros

  • Unique V shape design
  • 7nm Kirin 980 processor is fast
  • Big battery
  • 48-megapixel camera performs well

Cons

  • No AMOLED screen
Honor is an offshoot of Chinese giant Huawei, but it operates with no physical stores and relies on word-of-mouth and has no big marketing budget, which saves it a ton of money. This is what makes phones like the Honor View 20 possible.

The View 20 sports a 6.4-inch LCD screen and Huawei's own Kirin 980 chip inside, the first 7nm chip ever released for Android phones. Huawei's years of effort in making chips have definitely paid handsomely as the Kirin 980 beats the Snapdragon 845 in terms of performance. The View 20 also sports a big, 4,000mAh battery and is a looker, with that distinct V-shape on the back. The phone also features a 48-megapixel Sony sensor for the main camera that we expect to see in many phones in 2019. This sensor combines four pixels into one to deliver 12-megapixel images with superior night time performance.



5. Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro



Pros

  • Incredible value for the money
  • Full-screen display
  • Fast performance
  • MIUI is rich in features

Cons

  • Slow pop-up selfie camera
  • Camera performance is not on par with the top
  • No wireless charging
This year we didn't get a Pocophone, but we got something even better. The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Or Redmi K20 Pro in some regions) is a flagship phone no matter how you look at it. It has an AMOLED display, Snapdragon 855, three cameras and even a headphone jack! All that for under $400 is a steal. It's worth having it on this list alongside the regular Mi 9 for one main reason: the pop-up selfie camera. Because of it there's no notch to ruin your aesthetics but it also could be a vulnerability. Another drawback of having your selfie camera hidden is that face unlock is quite slow especially since the mechanism on the Mi 9T Pro is not the fastest.

We also love the large, 4,000mAh battery under the hood and we get between a day or even two out of it, so battery life is really great too. What we didn't love so much were the photos the 9T Pro takes. It has all the necessary hardware but Xiaomi is still struggling with getting the most of it in some scenarios. Still, they're not terrible and you're already getting plenty for your money anyway.

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