Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Posted: , by Victor Hristov Victor Hristov

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Best mid-range
These days, you can get a phone with a flagship-grade look, feel and even performance for just about $400 to $500. 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 "$400 flagships" 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.

OnePlus 6T


Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Cons

  • Camera is not quite on par with premium phones
  • Gesture interaction a bit fiddly
  • Lacks full water protection


OnePlus was one of the companies that made the "$400 flagship" concept popular and while the company has been slowly and steadily growing prices, the new OnePlus 6 is still an incredibly value-for-money offering. At a price starting at just $520, you get the OnePlus 6 with its exquisite glass and metal design, the powerful Snapdragon 845 system chip, a dual camera that in most conditions can match the best camera phones out there, and a fast charging system that is reliable and quicker than on other phones. All of this makes the OnePlus 6 a phone that is still the first device that comes to mind when we speak about "affordable flagships". The list of downsides is short, but the OnePlus 6 is still not a perfect phone: it lacks full water protection, wireless charging and the gesture navigation system on it is fiddly.



Pocophone F1


Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Cons

  • Plastic back might not please everyone
  • A bit on the thick side
  • LCD screen, not AMOLED

The Pocophone F1 by quickly growing Chinese company Xiaomi is all the rage in late 2018 with a price that is even more affordable than the OnePlus and many other "affordable flagships".

The Pocophone really is a great device for the money: it is incredibly fast, equipped with the flagship Snapdragon 845 system chip on board, and it has a very good looking LCD display and a decent camera (the camera is where it falls short of premium phones).

We also love the great battery life we get out of this phone: it features a massive, 4,000mAh battery and lasts us between a day or even two with scarcer use.


Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus


Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Cons

  • Big bezels, dated design
  • Battery life on 7 could be better
  • iOS still has some limitations


The Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have dropped in price and this year, they easily rank amongst the best "affordable flagships" out there. Which of the two should you get? The iPhone 7 Plus has a vastly bigger, 5.5-inch display (compared to the quite small 4.7-inch one on the 7), but it's also next to impossible to use it with just one hand. Still, if you are after productivity, this is likely the better phone and it comes with a larger battery, plus a secondary camera and support for Portrait Mode that we use quite often while taking pictures.

The iPhone 7, on the other hand, is one of the best compact phones around and it's a true joy to use with just one hand. Both these phones are on the latest version of iOS, of course, and they will likely be updated for at least another one or two years, longer than many Android phones out there.



Honor View 10 or Honor 10


Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Cons

  • Interface takes getting used to
  • Big bottom bezel

The Honor 10 (or the Honor View10 in the USA) is a phone that packs both style and substance. Its glass back reflects light in a beautiful pattern and the phone feels solidly put together, plus the signature blue version looks really good.

Moreover, you have one of Huawei's faster chips, the Kirin 970 processor, the same that powers the Huawei P20, and performance does indeed feel zippy.

The high-quality dual-camera setup (16MP main camera and a 24MP black and white one) is different than the P20, though, but still manages to shoot good-looking images. And all of that comes at a very alluring price point.


Nokia 7.1


Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Cons

  • Battery life is okay, but not great
  • Performance is not quite perfectly smooth

The small and compact Nokia 7.1 is not only a phone that will please many with its dimensions, but it's also one of the most stylish "affordable flagships" out there with its glass and metal design, and attention to detail.

Keep in mind that this is one phone in our list that does not quite run on a flagship-grade silicon and is instead powered by the mid-range Snapdragon 636 chip, and you can tell after using this phone that it does not quite keep up with the rest in terms of pure speed. But that's reflected in the price and the camera performance is quite good, plus you have a good-looking display, all things making the Nokia 7.1 worth considering.


Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s


Best mid-range "$400-$500 flagship" phones this year

Cons

  • Custom MIUI interface takes getting used to
  • Weird position for selfie camera

The new Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s features an impressive all-screen, edge-to-edge design with a ceramic back that looks really clean and nice. Under the hood, you get Android's finest and most powerful Snapdragon 845 system chip with up to 8GB of RAM, while on the back you get a dual camera system with a secondary telephoto lens and portrait mode (it captures surprisingly good-looking photos). And on the software front, this phone runs the MIUI custom Android interface that really adds a ton of useful additions to the experience.

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