Best mid range affordable flagship phones in 2022
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 word flagship actually suits the phones on this list pretty well, as they check all the important boxes, just like more premium devices.
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Unlike proper flagship phones, affordable flagship phones usually have to make a compromise or two to achieve the lower price. It's up to you to decide which things you're comfortable missing out on and which are must-haves for you.
How to buy the best budget flagship phone for you
Generally, smartphones have four main aspects:
- Build quality
- Battery life
Even the best mid range phones can't deliver top results in all four, so you have to prioritize. If you take a ton of photos, then go for the mid range phone with the best camera. If you game on your phone a lot or use heavy apps, performance and battery life is what you should focus on. And if you don't use your phone much but want something that looks and feels nice then go for the fanciest one.
No matter what your preference is, here is what you can expect to find in a mid range phone:
What should I look for in a mid range smartphone?
Here are some common specs for mid-range phones:
- Full HD+ 1080p OLED display
- 120Hz screen refresh rate
- A fresh and powerful processor
- 6-8 GB of RAM
- 128-256GB of storage
- 4500-5000mAh battery
- At least two rear cameras (not counting depth sensors)
If your mid range phone of choice delivers more than these specs than you're getting excellent value..
Best affordable flagship phones, a summarized list:
- Samsung Galaxy A53 5G — best overall bang for your buck
- Apple iPhone SE (2022) — sometimes less is more
- Apple iPhone 11 — old but gold
- OnePlus 8T — 120Hz display and top performance
- Google Pixel 5a — best mid range camera phone
- Motorola Edge (2021) — best price to performance ratio
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Samsung's refresh of the Galaxy A52 takes the model even closer to its flagship cousins but keeps the price about half of theirs. The design and feel of the Galaxy A52 5G is very close to that of its predecessor and its capabilities are not far behind the Galaxy S22. You still get a gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED display, four cameras on the back, including macro lens and ultra-wide lenses and the distinct hole for the front-facing camera.
The battery of the A53 5G exceeds expectations with a 5,000mAh capacity and the phone even supports 25W super-fast charging. For its price, the Galaxy A53 5G is undoubtedly the best affordable flagship phone from Samsung.
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple just released its newest version of the iPhone SE. Aesthetically, it is basically the same as its predecessor from two years ago. What's different is on the inside. The new 3rd Gen iPhone SE rocks a very powerful Apple A15 processor with 4GB of RAM. The phone has also received a slight bump in battery, which combined with its newer more efficient chip means the battery life should be much better than before.
If you are a fan of this now nostalgic-looking iPhone design with a physical home button, then this phone is your best bet. It is also pretty cheap, which makes it an even easier choice.
Apple iPhone 11
When the iPhone 13 generation was released, the iPhone 11 wasn't discontinued but instead got a price reduction. That makes it a great mid range option for those looking to join Apple's ecosystem or people that have held onto their old iPhones for a while. It has Apple's secure and convenient Face ID, performance smoother than most other phones on this list and decent battery life. All of this makes the aging iPhone 11 one of the best budget flagship phones out there.
The only thing you'll be missing is the OLED screen of most phones on this list. If your budget is capped at $500 and you have to be on iOS, the iPhone 11 is the clear choice.
The OnePlus 8T has a 120Hz display which is great and it packs some nice specs for the price. Currently, the 8T can be purchased for just $499 from the OnePlus store. The phone has a very good quad camera system capable to produce some nice pictures. The battery is 4,500mAh which is more than enough to get you through the day. The 8T supports 65W fast wired charging, which is pretty cool.
The 8T remains true to the OnePlus fundamentals: extremely zippy performance thanks to the Snapdragon 865 chip under the hood, the clean, clutter-free experience and the improved camera quality. Add to that its flagship-grade design and 5G connectivity, and the OnePlus remains the best option for most buyers that don't want to spend $800+ on a flagship and look for the best budget flagship phones.
Google Pixel 5a
This year's budget Pixel is an even better deal than the Pixel 4a. The one-size-one-color-fits all Pixel 5a comes at just $449 and it manages to outdo most other mid-range phones when it comes to picture quality with its 12.2MP dual camera setup.
Google makes a few compromises to get the 5a to be so affordable: first and foremost the 4a is made of plastic and doesn't quite have the solid build quality of a modern flagship. The chip also isn't as powerful as the ones some of the other phones here have. At least the phone looks nice with its hole-punch OLED display. Unfortunately there is no high refresh rate here, but at least you get a great battery life with the Pixel 5a. It is still among the best affordable flagship phones though.
Besides the Google Camera magic this phone relies on to make its mark, the overall software support is another ace up its sleeve. You'll get at least 3 years of software updates and a bunch of features exclusive to Google's own phones.
Motorola Edge (2021)
Once again, Motorola is proving that it can cram a bunch of premium features in a phone and still sell it at an affordable price. This phone definitely deserves to be on any "affordable flagship" list, especially now that its successor is announced, and its price is plummeting. For starters, it has Qualcomm's Snapdragon 778G chip, something no other Android phone on the list can brag about. The chip is meant to give you all the FPS you can get and show them on the phone's 144Hz display. Yes, the display is an LCD one, probably the phone's biggest drawback.
And if you think that display will drain the battery rather quickly, think again. The Motorola Edge (2021) comes with a 5,000mAh battery, more than enough to get you through many hours of gaming, making it one of the best affordable flagship phones out there.
The camera array is nothing to frown upon, either. The main sensor is a 108MP just like on last year's Motorola Edge Plus, and is paired with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle one and a depth sensor mostly for numbers' sake.