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Best mid-range "$400/$500 flagship" phones (November 2017)

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Best mid-range "$400/$500 flagship" phones (November 2017)

The new "$400 flagship" category sounds a bit funny, but it is kind of real. These days, you can get a phone with flagship-grade look, feel and sometimes even performance for just $400. We put "$400 flagship" in quotes, of course, because there are some reasons why this new tier of phones with the same grade of specs as more premium phones still can't compete on the very same level. At the same time, though, it's also true that these days you don't need to spend a whopping $700 or more on a phone, and these devices are the reason why.

The "$400 flagships" that we've picked below all excel in terms of performance and their design and overall finish. Most of them, though, will not work on CDMA networks like Verizon Wireless and Sprint in the United States, and they are not sold via carrier subsidies.

In many cases, these phones are not sold in brick-and-mortar stores, but are instead only sold online. This is part of the reason that allows phone makers to cut their costs and provide the best value for these phones. Still, support and repair service is available for those phones, as well as a proper warranty, so you don't need to worry about that.

With all this in mind, let's get started: here are the best mid-range phones, the top "$400 flagships" in November 2017.

#10: Huawei Nova 2


*Not officially sold in the United States
Price: €400 for 64GB

nova 2


Best mid-range "$400/$500 flagship" phones (November 2017)


The Huawei Nova 2 is the second generation of the quite popular Huawei series, and while it's not sold in the United States, the Nova 2 phone is a good value in Europe and other parts of the world. It features a sleek metal design that has become a signature Huawei feature, it has got an outstanding dual camera system, a good selfie camera (with a few beauty modes for the more vane), it features a smooth performance and solid battery life.

#9: Motorola Moto X4

Price: $400

Moto X4

Best mid-range "$400/$500 flagship" phones (November 2017)

The $400 Moto X4 is the first Android One phone to come to the United States with Project Fi, and this guarantees proper updates (a rarity on affordable Android phones), but the X4 is also a great phone on its own.

It's got a fancy dual camera system a la LG with a secondary wide-angle lens, it's got that clean and fast Android interface and it features an eye-catchy design with a glass back.

#8: Moto Z2 Play


*Works on AT&T and T-Mobile in the USA, Z Play Droid version for Verizon
Price: $400 for 32 GB

Moto Z2 Play
5.5"
1080 x 1920 pixels
12 MP
5 MP front
Qualcomm Snapdragon 626
Octa-core, 2200 MHz
RAM: 4 GB
MEMORY: 64 GB + MicroSD
BATTERY: 3000 mAh
Announced: Jun 1, 2017
Market status: Released
Release date: Jun 29, 2017
Features: Fingerprint Lightweight Thin LTE Rugged NFC Dual SIM

Best mid-range "$400/$500 flagship" phones (November 2017)

If you want to have a phone with a long-lasting battery, the Moto Z2 Play is probably one of the best choices. It's not quite the battery champ as the original, but it's not too far off. It's also now slimmer and more elegant, The Z2 Play runs on Android 7.1 Nougat and features the clutter-free Moto skin that works fast and well. It has a very good 12MP main camera that is also able to capture video at up to 4K resolution. The Moto Z2 Play also supports Moto Mods, the magnetic super-attachments that can add even more battery, improved sound, or even a pico projector, but you don't really need any of them to fully enjoy this phone.

#7: Honor 9


*Not sold officially in the USA, if imported will work only on AT&T and T-Mobile
Price: €430

9



The Honor 9 is a new entry to the so called $400 flagship category, and it features a thin, elegant design and top-grade specs. Here is what we thought about it in our full review:

In almost every aspect, the Honor 9 is a substantial upgrade over the Honor 8. And maybe even more impressive is how favorably it compares to the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus – both much more expensive phones. ... In the end, the Honor 9 is an attractive option for international smartphone users who want a phone that's compact, a reasonably strong performer, enjoys solid battery life, and offers a decently nice camera – and all for quite a bit less than your typical flagship.

#6: Apple iPhone SE


Price: $350 for 32 GB, $450 for 128 GB

iPhone SE




The cute little iPhone SE has once again dropped in price in September 2017, and with a starting price of just $350 for the 32GB version, it definitely deserves a place in this list. It works like a charm on all major U.S. carrier with proper 4G LTE support, and it has the Apple A9 chip, which runs as fast as the popular Snapdragon 835. It's also the only 4" phone on this list, a truly compact little phone that is great for single-handed use.

The iPhone SE has been updated to iOS 11, the latest version of the platform and it now supports ARKit for cool augmented reality apps. This phone also supports 4K video recording with great quality. The little iPhone SE also goes big in terms of battery life and is overall one well-made device.

#5: LG G6


Price: $500

G6



The LG G6 has quickly gone down in price and it is now in the same affordable flagship category as most others here (sure, it's $500 rather than $400, but others in this ranking like OnePlus have also gone up in price).

The G6 is a great phone for that price: it's got a good-looking display, an innovative dual camera system with a secondary super-wide angle lens, it's got an immersive and futuristic bezel-less display, and a battery life that is not too bad.

#4: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Price: $430 to $550

Galaxy S7 edge
5.5"
1440 x 2560 pixels
12 MP
5 MP front
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Quad-core, 2200 MHz
RAM: 4 GB
MEMORY: 32 GB + MicroSD
BATTERY: 3600 mAh (36h 3G talk time)
Announced: Feb 21, 2016
Market status: Released
Release date: Mar 11, 2016
Features: Fingerprint Lightweight Thin LTE Rugged NFC Dual SIM



Last year's Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has dropped in price and it now comfortable ranks in the $400-$500 flagship territory.

In the United States, you can buy the GSM version that will work with AT&T and T-Mobile for just $430. So yes, the S7 Edge is a great deal: it has got a trendy glass and metal design, a very good camera, a vivid display that impresses and it is also water-protected and features expandable storage.

#3: Apple iPhone 6s

Price: $450 for 32GB model, $550 for 128GB

iPhone 6s



The Apple iPhone 6s has dropped down to just $450 in September 2017 and since then it easily ranks as one of the best mid-range "flagships" out there. The iPhone 6s with 32GB of storage provides great, smooth 60fps performance that many top-notch Android phones still cannot match, has got the App Store with its top-quality apps and games, has Apple's cool ARKit and will be supported for years to come with updates.

From a historical perspective, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were the first iPhones able to record 4K video. Android phones had come with 4K video for years, but all of them had annoying limitations such as 5-minute limit to video clips and no ability to edit 4K footage on the phones. The iPhone 6s might have been late, but it got all those things right: video came very crisp, recorded at high bit-rates, and Apple updated its excellent iMovie with support for up to two 4K video channels. Other cool iPhone 6s features included Live Photos that recorded a short video before and after a still image, a set of new 3D Touch-enabled Motion Wallpapers, a new rose gold color, as well as support for 'Hey, Siri', a hands-free voice command that activated the smart iPhone assistant.

#2: OnePlus 5

*Only works on AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States
Price: $480 for 64 GB, $540 for 128 GB

5
5.5"
1080 x 1920 pixels
16 MP
16 MP front
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Octa-core, 2457 MHz
RAM: 8 GB
MEMORY: 128 GB
BATTERY: 3300 mAh
Announced: Jun 20, 2017
Market status: Released
Release date: Jun 22, 2017
Features: Fingerprint Lightweight Thin LTE Rugged NFC Dual SIM




OnePlus was one of the companies that made the "$400 flagship" concept popular with the OnePlus 3 last year, but it has quickly moved to higher prices. The OnePlus 5 now starts at $480 in the United States, a considerably higher price. That's bad news for those looking to save a penny, but we still count the OnePlus 5 in this category for purely nostalgic reasons. It's still one of the best value-for-money offers with its dual camera, sleek design and ultra fast performance. The phone is worth it, even if it does not have the best camera in a phone (it is a good camera, but not quite great). The OnePlus 5 also delivers rock solid battery life and a clean, bloat-free interface.

#1: Essential Phone

Price: $500 for 128GB

Phone

Best mid-range "$400/$500 flagship" phones (November 2017)

The Essential Phone is the newest competitor on the $500 flagship block after a hefty $200 price cut. And it's an amazing value for the money: it features an exquisit ceramic body with a meticulous fit and finish, a clean Android experience with the promise for timely updates and the latest Snapdragon 835 processor. It's also got a dual camera setup with a color + monochrome cameras that don't seem to deliver as great results as one would expect, but updates are promised to fix that. The Essential Phone has also got a curious magnetic attachment port that supports a 360-degree camera at the moment, but has the potential of being a hub for a growing ecosystem of accessories in the future.

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