Mid-range smartphones offer the most interesting mix of price and performance for most consumers. In 2022, Samsung and Xiaomi will bring out the heaviest guns in the price range. A comparison.
The definition of a mid-range smartphone includes all those devices that are available for less than 500 euros. Sure, that’s still a lot of money for a cell phone, but buyers can expect at least a decent display and a reasonable camera from a mid-range smartphone. The market leader in the middle class is Samsung. The South Koreans impress with a wide range of products and give their mid-range smartphones OLED displays.
Saving foxes squint at Xiaomi. The Chinese manufacturer scores particularly well with affordable smartphones that offer decent performance and also shine with OLED displays. If you are looking for an Android smartphone from the USA, you will find it on Google. Apple followers, on the other hand, are the saddest buyers in the middle class. Your beloved tech giant only offers a smartphone in the price range under 500 euros. If you love your data, you can’t avoid buying an iPhone. This is due to their iOS operating system, which is way ahead of Google’s Android when it comes to data protection.
Mid-range smartphones from Samsung
One of the most interesting mid-range smartphones in 2023 is the Samsung Galaxy A53, which currently costs around 395 euros in the version with 256 GB of memory. Although the smartphone is also available with 128 GB of memory, its working memory then also shrinks from 6 to 8 GB. Accordingly, the larger version is worthwhile in 2023. Its display is 6.5 inches with a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels. In terms of technology, Samsung relies on an OLED display that works with a refresh rate of 120 Hertz. The battery has a capacity of 5000 mAh. Of course, the Galaxy A53 also has 5G on board. Its selfie camera on the front has a resolution of 32 megapixels. On the back is a quad camera with a 64-megapixel main sensor.
Buy it now: Samsung Galaxy A53 at Amazon
The price-performance models from Xiaomi
In July 2022, Xiaomi launched its Mi 12 Lite, the price of which fell below the magic 500 euros after just under half a year. And buyers get a whole lot in return: the 6.55 inch OLED display has a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 Hertz.
The Mi 12 Lite makes smartphone photographers really happy: the main sensor of the triple camera on the back has a resolution of a dizzying 108 megapixels. In addition, Xiaomi has given the camera two additional lenses on the back: an ultra wide-angle camera with 8 megapixel resolution and a macro lens for close-ups with 2 megapixels.
In addition, the Mi 12 Lite can handle 5G. However, the battery is one of the smaller of its kind with 4300 mAh. Unfortunately, the smartphone is not waterproof and the built-in processor – a Snapdragon 778G – is in the midfield of current smartphone processors in terms of performance.
Buy now: Xiaomi Mi 12 Lite on Amazon
The Poco F3 from Xiaomi came onto the market in April 2021 for a recommended retail price of 350 euros and impressed at the time with an excellent mix of price and performance in the middle class. With a bit of luck, you can currently get hold of the smartphone for around 320 euros and get a 6.67-inch OLED display with a refresh rate of 120 Hertz and a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels. The display is therefore a real blessing, especially for gamers of mobile games.
But that’s not all: In terms of performance, the Snapdragon 870 built into the Poco F3 is still in the upper midfield of smartphone processors. In addition, Xiaomi has given its Poco F3 a triple camera, the main sensor of which has a resolution of 48 megapixels. There is also an eight-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens and a five-megapixel macro lens. Compared to the Mi 12 Lite, however, the camera weakens in terms of image quality. Photographers are more likely to use the Mi 12 Lite, gamers and price-conscious buyers the Poco F3.
Buy Now: Poco F3 on Amazon
If the Poco F3 is out of stock, interested parties can take a look at its successor. Xiaomi uses almost the same hardware for it. The F3 and its successors are united in terms of the processor, RAM, display and selfie camera. The F4 received improvements, especially in the quick charge function and the camera on the back. Its main sensor now has a resolution of 64 instead of 48 megapixels. In return, the macro lens shrank from 5 to 2 megapixels.
Buy Now: Poco F4 on Amazon
5. Google: Pixel 6a with compromises on the camera
If you don’t feel like a smartphone from the Far East, you should take a look at the Google Pixel 6a. Compared to other smartphones, the Pixel 6a is a bit handier thanks to its 6.1 inches, but it is not tiny. Like the other smartphones under 500 euros, the display is an OLED and has a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels.
Here the opponents do not take much. Compared to the Poco F3, the built-in processor in the Pixel 6a is on par. The in-house Tensor chip is used in conjunction with 6 GB of RAM. The heart of the Pixel 6a is its camera. Usually, Google gave its a-series the same cameras as its more expensive Pixel models, which was a selling point for many interested parties. Unfortunately, the manufacturer broke with this tradition. On the back of the Pixel 6a is an older lens that has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels and whose photo quality no longer comes close to that of the top models.
At least the 6a is superior to other manufacturers in one respect: because Android is developed by Google, it does without so-called bloatware. This is pre-installed software on smartphones or computers that nobody actually wants on their system, let alone needs, and that is difficult to remove.
Buy Now: Google Pixel 6a on Amazon
6. Apple iPhone SE 2022: mid-range from Cupertino
Apple has long failed mid-range buyers. Most of the time, they went for refurbished pre-predecessor models when they were looking for an Apple smartphone for less than or around 500 euros. Actually incomprehensible, because the first iPhone SE was very popular in 2016. Four years later, the tech giant released its second iPhone SE, and then presented its third iPhone SE in 2022.
And that scores particularly well with its processor: Apple has given the third generation iPhone SE an A15 Bionic, which also works in the 13th generation iPhones and is faster than the Snapdragon 865. This is mainly due to the closed Apple ecosystem. The Californian engineers can simply coordinate the hardware and software better because Apple is the only hardware manufacturer where both come from a single source.
Anyone who places particular value on their data should reach for Apple. With iOS 14.5, the manufacturer again increased the data protection of its smartphones and made work more difficult for data trackers such as Facebook. For example, an iPhone only releases the device ID if the user expressly consents to this. iOS 16.3.1 is already working on the iPhone SE 2022.
However, the iPhone SE has significant disadvantages compared to the other mid-range cell phones: At 4.7 inches, the display is smaller than the other devices and Apple also uses LCD and not OLED. And the resolution of the iPhone SE at 1334×750 pixels is also lower than that of the competition. The battery is just too tiny at 2018 milliamp hours and the 12-megapixel rear camera is on par with an iPhone X – not bad, but not great in 2023 either.
After all, customers have the choice between 64, 128 and 256 gigabytes of memory. Fortunately, the entry-level iPhone can handle the new 5G radio standard. For a price of around 500 euros, the iPhone SE 2022 is the smartphone for “price-conscious” Apple buyers and those switching.
Buy now: iPhone SE (2022) at Amazon
Other worthwhile mid-range smartphones
The smartphones presented are all models from the most popular manufacturers. Those who are not “loyal buyers” can get real value for money from other producers. Because technically, the devices from Oppo, Oneplus or Realme stand up to the top dogs like Xiaomi, Samsung
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G combines everything that was denied to the upper class just a few years ago. Of course it can transmit in the 5G network. OnePlus uses OLED technology for the display, which provides stronger contrasts compared to LCD displays. Unfortunately, the OnePlus Nord 5G lacks the ability to charge wirelessly. The main sensor of the rear camera has a resolution of 50 megapixels. It is joined by a wide-angle camera, a macro camera for close-ups and a depth sensor for portraits – the only thing smartphone photographers miss is a telephoto camera.
Buy it now: OnePlus Nord 2 on Amazon
The Realme 9 Pro is available in two versions: with and without 5G. Anyone who does without the new radio standard saves around 15 euros. A Snapdragon 695 processor works in the smartphone, the performance of which is sufficient to even play performance-hungry games with the Realme 9 Pro. Unfortunately, OnePlus uses LCD technology for its display, but with a refresh rate of 120 Hertz. Otherwise, the Realme 9 Pro has what buyers can expect from a mid-range smartphone. The battery is long-lasting, the camera takes reasonable pictures in daylight and you can find all sorts of additional software in the app store. The only thing you don’t want to do is to submerge the smartphone: the Realme 8 Pro does not offer an IP certification.
Buy Now: Realme 9 Pro on Amazon
The Oppo Reno4 Z 5G came out in 2020 and is a bit too old for a new purchase in 2023 – at least when the price is around 300 euros. From 200 to 250 euros, it represents a compromise between 5G connectivity and a low price. However, the manufacturer only manages this by saving a little on the smartphone display. Unfortunately, Oppo only installs an LCD display and no OLED in the Reno4 Z 5G. But the refresh rate is at least a brisk 120 Hertz. With an output of 4000 mAh, the battery is slightly smaller than many competing models in the price range. Nevertheless, the smartphone should last a day with normal use. Unfortunately, it comes with all sorts of pre-installed software from the manufacturer. It is known to collect usage data. If you value your data, you should stay away from the device.
Buy now: Oppo Reno4 Z 5G on Amazon
The Oppp Find X3 is the cheapest mid-range smartphone in comparison. It was released in March 2021, making it a little more up-to-date than the Oppo Reno4Z and joining the mid-range with its Snapdragon 765G processor, although the smartphone is now two years old. Its main memory is lush with 8 gigabytes. There is also little to complain about on the display: Oppo uses OLED and a 90 Hertz refresh rate for the 6.4-inch smartphone. 128 gigabytes of storage space is more than enough for the middle class. Although the Find X3 Lite is embedded in the 5G network, the smartphone unfortunately misses the Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard. The additional software that Oppo places on its smartphones is annoying again.
Buy it now: Oppo Find X3 Lite 5G on Amazon
Note: This article was first published in May 2021.
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Sources: Techstage.de computerbild.de chip.de Netzwelt.de