For some, it’s about the flagships; the latest iPhone, the Galaxy S4, the HTC One – all devices that promise the best smartphone experience around, but for a top-tier price, naturally.
Thankfully if you’re a mobile user looking to either upgrade your handset or pick up a new SIM and handset independently, there are cheaper options that still offer a wealth of functionality and a taste of premium, without asking you to shell out £400 or more.
We’ve collated a list of ten mid-range smartphones across the Android and Windows Phone camps that offer the best their respective manufacturers have to offer, for a price of between £150 and £250.
Nokia Lumia 620 - £150
Nokia’s go-to mid-ranger, the Lumia 620 is a distinctive smartphone on store shelves with looks that can certainly turn heads. Available with a range of colourful, interchangeable hard shells and Windows Phone 8, the experience provided by this handset certainly punches above its weight.
Highlights include its S4 dual-core processor, expandable memory and a wealth of apps from both Microsoft and Nokia which offer full Office application capabilities, free music streaming with offline playback and more.
The party piece of the Lumia 620 has to be it 5-megapixel camera, which as well as being able to utilise a number of specialised lenses, also totes a pulse LED flash that does incredibly well in low-light, especially when compared to rival devices.
Huawei Ascend P1 - £170
One of the slimmest, lightest handsets in our lineup, the Huawei Ascend P1 offers great mid-range specs geared to offering up decent all-round performance in a plastic body that’s just 7.7mm thick.
Expect a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display that features punchy colours and good brightness as well as the welcome inclusion of expandable storage on top of 4GB of internal storage and an Android-based UI that’s upgradeable to Jelly Bean.
Acer CloudMobile S500 - £170
Another plastic fantastic smartphone around the same price as the P1 is Acer’s CloudMobile S500. Styling is its greatest weakness, but it makes up for this with a stellar hardware setup for such an affordable phone.
Out-the-box the S500 offers Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with a few Acer tweaks which improves customisability and ease of access. The 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor ensures things stay snappy and it’s more than happy running full 3D games.
A special mention also has to go to the 4.3-inch display, toting an incredible 720p HD resolution and IPS LCD technology.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini - £215
Last year, Samsung won the mobile crown with the Galaxy S3, which made its name as the best selling smartphone of 2012. If you’re willing to accept a more conservative spec sheet, you can have a slice of that same S3 pie thanks to the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini.
The S3 Mini shrinks down last year’s flagship experience into a device that looks just as good as its bigger brother, albeit with a smaller 4-inch WVGA display, 1GHz dual-core processor and 5-megapixel camera.
The same highly customisable Samsung UI also makes appears on the S3 Mini as TouchWiz Nature UX, running atop Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
LG Optimus L7 2 - £225
LG had a successful run with last year’s L-Series devices and as such brings upgraded versions of each member to market this year. The most powerful of the bunch takes shape as the LG Optimus L7 2 – a dual-core Android smartphone complete with an 8-megapixel camera, 4.3-inch WVGA display and Android Jelly Bean from the get-go.
LG devices feature one of the most customisable Android overlays called Optimus UI. Users can change themes, font sizes, animations and even customise individual icons as they see fit. There’s only 4GB of internal storage but thankfully that’s expandable via microSD up to 32GB.
Samsung ATIV S - £230
If you want a Samsung Galaxy S3-quality device without the price tag, the Samsung ATIV S might be a suitable alternative to the likes of the aforementioned Galaxy S3 Mini. The ATIV S trades Android for Windows Phone 8, but as such puts the likes of Microsoft Office and a number of exclusive Samsung Apps at your fingertips.
Not only does the ATIV S include an expansive 4.8-inch 720p HD Super AMOLED display, but it also features the same Hyperglaze finish as that of the Galaxy S3, a great all-round 8-megapixel camera that can shoot in Full HD, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and comes in both 16 and 32GB varieties with expandability which can effectively double the available space.
Google Nexus 4 - £240
For some, stock Android is the way to go and there’s no better device to pick up such an experience than with the LG-made Google Nexus 4. Being an LG device at heart, the Nexus 4 utilises a 4.7-inch Tru HD IPS Plus LCD panel with a WXGA resolution.
The user experience is wonderfully smooth as a result of a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor twinned to 2GB of RAM. In truth this is more affordable flagship than mid-ranger, but as it’s such an affordable option, it’s one of the highlights on the list.
HTC 8X - £240
The Windows Phone 8 trifecta is only complete when you add HTC into the mix alongside Samsung and Nokia. The HTC 8X places design above all else in the Windows Phone 8 camp, with a soft-touch unibody design that’s inspired by the OS’s own Live Tiles.
The phone’s S-LCD2 720p HD display is simply stunning and the multimedia experience is well rounded with high-resolution wide-angle lens cameras on the front and back (2.1-megapixel and 8-megapixel respectively), along with Full HD video recording and a dedicated amp for the phone’s rear loudspeaker.
HTC One SV - £240
Whilst the specs are a little frugal compared to the Windows Phone flagship we just mentioned, there is decent reasoning behind the relatively high price tag of the HTC One SV. With 2013 being all about 4G LTE, the main reason why our lineup so far has been so affordable is as a result of a lack of LTE connectivity.
The HTC One SV doesn’t have quite as impressive an overall spec sheet; with a WVGA 4.3-inch S-LCD2 screen and a mediocre 5-megapixel rear camera, but under the phone’s beautifully designed removable back lurks an LTE radio, making this one of the most affordable 4G-capable phones on the market.
Sony Xperia L - £245
The last in the lineup is coincidentally the newest handset on the market. The Sony Xperia L is the first phone in Sony’s 2013 UK portfolio that omits LTE connectivity in the pursuit of affordability. Although it shares its aesthetic with last year’s Sony Xperia J, the hardware and user experience are far more fulfilling.
Running on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, Sony has endowed the Xperia L with its own UI tweaks and features, not too dissimilarly to the UX taken from their flagship, the Sony Xperia Z. Along with a number of widgets and themes, the Xperia L also features access to Sony services like Music and Video Unlimited as well as toting a great 8-megapixel camera and a premium design.
Last updated 25/6/13