The best midrange smartphones for 2024

As one of Engadget’s resident mobile geeks, I’ve reviewed dozens of midrange phones and have found that a great smartphone doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Years of commoditization have brought features once exclusive to high-end devices – including big batteries, multi-camera arrays and high refresh rate displays – down to their more affordable siblings. While there are still some things you’ll only find on flagship smartphones, you don’t have to compromise as much anymore if you’re looking to find the best buy at a lower price point. If you have less than $600 to spend, I can help you figure out what features to prioritize when trying to find the best midrange smartphone.

Editor’s note (5/9/24): Google has announced the Pixel 8a, its latest midrange smartphone. The 6.1-inch handset starts at $499 and, as expected, takes many of its cues from last year’s flagship Pixel 8 series. We’ll have a full review in the coming days and will update this guide accordingly. For now, you can check out our hands-on preview for more details on what to expect. Google says it’ll continue to sell the Pixel 7a, our current top pick, at a reduced price, so it may continue to be worthwhile. Most should hold off until we put the new Pixel through its paces, though.

While the term shows up frequently in articles and videos, there isn’t an agreed-upon definition for “midrange” beyond a phone that isn’t a flagship or an entry-level option. Our recommendations for the best midrange smartphones cost between $400 and $600 — any less and you should expect significant compromises. If your budget is higher, though, you should consider flagships like the Apple iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S22.

Buying a new device can be intimidating, but a few questions can help guide you through the process. First: what platform do you want to use? If the answer is iOS, that narrows your options down to exactly one phone. (Thankfully, it’s great.) And if you’re an Android fan, there’s no shortage of compelling options. Both platforms have their strengths, so you shouldn’t rule either out.

Obviously, also consider how much you’re comfortable spending. Even increasing your budget by $100 more can get you a dramatically better product. And manufacturers tend to support their more expensive devices for longer. It’s definitely worth buying something toward the top limit of what you can afford.

Having an idea of your priorities will help inform your budget. Do you want a long battery life or fast charging speed? Do you value speedy performance above all else? Or would you like the best possible cameras? While they continue to improve every year, even the best midrange smartphones still demand some compromises, and knowing what’s important to you will make choosing one easier.

Lastly, pay attention to wireless bands and network compatibility. If you don’t want to worry about that, your best bet is to buy directly from your carrier. To make things easier, all the phones we recommend are compatible with every major US wireless provider and can be purchased unlocked. 

Every year, the line between midrange and flagship phones gets blurrier as more upmarket features and specs trickle down to more affordable models. When we first published this guide in 2020, it was difficult to find $500 devices with waterproofing or 5G. Now, the biggest thing you might miss out on is wireless charging. Just remember to budget for a power adapter too – many companies have stopped including chargers with their smartphones. Performance has improved in recent years, but can still be hit or miss as most midrange phones use slower processors that can struggle with multitasking. Thankfully, their cameras have improved dramatically, and you can typically expect at least a dual-lens system on most midrange smartphones below $600.

Chris Velazco contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at