The best mid-range phones for 2021, tested by our expert editors

Looking to save a few dollars without skimping on premium features? We've sorted out the best mid-range phones that money can buy.

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The best mid-range phones for 2021, ranked

  1. Apple iPhone SE (2020)
  2. Google Pixel 4a
  3. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
  4. Oppo Find X3 Lite
  5. Nokia 8.3 5G

How did we pick this list?

Finder's expert review team has tested every single phone on this list extensively, considering design, camera output, performance, battery life and any special features for each handset.

Our editorial team selected the phones on this list based on their overall quality and value compared to other phones on the market. The selection and order is not based on review scores. More detail on methodology below.

Compare the best mid-range phones of 2021


Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Apple's nimble and compact iPhone impresses

Apple iPhone SE (2020)
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Finder Score:

★★★★★

Pros

  • Apple A13 processor is very powerful
  • A lower cost entry point for iOS phones
  • Small size is easy to carry

Cons

  • Only a single lens camera feels cheap
  • Low light shooting is poor
  • Battery life is sub-par

Why we chose it

Apple is not known for being an "affordable" brand, but the iPhone SE (2020) is the exception, thanks to the inclusion of the exact same processor that's found in the much more expensive iPhone 11 line, the Apple A13 Bionic. It puts it astonishingly far ahead of its Android competition when it comes to running apps of any type.

There's a definite passion for iPhones amongst Australian phone buyers, but that brings with it a big problem. Apple's premium smartphones are hands-down expensive, unless you go down the risky refurbished/second-hand route. That's where the Apple iPhone SE enters the picture. While it's not as slick as a fresh iPhone, its Apple A13 Bionic processor still gives it plenty of processing grunt to run the wide array of easy-to-use Apple iOS apps. Its smaller size also makes it pocket-friendly if you prefer a smaller phone. The big downside for the SE really is its battery life – so it would be wise to invest in a battery pack as well.

Read our full Apple iPhone SE 2020 review


Google Pixel 4a

A clean Android experience and guaranteed updates at a pocket-friendly price

Google Pixel 4a
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Finder Score:

★★★★★

Pros

  • Better night photography than similarly priced phones
  • Decent storage
  • Has a headphone jack

Cons

  • Plastic body
  • No wireless charging
  • Average battery life

Why we chose it

Google's affordable Pixel 4a is an impressive effort even in the busy mid-range space. While its design is somewhat plain and battery life is equally mid-range, it's also first in line for Android updates. Google leaves it up to you what to install or how it should look, with a clean and fast Android experience your reward as a result. It's also one of the easiest smartphones to get top-quality photo results from, thanks to Google's AI-assisted camera. If you're keen on the Pixel 4a, it's also worth checking prices on the Google Pixel 4a 5G, not so much for its 5G capabilities as its larger screen.

Read our full Google Pixel 4a review


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Samsung distils its best features into the affordable Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Finder Score:

★★★★★

Pros

  • Great app performance
  • Good low light camera
  • Flexible shooting for video or stills
  • Range of colour choices

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • 5G model carries a stiff price premium
  • 4G model uses a lower spec processor

Why we chose it

Samsung has its range of premium phones in the Galaxy S series and its mid-range Galaxy A phones… and then there's the Galaxy S20 FE, which bridges the gap between the two, resulting in a phone that can be purchased at mid-range prices with features you'd typically find in top-end devices instead. The Galaxy S20 FE's camera is a standout, and it's no slouch in the app performance stakes instead, especially if you can score the 5G model at a good price.

Read our full Galaxy S20 FE review here


OPPO Find X3 Lite

Large 90hz display and top battery life

OPPO Find X3 Lite
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Finder Score:

★★★★★

Pros

  • 90Hz display
  • Good battery life
  • 5G ready

Cons

  • No expandable storage
  • No wireless charging
  • Cameras are middling for an Oppo device

Why we chose it

Oppo's Find X series is meant to be its flagship line, but like other makers it's also got a cut-down or "lite" option – quite literally in the case of the Oppo Find X3 Lite. Its highlights include a sharp 90Hz capable 6.4 inch FHD+ display and good battery life, which is a real rarity in 90Hz-capable handsets. Surprisingly for an Oppo phone, where usually the cameras are a standout, here they're a little more ordinary, however.

Read Finder's full Oppo Find X3 Lite review.


Nokia 8.3 5G

Like a Pixel with all the trimmings, it's an enticing prospect

Nokia 8.3 5G
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Finder Score:

★★★★★

Pros

  • Exceptional battery life
  • Clean Android UI with guaranteed updates
  • 5G ready

Cons

  • Cameras could be better
  • Side fingerprint sensor isn't great
  • Side Google Assistant button is awful
  • No water resistance or wireless charging

Why we chose it

The easiest way to describe the Nokia 8.3 5G is that it's essentially what would happen if you took a Google Pixel phone and added luxury features and style. That's because like HMD Global's other Nokia devices, it's an Android One phone with guaranteed updates and a clean Android interface to play with, along with just a little more luxury in a handset that can easily be had for mid-range pricing now. You don't quite get the upper tier of premium features like IP-rated water resistance or wireless charging, however.

Read Finder's comprehensive Nokia 8.3 5G review


Compare the best mid-range phones of 2021

Compare the specs and and purchasing options of each phone in the table below. Click on "View details" for more product specifications.

Name Product Display Display Rear camera Battery size Overall rating More info More info
Apple iPhone SE (2020)
4.7
inches

1334 x 750

  • Display

    4.7 inches

    1334 x 750

  • Rear camera

    12MP
  • Battery size

    1,821 mAh
12MP
1,821
mAh
View details
Google Pixel 4a
5.8
inches

1080 x 2340

  • Display

    5.8 inches

    1080 x 2340

  • Rear camera

    12.2MP
  • Battery size

    3,140 mAh
12.2MP
3,140
mAh
View details
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
6.5
inches

2400 x 1080

  • Display

    6.5 inches

    2400 x 1080

  • Rear camera

    12MP + 12MP + 8MP
  • Battery size

    4,500 mAh
12MP + 12MP + 8MP
4,500
mAh
View details
OPPO Find X3 Lite
6.4
inches

2400 x 1080

  • Display

    6.4 inches

    2400 x 1080

  • Rear camera

    64MP + 8MP + 2MP
  • Battery size

    4,300 mAh
64MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP
4,300
mAh
View details
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Methodology

150+
Mobile phones reviewed
10,000+
Hours spent testing
10
Best mid-range phones ranked
  • We've spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing mid-range mobile phones.
  • Our editorial team has a combined 60+ years of experience writing about tech and reviewing the latest devices.
  • The phones on this list were chosen by our editorial team and were not based on commercial relationships.

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