The 5 best midrange phones you can buy now
It’s true that phones do not need to be expensive to be good. It’s also true that there are many duds among the midrange class of mobile devices, which is why you need a keen eye to spot the gems in the rough, along with a good sense to know whether the trade-offs suit your style and needs.
We’ve encountered our fair share of midrange smartphones over the years. Here are some of the best to choose from and our reasons for choosing them.
In this guide, we’re looking at phones that:
Have an official retail price of S$500 to S$999Are phones tested by HWZ’s Editorial team (via reviews, hands-on, etc.)Are Android only (I have a separate buying guide for the latest Apple iPhones)
Google’s best efforts in a midrange phone
Unlike its flagship-grade Pixels, the Google Pixel 7a distils Google’s artificial intelligence powers into a midrange body. It’s the ideal option for users who don’t want to lose out on powerful software perks but don’t see the need to have expensive or high-end hardware components.
For instance, you’re still getting the same Google Tensor G2 processor that graced its flagship Pixel 7 and 7 Pro phones, a sufficient IP67 water resistance rating (the others had IP68), and you’re still getting a dual rear camera combo that also offers 8x Super Res Zoom (same Super Rez Zoom range as the Pixel 7’s). The hardware sacrifices also drastically reduced its sticker price, but that did not come at the cost of Google’s Magic AI features or losing out on the stock Android UI.
It’s also one of the rare phones that would feel nicer in smaller hands, thanks to its 6.1-inch screen. Most phones, midrange or flagship, are sized for 6.4-6.9-inch displays.
Google Pixel 7a (128GB) officially retails at S$749, but it can be much lower during sales periods (we’ve seen S$674 or lower). Links are below:
Flagship-grade parts with better midrange prices
Poco is an interesting sub-brand by Xiaomi, where it took its low-price reputation from its parent brand but amped it up to 11 with a combination of high-end components and only putting things in that cater to 99% of phone users.
The Poco F5 Pro perfectly exemplifies what Poco hopes to offer. It’s a 2023 phone with a 2022 flagship-tier Qualcomm processor, paired with fast LPDDR5 RAM at 8 or 12GB, and a sharp and fluid 1,440p AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It also offers above-average battery life with its 5,160mAh capacity that can go from 0-100% in under an hour. It’s also a rare midrange offering that packs 30W wireless charging. Together, the F5 Pro covers almost all the must-haves without the nose-bleed price tag.
Poco F5 Pro officially retails at S$549 onwards (8GB RAM, 256GB storage) through the following links:
Oppa’s best fanboy
Samsung pares down the flagship Galaxy S series to bring us the Fan Edition variant, with the current model being the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. It looks the part and offers many perks equal to its high-end sibling. For example, it has the same glass-backed appearance with rounded metal sides and an IP68 water resistance rating, giving youpremium durability and an excellent hand feel without paying through your nose.
It’s also more powerful than the Galaxy A54 with its Exynos 2200 chipsetand even outperforms Google’s current-generation Tensor processors in our benchmarks in most ways.
Finally, you also get a taste of Samsung’s imaging software through the Fan Edition, which works as an excellent midrange alternative to help non-Samsung users understand why people pay top dollar for these Korean devices.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE officially starts at S$888 (8GB RAM + 128GB storage) with an S$998 (256GB) variant for those wanting bigger storage. You can find its buy links all here:
Best suited for 3.5mm audio jack purists
Redmi is the true budget alternative to its parent brand’s Xiaomi premium offerings, but it knows its buyers well. Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G is an excellent example of getting some good components without superfluous add-ons like Leica-styled imaging or other features you don’t care about.
It also serves up decent battery life (13 continuous hours of video playback in our tests), has a pretty 1080p 6.67-inch AMOLED panel (HDR10+ capable), and still offers decent imaging that can satisfy casual shooters.
Did we mention that it also has a 3.5mm jack for wired personal audio? It also goes below S$500 whenever it goes on sale, so that’s another great perk for folks who want affordable handsets.
Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G officially retails at S$569 (8GB RAM, 256GB storage) at the following links:
Foldable smartphones don’t have to be expensive
If you want a clamshell foldable phone but don’t want to shell out more than a thousand Singaporean dollars for one, there is one option available near us: Phantom V Flip 5G.
The Tecno-branded smartphone may be less powerful or feature-filled than its Samsung and Oppo rivals. Still, the significantly lower price tag on the Phantom V Flip 5G makes this a decent introduction to clamshell form factors.
Some highlights include a default car-leather skin, a relatively clean and easy-to-understand UI, and a decent inner 6.9-inch AMOLED display with a 10 to 120Hz refresh rate. It’s also rated for 200,000 folds, which gives you about six years of use if you unfold it 100 times a day.
The real challenge is getting a Phantom V Flip 5G in Singapore, as the device isn’t officially sold here despite having its international launch on our sunny island. Fortunately, it’s officially sold in Malaysia, and you can get it via its official Shopee storefront at MYR2,999 (or MYR2,499 when there’s a discount going on). That works out to S$706~S$850, almost half the price of premium-grade foldables.
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