Not everyone can fork out $1,000 for a high-end smartphone and frankly, not everyone should. It is easy to get by with a reasonably-priced, albeit less powerful smartphone. Chinese OEMs, in particular, seem to have mastered the art of manufacturing powerful, reasonably-priced smartphones. Devices such as the Redmi K30 Pro and Realme X2 Pro offer top-of-the-line specs at less than $500. The problem, however, is that they're not available globally. One would be hard-pressed to find such devices, especially in the United States. That is what made compiling this a lot harder.
If it wasn't for its widespread availability, the Pixel 3a would probably never make it to this list. That being said, Google's mid-range Pixel is by no means bad. It's just that there are better alternatives for the price, but a lot of people won't be able to get their hands on them. We selected the Pixel 3a over the XL variant because it is significantly cheaper. While the XL variant does have a larger screen and battery, paying an extra ~$100 for it is rather counterproductive, especially when you're trying to save a buck.
Hardware-wise, you get a 5.6-inch 1080p OLED panel, 64 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM. It runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 SoC and has a single 12-megapixel camera module. Time and again, we've seen Pixels accomplish a lot with just one camera. The Pixel 3a can hold its own against its competitor's double, triple and even quad-camera setup, mostly due to its Google Camera app that does all the heavy lifting. It's paltry 3,000 mAh battery leaves a lot to be desired, but it should get you through the day in most use cases.
Lastly, you can rest easy knowing that you don't have to worry about security updates and major Android versions. It is one of the main reasons the Pixel 3a makes it to this list, despite its somewhat lackluster hardware. It strikes a perfect balance between hardware prowess, camera performance, and software updates. That's why we think it is ideal for people who don't want to spend too much on a smartphone.
Not too long ago, there probably would have been a Motorola device here instead of a Nokia. One of the main reasons why I haven't put the Moto G8 or G8+ here is because I know for a fact that they won't see regular updates. Nokia, on the other hand, has comparable hardware and excellent software support to boot. The newly released Nokia 7.2 checks all the proverbial boxes when it comes to determining a good mid-ranger. Let's take a look at what the device has to offer.
For starters, you get a notched 6.3-inch 1080p HDR 10-ready LCD panel. Storage options start 64 GB and 4GB RAM and the highest you can get is 128 GB of memory with 6 GB of RAM. Unlike the Pixel 3a, you get an SD card slot too. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC. Moving on, the triple rear camera array consists of a 48-megapixel primary shooter assisted by an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The Nokia 7.2 has a larger 3,500 mAh battery but supports charging at 10W, instead of 18W like the Pixel 3a. Both the Pixel 3a and Nokia 7.2 run Stock Android, so you don't have to worry about bloatware.