Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, all of us want great cameras in our smartphones. We may not take selfies or photos every day, but when we do need to use our smartphone camera, we all want it to take good, if not outstanding, photographs. But not everyone cares for it that much to want to spend tons of cash on a premium flagship. So, I decided to do the Lord’s work and get you a list of the best mid-range camera phones you can find in the market today.
Mid-range camera phones do not cost an arm and a leg. As a matter of fact, they afford you the opportunity to get some high-end features at about half the cost of premium flagships. So, if you’ve got $250 – $600 to splurge on a smartphones, let’s dive into the details of the top 10 best mid-range camera phones, as well as identify which is the best of the lot. You just might be able to afford it.
Table of Contents
As this article is about the best mid-range camera phones, it is only natural and proper that the price of the smartphones listed here be below $500. This is the key criteria. Premium flagship phones go for as high as $1,200. $500 is a good ceiling for the mid-range segment of the market.
Of course, all the phones listed below capture photos and videos that are above the average in their price segment. We are looking for the best, afterall.
The Top 10 Contenders
- Google Pixel 7a captures excellent photos and videos and so is a strong contender for the best mid-range camera phone of the year. It costs $499 in the United States, £449 in the United Kingdom, and from €447 in the European Union.
- Google Pixel 6a is from 2022 but it shoots excellent photos. The only let-down is the limited zoom performance that I mentioned about the 7a above, but then, great zooming is not a norm among mid-range camera phones, so we are not holding that against it. It costs $399 in the United States, £349 in the United Kingdom, and from €347 in the European Union.
- Xiaomi 12T: Released in October 2022, the 12T’s cameras take very good photos, but the really outstanding part is the 8MP ultrawide lens. It takes fantastic, detailed, sharp pictures. The Xiaomi 12T also records 4k video. You will find it for $410 on Amazon, $470 in the UK, and €486 in the European Union.
- Nothing Phone 1: The Nothing Phone 1 shoots well detailed photos but fails with poor focus stability and exposure in video recording. If you aren’t big on capturing video, you won’t have a problem with this phone. The 8/128GB base variant sells for $439 on Amazon, £279 in the UK, and €325 in the EU.
- OnePlus Nord 2T: This one goes all the way back to early 2022, but if it shoots the kind of photos that you like, is that a problem? And it handles low-light scenes well; just don’t go zooming in those situations.
- Xiaomi 12 Lite: Released in July 2022, the 12 Lite shoots excellent photos in good lighting, but it falters in low light. It has great audio quality in video recording as well. The 6/128GB base variant costs just $340 on Amazon. The 8/128GB variant sells for €300 in Germany and other EU countries.
- Samsung Galaxy A54 5G: The Galaxy A54 is the best budget smartphone from Samsung this year, and it lives up to that in the photography and video department. It shoots good pictures and records grood videos, all with good details and exposure. And it does that too in low-light conditions. Samsung A54 is available from $449 in the United States, £449 in the UK, C$397 in Canada, and from €345 in the European Union block.
- Apple iPhone SE 2022: Apple’s budget model is a solid camera phone that disappoints with its lack of brightness; the photos just don’t look as bright as they should. Video recording is good too, though you have to be careful with action shots. This is the best mid-range camera phone from the big Apple. Have a look at my iPhone SE 2022 review. The 4/128GB variant sells for 325 in the USA, though you can get the 64GB storage version for a mere $200. In the UK, it starts from £230, and €400 in Germany and other EU countries.
- Samsung Galaxy A34: if you want a Samsung and cannot afford the Galaxy A54, your next option is an easy one; buy the Galaxy A34. You will get mostly similar camera performance, with the exception that low-light performance is poor on this model. Prices start from $210 in the USA, £205 in the UK, and €270 in the European Union.
- Nokia G60: Shooting photos and videos with the G60 is a generally good experience. Not excellent or fantastic; just good. Like most mid-range camera phones, quality suffers visibly in low-light situations. Check out my Nokia G60 5G review. Nokia G60 5G starts from $277, £160, and €250 in the United States, UK, and EU respectively.
The Best Mid-range Camera Phone of 2023
Google Pixel 7a would ordinarily be my choice of the best mid-range camera phone of 2023, but reports of overheating during camera use is a problem. Is it really a great camera phone if the phone becomes unusable while shooting several photos or recording video for more than a few minutes. This problem is also seen in the Pixel 6a. As such, in as much as both phones are excellent camera phones, in the real world, these problems will hinder your photography and videography. Which is why I must pick a different phones as. The best mid-range camera phone of this year.
That honor goes to Xiaomi 12T. U.S. residents will not find this phone to buy in stores, though, as Xiaomi does not have a presence in the country. Unfortunately, the same holds true for Nothing Phone 1. But then, I am certain you will be able to order one from the Amazon US website and have it delivered to you at home or at work.
United States residents really do not have a lot of options. It is almost always a pick between a Google Pixel and a Samsung phone. In this case, Pixel 7a, Pixel 6a, and Samsung Galaxy A54 5G. The OnePlus Nord 2T is also sold in the U.S.
If you are located outside of North America, the Xiaomi 12T is an excellent device. It is the best mid-range camera phone you can buy today. You will be getting some of the camera magic that premium flagship Xiaomi smartphones have at a fraction of the cost.
Also, if you are an iOS lover or someone vested in Apple’s ecosystem, there is only one phone for you: the iPhone Se 2022 is the best mid-range camera phone for you. Nothing else on this list will satisfy you. Actually, nothing else will even interest you.
Lastly, it is interesting that seven out of the ten contenders for the best mid-range camera phones listed on this page are smartphones released in 2022. It looks like as the global economy gets tougher, camera options and quality in the mid-range phone market are taking a hit and budget shoppers will have to depend on older models for the best photography and video recording experiences.