Head to Head: Mid Range Phones

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on August 6, 2015, Buying Guides

If you don’t feel like shelling out big bucks for a smart phone, but you’re not exactly on a strict budget either, then you’ve got tons of choices on today’s shelves. The mid range phone market is huge, and choosing between models can be more than a little tough. Obviously, you’re going to be looking at performance, and specs can vary widely in the middle of the market. That’s why we’re here with our mid range phone head to head, showing you how three of the best models directly compare so you can decide what’s right for you. Ready to get started? Then let’s meet the contenders…

The Competitors…

Head to Head: Mid Range Phones

And we’ve got three excellent models today. The first of our choices is the newest, the recently released Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, a sexy little device that’s easy to confuse with a top end flagship phone. Second up is Samsung’s Galaxy A5, a surprising metal unibody device from Samsung’s mid market range. Finally, there’s the Nokia Lumia 830, a very affordable Windows phone. What kind of prices are we looking at? There’s a bit of variety here. The Xperia retails at around £230, and is the cheapest of our choices, the Galaxy goes for about £280, and the Lumia is our most expensive option at around £320.

What’s Under the Hood…

Phones are all about power and performance, so let’s start out by looking under the hood at processors. Surprisingly, our cheapest option, the Xperia comes out ahead, with its quad core 1.5 GHz processor coupled with another quad core 1.0 GHz processor on the side, and there’s a full 2 GB of RAM. Second in is the Galaxy, with a quad core 1.2 GHz processor plus the full 2 GB of RAM. And the Lumia is trailing with its 1.2 GHz processor but just 1 GB of RAM.

Bottom line? All three phones are actually pretty speedy for everyday use, but if you’re looking for a bit more oomph for things like running multiple apps or editing pictures, then the Xperia is the clear choice.

Screen Specs…

There’s surprisingly little to choose between these three models when it comes to screens. All three have five inch displays, and all have the same 720 x 1280 resolution giving around 294 PPI. The Xperia and the Lumia are both LCD screens with IPS technology for great viewing angles. As you might expect, the Galaxy has Samsung’s signature Super AMOLED screen, which some might argue gives you slightly better colour reproduction. In truth though, we noticed no difference at all, meaning that if you’re looking at displays all three models are pretty even.

Snap Happy…

Onward to camera specs then. At the front the Galaxy and the Xperia are both sporting nice 5 MP cameras, meaning they’re great for selfies. The Lumia, on the other hand, falls short, with a mere 0.9 MP forward facing camera.

At the rear, again the Galaxy and Xperia are identical, both having 13 MP cameras, which is excellent for this price range. Both get the full range of autofocus, panorama capability, HDR and LED flash as well. The Lumia has just a 10 MP camera at the rear, however the fact that it has Carl Zeiss optics as well as a large sensor size actually means that the rear camera on the Lumia takes better pictures than those from the Galaxy and Xperia.

It’s a difficult choice when it comes to cameras, but on the whole, if you want the best pictures and you’re willing to settle for a less than stellar front facing camera, then the Lumia is really the way to go.

Memory…

When it comes to storage, then again the Lumia is coming out on top. It’s got 16 GB of built in memory, as well as a micro SD card slot for up to a massive 128 GB of extra space. The Xperia has that same SD card slot for up to 128 GB of external storage, however it does only have a measly 8 GB of built in storage, so you’re definitely going to need that SD card. The Galaxy has 16 GB of internal storage, but will only accept an SD card for up to 64 GB. We’re giving the Lumia the points on this one, since it’s a flexible choice with solid internal storage as well as the possibility of lots of additional space.

Operating System…

The Galaxy and the Xperia, as you probably expect, are both Android devices. The Xperia is running the latest Android 5.0 out of the box, though the Galaxy (which runs Android 4.4 out of the box) is upgradeable to 5.0. The Lumia is a Windows phone, and it’s got the latest Windows 8.1 version on board. Operating system is very much a matter of choice, and comparing an Android to a Windows is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. If you like Windows, then go with the Lumia, if Android is your thing, then you’ve got two options.

Added Extras…

There are a couple of other things that are worth mentioning about these models. The first is that all three are 4G phones, so there’ll be no problem with speedy internet connections. The second is that the Xperia model is IP68 certified, so it’s dust proof as well as waterproof at depths up to 1.5 metres for up to thirty minutes. If you’re not always as careful with your phone as you should be then this could be a major selling point for you.

If you’re looking for a decent mid range phone then these three models are really the best options around at the moment. Our vote goes to the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, which, despite being the cheapest of today’s three choices, still has awesome performance and is pretty good looking too. However, any of these three would make a great mid range phone. All you need to do is choose which one meets your needs best!