Forget flagships: I would buy these affordable mid-range phones in 2023

Google Pixel 6a review
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So far in 2023, we've gotten some great phones like the Galaxy S23 series and OnePlus 11. As the year moves on, however, I'm not as excited about the next flagships as I am for upcoming mid-range handsets.

Devices like the Google Pixel 7a, Samsung Galaxy A54, and OnePlus Nord 3 all catch my attention more than the Pixel 8 or iPhone 15 because of the value proposition I believe they'll offer. For instance, the Pixel 7a is rumored to have the Pixel 7's Tensor G2 chipset, which will let it do all of the neat software tricks that Google has pioneered in recent years.

Or the Galaxy A54 could have some nifty things up its sleeve, too, such as Samsung's improved camera goodness. And with how far OnePlus has come in the last year or two, the Nord 3 seems especially promising.

I think 2023 is when you should seriously consider looking at a mid-range handset.

When affordable is good enough

With rumors suggesting that the Pixel 7a will get the second-gen Tensor, we could have a seriously powerful offering in the sub-$500 range.

Last year, the Pixel 6a knocked our socks off, including earning the spot as my colleague Philip Michaels' phone of the year. It sported Google's first-gen Tensor chip, making it the most powerful Android phone at that price range. And now with rumors suggesting that the Pixel 7a will get the second-gen Tensor, we could have a seriously powerful offering in the sub-$500 range — assuming Google keeps a similar price.

The Galaxy A53 also impressed me in 2022, though the Pixel 6a overshadowed it a few months later. Even so, Samsung's mid-range offering proved a solid buy. Rumors say its successor will see camera improvements and a new processor, both of which could make the Galaxy A54 a compelling option.

Pay strong attention to the mid-range segment in 2023. I think it's going to shape up to be rather interesting, especially with Google and Samsung at play.

What about the iPhone SE 4?

Although there were previous rumors that Apple might release an iPhone SE 4 in 2023, it now looks like it may not materialize until 2024. When it does, rumors point to Apple growing the display size from 4.7 inches to 6.1 inches, which would be a fairly big jump.

We will also likely see an upgrade from an LCD panel to an OLED screen, which would put Apple on par with the budget competition. For now, if you want a cheap iPhone your best bet is check out the older iPhone 12, which starts at $599. 

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Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.

  • Iggyrb84
    I just picked up the Google pixel 7 pro for $400. Can't beat that
  • brunofin
    Lol don't you dare calling my Pixel 6 a mid-ranged phone. Extremely worth, was voted as the best phone camera in an anonymous contest (as in the pictures we're not labeled from which phone), it and I can't imagine what else a more expensive phone would need to do.