Not every smartphone has to break the bank, and there are affordable mid-range handsets capable of offering plenty of features and performance.

Before you settle on the smartphone you think is best, there’s plenty to consider, given that it’s an important purchase. Beyond the obvious Android or iOS comparisons, or looking at screen size and battery life, there are some key takeaways to think about.

The phones listed here are of the mid-range and affordable variety. Choosing between them may not be easy, but there’s not really a bad choice in the mix.

Here are some of the best affordable smartphones available this holiday season:

Apple iPhone 12 miniApple iPhone 12 mini Apple iPhone SEApple iPhone SE Samsung Galaxy A52Samsung Galaxy A52

Apple iPhone 12 mini

Why the iPhone 12 mini and not the 13 mini, which is newer? It’s not just because of the lower cost for this one, but also the minimal differences between the two models. You get most of the same features, and the overall size and weight aren’t any different.

Most of the upgrades for the 13 mini centered on the camera, but even then, you would have to specifically want those features to make the jump. If you’re using an older iPhone, like something that came out in 2017 or earlier, and you prefer a smaller size, the 12 mini is an ideal choice. You get a wide and ultra-wide lens to shoot with, plus a vibrant 5.4-inch Super Retina screen to look at.

Apple’s A14 Bionic chip is still super fast for a device like this, and you’re guaranteed to get years’ worth of iOS updates. The one downside is the storage options, which start at 64GB. Probably better to go with a higher number, so you don’t feel constrained in case you take a lot of photos and video, or use a lot of apps.

As much as this is about the iPhone 12 mini, the same principles apply to the iPhone 12, which offers a larger 6.1-inch display and better battery life. Your choice likely comes down to what size you want, and whether you prefer the colour differences between them.

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Unlike the first time Apple launched the iPhone SE back in 2016, this second-generation model is better value out of the box. The simplest way to describe this device is that it’s mostly an iPhone 11 packed into an iPhone 8 body.

The build and design are identical to that of the iPhone 8, meaning you get the home button with Touch ID. You won’t get minimal bezels around the 4.7-inch Retina HD display, but you will get a small phone that won’t feel tiny. It also retains the same water-resistance the iPhone 8 has, and supports wireless charging.

There guts inside are along the lines of the iPhone 11. By now, those are aging components, but the point of this phone is for someone with very modest needs. Apple will continue to support the phone for the foreseeable future, but bank on it running smoothly for a good two years before its age starts to show.

As for storage options, you can choose between 64GB and 128GB. Then there’s the camera, which is basically an offshoot of the iPhone 8 camera. You get a single lens in the rear, and another at the front. Some of the software features, like Portrait and HDR, are there, whereas Night mode isn’t. Face ID also isn’t available.

If you’re looking for a bigger phone with similar performance that is somewhat affordable, you can try the iPhone 11.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G


Samsung usually makes noise about its flagship devices, but it’s the affordable and mid-range models that sometimes stand out on their own. The Galaxy A52 is one of those, following up on last year’s decent Galaxy A51.

This year, Samsung chose to only launch the A52 5G as its main mid-range phone, and it’s pretty solid value. It’s not often that a phone in this category gets four lenses in the rear, but that’s the layout. The main lens has a 64-megapixel sensor, while the 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens offers a 123-degree field of view. The two other lenses include a 5-megapixel macro for close-up shots, and a 5-megapixel depth camera that works with Live Focus.

For an affordable model, this has a big Super AMOLED screen at 6.5-inches, so real estate shouldn’t be an issue. The front-facing camera is like a pinhole at the top that Samsung tries to blend in to the wider display. It is a 32-megapixel camera, making it pretty hefty in its own right for selfie lovers.

It also has a large 4500mAh battery that should keep it running for a day without any trouble. The 128GB of storage is nice, and a microSD card slot offers some expansion beyond that.

Other phones to consider

There are other handsets you can keep in mind as you look for the right affordable phone to go with. Many vary in price to a large degree, and may come from different sellers, but it gives you an idea of what’s out there. If you’re thinking something prepaid might be the best fit, look no further than this group.

You can expect more to come in 2022, but in the meantime, check out the best smartphones available.

Shop smartphones and more online at Bestbuy.ca

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out these offers you don’t want to miss. Head over to the Boxing Day Prices Now event for some of the best deals of the year.

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Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.

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