We're officially in flagship territory now - both current ones and those of yesteryear. Value-for-money is starting to decline as grounds for bragging rights appear.
Now you can buy an HTC 10 for about €450 - a great deal for an underrated flagship. If you don't mind some of the company's recent questionable decisions concerning Sense UI, you can still enjoy a crisp 5.2-inch QHD panel, a powerful, albeit no longer top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 chip, and a solid 12MP, OIS-enabled, laser autofocus camera.
Build: Metal body
Connectivity: Single SIM (microSD slot)
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow, upgradeable to 7.0 Nougat
If you fancy a more trendy 2017 design, the LG G6 will give you the taste of an ultra-wide screen for about the same price as the HTC 10. It also will throw in IP68 water and dust resistance into the mix, and a dual camera too.
Build: Metal frame with glass back, IP68 waterproof, MIL-STD-810G
The G6's display is fully-geared and ready for the next wave of multimedia content thanks to its Dolby Vision/HDR10 compliance. At its current price, the LG G6 is nothing short of a steal.
Yet a handset doesn't necessarily have to experience a rapid price drop to shine in this price bracket - some are priced right from their very debut. Such is the case of the Honor 9 - the 2017 flagship of Huawei's value-oriented sub-brand.
It matches the specs of its pricier P10 sibling quite closely, while undercutting the price by a significant amount. Sure, Huawei has made a few cuts in the camera department, taking away OIS and the Leica branding, but nothing too drastic, really. The Honor 9 still boasts one of the most impressive cameras in this price segment. And the rest of its hardware package is flagship-grade as well.
Despite its specs, which are up there with the best, the Xiaomi Mi 6 also keeps the pricing in check. Sure, the 1080p screen resolution is an easy target for ridicule for some, but others still value it for its battery efficiency alone. Plus, at 5.15 inches in diagonal, the screen certainly doesn't feel soft.
In fact, that compact form factor might just be a huge draw for many. Xiaomi has manged to work around it masterfully, still fitting a strong dual 12MP camera setup, a respectable 3,230 mAh battery and stereo speakers in the chassis. Not to mention a no compromises top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chipset and a few little bonuses, like NFC and an IR blaster.
At the very top of the price bracket, we find the Sony Xperia XZ hovering around the €500 mark. It's yet another member of Sony's late 2016 lineup, which is enjoying a second lease on life now that their prices have settled down.
Sony Xperia XZ
Build: Metal frame with ALKALEIDO alloy back; IP68 waterproof
Just like the Xiaomi Mi6, the Xperia XZ doesn't have a fancy QHD panel to boast about, but it's FullHD screen still scored top marks in our tests. It is also based around last-year's Snapdragon 820 chipset, but that's still plenty capable in 2017.
The Xperia XZ offers an IP68 rating as well as a rather unique design. On a side note, just remember that the side-mounted fingerprint reader is disabled in the US for legal reasons.
Last, but not least, there is the the OnePlus 5. It is currently retailing for exactly €499 - more expensive than any of its predecessors. Yet it brings enough to the table to still be a worthy purchase.
A 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM and an impressive dual 16MP camera setup - the specs sheet gives you nothing to frown about. Well, to be fair, some ingress protection would have been a nice touch, or perhaps a micoSD slot as well.
The phone has been plagued by some software issues initially, but OnePlus should be addressing those sooner rather than later.