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What makes a high-end phone different from a low-end one?

What makes a high-end phone different from a low-end one?


Smartphones occupy a wide gamut of categories, where each one caters to specific users. However, there are two segments, in particular, that dominate and cover the majority of the landscape – the high-end and low-end. For the longest of time, most consumers perceived low-end phones as those being sold by carriers for “free” with a 2-year agreement. Conversely, most high-end phones were customarily attached with $200 on-contract prices. With the recent movement in the wireless industry, phones are now sold either in full without any subsidies, or placed on some sort of installation payment.

So, that begs the question of what makes a high-end phone better than a low-end one. We know that there are several obvious differences, which we explain below, but there are also subjective reasons that vouch otherwise. While it’s almost our natural inclination to believe that all high-end phones are superior to their low-end counterparts right from the get-go, there are exceptions to the rule. To the credit of devices in the low-end, their biggest selling point has to be arguably their savings – there’s just no comparison there.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a radical shift in how phone manufacturers have scrutinized the low-end of the market. Consumers look at the $500+ sticker tags attached to most high-end phones and instantly have a conundrum about it, more so when many folks have been used to paying roughly $200 for one with a 2-year contract. That’s some serious chunk of change to shell out! In comparison, these $200 and under ‘affordably’ priced smartphones pose some intriguing propositions, especially from a monetary standpoint, which make them extremely attractive.

We can go on and on, but before we spoil too much right now, make sure to go through the listing below to uncover exactly what makes a high-end phone different from a low-end. Also, don’t forget about the video as well, seeing that we take a deeper dive into the whole thing.



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posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:32 18

1. TyrionLannister (unregistered)


Showing LG V10 as superior gaming experience, LMFAO. SD 808 is the slowest chip of 2015; it's GPU being even slower than SD805 from 2014. I would have expected an iPhone 6s/6s+ there.

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:38 7

3. dimas (Posts: 2132; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)


Even v10's battery sucks for it's tag price.

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:48

7. zeeBomb (Posts: 2096; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)


Coming from an android user too...the lannisters sent their regards.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 00:51 9

17. neela_akaash (Posts: 1188; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


I disagree with the 9th point. High end phones doesn't has to be above $500. There are lots of example available in the market. Xiaomi, Meizu, Oneplus etc. etc.

posted on 27 Jan 2016, 15:49

33. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 2477; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


The nexus 5x begs to differ. I know its 1080p so that's why it wins but still not half bad.
https://gfxbench.com/compare.jsp?benchmark=gfxgen&did1=21908072&os1=Android&api1=gl&hwtype1=GPU&hwname1=Qualcomm+Adreno+%28TM%29+420&D2=Google+Nexus+5X

posted on 30 Jan 2016, 14:58

34. bassembm (Posts: 83; Member since: 27 Dec 2015)


they should also put LGV10 and LG G4 only as the best cameras in 2015 ,,
anyway its meaningless article

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:37

2. dimas (Posts: 2132; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)


Aside from huawei, xiaomi could have been a good alternative to expensive flagship androids but their worldwide distribution and customer support is just way too salty if you don't live in mainland china.

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:46

4. jngo102 (Posts: 49; Member since: 15 Jan 2015)


Some exceptions to this list:

1: Lumia 950/950 XL
2: Z5 Compact, iPhone 6S
6: IPHONE 6S HAHAHA, no, but we could argue the new Nexuses maybe? Though bare Android is the selling point of these phones
7: HTC One M9 lol
9: OnePlus 2, Moto X Style

I do understand what you're generally going for though.

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:46 3

5. jngo102 (Posts: 49; Member since: 15 Jan 2015)


Some exceptions to this list:

1: Lumia 950/950 XL
2: Z5 Compact, iPhone 6S
6: IPHONE 6S HAHAHA, no, but we could argue the new Nexuses maybe? Though bare Android is the selling point of these phones
7: HTC One M9 lol
9: OnePlus 2, Moto X Style

I do understand what you're generally going for though.

posted on 27 Jan 2016, 03:26

31. jontaylor07 (Posts: 163; Member since: 12 Oct 2015)


As to #9, I think that the Moto X Style and Oneplus 2 would still fall in that category when cheap phones can be had for under $100, and good cheap phones like the Moto G or Lumia 640 can be purchased for less that $200.

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:46 1

6. jngo102 (Posts: 49; Member since: 15 Jan 2015)


Didn't mean to double-post whoops

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 10:30

25. Brewski (Posts: 350; Member since: 05 Jun 2012)


So delete one of them...

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 17:18

29. andynaija (Posts: 898; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)


You can't delete one of them...

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:51

8. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2275; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Price!!!!

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 22:56

9. submar (Posts: 462; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)


THAT'S THE IPHONE BENCHMARK IN ANTUTU 5

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 23:31 2

10. AkoSiKuting (banned) (Posts: 88; Member since: 09 Dec 2015)


All wrong except price, of course brand logo take most of the part.

No Apple logo no buy :)

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 23:38 1

11. Tizo101 (Posts: 395; Member since: 05 Jun 2015)


" Sure, low-end phones can handle the easy and fluffy stuff, but when you’re trying to multi-task or juggle between multiple apps, their performances are usually riddled with delayed and sluggish responses. And there’s a reason why few low-end phones offer ‘true’ multi-tasking with apps".

You couldn't be more wrong John V

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 08:13

22. TerryTerius (Posts: 1780; Member since: 10 Apr 2014)


"Usually" not always. There are some low-end phones that the perform very well, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I will grant you that phone's like that are becoming more common though.

posted on 25 Jan 2016, 23:59 8

13. xperiaZlover (Posts: 202; Member since: 15 Nov 2015)


No Z5?
PA has some grudge against Sony.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 00:14 6

15. dil2abu (Posts: 305; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


They hate Sony than any other brands..

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 01:38

19. techperson211 (Posts: 1230; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)


They do.

posted on 30 Jan 2016, 14:59

35. bassembm (Posts: 83; Member since: 27 Dec 2015)


they hate all brands except iphone

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 00:51

16. asiansatan (Posts: 36; Member since: 18 Sep 2014)


"begs the question" has a technical meaning. it doesn't mean, "that raises the following question"

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 01:04 1

18. OdysseasP (Posts: 63; Member since: 08 Aug 2014)


The main differentiating factors between high-end and low-end smartphones are the SoC (CPU & GPU) on board, the amount of RAM, the type of the internal memory (UFS 2.0 is three times faster than eMMC 5.0), the resolution and quality in general of the display (viewing angles, responsiveness etc.) and finally the use of premium materials such as aluminum (unibody metal construstion) and front and back tough glass panels with aluminum frame which unlike plastic not only offer a premium feeling but also contribute greatly in improving the structural rigidity of the frame of the smartphone and in dissipating heat produced by the ever more powerful SoCs faster and more evenly.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 03:04 1

20. Fellwalker (Posts: 356; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)


You forgot the main issue - flagships come with the latest SECURE version of the operating system (certainly in Android) and you'll get at least one upgrade. Low end phones tend to come with older versions - we're currently seeing Android 4 rather than 6.
Low end phones tend to have small memory ,both RAM and storage.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 06:07

21. TheOracle1 (Posts: 223; Member since: 04 May 2015)


Based on your criteria where does that put the $299 Zenfone2 since it meets all of them except plastic?

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 14:00

28. SenorThrottles (Posts: 284; Member since: 23 Dec 2015)


Zenfone 2 is probably an upper midrange smartphone. Its screen and camera isn't quite up to par with other high end phones and the build quality isn't very premium either.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 09:09

23. tokuzumi (Posts: 961; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


One word; updates.

Flagships (high-end) get priority on updates. The mid to low end get them whenever the manufacturer gets around to it, if at all.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 09:50

24. Kary1 (Posts: 300; Member since: 26 Jun 2015)


This should be an article about what makes a flagship phone different, because high end phones have more features. Flagships are simply the best phone that a particular company makes, but it might not be high end because it lacks features. High end phones lack as few features as possible.

Putting construction and materials as the first item though is a complete joke. Only the tech press cares about materials.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 10:57

26. faha1 (Posts: 50; Member since: 08 Apr 2013)


Honestly iphone and Samsung Galaxy looking beautiful. Remaining all are later.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 11:33

27. dmh0284 (Posts: 42; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)


The biggest differences between the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 5.5" (previous phone) and the Samsung Note 5 (current phone) are:
1. Camera - This is probably the biggest difference. The Idol camera was garbage, quite frankly. Terrible low light performance, poor focus and image quality. Very poor image compression software. On the other hand, the Note 5 has an amazing camera.
2. Speed - The processor on the Idol is noticeably slower. So much so that I would avoid any phone if I saw that it used a Snapdragon 615. When I initially bought the Idol, I underestimated just how noticeable a “slightly” slower CPU would be in day-to-day tasks.
3. Software - Android was more glitchy on the Idol. It just seems less polished overall.

Other areas such as build quality, screen and battery life were also inferior with the Idol, but they in their own right were actually quite good for the price paid. I paid $200 and the 1080p IPS screen was honestly impressive. The battery was big and lasted nicely throughout the day, and while the build materials of the chassis weren't the highest quality, they were sufficient, and the phone had great front facing stereo speakers.

One unexpectedly great thing about the idol ended up being the resale value. I could have sold it on ebay used for more than I paid new direct from Alcatel. I ended up taking a $15 loss on it because I wanted to just get it sold, but I could have gotten more had I waited. You will definitely take a bigger hit when selling a used premium phone on ebay, be it a Samsung or even an Apple phone.

posted on 26 Jan 2016, 21:34

30. Baracus (Posts: 223; Member since: 15 Sep 2012)


Most can't tell the difference between a $100 and a $1000 phone, so the real difference is how close you look and how much you care about those differentiating features.

posted on 27 Jan 2016, 11:06

32. profperez1 (Posts: 69; Member since: 08 May 2012)


I bought a Lumia 640 for $80 at ATT super nice phone---but the camera was just so so. Not bad-----but the lighting was VERY key. I upgraded to a used Lumia 930 and the phone felt great and the camera seemed better as well. It felt richer. The used phone was $200. I put them side by side and really the difference---based on a middle-aged guys use----was very small.

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