Why does everyone buy expensive smartphones?

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Ilia Temelkov
Ilia Temelkov
Phonearena team
Original poster
• 3w agoedited

We ran a poll across our website, Threads and X (formerly Twitter), asking people about the price of the last phone they purchased. The majority of the 1100 people who participated didn’t buy cheap phones. More precisely, 42% spent over $900 on their last smartphone purchase, and just 14% went for budget options under $300.


This finding contrasts starkly with a common sentiment we see when we cover the most expensive smartphones on the market. Often, people claim that companies like Apple and Samsung are crossing some limits of what consumers are willing to pay for their products. Some claim cheaper devices provide a similar user experience to the most expensive flagships.


We’re not the first to discover people’s love for premium smartphones. Consumer reports consistently show that the top-tier Samsung and Apple models are also the best-selling. This raises a simple question - why? In the context of the economic fluctuations, the perceived lack of meaningful innovation, and the growing prices of smartphones, why do so many people spend so much on smartphones?


Is it the belief that a more expensive device will last longer? Or is it all about vanity, and pricey phones are used more as a status symbol? If you’re one of the people who own a premium smartphone, what made you choose it over the cheaper options? Would you consider a different price segment for your next purchase? Share all your thoughts on smartphone pricing, we’re eager to hear them.

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• 3w ago

let's make it simple: one expensive phone costs the same as two mid-range ones, and lasts about the same. so for the same money you get a better experience.

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• 3w ago

For me, I like foldable phones (which are among the most expensive which is why I wish the poll had a higher level price as well). The Huawei Mate Xs2 is the best phone I've ever owned (don't care about 5G or google, so that isn't a factor in my rating). I paid over $2,000 for it when it came out. But here I am, almost 2 years later still loving it every day so it was worth the price. And it is LITERALLY a flex when I pull it out to show a client. My other phone is the Galaxy Ultra 22. The reason I'll pay a lot for that is the camera at the time was one of the best and one of the best zooms (and I still use the stylus) My other phone is the Galaxy Fold 4 which I'll trade in for the Fold 5 when it arrives (they had a great memorial day sale) this week. That one is just for gaming or streaming. I find the outer screen too narrow for my thumbs.


All in all, the most important thing to me in a phone is foldable, then camera, then the wow factor. For the most part you have to be over $1,000 to get it. I don't hate on the iPhone, but I think a lot of people for that one get the most expensive (even if they don't need it) for the 3 camera status. 3 cameras are way better than 2 cameras, I can't be seen with a 2 camera phone.


I do think the data for this survey will be slightly skewed because people visiting phone arena are much more invested into phones than the average consumer. But I do appreciate the survey, if you ever do it again please add over $1200 and over $1600. I'm curious how that breaks down.

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• 3w ago

Seems like a typical survey subject error to me. People who know about PhoneArena are more interested in smartphones and have more knowledge about high-end smartphones than other people, so you might assume that people who know about this survey are using a lot of expensive smartphones. Conversely, many people probably wouldn't even know there was such a survey and wouldn't care about how many expensive smartphones other people use,


The second opinion is that when people buy an expensive smartphone, they don't pay for it all at once. Especially in the U.S., many people don't think phones are expensive because going through a carrier or using financing makes it relatively inexpensive to buy an expensive phone over a long period of time. That's why premium smartphones from companies that don't offer financing or go through a carrier don't sell as much.

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• 3w ago

For me is the camera that's most important and unfortunately only the top phones have the best cameras.

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• 3w ago

Some people purchase phones as a status symbol. Not all, but some. So we have see some granularity in the data of the people who performed the survey. How much knowledge do they have of phones and devices? What is their phone upgrade cycle like? If it's every year, that would paint a different picture versus every 3 to 5 years. There are a lot of variables at play here that don't tell the whole picture.

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• 3w ago

If you're using your phone for work, whether you are a construction professional or an Uber driver, you want the best because your bacon depends on it. That usually means expensive because not everyone has the luxury of using multiple devices for different tasks. A solid, upper mid-range phone ($500-$650) and a good mid-pack tablet ($650) can handle just about any scenario but who wants to lug around 2 devices, pay a separate line for the tablet and charge 2 devices? That's the reasoning behind a flagship phone with a large display and, hopefully, stylus support.

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• 3w ago

I purchase flagship devices for what they offer, I value the ability to carry on my work on my device, like signing PDFs, multitasking, I am on emails all day and stream as well, and use the Health Apps (In my case Samsung Health) daily. I also appreciate the extras like somewhat fast charge as well as the big and high quality displays. Plus doing all this without hiccups.

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• 3w ago

I think for some people it is a status symbol, for some it is the belief they are just better phones and for some, they desire features that are only available in flagship phones.

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• 3w ago

There is very thin line when you say the word flagship. A lot of oem say they have flagship and in reality they are not. the word flagship or premium in my opinion should be given to one company and one company only. Where in the review it tops all the charts and checks all the boxes. not be good at one thing and not at the other. To me most important are screen bat life and cpu speed meaning no lag apps crashing or apps not opening. That being said i chose the expensive devices because it offers me what im looking for fast response great bat life and great screen. Most important it does not keep apps from opening or apps crashing after a big update and deff does not come from factory with defects like a real flagship is made to come clean no defects.

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