Are reviewers misjudging cheaper smartphones due to their constant exposure to flagships?

Smartphone reviewers are surrounded by flagships and spend considerable time using one. Does that make them biased towards mid-range and budget phones? Let's find out!
This is a discussion for a news article. To read the whole news, click here


51. Leo_MC

Posts: 6938; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

When you'll be able to tell me how S10+ performs when it runs iOS, we'll talk again about performances. Once more you have failed to see the point... I compare the camera with the best camera on a phone, I compare the display with the best display (it might be on another phone), I compare the software with the best os, etc. XR checked the most things on MY list: big beautiful display, great battery life, one of the best performing devices (if not the best), good enough camera (for scanning documents), high quality build, the best software with all the features I need, all that in a cheaper package than the Max. Even this year I would have been ok with my great 7, but I got a free XR, so I took it - that's why I always say that the price is relative (and only people that are to lazy are paying full retail prices).

43. Vancetastic

Posts: 955; Member since: May 17, 2017

Only borderline?

44. Leo_MC

Posts: 6938; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

If I will let myself think like the average Joe, I will start to worry; until I do, you should worry ;).

46. wickedwilly

Posts: 640; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

You are wrong, do you think that if a phone is only marginally better than phone costing half as much, it is a not consideration in saying how good a phone is to a consumer. Why do you think many reviewers were suggesting the XR would be a better purchasing decision than an XS? I can tell you because the value is a part of the equation.

52. Leo_MC

Posts: 6938; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I'm only saying that a reviewer should test the features in a phone, regardless of the price of the device.

45. wickedwilly

Posts: 640; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

You say it is a complete overall product, when in fact it is far from it. Just look at your revered Xr beaten in almost every area by the 10e which costs less. Same for the S10 vs iPhone 10s and S10+ and 10s max. I am afraid for normal people price does matter as does value. I would not buy a XR because it is way overpriced against phones costing less but are better overall. A reviewer should, of course, point out the pros and cons of each product, they should also comment on the value aspect. The user still has the ability to make up his or her mind and contrary to your bizarre thinking price and value will be a consideration for most.

53. Leo_MC

Posts: 6938; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I bought the XR, because it is the proper phone for me; you're free to get the S10, if that's good for you. I have always talked to you like I would talk to a smart man, but I think you're just plain stupid... Where did I say that the client doesn't/shouldn't consider the price when he makes a purchase? I only said that the rewiew should not be influenced by the price of the device. If the ram management in a 200€ is abysmal, I don't want to see "it's good enough [for the price]"; the same goes for an expensive one: when X was lauched, I read all sorts of stupid excuses for its horrible ram management (the same for Pixel). That's what you don't seem to get.

25. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3112; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Say what? I'm sorry but your argument holds no water whatsoever. Were that true, we'd all be driving S-class Benzes and the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry wouldn't be the sales leaders they are. You have to compare how each phone stacks up against to others in its class, not the best of the best.

34. Leo_MC

Posts: 6938; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I'm pretty sure that, have you had the money, you would be driving a Phantom or a Divo instead of a S-class or a Camry. When a phone is reviewed, I want to know how many fps is able to run a intense graphical game: I don't care to know that "it's good for the class", I want to see 30, 50, 100; I want to know how many hours can I use it and how can I charge it; I want to know about the app management, I don't care it has 32 GB of (bad quality) RAM. It's ok if the reviewer also talks about the price, but that's not necessary, because I have all the stores I need to see the price, there are all sorts of deals, I can always share the costs with a carrier etc.

38. riteshrkm

Posts: 145; Member since: Apr 15, 2015

u r making a personal opinion as general. it is plain & simple as this - Cost is what it Matters! Imqagine Iphone selling at 400-500$ (N0 offers or buy back) straight. No other phone would have sold like Iphone wud have done. thts the reason why Chinese brands r getting to necl of Apple. they just offer better for Value. No1 except Tech enthusiasts bother abt how good the screen is, how good its gaming performance is. they just need phones which can do all basic features.

41. Leo_MC

Posts: 6938; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Again: the price is a result of the performances, not a cause for them. Your point of view is valid "I have €X, what phone can I get that is the greatest bang?", but not in a review world. For a reviewer it doesn't matter that the phone is 400€ or 700€ when it runs an app (see Pocofone vs. G7), it doesn't matter that one phone is 900€ or 1.5€ when taking a picture (see Pixel vs XS Max), it doesn't matter that the phone is 200€ or 800€ when it comes to battery life (see A2 vs XR). The reviewer compares all those functionalities with the best and gives an opinion, while we read them and choose our devices according to the criterias that matter the most for each of us (that's why "the best phone" is an irrelevant notion). But those specific criterias should always be compared with the best, so we would get as close to what we expect from reading the reviews. PS: Apple couldn't care less about Chinese brands, because they have different clients: I wouldn't use a spy hub for my main device ;)...

19. miketer

Posts: 507; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Actually, a very good article. Thank you

20. haydenb

Posts: 125; Member since: Nov 24, 2011

I think its true that people are bombarded with latest an greatest. But look out side the mainstream or flagships for that matter and there are some really solid "budget" phones or mid range phones that can do what alot of flagships can do

21. blattlaus

Posts: 75; Member since: Dec 12, 2010

I've always felt that most of the flagships are overkill for most people with the real cost of ownership hidden from most people by payment plans and contracts. It will be interesting to see with phone prices moving into 4 figures if it will change. The issue with tech press is one of attracting an audience- you're going to get more clicks on articles showing off cutting edge tech instead than mere competence . Its like car magazines writing about 850hp supercars instead of family wagons.

26. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3112; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I agree with your points but remember, family wagons don't need Road & Track articles to sell. Those McLaren M1 articles are no different than a People Magazine article about Charlize Theron. Gorgeous to look at but far beyond the reach of us mortals.

27. p51d007

Posts: 701; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

99% of it is marketing, and wanting to "keep up with the jones' " mentality. Plus, because people are like sheep, run in a pack, whatever their snotty nose friends buy, they want to stay on the "in" crowd so they buy most of this garbage just like they have to have the latest SUV, latest fashion trends. Shoot, phones are more of a fashion statement than how useful or practical they are. I'd rather have a thicker phone with a bigger battery, retractable 2-10X zoom lens and LARGER camera sensor, than these "sexy, colorful, slim & stylish" overpriced way to easy to bend & break thinks today.

29. emjoigently

Posts: 152; Member since: Aug 22, 2017

I think smart reviewers generally do fine. You get that the phone might not have a cutting edge camera or is made of plastic. A well made Moto or Xiaomi phone on a budget generally gets a positive review. And crap is crap. A phone priced for a 600 series CPU that has a 400 series, or a amateurish UI, gets noted.

30. TS020

Posts: 27; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

Congruency between reviews would be excellent; listing a lack of 3.5mm jack on an Android as a con but ignoring it on Apple should not be acceptable.

37. Ashoaib

Posts: 3271; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

What a great article.

42. Marslander

Posts: 160; Member since: Jan 08, 2015

The specs on a phone that's clearly intended to be a budget or mid-level device should not be directly compared to a high-end or flagship device. Devices should be compared to their peers, not their superiors.

48. franzfifty

Posts: 36; Member since: Feb 01, 2018

I stopped reading when you mentioned the Pixel and the iphone for night photography and others being bad... because the iphone is a good night photography camera...right? The article is exactly about this .. just because you love iPhones and they're expensive, they're NOT good!

50. Krjal

Posts: 423; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

Thanks for this article, Georgi. Very well written while still maintaining some more casual, conversational style. I enjoyed the read and I'll be using the thoughts you outlined. It's also good to know you have such a degree of self-awareness in your work. Keep it up mate :)

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.