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.



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.

3. dimas

Posts: 3348; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

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

7. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

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

17. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 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.

33. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

34. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

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

2. dimas

Posts: 3348; Member since: Jul 22, 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.

4. jngo102

Posts: 50; Member since: Jan 15, 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.

5. jngo102

Posts: 50; Member since: Jan 15, 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.

31. jontaylor07

Posts: 169; Member since: Oct 12, 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.

6. jngo102

Posts: 50; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Didn't mean to double-post whoops

25. Brewski

Posts: 677; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

So delete one of them...

29. andynaija

Posts: 1258; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

You can't delete one of them...

8. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2349; Member since: Apr 18, 2011


9. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014


10. AkoSiKuting

Posts: 88; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

All wrong except price, of course brand logo take most of the part. No Apple logo no buy :)

11. Tizo101

Posts: 527; Member since: Jun 05, 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

22. TerryTerius unregistered

"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.

13. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

No Z5? PA has some grudge against Sony.

15. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

They hate Sony than any other brands..

19. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

They do.

35. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

they hate all brands except iphone

16. asiansatan

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

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

18. OdysseasP

Posts: 67; Member since: Aug 08, 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.

20. Fellwalker

Posts: 536; Member since: Apr 04, 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.

21. TheOracle1

Posts: 2225; Member since: May 04, 2015

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

28. SenorThrottles

Posts: 284; Member since: Dec 23, 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.

23. tokuzumi

Posts: 1873; Member since: Aug 27, 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.

24. Kary1

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 26, 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.

26. faha1

Posts: 56; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

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

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