Why I think midrange phones are more exciting than flagships right now

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why I think midrange phones are more exciting than flagships right now
Is it just me, or do all phones look kind of the same now? With flagships, in particular, it’s getting hard to tell one model from the other. On the Android side, we get glass backs and tall, curved-edge displays with either a small notch or a hole for the selfie camera. Inside, we also often find the same specs across most brands: the latest Snapdragon chipset, 6-8GB of RAM and a bunch of cameras.

iPhones are even worse in this regard, barely distinguishable between generations, and performance-wise, you’re getting practically the same experience. In short: flagships are predictable and boring.

There are various reasons for that. One is that no manufacturer wants to take big risks with its premium devices – its main moneymakers – by omitting a feature users might expect or adding something that might deter users from buying its phone.

Another reason people these days don’t get as excited about flagships as they used to is the price. Even if there’s a cool new feature you might want, knowing that the price tag will be $1,000 and up cools your enthusiasm like a bucket of ice water.

Midrange is where the cool kids hang out


But where that’s no concern is down at the midrange level. Cheaper phones these days aren’t a synonym for crappy phones. They offer great value and often have an interesting twist to them. Midrangers are the quirky and hip phones of today. Motorola’s One line is a good example of that. The One Action, One Zoom and One Macro all have something to make them stand out from the crowd. Sure, not many users would prefer to have a phone with a niche camera, but there’s nothing wrong with having options.

Google’s Pixel 3a was a huge hit for its bread-and-butter approach: affordable price and awesome camera. And if the rumors are true, the Pixel 4a will be even better. It’s not often that we see a trimmed-down version of a phone selling better than its premium equivalent, but thanks to Google’s market strategy, here we are.

And let’s not forget the iPhone 9 (iPhone SE 2?). We’ve been expecting this phone for years, and so are many iPhone users waiting to upgrade their phones without having to spend upwards of $700. Despite having the same, familiar design, this new budget iPhone is exciting fans of smaller devices and the home button.

Personally, I can’t wait to get a hold of the OnePlus 8 Lite. After OnePlus phones got curved displays and climbed up the price ladder, the 8 Lite shapes up to be a back-to-basics phone for fans of the brand that aren’t so happy with its change of heart.

Midrangers are easy on your pocket and your mind


Midrange phones also come with a sense of freedom. Not that you should be careless with them, but perhaps you can skip on using a case and enjoy the aesthetic the designers worked hard to deliver without stressing too much about it. Plus, knowing that you’re being practical and getting something that offers a lot of bang for your buck brings great satisfaction.

Phone makers also feel less pressured when delivering midrange models since they usually impact the overall revenue less than flagships with their high profit margins. They can afford to test different materials, chips and camera arrangements without being judged too harshly by reviewers and users alike.

If I have to make an analogy, flagships are like upscale restaurants with a strict dress code while midrangers are your local pub where you go to grab a beer and have some fun. I know where I’d rather be, how about you? Share your thoughts about the current state of midrange phones below!

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22 Comments

1. Vancetastic

Posts: 1881; Member since: May 17, 2017

I agree 100 percent. My Pixel 3a is one of the best phones I've ever had, and I don't constantly worry about dropping a thousand dollar investment.

9. droidboy

Posts: 74; Member since: Nov 25, 2012

I also love the 3a. I convinced myself into buying the Pixel 4. I am almost sorry I did. Pixel for is great, but I totally could have stayed with my 3a.

2. User123456789

Posts: 1354; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

The ideal midrange for my needs : - SD665 or 675 - 4GB ram ddr4 - 32GB UFS 3.0 - 5.5" 16:9 LCD HDR 1080p (well tuned) - Front stereo speakers - IP68 - Dual sim + sd slot - 20MP 1/1.5" , 28mm, f2.0 , iso12800 photo, iso6400 video - Selfie 12MP 1/2.6", f2.0 , 23mm , 4K video - Gorilla 5 on screen , carbon fiber unibody - 3300 mAh + 15W charging - 14,3 cm tall

3. hmd74

Posts: 546; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

Well you can have SD855 + 6GB ram + 128GB + flat AMOLED + 4000mAh for the price of a midrange phone! That's what MI 9T Pro gives you

5. User123456789

Posts: 1354; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Amoled that will have burn-in and saturated colours. 6GB that I will never use, I dont leave apps in multitask. 128GB is too much, have never used more than 20GB. Now most of my apps are on iPad. I dont need SD8xx series. Xiaomi have no IP rating nor stereo speakers. MiUI is awful iOS copy.

7. Vancetastic

Posts: 1881; Member since: May 17, 2017

We have an iPad at work that has burn in. It sure ain't AMOLED.

14. User123456789

Posts: 1354; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Something in there is not dead, just broken.

15. Vancetastic

Posts: 1881; Member since: May 17, 2017

No, it just has burn in from being on the same screen all the time...kinda like.....oh no, AMOLED!!

8. Shubham412302

Posts: 594; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

I have many time apps closing on me due to 4GB ram. It's always better to have more. I still love my Nokia 7 plus. I has great battery and works great even after 22months of usage.

11. CrapGame

Posts: 49; Member since: Nov 29, 2019

Wells said hmd74. There are still well priced flagship killers available from companies like Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Honor. However, a mid-range phone is more than enough for 90% of users needs.

17. Locked-n-Loaded

Posts: 114; Member since: Sep 13, 2019

Not if you're on our major us a carrier like Verizon we get crap choices

16. Darckent

Posts: 100; Member since: Sep 17, 2016

You've described a phone from 2013.. Where in 2020 mate Horrible Phone you described is out there probably £20 on ebay

4. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1114; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Let's not forget, Samsung uses the midrange A-Series as a test dummy for upcoming designs/tech. So in some cases you can get test drive new features before they get tweaked and released in flagship models

6. ijuanp03

Posts: 688; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

I agree. As a Motorola One Zoom user, i find the right balance between price and features. Camera is excellent in its price range and battery is way better than most flagships due to the midrange SOC.

10. ermond012

Posts: 26; Member since: Sep 13, 2013

Currently using Huawei Nova 5T and I am very happy with it. Having only a price tag of almost ₱18,000 here in the PH, you get a flagship chipset, capable camera, good display, timely software update, good audio output, excellent design, superb battery life, 8gb of RAM and 128gb of storage (non-expandable though). Good thing some midrange phones nowadays do not only come with good specs but cheaper too. Sure, flagship phones are definitely better but you can't go wrong with midrange devices these days especially if you have a tight budget.

12. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3189; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

If you're not into the latest and greatest, hence the reason for mid-rangers, do what I do. I buy 2-year old flagships for about the same amount of money as a current mid-range and still have more features. Due to market conditions being what they are, this does not apply to iPhones as they hold their value very well - for whatever the reason it is what it is. I'm currently enjoying a Note 9 I bought new (open box) for under $400. There isn't a mid-range phone out there that can touch its camera and I should expect Android 10 soon-ish. Samsung has a vague definition of "coming soon". I guess they've collaborated too much with Microsoft.

22. TadTrickle

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 08, 2019

That's what I just did too. Got a new one on eBay for 550 right before labor day

13. Jason2k13

Posts: 1478; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

The only thing exciting about mid-range phones compared to flagships is the price. This article was made for the sake of making an article.

21. TadTrickle

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 08, 2019

Not true. Read the article again

18. Ichimoku

Posts: 188; Member since: Nov 18, 2018

"In short: flagships are predictable and boring." this!

20. TadTrickle

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 08, 2019

I agree with this train of thought. I also believe in picking up last years model. I don't think I'll ever get a new release flagship again, unless prices go down

23. AlienKiss

Posts: 318; Member since: May 21, 2019

I admit that mid-range smartphones have seen a big improvement in the last 2 years, but I still wouldn't buy one over a high-end flagship. My 2 major rules : No SD card slot (this will scratch so many devices of the list) and no flagship processor = NO BUY!

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