The Curious Case of the Budget Flagship

In a world where cheap phones are getting increasingly capable, flagships are having a tough time justifying their price tags. Practically, there’s not a single thing you can do on a flagship phone that you cannot on a more budget friendly option. Of course, there’s some added convenience, features and polish to the whole experience, but it comes at almost thrice the cost.

In a world where the number of flagships crossing the 1000$ mark is rapidly rising, companies need to put smartphones at price points that are still seemingly attainable for a customer seeking flagship level experience. Apple has historically slashed the price of their previous flagships every year to provide somewhat budget options. But with the iPhone XR and now the Samsung Galaxy 10e, it is clear that a new category is at bay.

Now, these are still not budget phones. 750$ is still a lot to pay for a smartphone, a price point which preferably should get you a flagship product. But with companies pushing boundaries of engineering and design by including sophisticated design language like powerful processors, bezel-less displays and durable materials in compact housings, the thousand dollar price tag was all but inevitable. Simultaneously, budget phones are getting increasingly popular, for good reason. This has led to a lot of resentment regarding the exorbitant price tags.

And this is where the budget flagship jumps in. The formula is simple and effective. Just take your flagship products, evaluate the most expensive components and choose cheaper alternatives which might bring down the overall experience, but won’t necessarily break it. Displays are perhaps the most expensive components, which is why both the iPhone XR and Galaxy S10e have inferior panels compared to their pricier siblings. Similarly, iPhone XR switches to cheaper aluminium from stainless steel and a single rear camera. The S10e loses out on the fancy Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and gets a regular no frills sensor on the side. It has a dual camera setup compared to the triple camera on the S10. But the core experience is always kept the same. Both the iPhone XR and S10e share identical internals with their pricier siblings.

All in all, I am a huge fan of this new category. Value for money is always an important aspect in a mass market. The budget flagships provide almost the same experience as flagships with a more attainable pricing. They are a win-win for anyone who wants to get the full flagship level experience and save a few hundred bucks on the way there.

Featured image by AndroidCentral

Rohan Bhateja
Rohan Bhateja

Vagabond who loves technology, ranting and brooding.