In 2016, I wrote a piece about the age of the super mid-range smartphone. The argument back then was that a small set of super capable mid-range smartphones had become adequate to meet the needs of most mobile users.
There was very little need to splurge on a premium flagship. Fast forward four years to 2020 and the situation has changed.
We have much more powerful smartphones. And we have new categories that didn’t exist then. Besides premium flagships, we now have budget flagships. We have more steps of mid-range phones too. Lower mid-range, mid mid-range (crazy), and upper mid-range. To be honest, it is a big cluster fuck of classifications now. Why? There is something available at every conceivable price point.
But the gist of this article is that premium flagships are not an absolute necessity any more to get really good performance. I will take it a step further: neither are budget flagships. And no; you do not need a super mid-range phone either.
There are scores of capable, regular mid-range smartphones that give you top usability without having the most powerful chips or costing an arm and a leg.
In the last one year, we have reviewed smartphones in the mid-range category that tick all the right boxes in delivering performance, features, and battery life that most people need.
The smartphone world has reached a state of equilibrium between price and functional value, and there are now lots of mid-range smartphones that have over 80% of the features and functions that used to be the exclusive preserve of premium flagships.
As such, you will find $275 smartphones with 4G, large high-resolution displays, thin bezels, powerful mid-range chips with impressive performance, good cameras, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB internal storage, 4000mAh battery, fast charging, reverse charging (power bank), under-display or side-display fingerprint scanner, NFC, and more.
As a matter of fact, I argue that the only valid need for a premium flagship or super mid-range smartphone in 2020 is if you want the best photography and video recording. Perhaps also the most demanding gaming. If you are not interested in these, what you pay as extra is not worth it.
Premium flagships cost as much as $2,000 (₦800,000), yet $300 (₦120,000) smartphones give you 80% of the features and experience. That is a huge gap.
What you do with that information is up to you. If you really want a premium flagship, it is your money to spend, but if you find the idea of spending that much for such a small set of extra features or performance, take a look at the catalogue of existing smartphones in the $200 (₦76,000) to $350 (₦140,000) price range.
Explore mid-range smartphones like OPPO A92 (see our review), Redmi Note 9 Pro, Samsung Galaxy A51, TECNO Camon 16 Premier, Infinix Zero 8, and others in their price range. This range of phones is the sweet spot of value for money in the smartphone world today.
Fellow Mobilista, EyeBeeKay, will argue that the sweet spot is even lower than that, and with good reason too. If you go lower, you will drop into the territory of 4GB RAM and even less powerful chips, so expect some sacrifices. But one thing is clear and unarguable: 2020 mid-range smartphones offer a lot more value than the mid-rangers of years past used to, and many of them are competent substitutes for budget flagship and premium flagship devices on sale today.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.