Are expensive smartphones worth it?


There’s no denying that recently we’re seeing some pretty expensive smartphones. Just take a look at the $1,400 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, or the 512GB version of Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max, which comes at $1,449 – many people would say this is insane pricing for a smartphone, and wouldn’t even consider buying any of them.

To make things even more interesting, there’s a saying that’s been going around for the past couple of years, it’s that good smartphones are getting cheap, and cheap smartphones are getting good. All of this arguably began with Google’s Nexus lineup, which was the company’s way of showing consumers that good hardware doesn’t have to be all that expensive.

turned on gold iphone 6

Nowadays, aside from the expensive smartphones, we’re witnessing some really impressive phones that come at fairly budget-oriented prices, which begs the question – are expensive smartphones worth it?

They all do the same thing!

Well, yes and no. Smartphones are the evolution of cellphones, and cellphones had one goal – enable consumers to be able to communicate with each other, even when they’re away from home. And all the smartphones of today do that with relative ease, aside from all the other things they’re able to do.

This is why a lot of people argue that a phone that does the basics but does them well, is all they need. Those same people will also oftentimes argue that more expensive phones with more functionalities can also be more of a distraction, and that’s not always ideal.

On the other hand, there is a fair amount of reasons why an expensive, flagship smartphone is very much worth the price tag that’s easily over a thousand dollars.

They offer a lot

If you were to compare any of the flagship devices I mentioned in the introduction to some of the entry-level models you’ll come across on the market, you will quickly find a number of differences. Some of the more notable ones include the display, the camera (or cameras), the performance, the build quality, etc. I’m not going to go into details here, because that would just turn into a war of specification sheets, and that’s not my goal.

person taking photo of street

What I would like to discuss is how much consumers can benefit from these additional features. For example, a better-built phone will allow you to use it for longer, which makes the price immediately easier to justify. If you love taking pictures but don’t want to carry your entry-level point-and-shoot, a flagship camera is a pretty good substitute. No – flagship cameras are still not at the level of a DSLR or a good mirrorless camera, but for many, they’re good enough.

When you consider these things, you’re not looking at your phone as just a phone – you’re looking at it as a device that will replace a multitude of devices, and make your life easier as you use it. And it might just be worth it to invest a bit more, right?

They can be complicated

I did touch upon this earlier, but yes, all of those functionalities can be pretty distracting. Having so many social networks, games and other apps at your disposal can be counterproductive. Being a person that works from home and has his smartphone at his desk most of the time, I pick it up and scroll through Instagram when I’m not working more often than I’d care to admit.

A lot of people have the self-control to just leave their phones when they know they shouldn’t be procrastinating, but the majority of us don’t and having an expensive smartphone only makes this more difficult. A budget-oriented phone that won’t give you that many possibilities might be a good way to focus on your work when you really need to be doing that.

They’re the best

Yep, you would be surprised at how many people get a flagship smartphone just because “it’s the best”. They’ll tell themselves lies like “I really need it for work” when they have a perfectly fine smartphone that they can use for calls, conferences, and emails. Do you really need Animoji and a folding display to run your business? I don’t think so.

man sitting near window holding phone and laptop

But having the best phone does make them feel better. Whether they really enjoy it themselves, or they just want to boast with it to their friends and colleagues, it does make them feel better. And if they can afford it, why not go for it? It’s flimsy reasoning at best, but for many, it’s enough.

You can get 90% of the functionality for 50% of the price

This is the best argument that a lot of entry-level and midrange phones have going for them – they get awfully close to flagships, yet cost a fraction of the price. This used to be OnePlus’s forte up until a while ago when they dubbed every new phone they came out with a “flagship killer”.

Those types of phones get really close to what a flagship would offer, but usually lack a couple of features. In the case of OnePlus, they lacked things like a true flagship-level camera, wireless charging, Ingress Protection rating, etc. However, the lack of those things allowed them to sell things with a flagship chipset, pretty good display, and excellent software, at a fraction of the price of the then-current flagships made by other brands. And they were good enough for a lot of people.

It’s a matter of personal choice

At the end of the day, this is what it comes down to – personal choice. I could go on and on about the pros and cons of both flagships and wallet-friendly devices, but whether or not you invest in a higher-end model usually comes down to whether or not it’s worth it for you.

And if it is, by all means, go for it. You’ll enjoy a better camera, a better display, battery life, build quality, or whatever else it is that matters to you. If not, there’s nothing wrong with getting an entry-level, or midrange devices, when you don’t really need a flagship. As I said – personal choice.