Dilemma - last year's flagship or this year's mid-ranger?
Imagine the situation. You want to buy a new phone, you’re researching the market and you realise that the latest and greatest smartphones are just too expensive. You don’t want to spend that much money on something as minute and disposable as a smartphone, and you are conscious about your money, but you still want to buy a good phone that will serve you for at least a year or two. You ask yourself a question, one of the most common and toughest questions to answer, at least in this smartphone conundrum: is it better to buy a last year’s flagship or this year’s mid-range device?
To answer this question we must make some assumptions, and we will try to be as objective as possible. Let’s list some pros and cons of both, and let’s try to answer the question. We will, however, assume that the two devices you are thinking about have roughly the same price. So for equal(ish) amount of money – what’s better?
LAST YEAR'S FLAGSHIP FOR SURE!
Let’s start with the benefits of a last year’s flagship. We know that the technology is evolving rapidly, but does it really evolve that significantly year after year? Sure, this year’s flagship is faster, more durable and all around better compared to last year’s model, but by how much? You have to admit, not too much, maybe 10-15%, and the price difference is huge! This is one of the reasons why it’s good to buy a last year’s flagship – you pay not that much money for still an almost cutting edge phone.
Another point that ties up to the money story is that the last year’s flagship is now much more affordable compared to how it was when it was first released. It is still the same phone that, only a year ago, was overpriced. If you manage to get your hands on one that’s still new, intact, unopened, than think about what you get for the money you spend – quite a lot.
Also you’re essentially getting a tried and tested device. Imagine that you bought a Galaxy Note 7 when it was still new, only to find out (hopefully not too late and not on your own skin) that you are essentially carrying a bomb with you. Not fun, is it? If you wait for only a year, you know exactly what you’re getting, and if you do your research you can be sure that that’s a right device for you.
BUT THEN AGAIN...
Now let’s jump to the mid-range market. These phones can be tempting because they are new, released this year, have amazing performances and everything for much less money compared to the brand new flagships, but now we’re comparing them to last year’s models. Let’s explore this a little further.
Price-wise, we already said that these two hypothetical devices cost about the same, however, the fact is that this mid-ranger was built more recently. This is good because, for instance, if the company had some manufacturing issues last year, maybe they have fixed it all this time around. Essentially you’re getting a new device with all new components.
Also, luckily we’re considering a mid-ranger, which means that companies still care for these devices. This is the bulk of the market for many manufacturers which is why the support for them is quick, secure and reliable. If you buy a new phone, you’re almost certain to get the latest possible firmware as well as receive updates as soon as possible for longer than the last year’s flagship. Companies tend to forget about their devices around 2 years in, so you’ll receive updates for a year longer if you choose to buy a mid-range device.
LET'S BE REAL FOR A MOMENT
Granted, mid-range device usually lack the groundbreaking features that the flagships have, but then again, last year’s flagships don’t have them either. Everything that you do get is bound to work great though. As we’ve already mentioned, companies care about their devices, especially the mid-rangers, so you’ll definitely not end up with a junk phone just because it’s not a flagship. It won’t be the best, but it will surely be decent enough.
Sure, you’ll not get the latest and greatest chipset, or camera, or display, but once again, think about whether you really need all that? Yes, it’s nice to have it all, but no matter what you buy, your phone will eventually become obsolete as new devices start popping up. The thing here is that you yourself must know what you’re looking for in a device. If you want it to be the best, than by all means go and buy the current flagship, but if you even the slightest care about your money, you’ll consider buying either of the two “phones” we discussed.
Oh, and not to end on such a vague note: if you’re reading this in 2018, we have to recommend the Pocophone F1. This is a device with many flagship features and the price point of a mid-ranger. We are sure that with it you can’t go wrong, but we still have to see how things will develop and what the manufacturers will end up doing with their new devices next year.