Tue. Mar 5th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • New mid-range phones are better for most buyers as they pose less hassle and offer more battery life, and longer software support.
  • Old flagship phones are better suited for enthusiasts who want a better camera system, more power, premium hardware, and gimmicky extra features.


If you’ve got about $500 to spend on a new Android phone, you have two options: either buy a brand new mid-range phone or buy an old flagship device that came out a couple of years ago. Both options have their pros and cons, so here’s how to decide between them.


Reasons to Buy a New Mid-Range Phone

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G ad.

Samsung

First, let’s take a look at the key reasons to grab a new mid-range phone over an older flagship model.

1. The Battery Life Will Be Better

If you’re the kind of person who hates having to charge your phone and wants it to last as long as possible, you’re going to find a brand-new mid-range phone far more helpful than an older flagship phone of the same capacity.

Why? Because lithium-ion batteries used inside smartphones and other smart gadgets have a finite shelf life and tend to degrade to the point of causing inconvenience within three years or so. No matter how well you take care of your device, smartphone batteries inevitably degrade.

That means even if you’re buying a flagship phone just two years old, the battery in it has already gone through significant depreciation and will not hold as much power as a mid-range phone with a new battery.

2. It’ll Get Software Updates for Longer

Android 14 logo on a Pixel 7
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

While it’s true that flagship Android phones tend to get longer software support than cheaper alternatives, a new mid-range phone will still be supported for longer simply because it ships with the latest version of Android and will continue to get updates for several years.

An old flagship phone, on the other hand, has likely already received most of the updates it was scheduled to receive and will hence not be supported for very long. This means it won’t get the latest software features and security patches that the new mid-range phone will.

3. It Comes With a Warranty

Buying a new phone ensures you the peace of mind that it’s protected under the manufacturer’s warranty, and for most people, that is way more important than having the best features or a cool design.

Also, if you happen to damage your phone, a newer model may be easier to repair since it’s more likely to have spare parts available than an old flagship phone that’s at the end of its life cycle. And don’t forget that repairing a flagship phone is more expensive because it uses premium materials and non-standardized parts.

Reasons to Buy an Old Flagship Phone

Person holding the back of the Samsung Galaxy S23+ in Green.

Justin Duino / Review Geek

Buying a new mid-range phone is indeed compelling, but older flagship devices still have some tricks up their sleeves. Here are the reasons to grab one of them instead.

1. It’ll Take Batter Photos and Videos

If you’re a social butterfly and love taking lots of photos and videos to post on social media or share with your friends and family, an old flagship phone will very likely prove to be far more helpful than a new mid-range or budget phone. That’s because the camera on a flagship is likely to have a bigger image sensor, Optical Image Stabilization, and better AutoFocus capability.

Granted, mid-range phones are indeed getting better at computational photography every year, thereby eliminating the need to buy flagships to take good photos. However, software excellence can only make up for hardware deficiency up to a certain point. In challenging lighting conditions, a flagship camera system will almost always come out ahead.

2. Processor-Heavy Apps Games Will Run Better

Android phone with gaming controller.
Jason Montoya / How-To Geek

As long as you’re doing basic tasks like calling, texting, web browsing, or scrolling social media, your experience on a modern mid-range phone is likely to be indistinguishable from your experience on a flagship phone. Just like flagships, mid-range phones get more powerful every year as companies compete to provide more value.

However, if you choose to push your phone to its limits by performing demanding tasks such as video editing or playing graphics-heavy mobile games, a mid-range phone will be far more likely to overheat, lag, stutter, and deplete the battery faster.

A flagship phone, on the other hand, will likely have a more powerful and efficient chip, more RAM, faster storage, and more optimized software. All of these combined help deliver sustained performance even under stress. Simply put, your phone will be able to take whatever you throw at it.

3. It Has Premium Hardware and Gimmicky Features

People who buy mid-range phones tend to be very price-sensitive and look for value above all else. Because of this, manufacturers often work on a very tight budget when designing such phones and have to skip all the cool features we’re used to seeing on flagships. In other words, you get a phone that works as expected and can perform everyday tasks…but that’s about it.

Conversely, flagship phones try to deliver an exceptional experience while being functional. That means you may get features like a dedicated telephoto camera for portrait shots, a more premium vibration motor for better haptic feedback, a brighter and higher resolution QHD display with better colors and viewing angles, a glass back with wireless charging, a stronger body, a better design, and more accessories.

These features aren’t necessary for most people, but given how much we use and rely on our phones to do everyday tasks, they are indeed nice to have. And if you’re a tech person like me, you will certainly find yourself drawn to gimmicky features like the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 100X Space Zoom, the Pixel 8 Pro’s temperature sensor, or the Nothing Phone 2’s Glyph Interface.

New Mid-Range Phones Pose Less Hassle for Most Buyers

For the wide majority of people, buying a new mid-range phone is a far better choice than buying an old flagship phone, simply because the former poses less hassle. More than anything else, the average person wants their phone to just work as expected and not give them unnecessary problems.

An old flagship phone may have a better camera system, better hardware, and more power, but you’re not going to be able to appreciate these qualities if you have to charge your phone twice a day due to the poor battery life or can’t get it repaired after breaking it because there are no spare parts available.



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By John P.

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