Some of you probably read the title of this piece and thought, “Uh, flagship. Duh. What kind of question is that?” And while that might have been a totally obvious answer earlier in the smartphone game, at this point it’s not such a far-fetched question to ask. A couple of years ago, most would advise against going anywhere near a “budget” smartphone because of the old adage “you get what you pay for” - and although that’s still the case from time to time, it’s becoming less of an issue.
So, back to the original question: Flagship or budget?
Let’s start with flagships, as that seems like the most obvious answer people would go for. Flagship smartphones are going to be the best of the best, the crème de la crème, high society, the finest, upper class - whatever you want to call it. They're great. Flagship smartphones outperform and, typically speaking, out design the other smartphones in the market. With the highest specs, the best (or gimmicky, depending on how you see them) features, and the most recent software updates, you can expect a high ranking experience any time you choose a flagship smartphone as your new daily driver.
You also have the peace of mind in knowing that your phone won’t be considered completely obsolete in a matter of months. Most flagships can keep you afloat for two or three years (often times longer) comfortably, and you’ll likely receive updates for a couple of years yet - especially if you picked a particularly popular model. A budget phone, no matter how decent, is still a budget phone and may not be able to keep up for as long.
Of course, all of those goodies that come with owning a flagship phone typically don’t come cheap; with high class comes a high price tag, which is where many people draw the line.
Budget smartphones, on the other hand, solve that issue right away. You can still get the full smartphone experience without choosing a flagship model, and recently you don’t even have to sacrifice a whole lot in the performance department just to save yourself some money. I mean, no, you won’t have the fastest phone on the block, and you probably won’t have a lot of the fancy features that a lot of flagships get - but you’re not necessarily suffering because you chose to go the budget route, either.
Taking a look at some of the “budget” smartphones like the Moto G, which is probably the most highly praised budget Android phone on the market, you can see that you’re actually getting a pretty good deal for a $180 smartphone - and yes, that is full price. The battery life isn’t horrid, the phone isn’t a lagfest, you have some customization options, there’s a decent camera and internal specs, and you even have Android 5.0 (Lollipop) available to you right now, where a lot of smartphones still don’t. I don’t know how Motorola pulled it off, but they really outdid themselves with the Moto G when it comes to selling a budget Android smartphone.
Another solid choice is any of the budget-friendly Windows Phone devices, particularly of the Lumia brand. Take a look at the new Lumia 635, which is a mere $168 ($128 if you're a T-Mobile customer as of the time this article is being written if you use the code ‘LUMIADEAL’). The nice thing about Windows Phone is that it doesn’t actually need a whole lot to run smoothly and effeciently. Even with that in mind, the Lumia 635 does feature a quad-core processor, 4G LTE, and it runs Windows Phone 8.1. The 512MB of RAM might be a little off-setting, but it’s still a fair price considering everything else you’re getting. Nokia also has a nice set of applications for use on Lumia models, such as HERE Maps and Nokia Camera.
There are some benefits to either type of smartphone; flagships definitely still have their place in the world, and budget smartphones are no longer the bane of anybody’s existence. No matter which route you go, you’re probably getting something good out of the deal.
Readers, which type of phone do you usually spring for? Are you the type who goes for the biggest, baddest phones on the market, or do you prefer to save some cash and go for something that gets the job done well enough and use that money for something else? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!
Image via Bargainteers