Smartphones come at various price points. From under $100 to over $1000, there's something available for everyone. But how much should you really spend on a new phone? What features can you expect from each price point? And most importantly, which price is right for you?
Let's find out.
Under $100: Fit for Kids or Elders
Buying a new smartphone under $100 is not recommended unless you're buying it for kids or elders. At this price, manufacturers don't have an incentive to innovate, so the best you can get is a phone that can barely get you through the day with medium use.
Expect bad performance, bad camera, bad battery, bad build quality, bad display, and mediocre storage. That's why, instead of buying a new phone at this price, you're better off buying a second-hand budget phone that'll work at least somewhat reliably and not be too big an inconvenience.
$100–$200: Basic Functionalities
Things improve quite dramatically when you jump from under $100 to up to $200. People who buy at this price are looking for basic functionalities, especially good battery life and decent storage. But cameras, build quality, and performance remain poor. This price point is fit for you if your use case is limited to web browsing, social media, light gaming, and light photography.MAKEUSEOF VIDEO OF THE DAY
$200–$300: Value for Money Hotspot
The $200–$300 bracket is where you have the best chance at finding the best value. In this segment, a majority of the bestselling phones come from Chinese phone makers. Unfortunately, if you're in the US your options here will be much more limited than elsewhere in the world.
Wherever you are, you can also find some solid deals from Samsung. Phones at this price point are not only packed with all essential features but also often have quirky designs to differentiate them from other options.
$300–$500: Flagship Killers
The $300–$500 bracket is a very exciting one; it's where the flagship killers are born. The goal here is simple: offer flagship specs at an affordable price. OnePlus popularized this trend, but as more brands entered the market with their flagship killers, this price bracket has become more competitive than ever.
Phones at this price range are targeted towards a more tech-savvy audience that understands specs and a bit of jargon; they can run most high-end mobile games well but not flawlessly.
$500–$700: More Than Specs
In the $500–$700 price bracket, you're paying a premium price for a premium product. As good as flagship killers are for the value they offer, they tend to focus more on the core specs and less on the features that aren't shown in spec sheets.
So aside from amazing performance, you can also expect great build quality, an IP68 rating (for protection against dust and water), louder and cleaner speakers, better software optimization, amazing cameras, and better haptic feedback.
$700–$1000: Actual Flagships
Although you can probably find them under $700, most modern flagships live in the $700–$1000 price bracket. This is also where the competition between Android and iPhone really heats up.
Here, you are paying not just for the amazing specs and hardware, but also special features such as 8K video support, QHD resolution, LTPO display, and much more cutting-edge tech. Phones in this segment are very reliable, come with premium features, and take additional measures for privacy and security.
Above $1000: Bleeding-Edge
Above $1000, you're getting the best of the best. For a price this high, you can get the features that no other price point can replicate. This means stunning cameras, unique designs, maxed-out performance, tighter integration with the ecosystem, and specialized features.
The goal here is to maximize convenience and eliminate the need for other tech gadgets. For instance, computational photography replaces DSLRs, 1TB storage replaces external hard drives, foldable phones replace tablets, and tough build quality replaces the need for back covers and screen protectors.
Related: Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which Is Better?
Which Price Is Right for You?
Depending on your use case, the right price for you will vary. Do note that the increase in specs is not perfectly linear in smartphones; some high-end features are easier to replicate in budget phones while others are not. Plus, remember that simply having good specs doesn't always tell the whole story.
If you're a casual user, there's no point in buying a high-end phone since you're not going to use those premium features that often anyway. In that case, you should look for a phone in the $200–$300 bracket to get the most value.
If you're a power user, you need a phone that can handle everyday abuse; both from the in and out. That means great performance, great battery life, and great build quality. For that, search the $500–$700 price bracket, but keep an eye out for promising flagship killers too.
If you're a gamer, you care more about performance, cooling system, and special gaming-centric features than camera and water resistance. In that case, you can eye a dedicated gaming phone in the same price range, i.e., $500–$700.
If you want a premium phone with special features that can easily last about five years, look at flagships for around $700–$1000. Beyond $1000, the spec upgrades aren't as big, but if you want that bleeding-edge experience or the very best camera performance, it's available.
Choose the Price Right for You
No matter your budget, you can almost always find a good deal when buying a new phone. Smartphones have evolved so fast in recent times that you really don't need to spend a lot of money to get an overall good experience.
For the average consumer, we wouldn't recommend going below $200 or above $700; try to avoid both extremes. Feel free to come back to this guide when you're in the market to buy a new phone to assess your needs more clearly.5 Ways Flagship Phones Are Becoming Worse
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Ayush is a tech-enthusiast and has an academic background in marketing. He enjoys learning about the latest technologies that extend human potential and challenge the status quo. Besides his work life, he loves writing poetry, songs, and indulging in creative philosophies.MoreFrom Ayush Jalan
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