New phones are always exciting, but there's also something special about getting a second hand flagship at a sweet price. With modern mid range phones getting better in almost every way, it can be confusing to choose between the two. However, your personal preferences will guide you to determine if you're better off with a new budget or mid range phone or a second hand premium flagship.
Let's take a look at the main differences between second hand flagships and the newer mid range phones, comparing them based on some of the most important aspects of the latest smartphones.
Flagship phones tend to have better build quality than mid range models. Flagship phones generally have a more solid construction, while mid range phones often come with plastic bodies or metal bodies that look like plastic. But, beware that if you accidentally drop your flagship phone, it could cost you a significant amount of money to fix.
Still, mid range phones having a plastic back doesn't always mean it's poor quality, since plastic can usually withstand a fall better than glass. But, it does take away that premium feel from the phone. And, if a mid range phone comes with a glass back, in many cases, it would swap the aluminum frame for a plastic one.
Winner: Second Hand Flagship
Although they may be a year or two older, most second hand flagships undoubtedly have a much better quality display than most mid range devices available today. It's almost a guarantee that the flagship will have a high refresh rate AMOLED panel that is also color accurate. And if you prefer curved screens, second hand flagships are the way to go.
On the other hand, mid range devices typically use LCD panels that lack the high levels of contrast and color accuracy found in flagship phone display panels. While AMOLED displays are becoming more common on mid range phones, and some even offer support for high refresh rates, they still don't measure up to the overall display quality of high-end devices since not all AMOLED panels are created equal.
Winner: Second Hand Flagship
Budget and mid range phones have indeed made great strides in camera performance over the years, especially in well-lit conditions. However, when it comes to more challenging situations like night photography, a second hand flagship device can still easily outshine a midrange or budget phone.
Flagship cameras also include advanced features like laser autofocus or OIS that are not yet available in mid range phones. While there may be some exceptions to this rule, they are few and far between.
Overall, it's safe to say that higher-end phones always have a significant edge over their cheaper counterparts when it comes to camera quality and features.
Winner: Second Hand Flagship
Flagship phones frequently offer faster and much more optimized performance than mid range devices because they are typically powered by better Chipsets. Also, they have processors that can easily handle high-end games.
However, it's worth noting that flagship processors seem to have peaked already. For example, Apple is recycling its year-old A15 processor for its non-Pro iPhone 14 models. Similarly, Qualcomm is repackaging its older flagship processors for newer mid range models; the Snapdragon 870 is one example.
Also, many budget or mid range phones cut corners on several fronts but share the same processor as their pricier siblings, such as the Galaxy S21 FE and the iPhone SE. This approach means you get the same top-of-the-line experience without breaking the bank.
Still, mid range devices are generally only suitable for running non-intensive apps that place minimal strain on the hardware of smartphones. These processors are fantastic for everyday apps but tend to fall short on graphics, which can affect gaming performance.
This announcement was made at a time when Android software support was sporadic and utterly disorganized. Therefore, you can only hope that the manufacturer will continue to provide software upgrades for the next few years whenever you buy a budget or mid range device.
It is only logical for the competing brands to pay attention when the market leader implements a new policy. This effectively indicates that mid range phones in the future might have a similar lifespan as a flagship model. This also causes the scales to substantially tip in favor of new mid range smartphones.
Battery and Charging
Even though manufacturers have made great advances in extending battery life over the years, smaller batteries can't last as long as bigger ones without making some sacrifices. Flagships tend to be slimmer to satisfy the premium customer, while mid rangers usually pack in large batteries, which translates to much longer battery life.
For budget or mid range phones, lower-end processors are tuned for better power efficiency. This means that budget and mid range phones tend to last longer between charges due to their more manageable power and display needs.
Still, brands usually reserve fast charging speeds for their pricier phones, leaving budget phones with comparatively slower recharges. Flagship phones also one up mid rangers by offering wireless charging.
In the past, flagship models were known for their impressive storage capacities, up to 256GB or 512GB, which was considered cutting-edge technology. However, newer mid range smartphones have caught up and even surpassed older flagship models in some aspects.
What makes mid rangers stand out is that for just a small amount of money, you can expand their storage even further by using microSD cards, which most of them support. This is a feature that most flagship smartphones don't have, limiting their ability to store large amounts of data.
New midrange vs second hand flagship: Which should you buy?
When deciding between buying a second hand high-end phone or a new mid range phone, think about how you will use it.
For instance, if you're a gamer on a budget or someone who wants a better camera experience, a second hand could still be a great choice. It's also a good option for those who value display quality, design, fit and finish on older flagships that are typically better than newer mid range devices.
On the other hand, if you're someone who'd be happy with a smartphone that offers acceptable camera quality, along with good battery life and performance, then a mid range device might be the way to go.
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