Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Top-tier smartphones have become astronomically expensive. But no phone lasts forever, and when a successor arrives, you can get the older flagship at a discount. On the other side of the coin are budget devices, which also release regularly.
If you’re in the market for a new phone, how does an older premium device compare to a brand-new budget phone? We find out in this detailed comparison.
Advantages of Old Flagship Phones
First, let’s review some pros of buying a premium model smartphone from last year or the year before.
1. Better Cameras
Even though the cameras on more affordable phones have come a long way, flagships still have a much better set of camera hardware. On premium devices, you have access to higher-end lenses and sensors, which enables richer photography in nearly all scenarios.
In addition, budget phones come up short on the software front and usually have fewer options than their more expensive counterparts. Cameras on flagship phones are versatile, with multiple cameras on the front and rear.
That said, in ideal daylight situations, results on both sides are largely comparable, especially if you only plan to post on social media. This point thus depends on how actively you use the cameras on your phones.
Waterproofing is one major perk that still hasn’t trickled down to the budget phone segment. Some, like Motorola, do offer a splash-resistant exterior, but it’s quite limited. This doesn’t ensure your phone will avoid even minor water damages.
On the other hand, you can use upper-tier phones from companies like Samsung and Apple in rain or even to record quick videos underwater.
It’s worth noting that no phones have a warranty policy that covers water damage. So it’s always a risk to use your phone in environments involving water, no matter how much they cost.
3. Longer Software Support
The older-generation flagship you’re eyeing probably ships with outdated software. But chances are its manufacturer will support it for a longer period of time than its budget series.
Since premium phones cost a lot, people expect to own them for a longer period of time. And to help ensure they don’t run into issues a year or two down the road, OEMs push more updates to them. Plus, a flagship phone receives relatively consistent security patches compared to an affordable one.
We’ve looked at the top smartphone manufacturers for software updates if you’re curious.
4. Unique and Superior Designs
To cut corners, phone makers don’t spend as much in research when building a budget phone; they tend to follow a template. Design is where you’ll notice this the most, as cheaper products generally have a bland exterior.
Contrarily, flagships feature unique and superior designs made out of higher-quality materials. Do note, however, that because budget phones often have a polycarbonate shell, they’re more rugged and thus better equipped to withstand falls.
5. Sharper Screens
Despite being released some time ago, a flagship phone will most likely still have a sharper screen than a budget model. The majority of top-tier devices come with a Quad HD panel instead of the 1080p resolution available on more affordable phones.
On top of that, premium products pack a bunch of additional features like HDR10 compatibility and a tougher layer of protection. Another spec only found on high-end phones is an OLED display, which offers deeper blacks and better color contrasts than LCD.
6. Faster and Wireless Charging
Similarly, quick charging is not as widespread in the mid-range segments. For that, you will have to invest in a high-end phone.
While it is present to some level on budget devices, flagships have much faster battery top-up speeds. The same goes for wireless charging, which at the time of writing is not available on any low-end phone.
7. Older Processor vs. Mid-Tier Chip
The budget phone you’re considering may have the latest mid-range processor. However, unless the flagship is years old, the chip it runs will still be more capable in terms of raw performance.
So if you’re looking to play advanced games or do any other resource-intensive tasks, an older but more powerful CPU is the way to go.
Advantages of New Budget Phones
Now that we’ve reviewed the perks of an older flagship, let’s look at the best reasons to get a brand-new budget device.
1. Bigger Batteries
Since budget phones are generally thicker and have more space for internals, they often pack bigger batteries.
OEMs try to make their premium offerings as thin as possible, leaving little room for components. Moreover, because budget devices run on a less demanding chipset and don’t sport high-resolution displays, they’re able to last longer on a single charge.
2. Better Customer Support for New Products
New products are favored when it comes to customer support. That doesn’t mean the flagship phone you’re thinking about will be neglected, especially if it’s still in warranty.
But to make sure their new phone sells well, OEMs need to maintain a good reputation. A delayed response or repair won’t help that.
3. Latest Software Out of the Box
While a premium phone will be probably receive support for a longer period, new launches typically ship with the latest software out of the box.
This means you won’t have to wait for an update to try out trending features. These attributes, though, vary across the market and might not hold true in some cases.
4. More Storage and Memory
On a budget phone, you can get more storage and memory without spending much. Even if the base variant doesn’t have enough, you can upgrade by shelling out a little extra.
Xiaomi’s Poco F1, for instance, comes with 6GB of RAM for $300. In comparison, the Google Pixel has 4GB of RAM and starts at $799.
Features to Consider Before Buying a New Phone
We hope you now have a better understanding of the differences between a new budget phone and a dated flagship.
But your job is not done yet—you have to decide which particular phone to buy. And going through the major specifications won’t be enough. Review the features you should keep in mind while purchasing a phone. Plus, consider all the reasons you should get an unlocked phone.