Are Flagship Smartphones Worth It In This Era of Great Midrange Phones?

With so many amazing smartphone options in the mid-level price echelon, does it still make sense for consumers to spend more than $1000 USD or PHP 53,000 on a new flagship handset?

I bet that's one of the tech-related questions that are flooding your mind currently -- and I understand. There are indeed a handful of developments or changes in the smartphone industry that could lead us to question our choices.

For instance, in previous years, we could only enjoy the benefits of a flagship-level 800-Series Qualcomm processor on a high-end model. Now, there's the fairly affordable Pocophone F1, which is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is also inside the far more expensive LG G7 ThinQ and Samsung Galaxy S9.

Heck, even the amount of RAM of mid-level models like the OPPO F9 rival that of top-the-line models. That phone by the Chinese tech giant has a whopping 6GB of RAM!

What about gaming performance, you ask? Frankly, some midrange models like the Honor Play have a technology called GPU Turbo that allow them to deliver smooth gameplay at high frame rates akin to what flagship phones deliver.

Aside from that, it used to be that luxurious exterior materials like aluminum and glass could only be found in pricey phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or Samsung Galaxy S8. Fast forward to today, you can enjoy a similar handset build on the budget-friendly Huawei Nova 3i.

Samsung Galaxy Note9, Great Cameraphone

So going back to the question that I posted in the title of this article, are flagship handsets still worth it in this time of incredible mid-tier models?

Well, as a tech blogger who has used various 2018 Android smartphones with different price tags - ranging from PHP 2,000 to PHP 75,000, my answer to that is a straight-forward "Yes".

To put it simply, what sets top-of-the-line Android phones apart from all others this year is stellar imaging performance, especially in low light conditions.

If you notice, even though manufacturers have been bringing high-end features like powerful processor, large amount of RAM, or opulent frame to the mid-level bracket, interestingly enough, they have kept the best cameras only in the ultra-premium bracket.

This reality mirrored by DxOMark's list of the Top 10 best cameraphones in the market currently, which is comprised mainly of flagship-level Android smartphones - except, of course, by the Apple iPhone X.

DxOMark measures the imaging prowess of cameraphones in terms of their autofocus speed, color brilliance, bokeh effect, texture, exposure and contrast, lossless zoom, as well as the ability to handle artifacts and noise.

Best Cameraphone 2018

Sure, you can argue that the cameras of midrange Android phones have also gotten so much better. I won't disagree. In fact, many of these budget-friendly devices now even have AI imaging software that automatically adjusts settings depending on the subject in front of the camera.

However, even at their best, the imaging capabilities of mid-level models pale in comparison to the photographic prowess of flagship handsets. For example, even if Huawei Nova 3i is an incredible cameraphone, it is still inferior to the powerhouse Huawei P20 Pro, which I think is easily the best cameraphone this year so far -- when we talk about snapping images in settings with dim lighting.

To wrap up, I'd say that when we carefully look at the key features of phones that are currently in the market, perhaps the one thing that makes a flagship handset a true top-of-the-line release is great imaging technology. As such, if you're an avid mobile imaging enthusiast or if having a daily driver that can function as a reliable point-and-shoot camera substitute is important to you, then - like me - you shouldn't have any issues in claiming that flagship smartphones are - indeed - still worth it in this day and age.

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