Are Expensive Smartphones Worth It: 9 Reasons To (Not) Buy

Why do some of us spend so much on the latest smartphone when we can buy very able phones for half the price? New flagship phones can cost over $1,000, which is quite substantial for most people. But when mid-range phones offer similar if not more features are expensive smartphones worth it?

When buying a new phone, expensive smartphones are worth it when the owner keeps their device for a long time and well protected. Generally, flagship phones with their new features rarely justify a higher price tag. Mid-range phones perform well and retain their use longer than cheaper smartphones.

To help make sense of it all, this article looks at 3 reasons why an expensive new smartphone, mid-range, and cheap smartphones are worth it. I will also tell you why expensive is relative.

Woman shrugging shoulders with money in one hand and smartphone in other.

When An Expensive Smartphone IS Worth It

You can be careful and don’t need something better soon.

Whether a scratch or a nick, even the slightest damage on a high-end phone can be a sore sight, especially if you often trade-in and upgrade your devices. If you can be extra careful with the phone, the latest phone will last longer than phones in other price ranges.

When deciding whether to buy the newest device, I often amortize the price across the number of months I expect to own the smartphone. A $1,000 smartphone over 3 years or 36 months is $27.78 per month. If that fits into my monthly budget for a device that I use many times a day, then purchasing a flagship smartphone may be worth it.

It’s worth noting that the latest flagship device now will not be the newest on the market one month from now. There will likely be a newer version sporting new features, looks, and faster internals. If you’re the type of person that does not get tech-envy, buying a high-end device makes sense.

Since new smartphones are released almost every month, manufacturers have been slower to bring new features and capabilities to the table. An expensive smartphone may be worth it to have a device that will run the best apps for years into the future.

Business man in suit on expensive smartphone outside office building.

You need it for your job.

If you are into new technology or need a good phone for your job, then an expensive smartphone may be worth it.

Perhaps you are a tech reviewer and need to test various applications or games that require high-end specs to run.

Also, if you buy it for business (to run things efficiently or better serve clients), that can be a logical reason for breaking the bank on the latest smartphone with flagship specs.

Looking for the best performance and build quality

Flagship phones come with robust processors and larger memory capacity, which means they will continuously deliver more optimized and faster performance than a mid-range or budget phone. Similarly, they come with better specs to handle high-end games, photo, and video editing, or other intensive apps without any problems.

Flagships also get updates faster than their mid-range counterparts because most companies like Apple and Samsung prioritize high-end devices to stand out. Software support is generally top-notch, handling major software upgrades without any problems.

Also, most high-end smartphones have better build quality than other phones. The manufacturers use the latest hardware components, more resilient glass or metal unibodies. These design inclusions lend to sturdy technology that better tolerates the daily use and abuse over lower-priced smartphones.

When To Get A Mid-Range Smartphone

The experience is almost the same.

Generally, most people use their smartphones to send messages, access social media, browse the internet and perhaps play casual games. Like a flagship, a mid-range phone will do the job in most situations.

A flagship device from a few months ago is today’s mid-range phone. From superior LED displays to fast, wireless charging, and even better cameras, you will find most features in mid-range phones available in premium smartphones today.

Even when manufacturers produce a new phone for the mid-range price point, they still strive to satisfy the market with a phone that’s sleek and slim. The company will make certain compromises on the internal components, reducing the battery size, memory capacity, or processor generation.

Today’s cheap phones give you more for your money.

Modern smartphones are getting more powerful. The inexpensive phone my colleague uses is just as robust as a high-end phone that cost 4 or 5 times more a few years ago. The iPhone SE or Google Pixel, for instance, considerably avoids the shortcomings of most mid-range phones. The processors are fast and can run games and apps for several years.

The cameras are also great as they can take photos even in low light. They also offer guaranteed OS updates and years of usability at half the price. Nowadays, advanced features aren’t as great as before and rarely affect the average user’s experience.

Woman screaming in frustration over cracked screen of expensive smartphone.

Damage or loss can be stressful.

A high-end phone is more complicated to replace than a mid-range one. If you are somewhat accident-prone like my wife, you would be better off with a mid-range phone. She has dropped 1 iPhone in the toilet, and another one that was barely two weeks old was dropped on concrete face down, which was immediately stepped on. And you can guess how devastating that was. Having a high-end flagship phone means being extra careful to keep it scratch-free and safe.

If you accidentally destroy or drop your expensive phone or it is stolen, not only is it painful, but it can also be stressful.

Also, most mid-range phones cost less and still offer the battery life, camera quality, and performance that high-end handsets provide. I know buying a cheaper phone can be a bit dissatisfying at first if you love fancy gadgets or love top-notch features. However, they still feel solid thanks to enhanced charging speeds, camera tech, and the design of most inexpensive smartphones today.

Of course, you won’t get the exclusive features that the expensive, best phones have. Still, you will be surprised to notice how inessential most of the so-called “high-end features” really are.

When A Low-End Cheap Phone Is Best

Stop hackers from accessing sensitive data from your primary phone.

Besides unauthorized data sharing, signing into untrusted different accounts or websites with your main phone has security issues. This is especially true if the sites you log into are insufficiently protected.

Using a different cheap phone, without your private data, lets you start a new conversation with anyone on a clean slate that cannot be sold or bought on the Dark Web. You can create a separate email address to handle all your other accounts.

Similarly, high-end phones are very attractive to pickpockets and snatchers. Flashing around a new iPhone in a crowded place or a rally carelessly might attract the wrong attention. Even if it is snatched, the effect won’t be that much, as you can always get a new one. You would be better off using a low-end cheap phone in such a scenario.

Small, black burner flip phone.

If you need a burner phone

If you need a burner and are not willing to spend on expensive devices, a cheap low-end phone may be the right fit. Because of limited functionality, burner phones are more affordable than high-end or mid-range phones.

While ghosting is not a good thing, it is necessary sometimes. For example, suppose you are a casual dater. In that case, a cheap burner phone number helps you to retain a sense of privacy affordably.

Cheap phone for work

If you need a separate phone for your job to separate work calls from your personal life, a simple low-end phone can do the job. Using a dedicated phone will boost productivity and ensure better privacy by allowing you to choose when not to be accessible. The second phone also makes it easy for you to know when a message or call you are answering is from a coworker, a client, or a relative.

You may have to sacrifice a bit on one area or another, such as the build quality or camera. Still, it is always worth it if you want to save and don’t need a fancy device for work.

A summary infographic of how to choose smartphones based on price.

“Expensive” Is Relative To Your Budget

Everyone has a different value system and budget to devote to an “expensive” or “cheap smartphone.”

If you have a new Lamborghini, your perception of a high price vehicle is different from someone who owns a 20-year-old truck.

Similarly, suppose you have an iPhone Plus. In that case, your idea of an expensive phone probably isn’t the same as somebody with an old Motorola phone.

The scary thing about expensive or cheap being relative is that your perception can change over time. Once you start using a high-end phone, you begin to desire more. And with time, expensive mobile phones become the new norm for you.

Price does not mean everything. That said, just because something is considered expensive to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is costly. Always look for possible alternatives and examine wants vs. needs.

Mike Chu

Mike is a web developer and content writer living as a digital nomad. With more than 20 years of devops experience, he brings his "programmer with people skills" approach to help explain technology to the average user. Check out his full author bio by clicking here.

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