Opinion: Mid-Rangers or Ex-Flagships?

So many phones to choose, so limited my budget.
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Another month, another opinion-based article. In this opportunity, I want to talk about whether you should buy ex-flagships (aka the former kings) or the new mid-rangers when you have limited budget. Honestly, it's not easy to choose one unless you really know what you really want and what you're going to buy. Normally, sellers will offer you newer goods, but old stuffs don't always mean outdated and obsolete, right?

I'm going to divide this article to 2 sections: Ex-Flagships and Mid-Rangers. In each side I will point out its related pros and cons. Hopefully, you will find them clear enough. So go on, head past the break to read them all! :D


Ex-Flagships were the kings.
  1. It was the best
    • No matter how you look at it, old Flagships were the kings... Well, at least they were. They just don't have enough power or features to take on their successors. Bear in mind that they carried the best design, features, and performance at launch. Even if they are older than a year, chances are their powers are still on par with today's mid-rangers and still powerful enough to take on everyday tasks.
  2. Premium Features
    LG G4's camera is still considered as one of the best cameras mounted on a phone.
    • Flagships are designed to reign the market, and so, they carry premium features not found on lower-end phones. For example, LG G4's camera is still considered as one of the best cameras ever mounted on the back of a smartphone. Another example is Sony's signature waterproofing in its Xperia Z series (now X series, or XZ). Only a few mid-rangers carry this feature, and most of them is Sony's.
  3. More value-for-money
    • Electronics aren't like stocks. Their prices never go up, just down, down, and down. Normally, a flagship should have its prices slashed quite significantly the next year, so of course you can grab them for cheap. Be wary that this doesn't apply for certain types of flagships, though. Just make sure to research your phones properly before you decide to bring them home.
  4. More likely to have ongoing software support
    Do you know that the Z5 will receive Nougat?
    • Manufacturers love their flagships. They are their biggest source of income. Besides, many people decide to go for flagship phones not only for power and features, but also prestige. Therefore, the manufacturers have to keep them happy to make them loyal. This is why flagships tend to receive better and longer software support than mid-rangers. Take Samsung's Galaxy S and Note lines. They receive regular updates and security patches compared to other series like, say, J series, right? Of course, this only applies to flagships which are only one or two years old. Most manufacturers won't support phones older than 2 years in terms of software.

  1. Might not be available new
    Samsung sells refurbished phones, just like Apple. However, it is only
    available in limited regions.
    • Though not always the case, manufacturers reserve every right to stop the production of older models once its successor comes up. Once stopped, stores won't be able to restock that particular phone. Usually, this will mean clearance sale, but if you're missing out, chances are you won't be able to get them brand new. You can still get second-hand products, but that won't beat the feeling of unboxing a brand-new, sealed box, right? You may also get certified pre-owned (or refurbished) phones, but only in limited regions. Besides, when buying second-hand and refurbished products, you need to really make sure that you're not getting a lemon.
  2. Missing out on the latest technology
    • In terms of raw power, flagships might still have it. In terms of technology, however, it may not. For example, new CPUs are more power-efficient than its predecessors, and quick-charge technology gets faster and faster every year. Most of the time, it shouldn't be a concern, but it's worth pointing out.
    • One example in this is Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 625. More details below.
  3. Possibility of high cost for maintenance and spare parts
    • Discontinued products, though not always the case, mean discontinued spare parts. This means that if your phone is broken and some parts need replacing, you will either have to (or both):
      1. Wait a long time for parts
        • Though the model itself is not discontinued, parts may still be scarce and stored in the nearest major city (for example: Jakarta in Indonesia). This could mean longer repair time, except if you live in that city. Sometimes, this may also mean the service center will ship your phone to that city for repair, and that may take weeks, or even months. 
      2. Pay a higher repair price
        • Thanks to the law of supply and demand, you might need to shell out more cash for parts of a discontinued model. This mostly applies to third-party service providers, since authorized service providers might already charge a premium for a repair regardless of parts availability.
  4. Deal with sub-original parts
    • It is common for third-party service providers, that they may use parts which are not original since the original ones are discontinued (or too costly). In terms of compatibility, they might be compatible with your phone. In terms of performance, however, they may not. Worst case scenario, they won't last long.

Regardless of build quality, spare parts availability is important.
Okay, that's all for ex-flagships phones. What about mid-rangers?


New and cheap, mid-rangers also offer compelling choices.
  1. New Technology
    The new Snapdragon 625, though not as powerful as the 650, is built on 14nm
    technology, making it more power efficient than older chips.
    • As stated before, technology advances over time. Even past flagship-level features may be brought over to current mid-rangers. For example, Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology is now available to a few mid-range phones. Newer mid-rangers may also benefit from the latest battery or hardware technology.
  2. Latest OS
    • Though not warranted with future software updates, most mid-rangers are equipped with the latest OS at its time of release (or one version behind the latest, depending on the latest version's availability). Currently, most mid-rangers are released with Marshmallow. In a few months, new mid-rangers will surely launch with Nougat on board. This should help the new batch keep up with the latest technologies and features the latest OS has to offer.
  3. Not too concerned with spare parts availability
    • Thanks to its "new" status, it's obvious that the manufacturers will continue producing that model's spare parts, so you shouldn't worry about parts availability. Just make sure to handle your phone with care.

  1. Questionable software support
    • If flagships are often treated as first-class products, think of mid-rangers as second-class products. They may have occasional software updates, but don't count on regular ones. Heck, some mid-rangers even never receive any update at all. While this shouldn't be problematic, people who love to have the latest and greatest might find this… disturbing.
  2. Possibility of sub-par performance
    Antutu Score from ASUS ZenFone 3 powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. Compared to last year's Snapdragon 810, it doesn't perform as well (though the 810 is plagued by overheat issues).
    • Mid-rangers may have the latest technology. In terms of raw performance, however, they may not. Higher-end mid-range CPUs might perform as fast as last year's flagships, such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 650. However, most of the time, this is not the case. The performance difference might not be noticeable in real life, but for benchmark die-hards, it matters.
  3. Missing premium features
    Fancy taking your phone to the showers?
    • Unlike flagships, mid-rangers are never designed to be the best. They are designed to get into as many hands as possible. Therefore, chances are they don't have features that flagships have. Some examples include OIS (which normal mid-range phones have OIS?) and waterproofing. 

Well, I guess that's all for now, Folks. I hope you find this article useful. Of course, this article is subject to change, not only from the ever-growing and ever-advancing technology, but also from where you live. Even so, this article should give you a general idea of things to consider when choosing your next phone. Finally, thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to your next visit. Have a nice day! :D


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