How do YOU Define Smartphone Brackets (Mid-range, etc)? Price, or Specs?

How do YOU Define Smartphone Brackets (Mid-range, etc)? Price, or Specs?

The open nature of Android has led to many things. While the fragmentation experienced in the ecosystem can be frustrating due to slow updates, developers also have similar headaches to developing an Android app and having to work across different software versions and hardware configurations.

The differentiation has also become notable due to thousands of manufacturers, as devices of all sorts run Android. Smartphones, phablets, tablets, smartwatches, laptops, the possibilities are already almost endless. Staying on path, another issue that has worsened over the years is the classification of Android devices.

The same debate has lingered on how to differentiate a phone from a phablet and tablet. The focus for today’s debate is how we should classify a phone. What would make us say, hey, this is a low-end phone. Or say this is a mid-range or high-end device.  Are we moved by the specs, or the price? Smartphones should have some way of classifying them, shouldn’t  it? Do we use the features it carry? Or do we rather use its price tag as reference?

Some people stand for the price-specific motion, while other have vehemently argued against it. Some situations such as time and geographical location can affect how we classify mobile phones as well. The choice could also differ with people, though this is determined by their level of smartphone knowledge as well. Let’s look at a few pointers.

The Spec Classification:

A look at a phone’s specifications is a logical way of determining which class it falls under. To really exemplify this, let’s consider this imaginary OEM XXX which launched three devices. A low-end phone, a mid-range phone, and a high-end phone. This table below sums up the best case scenario for the different classes.

Low-End Mid-Range High-End
480p – 720p display 1080p display 1440p display
Dual-core/Quad-core low-end chip Quad-core/Octa-core older-flagship, mid-end chip Octa-core/Deca-core flagship chip
512MB-2 GB RAM 2 GB – 3 GB RAM 3 GB – 4 GB RAM

Though the table above carry approximate values, it give us a clear picture of how phones of this day are classified. This may vary from person to person, but the general trend with what OEM’s are making now is something  similar to this. And that abstraction is isomorphic across the board, even when the lines are starting to blur as the average smartphone gets better and better.

The Price Classification:

This aspect is where a lot of misconception sets in. Most people don’t care to look at the spec sheet, and merely classify a phone through its price. A $700 phone can be called high-end, while $300-$400 can be called mid-range, and a less than $150 phone can be classed as low-end.

The problem here is that this can be used by manufacturers to sway buyers. People could easily assume that the lower-priced smartphone is a bad buy — but this is not always the case. I’ve seen horribly-specced devices over-priced for no reason. I’ve seen very good devices priced very low, which makes one wonder. For instance, in my part of the world, the Samsung Galaxy J1 (a perceived low-end phone) costs approximately $140, this is the same price of a far better-specced Infinix Hot 3. Some OEMs are also known to overprice their devices despite the specifications being just in line with the competition, or perhaps even slightly behind (hence the so-called “Sony tax”).

One the low-end, you can find devices with just 1GB RAM costing as much as $200! The layman could purchase this, head swelling that they’ve got something good.

There are other factors affecting how phone specs are classified, I’ll briefly look at them before rounding up:

Time…

As days go by, new technology surfaces and overshadows what was already in place. There was once a time 1GB RAM on a phone was heavily appreciated. This time next year, the table above could get obsolete, or have its columns shift one slot to the left. As a result, these classifications are always changing, and thus we judge the categories of both price and specs in relation to the “best” and the “worst”.

Location..

The area of residence also greatly affects our interpretation of smartphone ranges. What we defined as low-end through European and North American standards, could pass for “mid-range” in emerging markets. In most cases, the cheap brands available in developing countries never make their way to the Western world.

In conclusion, how do we rate phones? Can we definitively say that specs classify a device? Can we finish off by saying that price determines the class of a device? Sound off your thoughts.

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