Budget vs. Mid-range vs. Premium: Exploring the different phone categories

The Android space is saturated. There are great phones at every price point, from the $70 Moto E4 all the way up to the $800+ Galaxy S8+. And while the premium phone segment will always have a place in the market for early adopters and tech enthusiasts, it's not clear whether the returns are worth it.

Case in point: the Moto G5 Plus, which costs around $230 but can be found for less, is a fantastic budget device with very few compromises. And the OnePlus 5, which costs $479, is a premium phone at a mid-range price. How do they stack up to the aforementioned Galaxy S8+? Our resident video guru, Jacklyn, explores this question in her latest video.

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

  • i have always had flagships, and I'm considering dropping down to mid-range and/or budget phones
  • I mentioned this in Flo's Pixel article from this morning, but it's worth repeating: unless you really care about getting the best possible photos you can from your phone(a totally valid feature to ask for), you'd be served better by a mid range phone with a Snapdragon 626 or 660 than a flagship. It'll be half the price, 95% as good and get much better battery life.
  • In addition to what tom said, sometimes you also get extra features like the IR blaster with xiaomi phones or custom ROM support with 1+ phones.
  • Well I think the Mate 9 has an IR Blaster and a good camera, so I think i might pick it up
  • For me, a mid-range that hits the spot in what matters to me is for me. I'm not really into flagships unless I'm out of choices like one seems to be if they want a good small phone (small in this case means in mainly height and width for me).
  • Question: which phone for less than $400 has the best camera with OIS? I'm happy with the processors and screens on cheaper phones, but the cameras always seem to be unusably poor.
  • Since you want OIS, you might have to go old, but I'm not super sure about that.
  • @saim1n A used or refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or LG G5 are two choices that come to mind. I'm sure there are far better, newer choices, so this is just a brief idea.
  • I bought my S7 Edge in February brand new out the door @ T-Mobile for 360 US dollars. Threw the BlackBerry Hub subscription on along with the BlackBerry virtual keyboard and I have been very pleased. Security patch is currently July 5th. No complaints here (except I still use my BlackBerry Classic here and there for the exceptional physical keyboard and form factor) So many damn good devices sold through reputable persons on Swappa as well. Deals are out there. I know I'll never pay "Flagship" prices again.
  • Totally agree with the above. I have a Samsung S7 for more than one year. Battery deteriorate every month. While on vacations I have acquired a Xiaomi redmi note 4 (the one with the 625 processor) for 250 Euros just for the reason of having the possibility of using 2 SIM cards. Downloaded the blackberry suite and launcher and to be honest don't feel much difference from my S7. By the way, my Xiaomi battery easily lasts 1,5 - 2 days with no need to recharge. Do I need a top notch phone? No.
  • I used to get premium phones but then because of some health issues i had to let my AT&T contract service go. Now im on Cricket and quite happily using an LG Stylo2. But if i could I would darn sure get the HTC U 11.
  • @jimmy hallmark
    Even though the HTC U11 does have some excellent flagship features, you'd end up losing a small amount of screen estate, headphone jack, removable battery and stylus going from your Stylo 2 to HTC U11. That said, you'd also gain an amazing camera, quad-HD screen and a newer, faster processor.
  • Lately, I've been more on the practical side. Would rather purchase yesteryear's flagship than a current mid-range.
  • I agree with the review except for the analysis of the software. I don't see the appeal of having a UI that is close to stock Android, because I find stock Android to be really ugly, inelegant, and lacking in features. Samsung's user interface and features make stock Android look woefully dated, ugly, and inadequate. Stock Android is not, and has never been, anything I want to have to put up with on my phones.. I have higher expectations and stock comes up way way short.
  • One plus 5 is premium on mid range price
    blackberry keyone is a mid range on premium price But I still got myself a keyone. Lol
  • Usually, you can save big on last year's flagship phones and they are much better than the current midrange phones. I think some of them are down to 299 now.
    If you don't have to have the latest and greatest, gets last year's greatest.
  • I put this to the test recently, buying myself a user Galaxy S7 4gb/32gb and a new Moto G5 Plus 4gb/64gb. I used them one after the other for a week each, as well as side by side for some camera testing and speed testing. Kept the Moto G5 Plus. S7 has a better main camera, and full waterproofing. But I liked everything else about the G5 Plus equal or better. Especially the battery life, which is easily double that on the S7. YMMV, depending on what you value in a phone, whether you're a gamer, whether you need OIS on a camera because you have shaky hands, etc. If you've never tried the new 6xx powered mid rangers like the Moto G5 Plus yourself, I can guess why you'd be skeptical. But if our use one, my guess is your be shocked how good they are.
  • Personally I put phones in four categories. Premium, sub-premium, mid-range, and budget.
  • I believe that while Flagship tier will always have a place either with folks whom have a genuine need or early adopters; for most folks a Mid-range device will suffice nicely... From personal experience, I've always been a Mid-range kind of guy while my younger brother has been a well equipped IPhone guy. Yet while maybe not spec for spec, my moderately priced G5Plus can keep up quite nicely with his IPhone and do it for a lot less...
  • I’m thinking of switching back to Android from an iPhone SE and am looking in the midrange category. ZTE Blade V8 Pro ($230)
    Nokia 6 ($230)
    Moto G5 Plus ($230-$300)
    Alcatel Idol 5S ($280)