Why your next phone needs to be a Budget Phone


As I’m sure you’re well aware, living on the bleeding edge of technology is the most expensive place to live. With foldables, flippables, and new tech being closer to the thousand-dollar range, it’s really important for us to talk about the mid-tier.

No one really likes the idea of being just “average”, the same really doesn’t apply to mid-tier phones. As long as you know what you are looking for and set the right expectations for yourself, you could set yourself up nicely and save a substantial amount of money. 

The importance of being average

Not everyone needs a flagship phone. 

There. I said it. 

Most people do not need the latest phone or bleeding-edge technology if all they are doing is taking some casual photos of their family or sending some text messages. For most people, there are only three real criteria they need to meet to have a good phone experience. 

  • Good battery
  • Good camera
  • Ease of use/reliability

A lot of these things are easy to explain, and most people don’t want to be concerned about carrying a battery charger around with them to top up their battery midday. They want to be able to charge it once a day, ideally more, and be able to charge it again at the end of the day when they go to sleep. They don’t want it to be a consideration. After all, these users wouldn’t be power users or folks who are spending hours scrolling on TikTok or Instagram. Mid-tier phones will be for those users who maybe want to scroll casually through social media while waiting for a bus, or play a short game of Candy Crush while on a break at work. 

The camera expectations are going to be in a similar vein. These are people who are more interested in reliability in a point-and-shoot camera to take a photo than trying to rummage through settings to find simple functions like the shutter for said camera. All they will want to know is that if they take a photo, it will look good, and if they go to a photo kiosk to print those photos, they will be of good quality. Most people don’t care if the photos are 4K or 1080p, as long as they look good and can be shared and enjoyed. By and large, even if their phones are able to do that most would not even think about going through the settings to change them in the first place!

Ease of use and reliability tend to come down to two features. How a phone is to be used to navigate things easily and reliably. Reliability normally comes down to one word: Speed. Most people do not want to fuss around a phone for basic functions like phone calls, texts, their preferred messaging app, and maybe email or other internet services. And how long they’re waiting for those things to open and close. This is the only place where that gets complicated because it will depend on RAM and the chipset.

However, the majority of people? You don’t need a Samsung S23 Ultra or an iPhone 14 Pro Max to achieve these things. You can get all of this, or very close to it, for about $200 – $400. In comparison to its flagship cousins, you could be saving about $1000. Definitely, nothing to be sniffed at. After all, who wouldn’t want an extra $1000 in their pocket?

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
But if you are interested in the latest and greatest that Samsung has to offer then the S23 Ultra is the way to go.

Learning from past mistakes

I have learned this from personal experience. As you can imagine, in this job we bounce between handsets a lot – it’s one of the perks of the job. However, life is happening to me in a big way right now, and I’m going through a lot of big life events. So, between one thing or another, I was driving my iPhone 13 Pro Max daily as my only working handset in the house. But, as you can imagine, my handset died just by deciding not to turn on one day. So, barring it being inconvenient for anyone it would happen to, I was due to go to hospital appointments that week. It was imperative that I get myself sorted out ASAP, as I rely on certain transportation and need my phone to contact them. 

Apple was no help. I use that iPhone a lot for health tracking – which is very robust, and this was probably a dangerous situation for me to be without any sort of fall detector or security in case of emergencies. Apple was just kind of like, “Well, we care, but we don’t care enough to send you a replacement that day, even though you need it for your medical stuff and you have appointments that you can’t cancel now because of this.” Because you don’t have Apple Care +.

So, needless to say – I needed a solution, and I needed a solution fast. Thankfully, some retailers here offer next-day delivery and I was able to pick myself up a Samsung A52 while I sent my daily driver off for repair. As I sat down with the device, I really wondered why people truly needed anything else in their lives for daily tasks. The phone was fast, reliable, had a good camera, and had decent battery life. Not quite as good as the iPhone that had been sent out but that is the difference of nearly $1200 (as I have the Pro Max version). Could I really sit there and tell you that there is a $1200 difference in value between the two? No. I really couldn’t. Not when you think you could basically buy the same phone three or four times before getting into iPhone or Galaxy S series phone territory. It’s hard to justify the difference between these for everyday phone users, like in our example up top. Even for a power user like me, it was very hard not to be impressed by just how much the budget tiers had to offer. 

Samsung Galaxy A52
The little phone that could!

How to find the one

Much like love, they say you’ll know it when you find it. And while that might be true for some things, with phones it can be a little different. We can at least offer a little guidance when it comes to finding the one that works for you. As with our key priorities listed above for average users we then have to talk about pairings that match those ideals. 

For instance, Samsung has two other series of phones other than the Samsung Galaxy S line that we all know of and those are the A and M series. 

A Series

The “A” in the A series stands for accessibility, which for Samsung means phones that are affordable at all different price tiers, starting from the super duper cheap which would be under $150. 

Under no circumstances should you – or anyone else that you care about, get a phone under the A40 class series. This means A30, A20, A10, and A0 classes shouldn’t be considered for your daily usage, as anything under this series line is compromised in power and subsequently in your sanity and patience. In our modern times people equate things that aren’t fast with them being broken. So unless you like waiting around for basic apps to load or other stuff we take for granted – do not buy anything in a lower numbered class from the A series. 

A good example of this is the Samsung A32, which has 4 gigs of RAM while the Samsung A54 has 6/8 gigs of RAM. This means, in English, that the phone will be able to run faster because it has more RAM in it. So if you’re ever unsure about what you’re picking, have a look to see if you can find out how much RAM the phone has. The more RAM you have at a competitive price point, the better.

Samsung A54 5G
For the best in the mid-tier that is available from Samsung this year.

Series M

The M Series is a set of dedicated devices developed for up-and-coming markets as well as the European market. These phones are internet exclusives, so they won’t be seen or talked about in your local phone shop or in traditional media as they are available exclusively online. This can mean that they’re not readily talked about, but for our use case? It’s the perfect example of checking all the boxes that our users need. 

The M line takes over from the discontinued J series but focuses hard on that competitive price point while focusing on those two areas of interest for our users, which are the camera and battery. These M models may only have one or two options per year but they are well worth the price if you are a bargain hunter who is willing to put in the work to find something for an exceptional price. When you cut out the middleman by not having these devices in your store, you open yourself to a world of opportunities you wouldn’t know about otherwise. 

Other Brands

RAM concerns and how to identify a phone’s specs simply apply to other known brands like Haiwei or Xiaomi. Anything in the Lite series or anything that is under $200 will most likely test your patience, as you will be running on a lower-end processor and likely less RAM too. So, as always, it is best to look out for key numbers like RAM. And isn’t likely to make you throw your new phone into the nearest bin out of frustration. 

Other ways to save money

Shop refurbished. A lot of times, when people think “refurbished” they think “crap” but that’s truly not the case. Best Buy and Amazon have a lot of open-box products that are heavily discounted simply because the box has been opened. So if you’re looking for something even better than an A series, buying something second-hand that has been refurbished by professional outlets is always going to be a great option to reduce your e-waste and save you a lot of money. 

Buy last year’s model. As technology innovates it always has to iterate too, meaning there is often little change year over year that would justify a noticeable upgrade. So don’t be afraid to look for last year’s or the year before’s model of phone to save a chunk of change and get something you’ll love. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Here's an example of a phone that is both last years model and that has been refurbished, and the cost is unbeatable at $274 (at time of writing) for a flagship phone that's about 2 years old.

These are perfect options for people who just want something that will work. And who isn’t really interested in brand or reputation – as they simply just want something that will work and that they’ll be able to cherish for years to come. After all, that’s what we all really want too.

Note: this article may contain affiliate links that help support our authors and keep the Phandroid servers running.

Specious Coda-Bishop
Staff Writer @phandroid | Top 5 Kingdom Hearts 3 Speedrunner | Twitch Affiliate | Xbox Ambassador

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