How Much Should You Spend on a Smartphone? 7 Price Points Compared

Smartphones come at various price points. From under $100 to over $1000, there’s something available for everyone. But how much should you really spend on a new phone? What features can you expect from each price point? And most importantly, which price is right for you?

Let’s find out.

Under $100: Fit for Kids or Elders

Buying a new smartphone under $100 is not recommended unless you’re buying it for kids or elders. At this price, manufacturers don’t have an incentive to innovate, so the best you can get is a phone that can barely get you through the day with medium use.

Expect bad performance, bad camera, bad battery, bad build quality, bad display, and mediocre storage. That’s why, instead of buying a new phone at this price, you’re better off buying a second-hand budget phone that’ll work at least somewhat reliably and not be too big an inconvenience.

Expected Features:

  • 5MP main and front camera
  • 2GB RAM; 16GB ROM with microSD card slot
  • HD LCD screen with thick bezels
  • 2000mAh battery
  • All plastic body; headphone jack
  • Micro-USB charging port

$100–$200: Basic Functionalities

Things improve quite dramatically when you jump from under $100 to up to $200. People who buy at this price are looking for basic functionalities, especially good battery life and decent storage. But cameras, build quality, and performance remain poor. This price point is fit for you if your use case is limited to web browsing, social media, light gaming, and light photography.

Expected Features:

  • Rear triple-camera setup; 12MP main camera; 8MP front camera; 1080p video @ 30fps
  • 4GB RAM; 64GB ROM with microSD card slot
  • HD LCD screen; teardrop notch
  • 5000mAh battery; 15W wired charging
  • All plastic body; headphone jack
  • Rear capacitive fingerprint sensor
  • Micro-USB charging port

$200–$300: Value for Money Hotspot

The $200–$300 bracket is where you have the best chance at finding the best value. In this segment, a majority of the bestselling phones come from Chinese phone makers. Unfortunately, if you’re in the US your options here will be much more limited than elsewhere in the world

Wherever you are, you can also find some solid deals from Samsung. Phones at this price point are not only packed with all essential features but also often have quirky designs to differentiate them from other options.

Expected Features:

  • Rear quad-camera setup; 48MP main camera; 16MP front camera; 4K video @ 30fps
  • 6GB RAM; 128GB ROM with microSD card slot
  • FHD AMOLED screen; 90Hz refresh rate; punch-hole front camera
  • 5000mAh battery; 15W wired charging
  • All plastic body; headphone jack
  • Rear or side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor
  • USB-C 2.0 charging port

$300–$500: Flagship Killers

$300–$500: Flagship Killers

The $300–$500 bracket is a very exciting one; it’s where the flagship killers are born. The goal here is simple: offer flagship specs at an affordable price. OnePlus popularized this trend, but as more brands entered the market with their flagship killers, this price bracket has become more competitive than ever.

Phones at this price range are targeted towards a more tech-savvy audience that understands specs and a bit of jargon; they can run most high-end mobile games well but not flawlessly.

Expected Features:

  • Rear quad-camera setup; 48MP main camera; 16MP front camera; 4K video @ 30fps
  • 6GB RAM; 128GB ROM with microSD card slot
  • FHD AMOLED screen; 120Hz refresh rate; punch-hole front camera
  • 4500mAh battery; 25W fast wired charging
  • Aluminum and plastic body; no headphone jack; IP67 rating
  • Under-display optical fingerprint sensor
  • USB-C 2.0 charging port

$500–$700: More Than Specs

In the $500–$700 price bracket, you’re paying a premium price for a premium product. As good as flagship killers are for the value they offer, they tend to focus more on the core specs and less on the features that aren’t shown in spec sheets.

So aside from amazing performance, you can also expect great build quality, an IP68 rating (for protection against dust and water), louder and cleaner speakers, better software optimization, amazing cameras, and better haptic feedback.

Expected Features:

  • Rear quad-camera setup; 64MP main camera; 32MP front camera; 4K video @ 60fps
  • 8GB RAM; 128GB ROM; no microSD card slot
  • FHD AMOLED screen; 120Hz refresh rate; punch-hole front camera
  • 4500mAh battery; 25W fast wired charging; wireless charging
  • Aluminum and plastic body; no headphone jack; IP68 rating
  • Under-display optical fingerprint sensor
  • USB-C 2.0 charging port

Although you can probably find them under $700, most modern flagships live in the $700–$1000 price bracket. This is also where the competition between Android and iPhone really heats up.

Here, you are paying not just for the amazing specs and hardware, but also special features such as 8K video support, QHD resolution, LTPO display, and much more cutting-edge tech. Phones in this segment are very reliable, come with premium features, and take additional measures for privacy and security.

Expected Features:

  • Rear quad-camera setup; 64MP main camera; 32MP front camera; 8K video @ 24fps
  • 12GB RAM; 256GB ROM; no microSD card slot
  • LTPO QHD AMOLED screen; 120Hz refresh rate; punch-hole front camera
  • 4500mAh battery; 65W fast wired charging; wireless charging; reverse wireless charging
  • Glass and aluminum body; no headphone jack; IP68 rating
  • Under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor or face unlock
  • USB-C 3.2 charging port

Above $1000: Bleeding-Edge

Above $1000, you’re getting the best of the best. For a price this high, you can get the features that no other price point can replicate. This means stunning cameras, unique designs, maxed-out performance, tighter integration with the ecosystem, and specialized features.

The goal here is to maximize convenience and eliminate the need for other tech gadgets. For instance, computational photography replaces DSLRs, 1TB storage replaces external hard drives, foldable phones replace tablets, and tough build quality replaces the need for back covers and screen protectors.

Expected Features:

  • Rear quad-camera setup; 108MP main camera; 32MP front camera; 8K video @ 24fps
  • 12GB RAM; 1TB ROM; no microSD card slot
  • LTPO 2.0 QHD AMOLED screen; 120Hz refresh rate; punch-hole front camera
  • 4500mAh battery; 65W fast wired charging; wireless charging; reverse wireless charging
  • Glass and aluminum body; no headphone jack; IP68 rating
  • Under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor or face unlock
  • USB-C 3.2 charging port

Which Price Is Right for You?

Depending on your use case, the right price for you will vary. Do note that the increase in specs is not perfectly linear in smartphones; some high-end features are easier to replicate in budget phones while others are not. Plus, remember that simply having good specs doesn’t always tell the whole story.

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