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Flagship, mid-range, premium, high-end smartphone. What does it all mean?


Flagships devices, high-end devices mid range, premium the classes go on and on. Its a mess trying to explain which devices go were and why but I think I might be able to clear the air a little bit.

Defining them with respect to their processing power for me seems like a more palatable categorizing method.

What is a Flagship?

iPhone 8
iPhone 8

Let’s try and reserve flagship for devices that have the latest and greatest bleeding edge hardware and software available at the time of their release. So typical traits of a flagship will include:

  • Latest and most powerful processor available
  • Best camera technology available
  • Latest available software
  • Finest materials (Gems like sapphire crystal for displays and camera lenses or titanium or ceramic for the body)
  • Come with all the cool new tech (stuff like holographic displays or screens on the back and front and so forth)
  • All round capabilities including excellent battery life, heaps of performance, compact design and best all round user experience
  • Usually costs arms and legs

Here that is where you will find devices like the Huawei P and Mate series, Samsung Galaxy S and Note series, LG G and V series, Sony Xperia Z and XZ series, Tecno Phantom series. Apple basically just makes flagships only, same with OnePlus and Google Pixel. Whew I think I have picked out the vast majority.

But wait a sec. And where are the rest of the phones?

The Mid-rangers

Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro
Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro

This is where the bulk of smartphone sales is located because they are what most of us can afford. These have slightly less flamboyant bells and whistles that come with flagships.

Not only that but this is were devices start getting task specific unlike the flagship way of trying to be an all rounder.

Lets see whats typical here:

  • Slightly more target specific (Good on battery alone, good on camera alone or good on audio alone)
  • Processors are more focused on conserving power giving you just enough oomph. No overkill here.
  • Lack a few of the flamboyant bells and whistles that flagships have but do inherit some stuff from previous generation flagships
  • Also drop it down a notch on the fancy build materials
  • Are pretty affordable as a result of all of the above

Mind you, mid-rangers have come such a long way because of brutal competition making them more and more desirable. And because of that we have a sub category in these mid-rangers which jumbles everything up a bit.

Its called High End and this refers to those ‘Upper mid-range‘ devices that do not have the best in the market processors but compensate with some premium materials and a bit more bells and whistles.

However since these processors are not the most powerful around they end up not being able to enjoy the full list of benefits that the most powerful processors offer.

Nonetheless these come so close to flagships that some manufacturers even dare call them flagships. Alright alright here are some examples of STANDARD mid-rangers

  • Samsung J and C series
  • Huawei G and Y series
  • Oppo A series
  • LG K series
  • Tecno W and L series
  • Sony Xperia C and L

And those High end upper mid-rangers or aspiring be flagships include:

So you will find out that these high end mid-rangers are going so be really close on price to the flagships and to be honest it is somewhat justified.

You can’t tell them apart with flagships when it comes to normal day-to-day usage, build quality and choice of materials. It is for the most part the same stuff you’ll find on flagships.

Entry level

As the name suggests these are bare bones devices that are just there to give you access to the smartphone environment. Here you only find the essentials to get you going. Its the intro to smartphones starter-pack if we can call it that.

Here you start to forgo luxuries like 4G LTE and even sometimes 3G. Storage is a luxury as well so you just get enough to store a bit of photos leaving you with not much left for videos.

Picture quality from the display as well as camera is also just enough to make out that that’s a face and that’s a tree and battery is usually pretty generous.

If anyone cares to know examples of these well here goes:

  • ZTE V and some Blade variants
  • Some Huawei Y variants
  • Samsung Galaxy Core prime or Pocket

Yes these are those devices plagued with freezing and crashing but that’s because you want to use them for what they are not designed to do. These are smartphone starter-packs for the most basics of multi tasking, lightest of apps and for the most novice of users.

No frills are offered here and their mission is to show all those coming from feature phones just a taste…not a bite, just a taste of what’s on the other side.  Dang it, now we have feature phones again…

Feature Phones/Mbudzi(Goat)


This is were almost everyone got their first mobile phone experience before the age of mobile internet and WhatsApp and Instagram. These are those devices that closed apps if you want to open another one, they were endurance juggernauts and the titans of reliability even after a dunk in some fluids.

The Nokia 1600s, 1800s, X2s and C3’s, the Samsung D900s and E250s, the Guru E1200s you know the ones that we used to flex our no-look style of texting talents on. That one phone you go to when sophisticated technology has lost it’s last life.


Here it is folks. My reasoning to this rather interesting classification of smartphone categories. I’m in the comments if you feel the burning desire to continue the conversation.


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