Why a Mid-Range Phone May Soon Be Your Go-To Device

Meeting in the middle

Key Takeaways

  • Mid-range mobile processors are starting to bring flagship features to more-affordable devices.
  • More-affordable phones with better-performing chipsets can bring a lot of benefits to the mobile ecosystem.
  • Experts say we could end up with phones that feature customizable internal specs, similar to personal computers.
Closeup of someone using a smartphone.

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Experts say the difference between flagship and mid-tier devices is rapidly closing, and, in the future, we could even see phone specs become more customizable like PCs.

Qualcomm recently announced the Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset. Much like the company’s high-end Snapdragon 888, the new device brings additional video capture features, AI capabilities, and better performance to premium mid-range devices.

This is yet another move by the company to improve the overall capabilities of the system chips available in more-affordable devices, and could completely negate the need to purchase a more expensive flagship device.

"Qualcomm chipsets are slowly narrowing the gap between mid-range and flagship phones," Steven Athwal, a smartphone expert with The Big Phone Store, told Lifewire in an email. "These game-changing chipsets are essentially eliminating the need to spend extra money for higher-quality phones."

Blending Performance

This isn’t the first chipset from manufacturers like Qualcomm that have helped bridge the gap between mid-range and flagship devices, but it is one of the most notable. Many of the past year’s most powerful Android phones have utilized Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888.

The more-expensive chipset has become a staple in flagship devices from companies like Samsung and offers many performance upgrades over other mid-range processors.

"Slowly but surely, I think we can expect smartphones to become much more customizable to fit the users’ needs."

The 778G 5G is so notable, though, because it brings some of the advanced AI features of the high-end chips to phones with mid-range prices. This means those features become available to more users than ever.

These advanced features include support for cameras with massive sensors, like the 50-megapixel chipset in Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra. The 778G 5G also brings three image-signal processors to the devices it will be installed in, a heavily touted feature in phones using the 888. Samsung used this ability to create its Director's View on S21 models, and it offers an easier way for users to record content.

Many have come to rely on their smartphones to capture images and video of important life moments, and it’s notable to see Qualcomm bringing those same types of features to the more-affordable chipset.

The chipset will include a more efficient GPU for mobile gaming, better noise suppression in video calling, and support for both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G. Support for mmWave 5G in devices is still rolling out, and a lot of your more-affordable devices tend only to offer sub-6GHz 5G access.

As 5G continues to roll out, it’s crucial for manufacturers not to restrict the available 5G connections for consumers. The move to include mmWave 5G will help make it easier for phone companies to offer that service.

Building for the Future

Of course, other benefits come with closing the gap between mid-range and flagship mobile processors. 

By offering a similar performance between flagship and premium mid-range devices, manufacturers can ensure that users get access to the best tech and features, no matter how much they are willing or able to spend on their phone.

Someone leaning on the counter in the kitchen holding a cup of coffee and using a smartphone.

Moyo Studio / Getty Images

This puts more power in the consumer’s hands by ensuring that they don’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive phone because they worry about phone performance hindering any access they may need.

It also helps cut down on possible issues with software and other applications. Because there are so many different types of processors out there, maximizing the performance of apps and software becomes more difficult to do.

Suppose Qualcomm and other system-on-chip (SOCs) manufacturers can make mid-range processors perform the same way as flagship devices. In that case, they can cut down on the difficulty of creating applications. This will, in turn, boost the number of applications available and give more users access to applications that could make their lives easier.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that these advances bring more diverse options to the mobile sphere, and Athwal says that more customizable parts—similar to those already available for PCs—could be a trend in the future.

"In the future, I think we can expect smartphones to follow a similar route to PCs. The majority of people who care about the technical specifications of their computer would never respond to 'What computer do you have?' with HP, Dell, or Acer. The response will always be the technical specifications of their computer. Slowly but surely, I think we can expect smartphones to become much more customizable to fit the users’ needs," he told us.

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