Why You May Not Need an Expensive Smartphone

Technology doesn't have to break the bank

Key Takeaways

  • The new Samsung A-series could negate the need to purchase a flagship phone thanks to continued upgrades.
  • New upgrades for the A-series include higher refresh rates, better batteries, and support for more 5G networks.
  • Experts say that users who don’t need to ‘best of the best’ can save both money and time by going with the mid-range variants.
A Samsung Galaxy A series phone announced at Samsung Unpacked.

Samsung

With Samsung bringing flagship features to its mid-range lineup, the need to purchase more expensive devices is dwindling, experts say.

For years, Samsung’s Galaxy S-series has been the best that it has to offer. While that’s still technically true, the smartphone manufacturer recently revealed that it would be bringing one of its core ‘flagship’ features to the A-series, its more affordable mid-range devices.

This move, along with better support for 5G networks, could completely negate the need to purchase those more expensive S-series devices.

"Samsung’s A-series phones are great phones that have some pretty sophisticated features at an affordable price," Peyton Leonard, a smartphone expert with AutoInsurance.org, told Lifewire via email.

Building For Budget

Yes, it’s true the A-series doesn’t have quite the same appeal as the Samsung Galaxy S lineup. The S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra are still the best that the company has to offer. However, if you’re looking for a good smartphone with a great set of features, you might not need to spend the $800-$1200 the flagship lineup calls for.

In the latest refresh of the A-series, Samsung has packed in bigger displayers, a larger battery, and an improved processor. The A52 now features a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED screen—an upgrade introduced in the past—but that display is now even smoother thanks to a bump to its refresh rate, with support for 90Hz now built-in.

That isn’t the only noticeable upgrade either. The A52 now features Samsung’s well-known quad-camera system, which includes a 64-megapixel primary sensor. This sensor has built-in image stabilization, which means your photos should look crisper and smoother despite any shakes that might happen when you’re pressing the shutter button. 

To help beef things up, the A52 also includes one of Qualcomm’s newer 720G chipsets, as well as options for 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB of RAM. For storage space, you’re looking at anywhere from 128 to 256GB build-in, with support for external microSD cards as large as 1TB.

The A52 5G will offer a Qualcomm 750G chipset for those who want a bit more power, which takes advantage of the ever-expanding 5G networks currently rolling out. The A52 5G also offers up to 120Hz on its screen, putting it in the same ballpark as the S21 Ultra, which currently retails for $999.

Breaking the Norms

One reason the upgrades made to the A-series are so significant is the difference in prices between the mid-range devices and their premium counterparts in the S-series.

While the U.S. prices for the updates A-series haven’t been released yet, the UK prices for the A-52 5G will run around £399, which should be about $550 if the pricing stays the same. That’s roughly $150-200 cheaper than the S21, which could make it a more appealing option for users looking to pick up a new Android device without paying flagship prices. 

Aside from price, one other possible reason you might want a non-flagship phone is Samsung’s more recent S-series offerings have been prone to problems with overheating.

The Samsung A Series of smartphones.

Samsung

Multiple users have taken to forums and Reddit to discuss the overheating issues the S21s have been experiencing, with some even mentioning that they’d be contacting Samsung for assistance if the problem continued. Overheating isn’t a new thing in Samsung’s smartphones, either.

Several years ago, when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was released, users quickly started experiencing phone overheating issues. The issues became so bad that it caused the phone to explode and catch fire many times. Samsung later issued an official response explaining the explosions, citing issues with the battery design. 

Although they’ve fixed these issues since then, the S-series phones have continued to experience some heat problems, something that Leonard says users will want to avoid if at all possible.

"S-series phones like the Galaxy S21 are prone to overheating," Leonard told us. "All-in-all, I think the S-series phones are good, but I would encourage users to go with the A-series. You might save yourself a lot of time and money."

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