The year 2016 or as I like to call it; the year of the Budget Flagship. The term coined by the smartphone industry is sort of an Antithesis.
“a budget guitar”
The best or most important thing owned or produced by a particular organisation.
A flagship here means the best hardware and technology on offer by the manufacturer. Simply put, the best money can buy! And these gadgets are loaded to the gills with features; the best processors, lots of RAM, impressive cameras, they have it all.
Flagship does not mean expensive in the dictionary, but that is what it means in the smartphone industry. It is surprising then, how these words represent a horde of devices which were most sought-after in 2016. This year, the general expectation from a flagship was quite simple; a Snapdragon 820 chip with 4GB of RAM or better. And most manufacturers delivered on that expectation. Even Google jumped in and launched its first flagship, the Pixel. The high-end specifications dictated a high price as well, which was evident the way most companies priced their phones.
Now, a ‘Budget Flagship’ is pretty much self-explanatory, lot of power and a low price. OnePlus pretty much nailed the combination with the OnePlus 3, a Snapdragon 820 on-board, 6GB of RAM and a competitive price. The specifications weren’t the only thing good about it. OnePlus opted for a metal unibody design that matched the hardware under it.
The OnePlus 3 (and the OnePlus 3T now) are good examples of a budget flagship. It isn’t just the pricing at work here; it’s a combination of good hardware, beautiful design, and useful features like ‘Dash Charge’ that make it appealing. OnePlus isn’t the only one, other companies have also applied the same concept resulting in phones like the Lenovo Z2 Plus, the Xiaomi Mi5 and the LeEco Le Max 2.
The Z2 Plus is a strict budget flagship device. Yes, it packs in the SD820, has 4GB RAM and the best part; it costs under Rs 20,000. Lenovo has also put in a big 3500mAh battery to keep it going. All that in a device under Rs. 20,000 ticks all the boxes on the budget flagship list!
These devices have proved that good performance does not necessarily mean a hefty price. The Mi5s I reviewed earlier this month and the OnePlus 3T, outperformed most flagships in benchmark tests. Who would mind a Value for Money product, right?
That said, the flagship (Rs. 40,000+) segment has been slowly drying up, with participation only from the likes of Apple & Samsung. The majority are still fighting it out in the sub Rs. 30,000 segment. And that makes budget flagships all the more important. A device that has the brute to shame the elites yet is gentle on the wallet. It makes me think that the ‘Budget Flagship’ in the Indian market is the next big thing!
Heck, OnePlus has already proved that it can be done!