Buying on a budget: Which smartphone feature matters the most?

We are living in an era that could be described as the epitome of innovation and technology. With the rapid advancement in the industry and falling prices, people have become increasingly diverse in the choices they make and the factors they consider when buying personal devices such as phones and computers. In today's day and age, many would agree that it has become difficult to buy a bad smartphone.

With the widespread availability of well-rounded phones at affordable prices, people have adopted certain tastes and preferences that they tend to prioritize. While these factors are generally subjective, there are some common features which people look for. To accommodate the select few features that they value above others, they are usually willing to cut some corners.

At the end of the day, for most people, it's all about finding the sweet spot between price and specifications when shopping on a budget. To make things easier for those who are looking to buy a new phone without breaking the bank, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular features preferred by users in budget smartphones.

Price

When asked what is the definitive feature of a budget phone, the answer is always the low cost of the device - although this varies depending on the consumer market and other factors. In India for instance, the price bracket for a budget phone ranges from ₹13,000 to ₹18,000. This contrasts starkly with the US where people expect to spend between $250 to $300 on a budget phone.

Display

A key component for many people would be the display sported by a smartphone. While asking for an AMOLED in a budget phone might be too much, buyers do expect a fairly bright IPS LCD screen of about 400 nits paired with a decent resolution of about 1080p and a pixel density of about 400ppi. The existence of a notch or a punch hole is pretty important, depending on the personal preference of the user. As for the size of the display, the average Joe expects about 6-inches of Gorilla Glass 5 from a budget phone.

Design

The design of a phone is subjective to the tastes of the buyer however there are certain trends to take note of. Certain people like slim and small phones as they are easier to hold, while others tend to go for bigger, wider screens to get the most bang for their buck. The placement of the fingerprint sensor is crucial for many as in-screen ones on budget devices tend to lag. Side-mounted fingerprint readers are quite popular due to the fast response rate and comfortable positioning.

Other design factors that may or may not be decision-making factors are an IP rating, a headphone jack and the materials used. Apart from the visual aesthetics, buyers also consider whether the back of the phone will be easy to grip or track fingerprint smudges.

Camera

Out of the many people we questioned for the purpose of this article, the camera was one of the most common answers that kept popping up. A large chunk of people give high priority to the camera specifications before purchasing a budget smartphone. For most users, the front camera is not as important as the setup on the rear, which is expected to include at least three lenses are per today's standards - even in budget phones.

So what do customers usually look for? Well, for the selfie-snapper at least an 8MP lens is usually expected, taking average or slightly above average shots. As for the main cameras, the presence of a wide-angle lens and a designated night-mode has become close to necessary. Buyers want a primary lens of at least 13MP, a macro lens and a depth sensor.

Hardware and Software

Once again, this is a very subjective category and tends to vary depending on the brand, price bracket and personal preference. When it comes to budget phones, customers want at least 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage. The CPU and GPU specs are very different across different companies and markets, therefore there is no definite demand for a certain chipset.

Buying a recent phone raises the bar as there are just too many good phones out there now. Software-wise, customers anticipate the device to come equipped with the latest OS. So for instance, when considering an Android device, current buyers on a budget most certainly expect the smartphone to run Android 10 out the box. The same applies to skins such as OneUI, OxygenOS, MiUI and ColorOS - people want the newest versions.

Battery and Performance

It is sensible to expect less of something in exchange for more of something, but not in this case. A bare minimum of 3500mAh is preferred by most people. It goes without saying that when it comes to battery, the bigger the better. Buyers prioritize the battery size as well as the charging time. Depending on the size of the budget, some customers may also want fast-charging support of around 18W.

The last and one of the most valued factors is performance. Regardless of what's under the hood, users want to get a lot of juice out of their budget devices. This means running processor-heavy apps such as Adobe Photoshop and Asphalt smoothly and without overheating. Multitasking should be fluid and the device should not lag.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, buyers want to make sure that they get their money's worth and they do so by prioritizing the features most important to them. For most people, it all boils down to getting the perfect blend of three main factors - camera, battery and performance. This holy-trinity tips the scale in a smartphone's favour when it comes to making the final choice for the majority of shoppers.

In the coming weeks, we will take a deeper look at budget smartphones that excel in each individual category to further help our readers. If you're looking to do some research to find the best-suited budget device as per your taste, you might find it incredibly helpful to your selection process.

What features would you be willing to trade-off in exchange for your preferences? If you think we missed out on something, let us know in the comments below!

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