Will 2016 be the year of the midrange?


Funny thing about 2015. A lot of really great flagships came out. One the other hand, some not-bad mid range phones came out as well. Leading the charge among these would probably be either the Moto G 2015, or the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3, depending on your taste. But the thing is, either one of those phones would be just fine as a daily driver for any of us. Oh sure, maybe they don’t have the glitz and glam of the iPhone 6S or the Note 5, or any of the other premium flagships, but they don’t really have to. What we have in our flagships today is almost excessive compared to our needs. Which makes me wonder – will 2016 be the year of the midrange phone?

alcatel onetouch idol 3 unboxingA perfect storm of adequate

When you think about it, it’s not too crazy. Forces may be aligning for us to see this trend. Consider how good the midrange phones were this year – pretty darn good. In most midrange phones, the biggest compromise one tended to see was the camera. While that’s not a deal breaker for many users, it can give one pause. But the cameras in flagships today are so good, the cameras available for midrange phones must be getting better and better. This goes back to the argument about last year’s flagship versus this year’s midrange.

And speaking of which, the specifications of mid range phones continue to get better and better. There will come a time in the not too distant future when we’ll be looking at performance of midrange versus flagship and not see too much of a difference. Much of the tech around flagship phone design has been in making them thinner and lighter – a topic that we have discussed previously. But as far as speed and performance go, we’re coming close to a plateau here. The performance of the high end premium phone will start to get better more slowly than the tech it is leaving behind which is when the midrange phone will start to look very attractive.

Plus let’s all consider “the next billion” factor. OEMs are trying to attract the next billion smartphone users and they’re not going to do so with flagship phones. If they were, they’d have done it by now. But 2016 is shaping up to be a good year when OEMs can find that perfect balance between specifications, performance, and cost to really knock this out of the park and make the best midrange pones we’ve seen to date.

Blu_studio_energy_2_leader2And yet…

Consider though, by that same logic, if OEMs are going to attract the next billion with midrange smartphones, they likely would have done that by now. We just got done talking about how midrange phones are already pretty good bang for the buck. If that’s the case, then why aren’t we talking about the third billion? Why hasn’t there been mass adoption of midrange smartphone. The Moto G is Motorola’s best selling smartphone of all time, this is true. But that is arguably more of an outlier than a trend.

Not to mention, there are times that even a small boost in performance can make or break a smartphone experience. In computing, often the little things are the ones that make you want to pull your hair out. As nice as it is to use the Blu Energy 2 because of the incredible battery life, when it stutters trying to answer a phone call…it’s hammer time, and in time to smash it with a hammer. If a premium phone is the difference between that experience and a better feel, then midrangers are not going to be able to keep up.

Requirements are increasing too

Especially when you consider that as tech advances in the premium department, apps and services are going to advance along with them, leaving midrange phones behind, pretty much always. As more and more resource intensive apps are released, it will be harder for midrange phones to keep up. Last year’s flagships won’t have an easier time of it. Technology moves us forward. It doesn’t wait for those who lag behind. It’s a harsh reality for OEMs and consumers alike.

But what do you think? Will 2016 shape up to be the year of the midrange phone, or will they still play second fiddle to obviously bigger and brighter hardware? Are we not there yet with midrange technology? Are too many corners will being cut to get your hard earned dollar? Sound off below and let us know where you stand. Will you be taking a hard look at midrange offerings, or is it premium or bust? Chime in with who gets your dollars and let see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!