Don’t buy a Galaxy S24 Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro Max. Do this instead

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Dynamic 2X AMOLED show pinch a hole-punch camera.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

“Do I request each that?” That’s nan mobility connected nan mind of shoppers earlier they splurge a now-standard $1,000 asking value for a top-tier telephone successful 2024. Ideally, that dilemma should beryllium there. The likes of Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max person won laurels for a fistful of standout features they offer. But you mightiness not request those standout features astatine all.

I’ve been connected that road, and much often than I person nan temerity to admit. For immoderate reason, regret comes arsenic portion of nan $1,200 flagship parcel. That’s unless your telephone is simply a portion of your imaginative aliases activity process, aliases you conscionable don’t attraction and only want nan latest and top for nan vanity of it. A conception for illustration that surely exists, but that able personification guidelines doesn’t dictate nan travel of a product.

Thankfully, nan seemingly non-fashionable inclination of revisiting nan parts bin exists. Even nan likes of Samsung and Apple are not acrophobic to excavation successful from clip to time. The OnePlus 12R, Samsung’s Fan Edition smartphones, and arsenic acold backmost arsenic nan cutesy iPhone 5C from 2013.

Despite being a basal recycling of silicon, glass, and metal, nan results are refreshingly satisfying and value-centric. I would moreover spell arsenic acold arsenic preaching that these phones are genuinely worthy digging into alternatively than getting washed distant by nan hype train of a fewer caller tricks connected a acold pricier textbook “latest procreation phone.”

The price/perk parity

A photograph of nan OnePlus 12R lying connected a book.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The champion illustration that I tin muster correct now is nan OnePlus 12R. This $500 telephone offers niceties that are absent connected phones that costs much than doubly its sticker price. In fact, nan operation of features connected connection is adjacent to unbelievable. It delivers a monolithic 5,500mAh artillery pinch a market-leading 100W accelerated charging. Hardly immoderate different brands connected U.S. ungraded tin moreover breach halfway done that benchmark.

You get a 120Hz AMOLED surface pinch a highest brightness of 4,500 nits (when really pushed) and protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2. Then there’s Qualcomm’s yesteryear Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, paired pinch up to 16GB RAM and an optically-stabilized 50-megapixel imaging sensor. From my ain little playtime pinch nan phone, it feels premium, too.

Then we person a disruptor for illustration nan Nothing Phone 2. Save for nan silicon wrong and nan charging tech, it moreover surpasses nan OnePlus 12R. You get a stunningly-designed telephone that serves a 120Hz OLED screen, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, a generous representation configuration, a brace of 50-megapixel cameras, 45W accelerated charging, and an assurance of semipermanent package support.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Mint Green colour on pinch a Samsung notebook and a cermaic vessel pinch lemons.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Moving somewhat down nan goodness ladder is Samsung, pinch its well-designed Galaxy S23 Fan Edition. This 1 combines nan mightiness of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, joined to nan committedness of 4 assured Android OS upgrades each year. “If you attraction astir a bully telephone that takes appreciable pictures and will beryllium by your broadside for nan adjacent mates of years, nan Galaxy S23 FE is nan telephone to get,” surmises Digital Trends’ review.

You get a trio of cameras that person a proven way grounds of reliable performance, a feature-rich return connected Android successful One UI 6, and an assurance of awesome after-sales acquisition — each crammed wrong a pocketable chassis that is simply a joyousness to usage connected a day-to-day basis. Of course, Samsung went a spot further successful clip pinch its parts bin revisit tour, but it didn’t make a downgrade successful nan sheer merit.

Neither of these phones stutters, nor will they time off you desperately fuming owed to a deficiency of definite halfway features. Unless those halfway features hap to beryllium nan niceties that abstracted nan Ultra and Pro Max phones retired location from nan rest, you really aren’t missing retired connected thing substantial. I person had a acold much fulfilling acquisition pinch these value-first “sub-flagships” aliases “budget flagships” than I’ve had pinch top-tier phones — and that says something.

Is each that other rate really worthy it?

iPhone 15 Pro Max lying connected nan crushed surrounded by leaves.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The smartphone manufacture sermon besides tends to beryllium skewed. We often talk astir phones pinch their starting value astatine nan beforehand and center. While astatine it, we ever talk nan U.S. marketplace shenanigans. Take, for example, nan iPhone 15 Pro Max — nan go-to camera telephone for ecosystem-tethered buyers. It starts astatine $1,200.

But for anyone hoping to get nan champion retired of its video chops, specified arsenic LOG capture, nan 512GB aliases 1TB variants are a no-brainer. These could costs you arsenic overmuch arsenic $1,600 earlier taxes. Outside nan U.S., well, I paid complete $1,700 for nan guidelines 256GB version.

It’s difficult to get that rate pain retired of one’s mind erstwhile we’re talking astir nan acquisition delta here. Of course, it’s a mighty bully phone. So is nan Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. But are nan cameras present really worthy paying that benignant of money — and much importantly, worthy nan value gulf — erstwhile a fund telephone for illustration nan Google Pixel 7a aliases nan Galaxy S23 FE tin astonishment you pinch darn pleasant results?

And erstwhile phones for illustration nan OnePlus 12R travel into nan picture, flaunting practically meaningful capabilities specified arsenic larger batteries pinch 100W accelerated charging, you really commencement to mobility nan full constituent of spending a luck connected these uber-tier flagships. I’ve been pushing phones crossed each value brackets for complete 7 years.

The parts bin look conscionable works

Someone holding nan OnePlus 12R, showing nan backmost of nan phone.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The astir realistic instruction I’ve learned complete nan years is that 1 should only walk an magnitude that gives capable amount for a phone. Paying for bragging authorities and non-functional benefits makes small sense. Yes, location is simply a definite joyousness successful seeing nan iPhone 15 Pro Max connection nan aforesaid benignant of cinematic versatility arsenic a master movie camera.

But not pushing nan instrumentality to its existent imaginable (or moreover half of it) is simply a surefire look for buyer’s remorse. One tin reason that not everyone has nan avenues for pushing a phone’s camera aliases making its processor sweat out. They only want a reliable telephone that won’t springiness up connected them. Well, nan OnePlus 12R is simply a reliable phone. So is nan Galaxy S23 FE, Nothing Phone 2, aliases nan Google Pixel 7a. Or moreover 1 of Apple’s “SE” bid iPhones.

A reliable telephone doesn’t person to beryllium a $1,200 iPhone aliases a $1,300 Ultra beast. It tin beryllium a operation of caller and older procreation parts. With nan likes of nan OnePlus 12R, you are getting a caller telephone for astir half nan value of a yesteryear flagship successful a utilized aliases refurbished state. It’s a win-win strategy, pinch hardly immoderate applicable regrets for what you’re paying.

For an mean smartphone maker, I’d opportunity excavation into your parts bin and make phones that connection an mean purchaser much options. After all, it ne'er hurts to salary astir half nan magnitude to get nan champion of tech from conscionable a twelvemonth ago, right? As acold arsenic my ain prime goes, nan OnePlus 12R is wherever my “recommended badge” sits.

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