Most of them are just ordinary flagship phones – how do you decide which one to choose?

Rufaro Madamombe Avatar
man looking at phones, phones, cellphones

Hi there, before we go any further, I would really appreciate it if you would drop a comment down below telling me what you think about this topic. This is more of an article which aims to start a discussion so feel free to voice your opinion, even-though you can always do it on any article, it would be great if you did it on this article.

Right, now onto the story that brought this question up. So a couple of days ago, some leaks of the upcoming flagship device from Nokia started surfacing on the Internet. Now flagship phones usually are expected to have the high end specs and according to the leaks, the device in question which is the Nokia 8 had those specs.

According to various bench-marking apps, the 5.3-inch Nokia 8 is indeed well-spec’ed, sporting a Snapdragon 835 chipset, QHD resolution, either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and a pair of main cameras offering 13-megapixel resolutions and Carl Zeiss optics.


Those were the specs that were leaked of the upcoming Nokia 8. In one of the groups on WhatsApp that discusses tech stuff, someone commented on the leak saying “That’s rather ordinary for top level phones considering well that Nokia is still on a comeback trail”. A colleague of mine then told me about the comment and I responded saying that you can’t really blame the person for saying that because they indeed are ordinary specs for high end phones.

What did I mean, take for example if the next Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes without a Snapdragon 835 chipset. The fact that it’s missing that would probably disappoint many because it’s a specification that people now expect for 2017 flagship phones as it is the most advanced mobile chipset from Snapdragon that is available on the market.

On the flip side, if the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 does come with such a chipset then it is just another ordinary flagship phone. Why? This is because that almost all flagship phones that will come out this year and be using a chipset from Snapdragon will feature the 835 chipset so there’s nothing really extra ordinary for it having the most high end specs when comparing among other high end spec’ed phones.

So does it mean because the phone manufacturer was only able to achieve the extraordinary of becoming high end and yet be ordinary among high end devices that they have failed? No. As we were discussing this, the issue of that it’s a Nokia phone came up. People thought that it was just an attack against Nokia since the brand is trying to start being relevant again in the smartphone industry.

It might have been as I don’t know what the person who wrote the comment was thinking. However, I am not going to clap for good old Nokia for just producing a phone that has the high end specs just like any other high end phone on the market. This is exactly one of the reasons why most people have a hard time deciding which phone to get especially if they want the one with the latest specs. They’re are the same and just ordinary.

The only way that a smartphone manufacturer can break out of the ordinary space among high end devices is by doing something extra using even those high end specs. Take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S8, it breaks out of that field by having a really immersive screen that covers most of the phone’s body even if it peaks at QHD+ which is the best out there in terms of AMOLED displays. Some become extra ordinary by implementing new ways of taking photos with the camera’s on the smartphone e.g the Sony XZ premium which has slow-motion recording at 960 frames per second which is 4x slower than on all other smartphone cameras.

In terms of internal specs that deal with chipset, RAM and internal memory, they’re are all pretty much ordinary so if a leak comes having what is expected then it is leading to be ordinary. No-one should start saying that Nokia hasn’t done anything because those were just leaks and not the full feature set of the device but as it stands, I tend to agree with what the person who commented said.

What do you think? Are the specs just ordinary for high end devices? Does this increase the pressure for Nokia to really put something extra in their next flagship device? What do you consider to be ordinary specs and what’s extra ordinary? Is the fact that they could make a device with those specs make them extra ordinary? If someone wakes up tomorrow and buys those parts and builds a phone with them, does it make it a flagship, if so will it be extra ordinary?

I would really love to know what you think. So let’s discuss in the comments section.



  1. WeZaka

    If the manufacturer of chipsets has no new chipset the latest one in use will remain. Remember that companies phone manufactures do not manufacture some of the components they use, however they can specify their needs to 3rd parties who will then manufacture those.

    1. Rufaro Madamombe

      So is it good enough to just have the latest chipset?

  2. P.G.

    I think all the trick is in being creative. As you once alluded earlier, the specs are just a standard feature on any phone that we may deem a high end.

    Take for instance, if Nokia were to say it has a fingerprint sensor, we would expect that fingerprint scanner to be outstanding, maybe in terms of perfomance or ergonomics as that feature is now a standard, so to speak.

    1. Rufaro Madamombe

      True very true. So does a high end smartphone need to be extra creative in order to be considered as extra ordinary or the fact that it is high end is already extra ordinary?

  3. Leonard Tafadzwa Mundida

    Thats like saying a new laptop with the latest and best Intel processor has ordinary specs among high end laptops. The Snapdragon 835 is the best chip there is, unless you are Apple and you make your own. HMD global (aka Nokia), like LG and others, does not have the scale to make their own chips so we might as well accept the fact that all flagships will at best come with the latest Snapdragon.

  4. Wellington Nhando

    The thing about phone specs is that pure grunt isn’t everything, take for example a few Chinese phones I bring to your attention the xiaomi mi mix, it’s a brilliantly designed phone with great specs, but and there is a big but it is not as fast as a Samsung S8, it also uses a Snapdragon chipset and the top spec model should have 4 gb of ram, but the software jammed in it by the OEM is a major let down. The phone is snappy but it could be faster, with the S8 we see the epitome of perferction with regards to the Android ecosystem, it’s so we’ll put together and the software is awesome, it optimises the operation of the phone beautifully, that is what differentiates a flagship from an entry and mid level phone, the attention to detail.

    Flagships “hold the flag” by introducing the customer to a fully optimised experience, Apple does this with a ridiculous amount of aplomb, most Apple devices have modest specs but when they are coupled with the Apple development teams attention to detail and perfectionist nature, the phenom we call the iPhone is developed.

    In conclusion a flagship gives a customer the complete mobile phone experience by blending decent specs with wonderful workmanship and responsive optimised software.

    1. Rufaro Madamombe

      So the implementation of android on Samsung galaxy S8 is better than the one on the Google Pixel? I’ve always thought it was the reverse hey. However, I kind of agree with you on your conclusion.

  5. Travis

    A flagship device is not really about specs but the marketing, branding of the company and its image. Their ambassador so to speak. That’s why some companies can release 1 flagship device per year and later in that year release even more powerful non-flagship devices.

    1. Rufaro Madamombe

      That’s a new take on it. Never really thought about it. So in the end, we are just buying the brand which is extra ordinary yet the actual device is just ordinary?

  6. sinclair

    In all honesty I never understood the “flagship” thing. In Zim internet is slow and expensive so what are you going to do with that expensive thing? I have bought 3 good phones (Lenovo Moto) for together less than 1 Samsung 7/8. Or any iPhone. I have not heard 1 word of complaint from family.

    1. Rufaro Madamombe

      Hmm, that’s interesting. So are flagships justified for the cost that they demand or it’s just like buying a high end laptop and only end up using it for typing documents.

      1. Anonymous

        I guess it is like that. I work in IT since 35 years or so. I have never gone “high end” as I am not a gamer, I don’t do graphic development or so on. For me phones are the same: I call, sms, whatsapp, listen to music, take a photo now and then. Why should I pay like US800 instead of US150?

  7. Christerbel Erica Mujaranji

    I think since Nokia is on a comeback trial it has to go all the way with these specs on the Nokia 8 and benching marking with Apple and Samsung who have been pacesetters and raised the bar high, Nokia has to offer something new and spectacular through disruptive positioning and showing its a competent/relevant brand to win back the trust of customers, for customers to switch from Apple or Samsung. If not Nokia will be swept into oblivion and obscurity all Nokia’s efforts will be in vain. Anyways all this is amid speculation,…we will wait on the release of this smart phone.

  8. Tom

    Nokia has sold its handset division to some company that they are allowing to use the brand name. Nokia’s core business is Network infrastructure. In this day an age a phone is tailored to a consumers needs for example I had an upgrade from HTC to S7 as i required more ram an battery life an the operator said do you need MS office an I was like yes so that was loaded onto the phone an here I am today

  9. wisey90

    good thing abt the new nokia devices z dat they run pure android,no bloatware. for me flagship phones a pointless considering dat all i need z a good camera, storage, decent ram n a beautiful design, the nokia 6 offers dat for only R3700 n south africa so i don need the R17000 S8

  10. Sagitarr

    If a mobile phone was a design tool, the high end hype would make sense. I’m not a great fan of massive intergration. I use a separate camera (Canon) when taking professional photos or videos (TrueHD). I feed the output into a custom-built desktop PC (I upgrade this whenever its necessary) for high-end editing using Adobe Suite or Canon-legacy software. Occasionally, I take photos or videos with my smartphone but these are not professional shoots and are never meant to be. I enjoy comparing smartphones and realized that differences are usually aesthetic and some of the hyped technology is not even being utilized e.g. no mobile applications currently fully utilize octa or quadcore technology – much like a 32 screen CCTV only utilizing 4 screens etc. What I do like is the creativity by manufacturers like Alcatel in some of their 4G phones e.g. 2 x 3w rms speaker output, Multi-touch, ability to take underwater photos or videos and balancing high specs with pricing or Nokia with the ability to upgrade the OS etc.
    There is a wide array of specs in these phones which can put your mind into a spin – dimensions, weight, resolution, lighting type, NFC, biometrics, sensors, display contrast ratio etc but if they remain unused or irrelevant – what a waste.

  11. Ash

    Ok speaking for myself personally i care for a bigger screen resolution because i can use my phone to read Pdfs and even when i surf the internet. That would therefore mean the second best feature would be a lasting battery(say 4000mhA)… I don’t know now but back then Samsung devices had a weak battery so I don’t see the point of having a 3 gig RAM and 20 MP camera that you will only get to use for less than half a day