Since the launch of the original iPhone in June 2007, tech giants like Sony and Samsung have competed against Apple to offer the fastest processors, sharpest screens, and the best cameras in their handsets.

The so-called ‘flagship’ phone marketplace quickly became a key battleground in the industry, with prices seemingly rising with every new generation, as more RAM and megapixels were crammed into the latest phones.

Screens have gotten bigger along the way, while the flip-phone is even threatening a mainstream comeback with the recent flurry of new ‘folding screen’ handsets dominating the news agenda. But, in fact, there is a battle for mobile supremacy being waged that is less visible in the western world.

The rise of the budget smartphone

While the biggest brands in the industry are best known for their flagship series, such as Samsung’s Galaxy line and the iconic iPhone, many of the world’s biggest electronics brands are increasingly turning focus towards providing more affordable handsets – thus the budget smartphone boom.

While Apple’s focus remains almost entirely on the production and provision of high-end consumer goods, companies like Samsung and Motorola in particular have quietly brought phones with lower spec to the marketplace. The explanation behind this change of direction is simple – consumer demand.

In developing countries, where the market for smartphones is ripe with potential, consumers are increasingly eager to get their hands on the latest products. However, due to a lower GDP on average, phones retailing for in excess of $750 are not feasible options for a large percentage of the population.

This created a gap in the market that has been comprehensively seized upon by the industry’s players, large and small. Brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Realme have emerged to provide this category of product, offering smartphone staples like App Store functionality and 4G connectivity, while bigger brands have also entered the marketplace.

Motorola, Samsung, and Nokia are three more established names with a foothold, with Moto’s G7 Power and the Nokia 4.2 helping give rise to a whole new category of device – the ‘budget flagship’.

Wider impact

The rise of the budget smartphone has had a broader impact on related industries, including brands that serve apps and web services through mobile devices, who have mirrored the manufacturers’ change of direction in many respects.

As mobile phone brands have turned their attentions to developing international markets, so too have the industries online. For example, check out this site to see how the gambling industry is targeting new players in India, with brands in this sector also working hard to ensure their games and products don’t require the latest technology to be enjoyed. Mobile optimisation plays an important part in the online gambling industry, with the majority of titles available to play across all devices, high-spec or not, meaning the industry is much more accessible than it was even ten years ago.

Indeed, websites across industries have had to think twice about the way they are evolving their product. While gaming platforms, online shops, and news websites have competed to offer the most advanced experience possible, many have taken steps to ‘lighten the load’ and offer simple functionality that doesn’t exclude users on less powerful devices from accessing their site.

Furthermore, as the smartphone continues its rise in developing nations, expect manufacturers of phones, and the brands that serve customers online, to continue to strive for that balance between an experience that is both leading-edge and accessible to all.