The Pixel 4 smartphone is displayed during the Made by Google event in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, … [+]
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The possibility of Google using a mid-range processor for its next flagship phone, the Pixel 5, could set in motion a wave of other Android manufacturers following suit and potentially dropping prices.
For LG, a company that has struggled to ship smartphones for a few years, it makes financial sense to use a cheaper chipset that boasts 5G capability and other advanced imaging and AI features. The financial risk of building a smartphone that will likely sell poorly is reduced and it can pass any cost savings onto consumers.
LG and Google might not be the only companies considering downgrading to a cheaper chipset, either. Other Android makers that have struggled to sell devices in recent years, like Sony, should also be looking at the cheaper processor as a way of being competitive again.
All of these companies already produce mid-range devices. But the difference here would be that they could feasibly provide a flagship experience in image processing, battery optimisation, 5G connectivity and AI functionality at a lower cost than what you’ll find in top-end devices from Samsung and Apple.
That difference is subtle but important. People want the latest phone and the latest features – partly for vanity but also because consumers don’t upgrade as regularly as they used to. They want future-proofed devices that genuinely last, and rightly so.
Accurate or not, mid-range devices aren’t seen to offer that kind of future-proofed reassurance. But a flagship branded phone, at a good price, that carries the best of the respective company’s tech in every other area (Google’s industry beating camera tech is largely thanks to its dedicated Pixel Neural Core chip), would be popular. Perhaps ‘flagship lite’ would be a more appropriate name for this new range.
I’m not entirely convinced that buyers are overly concerned about imperceptible speed differences between phones or Geekbench scores, but they do care about price, camera, battery life and brand. The brand popularity puzzle is a difficult one to crack, but for Sony, LG, Motorola and others there’s potentially a route back to some sort of success with this new affordable chipset.
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