I always find it amusing when people go on about how Smartphone A or Smartphone B are offering flagship specs for cheap and are better bargains than the highest-end, most expensive flagships.
Of course, no one likes pointing out that it's the flagships that are the first to debut the features cheaper phones later picked up.
Of course people want flagship features for non-flagship prices. But what Samsung and Apple are bringing to the table aren't just expensive, powerful devices. You're investing into an eco-system. Both brands bring with them the assurance that getting accessories and technical support will be as easy as driving to a mall.
Let's not forget the slew of services that come with both brands: payment modes (Samsung Pay and Apple Pay), AI assistants (Bixby and Siri) and the ease of trading in phones to newer models. Apple's phones continue to have the highest resell value compared to other smartphone models; Samsung makes up for that by having high trade-in values, often running promotions to make trade-ins easier for customers who want to upgrade.
I'm not saying that everyone should go out and get flagship phones or that they shouldn't buy anything else.
What I'm saying is it makes sense they're priced the way they are. You're not just buying the phone; you're buying membership into an ecosystem. One designed you don't ever want to leave, or will find it too much of a hassle to do so.
If you're getting a OnePlus or Xiaomi, yes you're getting a decent deal. Minus the perks that come with flagships, however. And the reason they can price themselves lower is because the companies that first came up with a new feature, made enough to sustain R&D and the initial high costs.
Here's also something that people tend to forget: Xiaomi likely has to make its money elsewhere because its smartphone business, with its low margins, doesn't generate much revenue. And with all the competition in China for the 'we don't want to pay much' segment, the company is squeezed even more.
No wonder Huawei has decided that it's concentrating on its higher-end models and ditching the budget/low-end segment. There's no money to be had there, unless you can generate enough in sales volume. Considering all the competition, Huawei has decided to concentrate its efforts where it's actually profitable. With how well its smartphones are doing, it won't be long before Huawei evolves and upgrades its own services and offerings to create an ecosystem to rival Apple and Samsung.
So don't whine about expensive flagships. They weren't made for you; the people who they were made for are in a way subsidising the handset you can afford, making better technology available for more people at a lower price. And that's a reason to like flagships even if you won't pay for them. Or you know, get them secondhand? We won't judge.