In today’s technology era, you must have heard phrases like “this is a flagship product”, “this phone is now a flagship”, “this product is equipped with advanced features” flagship feature”… It is difficult to describe the term flagship in a specific sense, because most people simply have a definition of their own.

If you try to understand it in the original sense, flagship has absolutely nothing to do with smartphones or technology products. In the original sense, a flagship is a ship that carries the commander of a naval fleet, is the flagship ship and is flagged by an officer (from which flagship, flag = flag). When you look closely at the meaning of the word, it can also be a bit related, but the question is why is it used to describe mobile devices and not something else?

What is a flagship device?

With that said, in the original meaning of the word flagship, we will be able to find a reference to leading technology devices. Flagship is a special ship that carries the commander in a fleet of ships, it is usually the largest, most modern ship, equipped with the best equipment and always at the forefront of every mission.

As for technology devices, flagships are basically the best or most important products of a manufacturer. In other words, flagships are the flagship devices of a company, they must be equipped with the latest features along with the most modern hardware that the manufacturer has.

Flagship – The quintessence of a manufacturer

In a nutshell, conceptually, the idea here is that a flagship will be the best device a company has to offer. However, there are also many technology experts who have expressed their own views on the definition of flagship. Here are the views of some of the leading technology experts such as Luka Mlinar, Lahn Nguyen, Josh Noriega, Joe Hindy and Kris Carlon.

According to Luka Mlinar, the term flagship refers to a company’s most comprehensive device and does not necessarily lead in terms of features and specifications. Lahn Nguyen’s view is similar when he considers a flagship to be the most popular and best-selling device, regardless of whether it possesses top-of-the-line specifications. Josh Noriega also agrees with the above two views, he thinks that different companies – even manufacturers of low-cost devices, will have their own flagship devices.

In Joe Hindy’s eyes, a flagship is basically a product that can combine everything a manufacturer can offer in a single device. However, Kris Carlon says that it’s entirely up to each company to choose which device will be their flagship, which means it can carry some or all of the best specs available at that time, for example a Samsung Galaxy S9 plus has only 6GB RAM and not 10GB like Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, does not mean that Samsung Galaxy S9 plus is not a flagship because by standards, 4G RAM Current on mobile devices has been considered relatively sufficient. In addition, a flagship should also be an improvement over the previous year’s product.

Kris Carlon went on to explain that the concept of a flagship can lead to some comparisons between devices that are considered flagships. That is also why we often have comparisons between the top devices of each manufacturer, and the first basis for this comparison is the price.

However, there are times when the resale price has nothing to do with specifying what a flagship device is, especially with the growing number of manufacturers creating so-called “flagship” products Cheap”. Therefore, it makes more sense that the price is just a reference by which we can compare devices in the same segment and evaluate their value.

In summary, about the concept of a flagship device, we will have two conclusions as follows:

  1. Flagship is a key product of a manufacturer, and thanks to that, they can assert their brand compared to other competitors. Flagship should be the latest phone, equipped with the most advanced hardware at the time it is launched.
  2. A flagship is not necessarily the product with the most modern hardware or the most expensive, it just needs to be a manufacturer’s best-selling phone in the period after it was launched.

In fact, the second point of view received more agreement. In addition, low-cost phone manufacturers can also have their own flagship products.

Peak devices of peaks

What are the factors that separate a flagship from other competing devices in the smartphone market? Since all smartphone manufacturers can specify which are their flagship devices, there is bound to be a lot of comparisons to be made when it comes to the industry’s top products.

So what is the defining characteristic that sets a flagship device apart from other competing devices in the smartphone market? Android Author team members Brian Reigh, Bogdan Petrovan, Nirave Gondhia, and Gary Sims tried to answer this question. According to Brian Reigh, a flagship device should match most of what are considered top specs in the mainstream smartphone market. He said that it is difficult to consider a device with a 1080p screen as a flagship, while many of the most popular OEMs have switched to using Quad HD screens. Bogdan Petrovan mentioned that while specs and performance are the driving factors, marketing and brand awareness can also be factors that help differentiate between flagships.

Similarly, Nirave Gondhia explains that the top specs seen in the smartphone market (he specifically refers to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845) should be housed in a flagship device rather than entry-level hardware lower. Marketing and brand awareness can also be factors that help differentiate between flagships. Similarly, Nirave Gondhia explains that the top specs seen in the smartphone market (he specifically refers to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845) should be housed in a flagship device rather than entry-level hardware lower. Marketing and brand awareness can also be factors that help differentiate between flagships. Similarly, Nirave Gondhia explains that the top specs seen in the smartphone market (he specifically refers to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845) should be housed in a flagship device rather than entry-level hardware.

Marketing and brand recognition can also be important

Gary Sims has a unique perspective on flagship models. In Gary’s view, only Android devices can be flagships, and this is because Android device manufacturers are competing with Apple.

As we all know, the iPhone is considered a premium device despite possessing less impressive specs than today’s high-end Android smartphone models. To elaborate on this, Gary Sims thinks that the flagship will be an Android smartphone and at the same time the biggest competitor to the iPhone in terms of features, innovation and of course price.

On flagship, all must be top

Although most members of the Android Authority team think that flagships can be classified based on the level of the manufacturer or the position of the product in the price segment, there are still some points that we need to make must be specifically mentioned. The first is the idea that ‘trunching’ is something that basically doesn’t exist in flagship smartphones.

Nirave, John Dye, Joe, and Kris each mentioned clipping when explaining their views on flagships. They all agree with the point that for a device to become a true flagship, manufacturers cannot, or are not allowed to cut out any elements in any way. To clarify, Kris explained that the fact that a flagship device only has 4GB of RAM, not 6GB is not necessarily an understatement on the part of the manufacturer. Instead, clipping is mostly related to using low-end (poor quality) or mid-tier hardware or software while it’s entirely possible to use newer, better options.

To illustrate his point, Joe stated his belief that the hit phone from earlier this year, the Samsung Galaxy S9, would not qualify as a true flagship. He explained that the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has certain features that the S9 doesn’t have.

As a result, the Galaxy S9 will not technically be the best that Samsung has put on the market at the time. Instead, Joe believes that only the Galaxy S9 Plus can be seen as a leader and capable of inspiring innovation on lower-end devices, so only the Galaxy S9 Plus. As the true flagship of Samsung at the time it was launched, the Galaxy S9 doesn’t deserve this title.

Flagship also has many levels

Jimmy Westenberg also agrees with the idea that the flagship must be the best product that the manufacturer has launched on the market. However, he also further explained that a company can have multiple flagships by specifying a flagship device in each price segment on specifications.

This means that companies making many different devices at different price points can have a flagship for the low-end segment, a flagship for the mid-range segment, and a flagship for the high-end segment. On the one hand, the emergence of low- and mid-range flagships can contradict the concept of a flagship if you have been used to the concept that a flagship has to be a flagship product.

On the other hand, both Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Xiaomi Mimix 3 are considered flagships despite being in two relatively different price segments,

Commercial and marketing value

Perhaps, in the opinion of experts about the concept of flagship, John Velasco’s view is the most surprising. In John’s opinion, a flagship is a device designed to have great commercial appeal, regardless of its specifications. Bogdan also mentioned how marketing and branding can be the biggest contributors to a product’s flagship title.

If you are someone who thinks that when judging whether a device is a flagship or not, the top factor should be the specifications, you will find this point of view absurd! However, it makes complete sense when you take a close look at the powerful advertising campaigns that many manufacturers have put in place for some of their devices.

Recently, Samsung’s flagship devices such as Galaxy S9, S9 Plus and Note 9 have been heavily advertised. Samsung has mercilessly pumped money to improve the visibility of these products to the public. In addition, there are also many advertising campaigns for OPPO and Vivo’s F9, or V11, which has certainly fueled an exaggeration in the perception and desire of users for these devices. 

While commercial viability may not be the driving force behind a flagship’s top status, there’s no denying that a strong advertising campaign can help make a device attractive and appealing successful.

Opinions from the experts

Throughout the article, you heard some of the views from Android Authority team members, now it’s time to synthesize and reevaluate those views. At this point, it’s obvious that your perception of your flagship has changed more or less, right? In summary, here are the experts’ views on the flagship concept:

  • Flagship is the best device that manufacturers bring to the market.
  • Flagship is the device with the most modern features.
  • Flagships are Android smartphones that can compete with Apple’s iPhone.
  • The flagship is the best device in a given price segment.
  • Flagship is the synthesis of the best, without any trimming.
  • Flagship is a device built to enhance the status and level of brand recognition for manufacturers.
  • Flagship is a device that receives a lot of investment in advertising and marketing.

That is the opinion of experts around this issue. And you, what do you think is a flagship product? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!