Buy­ing a two- or three-year-old phone will seem like a dubi­ous under­tak­ing to many. But now there are inter­est­ing ex-flag­ships on sale. They have fall­en sig­nif­i­cant­ly in price by 2022 and still have up-to-date tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions and are able to com­pete with mod­ern gad­gets.

Source: hype.tech

Selection criteria for powerful smartphones of past years

To com­pile the top 10 flag­ships that have remained rel­e­vant even after 2–3 years from the date of release, we con­sid­ered them accord­ing to the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria:

Proces­sor pow­er. At the time of release, each of the smart­phones below was equipped with one of the best chips. Over time, the tech­ni­cal stuff­ing is expect­ed­ly out­dat­ed, but there is enough pow­er for every­day tasks and even games.

Dis­play qual­i­ty. Almost all flag­ships reviewed have AMOLED screens that deliv­er rich images and deep blacks. Cheap­er IPS matri­ces are not capa­ble of this. AMOLED screens in smart­phones from our rat­ing dif­fer only in diag­o­nal.

Auton­o­my. When buy­ing a used flag­ship of the past, you need to be pre­pared for the fact that the bat­tery will not hold a charge as well as at the time the phone was released. We will not take into account the pos­si­ble wear of the bat­tery, but we will eval­u­ate the capac­i­ty and auton­o­my declared by the man­u­fac­tur­er.

Cam­era. The image qual­i­ty of the flag­ships has always been and remains on top. Even a few years after the release, the smart­phones we reviewed can pleas­ant­ly sur­prise you with good shots and videos.

The amount of RAM. An impor­tant para­me­ter for any smart­phone. It depends on how fast the device will work in mul­ti­task­ing mode and how well it will cope with demand­ing games or appli­ca­tions.

The amount of inter­nal mem­o­ry. This indi­ca­tor affects the amount of data that fits in the phone’s stor­age. Keep in mind that not every smart­phone has a microSD card slot.

Val­ue for mon­ey. We have col­lect­ed flag­ships of dif­fer­ent brands and years of release. Prices for them vary great­ly, so it would be more cor­rect to take into account the ratio of cost to tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 + are still relevant flagships

Let’s start with the top three-year-old flag­ships of the Kore­an brand, which at the time of release were quite expen­sive: 60,000 rubles for the Galaxy S9 and 67,000 rubles for the Galaxy S9 +. Now you can buy them 3–4 times cheap­er.

The flag­ships did not have cutouts in the screen for the cam­era, but the side frames of the case turned out to be thin. Smart­phones do not look bulky due to this. Both devices are pow­ered by an Exynos 9810 2.8GHz proces­sor and have a Mali G‑72 graph­ics core, which is enough per­for­mance even today.

The Sam­sung Galaxy S9 and S9+ dif­fer in size and num­ber of cam­eras. Source: mobcompany.info

The Galaxy S9 was equipped with a 5.8‑inch Super AMOLED screen, while the old­er mod­el received a 6.2‑inch dis­play. The amount of RAM for devices is dif­fer­ent — 4 GB for the younger and 6 GB for the old­er mod­el. Built-in can be 64, 128 or 256 GB, depend­ing on the ver­sion. There is a slot for a microSD card.

The Galaxy S9 has a 12MP main cam­era mod­ule. There is opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion and a vari­able aper­ture (f / 1.5 or f / 2.4). The Galaxy S9+ has a sim­i­lar main cam­era, but addi­tion­al­ly has a 12MP tele­pho­to lens with f/2.4 aper­ture.

The bat­tery capac­i­ty of the Galaxy S9 is 3000 mAh, while the bat­tery capac­i­ty of the S9+ is 3500 mAh. On aver­age, this is enough to oper­ate the device for 22 hours of talk time. Both devices sup­port fast and wire­less charg­ing fea­tures.

We eval­u­at­ed the old­er mod­el, as it looks more promis­ing in 2022 due to a larg­er bat­tery, a larg­er dis­play and a bet­ter cam­era.

  • Proces­sor: 7/10
  • Dis­play: 8/10
  • Cam­era: 7/10
  • Auton­o­my: 7/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 6/10
  • RAM: 7/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 7/10
  • Aver­age score: 7

The cost of the Galaxy S9 is about 16,000 rubles for the 64 GB ver­sion, and the S9 + with the same amount of mem­o­ry costs from 19,000 rubles.

Apple iPhone X is an old but current flagship

iPhone X was released at the end of 2017. The ex-flag­ship attracts those who want an Apple smart­phone, but do not want to spend a lot on buy­ing it. The strict design of the device looks rel­e­vant even in 2022.

The con­ser­v­a­tive design of the Apple iPhone X even now looks rel­e­vant. Source: akket.com

iPhone X is equipped with a 5.8‑inch dis­play with a wide notch at the top. The body is made of met­al and glass. At the heart of the hard­ware is a 6‑core A11 Bion­ic proces­sor. The RAM in the smart­phone is 3 GB, the amount of inter­nal mem­o­ry depends on the ver­sion: 64 or 256 GB.

On the back, there are two 12MP cam­eras with opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion. Pro­vides 2x opti­cal zoom. There is a func­tion of shoot­ing video in 4K for­mat. The front cam­era has a res­o­lu­tion of 7 megapix­els. Bat­tery capac­i­ty — 2716 mAh. This is enough to work in talk mode for 21 hours. Sup­ports wire­less and fast charg­ing. The built-in NFC mod­ule only works for the Apple Pay pay­ment sys­tem.

  • Proces­sor: 6/10
  • Dis­play: 7/10
  • Cam­era: 7/10
  • Auton­o­my: 8/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 6/10
  • RAM: 6/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 8/10
  • Aver­age score: 6.9

The 64 GB iPhone X starts at Rs 21,000, while the 256 GB ver­sion starts at Rs 27,000. After the release of the 13th gen­er­a­tion, this mod­el was offi­cial­ly dis­con­tin­ued, so the only “white” option to buy it is to take it from hand, but this is always risky.

OnePlus 6T is a smartphone with an under-screen scanner

The phone was released in 2018, and then the pres­ence of a fin­ger­print scan­ner built under the screen was con­sid­ered a rar­i­ty. The man­u­fac­tur­er installed a 6.41 ”AMOLED dis­play with a water­drop notch for the front cam­era. Even by mod­ern stan­dards, the smart­phone looks styl­ish.

The smooth back pan­el has a glossy fin­ish. Source: gadgetsnow.com

The device was equipped with a Snap­drag­on 845 proces­sor. The amount of RAM varies — 6 or 8 GB, and the inter­nal mem­o­ry can be 128 or 256 GB. It can­not be expand­ed with a mem­o­ry card.

The One­Plus 6T smart­phone has two cam­eras on the back:

  • 16MP Sony IMX519 main mod­ule;
  • aux­il­iary Sony IMX376K at 20 megapix­els.

There is opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion. Even three years after the release, the smart­phone pleas­ant­ly sur­pris­es with the qual­i­ty of the images cre­at­ed. The bat­tery capac­i­ty of 3700 mAh is enough for 29 hours of talk time. Fast charg­ing func­tion is pro­vid­ed.

  • Proces­sor: 8/10
  • Dis­play: 7/10
  • Cam­era: 7/10
  • Auton­o­my: 7/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 7/10
  • RAM: 7/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 8/10
  • Aver­age score: 7.3

The One­Plus 6T starts at Rs 19,000 for the 6/128GB ver­sion.

Huawei P30 Pro is a smartphone that struck with its camera

When this gad­get was released in 2019, it had one of the best cam­eras on the mar­ket. The cult com­pa­ny Leica worked on the cre­ation of the main mod­ule. The smart­phone was equipped with one front cam­era of 32 megapix­els, and four more sen­sors were placed on the back side:

  • 40 MP main wide-angle mod­ule;
  • 20 MP ultra-wide angle with 120° field of view;
  • tele­pho­to 8 MP;
  • depth sen­sor for blur­ring the back­ground.

The Huawei P30 Pro quad cam­era has an opti­cal and intel­li­gent image sta­bi­liz­er, as well as a dual-tone LED flash. Video record­ing is sup­port­ed in 4K and there is a slow motion mode with a fre­quen­cy of 960 frames per sec­ond.

Huawei P30 Pro is rep­re­sent­ed by orig­i­nal body col­ors. Source: pocketlint.com

The smart­phone is equipped with a 6.47” OLED dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 2340x1080. The device runs on a Kirin 980 chip, has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of inter­nal mem­o­ry (there is a 512 GB ver­sion). There is a slot for a nano mem­o­ry card up to 256 GB.

Bat­tery capac­i­ty — 4200 mAh. It is enough for 31 hours of talk time. The smart­phone sup­ports 40W fast charg­ing and 15W wire­less charg­ing.

  • Proces­sor: 8/10
  • Dis­play: 8/10
  • Cam­era: 9/10
  • Auton­o­my: 8/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 8/10
  • RAM: 8/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 6/10
  • Aver­age score: 7.8

The cost of Huawei P30 Pro with 256 GB of mem­o­ry starts from 30,000 rubles.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro is a gadget that has become a popular favorite

The smart­phone was released in 2019 and imme­di­ate­ly attract­ed the atten­tion of fans of the Chi­nese brand due to its low price and good per­for­mance. A quad cam­era was installed in the device, which con­sists of:

  • the main wide-angle mod­ule at 64 megapix­els;
  • 8 MP ultra-wide angle with 120° field of view;
  • 2 MP depth sen­sor;
  • 2 MP macro sen­sor, focus­ing from a dis­tance of 2 cm.

The smart­phone cam­era even records video in 4K and sup­ports slow motion up to 960 frames per sec­ond.

The glossy back pan­el scratch­es quite eas­i­ly, so it’s best to use a case. Source: ixbt.com

The smart­phone was devel­oped based on the Helio G90T proces­sor and equipped with 6 GB of RAM. Inter­nal can be 64 or 128 GB, depend­ing on the ver­sion of the device. Stor­age can be expand­ed with a microSD card up to 256 GB. The 6.53” dis­play has a res­o­lu­tion of 2340x1080. To make the smart­phone more acces­si­ble, the man­u­fac­tur­er used an IPS matrix.

The case con­sists of two glass pan­els Goril­la Glass 5, which are con­nect­ed by a plas­tic frame. The back is round­ed at the edges. The strength of the smart­phone is a pow­er­ful bat­tery with a capac­i­ty of 4500 mAh. One charge is enough for 33 hours of talk time. The device sup­ports 18W fast charg­ing.

  • Proces­sor: 6/10
  • Dis­play: 7/10
  • Cam­era: 7/10
  • Auton­o­my: 9/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 7/10
  • RAM: 7/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 8/10
  • Aver­age score: 7.2

Prices start at 14,000 rubles for the 64 GB ver­sion.

OnePlus 7 Pro is a smartphone with a pop-up front camera

The phone was released in 2019 and equipped with the top-end Snap­drag­on 855 proces­sor from Qual­comm at that time. Depend­ing on the mod­i­fi­ca­tion, the smart­phone may have 6, 8 or 12 GB of RAM. The amount of inter­nal stor­age is 128 or 256 GB. The Flu­id AMOLED smart­phone has a 6.67” dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 3120×1440. The screen refresh rate is 90 Hz.

The retractable front cam­era is the main fea­ture of the One­Plus 7 Pro smart­phone. Source: stereo-news.com

The strength of the gad­get at the time of release was a high-qual­i­ty cam­era. It con­sists of one main mod­ule and two aux­il­iary ones:

  • main sen­sor Sony IMX 586 at 48 megapix­els;
  • 8 MP tele­pho­to cam­era;
  • 16MP wide angle lens.

The devel­op­ers imple­ment­ed an inter­est­ing design solu­tion in the front cam­era. It is made accord­ing to the type of periscope leav­ing the body. The cam­era res­o­lu­tion is 16 megapix­els.

The bat­tery capac­i­ty is 4000 mAh — enough for 34 hours of talk time. 30W charg­er includ­ed. The wire­less charg­ing func­tion is not sup­port­ed.

  • Proces­sor: 8/10
  • Dis­play: 7/10
  • Cam­era: 8/10
  • Auton­o­my: 7/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 7/10
  • RAM: 7/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 7/10
  • Aver­age score: 7.3

Price: from 30,000 rubles for the 6/128 GB ver­sion.

Pixel 3 is a camera phone from Google

Com­pact by the stan­dards of flag­ship mod­els, the smart­phone received a 5.5‑inch screen. The Pix­el 3 has an OLED dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 2160x1080. It is dis­tin­guished by a large sup­ply of bright­ness and good col­or repro­duc­tion, but the frames around the screen turned out to be quite thick. At the heart of the smart­phone was the Snap­drag­on 845 chip, which at the time of the phone’s release in 2018 coped with the most dif­fi­cult tasks. And even in 2022, its pow­er is enough for com­fort­able use of the gad­get.

Smart­phones from Google have always had a lacon­ic design. Source: ixbt.com

The smart­phone is equipped with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of inter­nal mem­o­ry. The amount of stor­age by the stan­dards of three-year-old cam­era phones is small, and there is no slot for installing a mem­o­ry card. It is this fea­ture that scares many away from this gad­get, which is good in oth­er respects.

The smart­phone has a sin­gle cam­era with smart soft­ware algo­rithms and HDR +, which elim­i­nates noise with­out com­pro­mis­ing detail, improves col­or repro­duc­tion and expands the dynam­ic range. Google Pix­el 3 once became famous for its good night mode, which was not­ed by all review­ers.

When the smart­phone first appeared on the mar­ket, it was scold­ed for the incor­rect oper­a­tion of the cam­era, but all the fail­ures were soft­ware. They were fixed with firmware updates.

The oper­at­ing sys­tem is pure Android, which receives all the lat­est updates in a time­ly man­ner.

The bat­tery capac­i­ty of 2915 mAh is enough for two days if you switch the device to econ­o­my mode. In talk mode, the bat­tery lasts 21 hours.

Among the nice fea­tures are an NFC chip for con­tact­less pay­ments, a fin­ger­print scan­ner, a met­al case, high pro­tec­tion against mois­ture and dust IP68 and fast charg­ing.

  • Proces­sor: 8/10
  • Dis­play: 6/10
  • Cam­era: 7/10
  • Auton­o­my: 7/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 5/10
  • RAM: 7/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 6/10
  • Aver­age score: 6.6

The cur­rent price for Google Pix­el 3 is about 20,000 rubles.

Galaxy s10e — Samsung’s compact flagship

The youngest mod­el of the flag­ship line of Sam­sung 2019 release. It fits com­fort­ably even in a small hand, has a styl­ish glossy frame around the perime­ter and a glass back pan­el. Even in 2022, the smart­phone looks mod­ern.

The rear pan­el of the Galaxy s10e is glass — it gives the smart­phone a more noble look. Source: androidinsider.ru

The phone has a 5.8″ AMOLED dis­play. The smart­phone was equipped with an 8‑core Snap­drag­on 855 proces­sor, which is still rel­e­vant. The amount of inter­nal mem­o­ry is 128 GB, but there is a slot for a microSD card up to 512 GB. The amount of RAM depends on the ver­sion — 6 or 8 GB. Sam­sung engi­neers built one 10MP front cam­era and two rear cam­eras into the Galaxy s10e:

  • 12 MP main mod­ule;
  • 16 MP wide-angle.

In terms of image qual­i­ty, the younger mod­el is infe­ri­or to the flag­ship Galaxy s10, but cap­ti­vates with the price.

Bat­ter­ies with a capac­i­ty of 3100 mAh are enough for good auton­o­my, giv­en the small screen size. In talk mode, the bat­tery lasts 25 hours. The charge is enough for two days of using smart­phones in nor­mal mode, with­out run­ning games and con­stant­ly watch­ing videos.

  • Proces­sor: 8/10
  • Dis­play: 7/10
  • Cam­era: 8/10
  • Auton­o­my: 8/10
  • Inter­nal mem­o­ry: 7/10
  • RAM: 7/10
  • Val­ue for mon­ey: 7/10
  • Aver­age score: 7.4

Galaxy s10e is sold at a price of 22,000 rubles for the 6/128 GB ver­sion.


Let’s see what results the tech­ni­cal analy­sis showed:

Mod­el CPU Dis­play Cam­era auton­o­my Inner mem­o­ry RAM Price qual­i­ty Aver­age score
Google Pix­el 3 eight 6 7 7 5 7 6 6.6
iPhone X 6 7 7 eight 6 6 eight 6.9
Galaxy S9+ 7 eight 7 7 6 7 7 7
One­Plus 6T eight 7 7 7 7 7 eight 7.3
Red­mi Note 8 Pro 6 7 7 9 7 7 eight 7.2
One Plus 7 Pro eight 7 eight 7 7 7 7 7.3
Galaxy s10e eight 7 eight eight 7 7 7 7.4
Huawei P30 Pro eight eight 9 eight eight eight 6 7.8

The leader of the rat­ing was Huawei P30 Pro. He suc­ceed­ed thanks to a good cam­era and a good price-per­for­mance ratio.

Users who pre­fer Sam­sung flag­ships should take a clos­er look at the com­pact Galaxy s10e or the full-size Galaxy S9+. Their prices are approx­i­mate­ly the same — in the range of 20–22 thou­sand rubles.

The flag­ship from Google is infe­ri­or to oth­er par­tic­i­pants in our rat­ing. The Pix­el 3 has a good cam­era, but only 64 GB of mem­o­ry, which can­not be expand­ed with a card. Because of this, you need to use cloud ser­vices or reg­u­lar­ly upload pho­tos and videos from your phone to your com­put­er.

Red­mi Note 8 Pro and One­Plus 6T are the gold­en mean of the rat­ing. Both have good tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, keep the bat­tery charge well and cost around 15–18 thou­sand rubles.

One­Plus 7 Pro is a more seri­ous device that has not lost pop­u­lar­i­ty even in 2022. But the prices for it start from 30 thou­sand rubles.