How Can Midrange Phones Rival Premium Models? The Right Memory!

By Kalyani Rathod - 2020-09-15

How much have we come to depend on our smartphones? They’re now a necessity of life, just a little less important than food, water, lodging and clothing. But value-conscious consumers may not need the flagship models, those flashy devices with all the bells and whistles. In fact, in a marketplace that was worth about $715 billion in 2019, 46% of those were midrange and budget phones, per Mordor Intelligence, and that slice of the market is growing.

Whether it’s about saving your money for other goals or being happy with a nice-looking smartphone that has good specs and great pricing, you can feel confident about today’s midrange and budget options for consumers.

For hundreds of dollars less, you can indeed find well-built mobile phones with advanced functionality whose strong performance rivals that of premium smartphone models. If you’re a budget shopper, with a little searching you can find a smartphone that does the basics well at a reasonable price.

Micron is more than an onlooker in this expanded portfolio. While we don’t make the phones themselves, our mobile memory and flash storage provide the small size and big results many OEMs use in their range of products. We at Micron see that our advances in foundational mobile technology have improved the quality of the world’s smartphones for everyone. By helping manufacturers cover the smartphone basics, we help make more options available to consumers.

Certainly, Micron innovation empowers next-gen, AI-focused flagship models like the Mi 10 or provides low-power DRAM for the motorola edge+, but we also deliver critical components with performance and value across a wide portfolio. For instance, embedding Micron’s low-power DRAM and NAND storage technologies into our recently released e.MMC (embedded multimedia card, a type of multichip package) continued our support for low- to midrange smartphones. Examples include Xiaomi’s popular offerings in India, the Redmi 9 Prime and Redmi Note 9.

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Figure 1: Micron’s e.MMC for Low- and Midrange Smartphones Integrates NAND and LPDDR4 Memory

Basic Need No.1: A Good-Looking Device

Attractive smartphone designs with big, beautiful screens plus easy-to-use cameras and other hardware accessories that keep you engaged are what everyone wants. There will always be a market for the latest and greatest; smartphone designers keep coming up with features for their flashier, more-expensive phones. But now, as the industry matures, these features often trickle down to the more reasonably priced devices.

Micron supports the full portfolio of memory needs for midrange and budget phones. We provide e.MMC solutions in different densities and design JEDEC-standard interfaces. Current density offerings range from 64+3 GB to 128+8 GB. These enable flexibility to optimize for multiple workloads and niches while also helping to speed up device design. Our product packages also deliver competitive z-heights, the thickness of the printed circuit board plus its components, from 0.8 to 1.1 millimeters, so memory takes up less space and the devices are slimmer and lighter.

Our technology also helps make what displays on your big, beautiful smartphone screen more engaging. The new Micron e.MMC accelerates random-write and random-read application performance and enhances the user interface over previous versions. In fact, this speed is best in class, making Micron’s the fastest e.MMC chips1 for midrange smartphones available.

Basic Need No.2: Performance Plus Photos

While midrange and budget phones cannot claim to be fastest in terms of raw performance, manufacturers are canny in optimizing these devices so that users rarely perceive the slowdowns in daily use. You want your smartphone to work well with your carrier platform, especially as more 5G improvements are rolled out. (Ultrafast 5G support is just now being offered in high-end models, however, and e.MMC is not expected to become 5G optimized.) The applications that play your songs, movies and personal entertainment must deliver a smooth, lag-free experience.

But it’s the camera that highlights many differences between flagship models and the rest. How much digital zoom does one really need? Multiple rear cameras? A wide field of view? Sharp photos in low- or no-light conditions? Although 4K- and 8K-resolution videos and higher densities like 256 and 512GB are reserved for high-end smartphones today, our high-performing e.MMC memory can still support the computational processing that’s needed to generate exceptional photographs in midrange phones (like you see in the Google Pixel 4a).

This specific product line is a refreshed version of our previous e.MMC generation, which makes it simpler for OEMs to upgrade their systems to use these new benefits. The refreshed NAND supports up to a 25% increase in random-write and two times improvement in random-read operations, translating to faster download speeds and app launches. Its improved 64-layer NAND cell enables more density for more image/data storage in a small footprint. And remember, it’s the fastest e.MMC chip currently available.

This product line is also offered in the form of multichip packages that use Micron’s latest process node (1znm)-based LPDDR4x technology (the same LPDDR4x technology seen in high-end segments today). These multichip packages help meet performance required for computational photography in mid-end smartphones by boosting data processing speeds to enable a lag-free experience.

Woman taking picture of building at dusk with her phone 

Basic Need No.3: Go-Everywhere Power

Since mobile devices connect our lives, and consumers seek an immersive mobile experience, battery life and power efficiency are high on the requirements for smartphones. You want to use your smartphone all day and recharge it quickly when needed.

Micron’s mobile memory products are designed for faster, more efficient access to data — balancing demands for storage and computational power with size constraints, cost-effectiveness and battery power. Power use for this latest e.MMC shows how we optimized idle time and latency. You will experience improved battery life with the 45% energy reduction over our previous e.MMC.

Basic Need No.4: A Good Life Span

Midrange and budget smartphones do not have the latest chipsets and huge amounts of memory (although Micron makes those as well), but you should be able to find a phone that lasts for two to three years, if not longer. That means the specs won’t go out of date, and the battery life continues to be robust.

Also, smartphones, like other miniaturized computers, can show degradation after a long time of data input and output, depending on usage patterns. Endurance can be measured or predicted as the number of program/erase (P/E) cycles. The new Micron e.MMC, with its improved 64-layer NAND cells, shows twice the endurance of the previous e.MMC generation. While most use cases and patterns require less, this memory and storage chip has an expected endurance of 3,000 P/E cycles. Higher endurance allows you to use much more content without worrying about phone degradation.  

For More Information

Convinced yet? As Micron introduces advanced memory solutions for the higher end of the mobile segment, we also continue to cater to the more reasonable spectrum of the mobile segment and maintain our broad portfolio. Follow us at and on Twitter and LinkedIn.

1Reporting data results from Micron device-level testing performed on 128GB density-based e.MMC, compared against similar products offered by five leading memory suppliers. Contact Micron for more information.

Photo of Kalyani Rathod

Kalyani Rathod

As marketing manager for Micron’s Mobile Business Unit, Kalyani Rathod creates strategic communications for North American memory and storage in the mobile market. She holds a graduate degree from Terry College at the University of Georgia and an undergraduate degree from the MIT College of Engineering at Pune University, India.