There was a time when you could pay less than $600 for a new iPhone or buy the latest OnePlus for less than $400, but now it is almost impossible to find the latest flagship from Samsung, Huawei or Apple under the $700-1,000 mark. However, it is absolutely not necessary to spend four figures on a smartphone, even in the high-end segment.
High-end smartphones have become terribly expensive, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. This trend of rising prices for flagships seems not to have stopped in recent years and if you do not believe me I invite you to look at the prices of the various terminals announced for the start of the school year: £999/$1,049 for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, $999 for the iPhone 11 Pro (add $100 more for the Max version) and €1,099 (we don’t know the UK/USA price) for the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. By way of comparison, the Galaxy Note 4, Mate 8, and iPhone 6S were launched at prices of $540, €450 and $649 respectively in 2015.
Not that long ago, my colleague Steffen described the problem of premium smartphone pricing in his article. In addition to the fact that I share his opinion on the need for Apple, Huawei, Samsung and Co to urgently adjust the prices of their smartphones, I can also certify that there is no longer any need to spend $1,000 on a smartphone.
Differences now play on the details
Yes, the market has changed. Like it or not, the mobile phone industry is currently experiencing a form of stagnation. A technological stagnation where innovations are no longer as important as they once were, but also an economic stagnation with a market that has reached saturation point in Europe. Indeed, in 2018, smartphone sales stopped increasing, according to two data analysis companies, Strategy Analytics and Counterpoint Research.
The new high-end devices no longer present innovations that can take the breath away from high-tech fans and create the need to renew your smartphone. They can no longer create the new trends and features that we will use in the future (with the exception of folding smartphones). If we look at the latest devices presented by the brands (but this also applies to the future Google Pixel 4 and OnePlus 7T Pro), the differences with previous generations are very small. They are now based on the size of the notch, the number of sensors for the camera or the refresh rate of the screen.
While these improvements are welcome, they do not make the purchase of a new device necessary, even if the smartphone currently in use is more than two years old. If I take the example of the camera, the main differences with the flagships launched two or three years ago are in the night shots. And during the day, it is not necessarily obvious for a non-expert to detect the differences between a Galaxy Note 10 Plus and a Galaxy Note 8.
Two OnePlus 7Ts for the price of an iPhone 11 Pro
In recent years, we have also seen the emergence of a new range of smartphones that are rather high-end in terms of their characteristics without being marketed at an excessive price. These new types of smartphones are particularly difficult to define since they are stuck between the mid-range and high-end. For me, these are the devices you can buy if you still want an excellent smartphone. Honor, OnePlus or Xiaomi are specialized in this genre.
Let’s take the example of the OnePlus 7T just announced in India and which should be officialized on October 10 in Europe during an event in London. In terms of performance, the smartphone has nothing to envy to smartphones at over 1,000 dollars with an impressive spec sheet: Snapdragon 885+, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 90 Hz screen, ultra-fast recharging (0 to 70% in 30 minutes), fingerprint reader under the screen, it’s all there. All this for the price of $599. So, in terms of photos, the OP7T is less efficient but do the differences really justify this price difference? For the price of an iPhone 11 Pro Max, you can buy two OnePlus 7Ts (one for you, one for your partner). Why do you keep asking yourself that question?
5G is coming
Spending more than $1,000 in 2019 on a smartphone that is not compatible with 5G can be embarrassing. Even if the operators’ network and offers are in their infancy, this will certainly not be the case next year and the year after. However, most users who buy a flagship at more than 1000 bucks will continue to use their devices in one or two years without having the opportunity to benefit from the fastest mobile network available. That isn’t going to look too smart.
Conclusion: buy smart!
When purchasing a new smartphone, the choice of purchase period is also always very important. Even if merchants offer promotions or deals all year round, there are several good times to do business: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas… Also avoid rushing out for a flagship. If you want to buy a smartphone that offers the best value for money at the moment, I would also strongly advise you to look at the best smartphones from last year.
What do you think about the rise in prices? Are the components and design of the big flagships equal to the price these manufacturers are asking for? What top price would you pay for a smartphone in 2019?