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Smartphone prices: How much should a smartphone cost?

iphone 8 buttons
© nextpit

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has a starting price of $929 and, as such, it's purely symbolic that it remains in the three-digit range, which raises the question: How expensive should a smartphone be in the first place? Aren’t manufacturers slowly taking this upward trend too far?

When looking at the upper price ceiling of its own product range, Samsung has really gone above and beyond with the new Galaxy Note 8. Just a few years ago, the limit at Samsung was about $200 lower. But don’t get me wrong: Samsung is not alone here; many manufacturers keep pushing the price tag up to a hefty sum when it comes to flagship models. This can be observed in Apple and Huawei, both of whom are creeping closer to that $1000 threshold with their luxury handsets.

But is that really justified? Personally, increased raw materials and labor costs do not fully justify such prices. Rather, I see it as following the requirement of “if it doesn’t cost anything, it’s not worth anything”, which is overly claimed here.

AndroidPIT Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 4764
The Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design costs over $1000. Still interested? / © NextPit

Also, you can't forget that smartphones have a more than limited lifespan. Customers who purchase an expensive premium model want to remain in the flagship category in the future and replace their smartphones every two years at the latest. You used to be pretty well off phone-wise with $600 some time ago - which is still some serious moolah today - but now most flagships begin at a significantly higher price.

The interesting thing about it is the following: With Apple as the main exception, smartphones are anything but a good monetary investment, since prices are significantly lower after two or three months. But that doesn’t ruin manufacturers either; they still earn good money, which raises the question of why does the initial selling price need to start so high? It scares off potential first-time buyers instead of enticing them to make a purchase. I don’t see the point of this, primarily in light of creeping saturation on the market.

iphone 8 front
Samsung is only symbolically below the $1000 price threshold with the Galaxy Note 8. / © NextPit

What kind of value does that convey?

With this in mind, I’m not just thinking about the purchase of a new smartphone. A lot of people deem it normal to buy a new smartphone every year and pass on their “old one” to siblings, children, friends or relatives. Teenagers then walk around with a smartphone in their pocket that a year ago cost as much as a scooter, a television or a sofa, all of which are replaced much less frequently and enjoy special importance. What I am conveying is this: Here, take this, it’s old and you can throw it away now. That doesn’t necessarily increase the appreciation for such an expensive device.

Of course, it’s not easy to specify a definitive pain threshold. But I certainly won’t be bringing home a smartphone that goes past the thousand-dollar mark. The $300-$400 price range now has perfectly good smartphones, saving a large majority of customers from having to shell out more for a decent phone. In my opinion, manufacturers should think about whether this price spiral is slowly going too far.

We want to hear from you: How expensive should a smartphone be and what is your personal pain threshold?

What is your maximum limit when it comes to smartphone pricing?
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  • 28
    itprolonden Sep 6, 2017 Link to comment

    As much as you're willing to pay. Econ 101.

  • John Kerr 5
    John Kerr Aug 30, 2017 Link to comment

    Price justification is really based on what the product offers and how many of your needs are satisfied by the product - and the number of suitable alternatives. I'm a field service tech. My office is my vehicle and the device I carry. Currently it's the S8+. It provides multiple methods of communication, data, camera, bar code reader, office apps, journals, technical drawings, schematics and GPS in a package that's instant - on, waterproof and fits in a pocket. I'm currently using an active stylus with it however it's nowhere near as integrated into the OS as on a Note series, which is why I'll probably get a Note 8 soon(I had the Note 7). Are they expensive? Sure. But when I look at all the individual devices that I now don't need to carry, the all-day battery and ease of use, I have found NOTHING comes closeer to meeting my requirements with one device. Back in the day I'd carry a laptop, digital camera, GPS and cell phone and constantly need to think about keeping them charged, secure and undamaged.
    Now I can just focus on getting work done.


  • Dean L. 34
    Dean L. Aug 29, 2017 Link to comment

    I'm of the mind now that somewhere between $300 to $500 is about right. And even less if you don't do gaming. Which I don't. I'm over the removable battery but would take it if available.

    sam packDeactivated Account

  • Steve Patten 9
    Steve Patten Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    Here in the UK we are leaving the European Union that is causing the UK GP to be falling its overall level all over the world. This also is causing all Smartphones to increase their cost even more which is causing a lot of people to be more unsure to buy the latest and more expensive phones. I still have two Chinese phones bought in 2015 that are still working well and quite happy with them covering my requirements.

    Dean L.Deactivated Account

  • Chris Aldridge 4
    Chris Aldridge Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    It's all about disposable income...
    Like any other consumer commodity, the smartphone market is looking to our diverting some disposable income away from another non-essential consumption. If we are willing to divert funds from our cars, tv subscriptions, food, holidays, eating out... it doesn't matter what; the shiny product and its $billion advertising will help shift the cash.
    Once, cars (autos) used to come basic, and we'd spend $thousands adding accessories which ballooned in number and variety :-
    The clever thing with smartphones pricing, is that the essential apps (accessories again) are relatively cheap, if not free; the data costs are a once a month bill that we hardly remember we're paying; clever marketing has ingrained a significant degree of brand loyalty; so the cost of the device can start inexplicably high - helps offset some development costs too, if the model is a dud - as folk will divert a single wodge of disposable to pay the price.
    For middle incomer's, a single outlay of less than a thousand dollars in 24 months really isn't much of a divert, unless the home, car, a wedding and toddler costs all hit the bank account in the same 6 months!
    Prices would halve if we kept - and didn't lose/break so many devices - for several years... but then innovation and product 'development' would decline too...

    Dean L.Deactivated Account

  • Albin Foro 30
    Albin Foro Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    I'm enough of a market capitalist to not really care what consumers might want to buy at the high end, any more than I care about the 150% profit margins on $200k automobiles. People are buying for special interests like photography or their ego and social prestige, and as compared with status cars or wristwatches these premium phones are still cheap thrills.

    OTOH since phones are becoming a social necessity, I'm social democrat enough to want the regulatory state to step in to keep the marketplace competitive and prvent collusion and gouging: e.g. here in Canada the national telecom regulator (CRTC) recently stepped in to disallow telco fees for unlocking devices. I'm fairly happy that the range of available devices includes a darn good working phone (ZTE Z850) for Bell Canada on sale for C$95 (about U$75) and there are other fine devices from there up to affordable mid-range. Personally would not be be ten or twelve smileys more joyful with a $1000+ Samsung, etc. and I'd want regulators to look in if OEMs or telcos collude to sabotage the low-end of the spectrum for something almost every citizen needs these days.

    Dean L.Deactivated Account

    • 28
      itprolonden Sep 6, 2017 Link to comment

      What's gouging? Simple. Don't buy it if it costs too much

  • 26
    Andrew Burgin Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    Phone prices are getting more expensive every year,and loads of consumers are staying more loyal to there current phones because of this,Dual cameras might have been good for some consumers,but All they are doing is adding more price to the phones,if the phone makers thought about there consumers more they should have thought about one subject we never get improved the Batterylife of phones,Removable Battery should be offered on phones,consumers now will start buying cheaper Chinese phones that look like the phone they wanted,that offer dual sims and removable battery

    Dean L.Deactivated Account

  • 31
    Deactivated Account Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    the real question is...
    what's so rewarding about something so transitory and fashionably facile as a $1000 flagship(?) smartphone..

    with Samsung's flagship at least 20% of the original RRP pays for advertising, probably the most insidious type of social engineering that billions engage with and support by constant consumerism..

    once you've got your highly desirable fashionable flagship(?) how long does the buzz of dopamine last before the next fix of retail therapy..

    Dean L.Deactivated Account

    • David Martrano 29
      David Martrano Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

      If you think the price of the note8 is expensive wait to you see the price of the iphone8!

      itprolondensam packDean L.Deactivated Account

      • 31
        Deactivated Account Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

        I'm sure the iPhone 8 will sell millions regardless of price..
        especially as their gonna (re)invent smaller bezels..

        Dean L.Deactivated Account

  • 3
    Warren Carr Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    For me, it all boils down to storage, storage and storage! It really doesn't make sense that manufacturers are still putting out phones with 32 and 64gigs out there! Give me a minimum of 128gis and make it 600-bucks at the most. Removable battery would be awsome!

    Dean L.Leland WhitlockDeactivated Account

    • David Martrano 29
      David Martrano Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

      I hate to say it but the days of the removable battery & headphone jack are features that are disappearing. To me, that is very sad!

      Dean L.Deactivated Account

  • 46
    Deactivated Account Aug 28, 2017 Link to comment

    If a phone has a removable battery I do not mind paying more for it because I know it will last a long time. Unlike non removable batteries with a 2 year life span 500 tops. I would 1000 for the Note 8 with a removable battery, without nope.

    Dean L.Leland Whitlock

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