Samsung’s 2019 Flagships are More Expensive than Last Year’s Models

Posted on February 21, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android with 22 Comments

Apparently not learning a thing from its 2018 troubles, Samsung has priced its 2019 Galaxy S flagships higher than last year’s models.

And no, I’m not including the stratospherically-priced Galaxy Fold in that estimation.

As you may know, Samsung introduced a new, cost-reduced Galaxy S as part of its 2019 flagship lineup. So forgetting about the special one-off 5G model, there are three Galaxy S10 models we can compare to last year’s S9 lineup. They are the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+. The “e” model is the new, “less expensive” model.

And it is less expensive… than other S10s. What it’s more expensive than, amazingly, is last year’s S9. In fact, all three S10 models are more expensive than the comparable S9 models from 2018.

Here’s how they stack up:

Galaxy S10e. Starting price of $750.
Galaxy S9e. n/a

Galaxy S10. Starting pricing of $900.
Galaxy S9. Starting pricing of $720.

Galaxy S10+. Starting pricing of $1000.
Galaxy S9+. Starting pricing of $830.

A couple of points here.

Samsung didn’t raise prices in 2018. So those $720 and $830 entry-level prices for S9/S9+ were identical to what Samsung priced the 2017-era S8 and S8+ at.

Samsung’s 2018 prices were significantly below those of equivalent iPhones. This year’s devices are only slightly less expensive than the equivalent iPhones XS ($1000) and XS Max ($1100). But the $750 Galaxy S10e slots in neatly at the iPhone XR’s exact price-point ($750); and that phone is also new to this past year. There is apparently nothing that Apple does that Samsung won’t copy.

Yes, the new Samsungs have more base storage than they did last year: 128 GB vs. 64 GB. And yes, that storage is faster than before, at least on the S10 and S10+. And, sure, there are other improvements. But come on: As the largest smartphone maker in the word—and as a supplier of many of its own components—Samsung must obtain the lowest possible prices on parts anywhere. And it’s natural for capabilities to increase over time. This price jump is unfair. Even the artificially-limited Galaxy S10e is more expensive than the fully-capable Galaxy S9 was.

There’s a lot to like about the new Galaxies, of course. The camera systems on the S10 and, in particular, S10+, seem impressive on paper. The design is beautiful, and Samsung’s end-run around the obnoxious notch with its Infinity-O displays should be celebrated. Many of the new colors are impressive looking, especially those with ceramic finishes. And Samsung has made major improvements to its user interface software, though that is also available on previous models.

But as noted, improvements like these don’t justify price hikes: We should expect newer devices to be more impressive than the models they replace. And after flagship sales fell last year specifically because they were too expensive, it’s hard to justify Samsung jacking up the prices now. Somewhere in Cupertino, Tim Cook is smiling. And I’m guessing that’s not the reaction that Samsung wants.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Samsung’s 2019 Flagships are More Expensive than Last Year’s Models”

  1. siv

    All consumers should stop buying these phones until the manufacturers relent and bring them down to more realistic levels. They cannot justify these levels of prices. If everyone sits tight and hangs onto their existing phones and refuses to buy them at these stupid prices they will be forced to stop being so greedy!

    • prjman

      In reply to Siv: There are less expensive phones available that will do 90% of what these phones will do at half the cost, or less. It's up to you whether or not you need or want the extra gizmos.

  2. nordyj

    I have an S8+ that still looks beautiful, is snappy and responsive, and does everything that I need it to do. Yes, I will likely jump to the S10+ if it dies, but I'm no hurry, either. I'm intrigued by the in-screen finger print reader; it if works well, it'll definitely be better than the finger print reader that sits right next to the camera on the S8+, but that alone doesn't convince me to upgrade, especially at these prices.

  3. provision l-3

    "Apparently not learning a thing from its 2018 troubles, Samsung has priced its 2019 Galaxy S flagships higher than last year’s models"

    It's weird right? One might almost get the impression that Samsung did something hasty and rash like use their sales data to figure out what prices points customers found more attractive based on what phones actually moved and then used that to informed their decision making when developing and pricing new products rather than making the more sound business decision of calling Paul and asking his opinion.

    "And after flagship sales fell last year specifically because they were too expensive"

    I'd like to see the data Paul used to make this claim. I'm wager it is speculation and conjecture at best.

  4. dontbe evil

    what about your beloved apple iphones?

  5. Rycott

    Samsung Mobile pays the same price for components that other companies do. Each division is run pretty much like it's own company.

    So no... Samsung Mobile doesn't get cheaper components.

    That being said... a slight price bump over the S9's but undercutting the iPhone's by a chunk would have been the smarter play IMO.

    • Jackwagon

      In reply to Rycott:

      Wasn't that a similar thing that came up with the latest Surface Pro having Windows Home instead of Pro, because they had to charge the Surface department as much as they'd charge anyone else?

  6. dallasnorth40

    These are arguably the best smart phones ever made. The prices are not unreasonable. If you disagree, you can always buy something less at a cheaper price.

  7. Hoomgar

    This is why I am still using my Icon.  I won't jump to Android until I am forced to and even then, no way I'm paying these prices for a smartphone.  Of course anything iAPPLE is out of the question for me. 

  8. pdhemsley

    Is it not now time to think of smartphones in the way we think of cars? You can buy a Mercedes or a Toyota. They do the same basic thing. The former charges extra for additional features and build quality, the value of which is determined by the buyer.

    I’m not sure that telling Apple or Samsung that their premium phones are expensive is any more fruitful than observing that Mercedes sells expensive cars.

  9. BoItmanLives

    >improvements like these don’t justify price hikes

    The market will decide what's justified or not. Its called supply and demand. If not enough people buy, price will go down. Otherwise accept that not everyone is entitled to a luxury class phone.

  10. jsangerman

    I'm impressed by how much Paul doesn't understand business.

    First, he states "Samsung must obtain the lowest possible prices on parts anywhere." That may be so. But that makes for higher margins. Investors want to see now just higher revenue, but lower cost as well.

    Next, "after flagship sales fell last year specifically because they were too expensive..." First, where's the data that flagship sales were down? Gartner's reports show that sales volume of Chinese phones from makers like Huawei and Xiaomi are up, and Samsung's revenue from it's mobile phone group was down nearly 6% in 2018. However, unit shipments across the market were down in 2018. Also, is it really appropriate to conclude that flagship sales were down "specifically because they were too expensive?"

    Look, you can all whine and complain about more-expensive phones, and I'm there with you. But unless you don't buy them, it's not going to stop.

    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to jsangerman:

      This guy gets it. The tantruming about higher pricing reminds me of the gamers crying that Nvidia 2080Ti was "too expensive" and how dare Nvidia. Meanwhile they were continually sold out or hard to get for months .. The entitlement syndrome in tech is real. Not everyone needs a luxury class item.

  11. ben55124

    Try explaining to a samsung/apple phone friend how they could save $1000/yr switching to a midrange phone and MVNO plan.

  12. wolters

    "The camera systems on the S10 and, in particular, S10+, seem impressive on paper."

    Being a mobile camera enthusiast like you, you drive it home on "impressive on paper." The Note 5 and 7 cameras were good for me, if not excellent. Once the Pixel came out, there was no comparison. I've tried to like the camera on the Note 8 or Note 9 but just ran into too many issues, that some may find nit-picky but for me, were deal breakers. Over-saturated shots, blurry shot, "Live Focus" not being as good or easy to use as Pixel Portrait Mode. List goes a little longer but it just seems the Galaxy Cameras are just not as good as they should be for the price.

  13. djncanada

    Often times suppliers mark up components to their own companies

  14. yoshi

    It's definitely disappointing that Samsung joined the raising the price trend. It is nice though that their base storage went up with it. That's the least Apple could have done, and they didn't.

  15. bart

    People in the Huawei and Xiaomi offices must have watched with joy when these prices were announced. This will bite Samsung in the back side

  16. Daekar

    For commodity items like phones, the correct price is the price that people will pay. The market will correct when people buy fewer phones. They'll figure it out or they won't.

  17. scrooge mcduck

    Surprise, Surprise. And Im sure that many will buy them without thinking how much of the features they are really gonna use. My bet: Less then 10% of the features will be used in a real life world.

  18. pargon

    Greed is good. Samsung continuously improves it's offerings by large spending on R&D. It trickles down to their lower priced offerings. A $200 phone today is the $900 phone of a few years ago. I don't understand people getting bent out of shape for others that don't affect them "being so greedy!"

    They can and do justify the levels of prices because people are willing to pay for it and payment plans make it easy to afford in our world of living on credit and above your means. Also remember the millennials likely value their phone more than their car. They can order up Lyft or Uber, so having a top end phone is really one of the few items most millennials want to have a top end version of.

    Google's pixels are normally stupid expensive as well, but they are released right before black friday, you can have a flagship phone without paying dearly for it if you're smart and can wait what? 5 weeks after launch? I got a Pixel 3 black friday for $400 off the normal price, it was cheaper than the Nexus 6p I bought several years ago.