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.