Flagship depreciation: Galaxy S7/edge vs LG G5 vs HTC 10 vs iPhone price drops


It often gets overlooked or buried among arguments about specs and user experience, but price depreciation should be one of the major factors on the user's radar when picking a phone, unless you really don't care about money. A high-end phone from the popular brands costs north of $600 these days, and may even hit $800+, depending on the storage, edition or configuration, so how cheaper it becomes over time is not without financial consequences. Even if you are of the type that always splurges on the latest and greatest, it still matters what price you can get for your current handset, and those who depreciate slower are like a good wine - they age well. 

On the other hand, whether you will lose a 20% or a 50% of your initial investment could play a role in your decision whether to pick the season's finest, or its predecessor, for instance, which may now be half off brand new. This is why we checked how the top brand-name flagships depreciated from their launch prices, as we are on the cusp of having their successors revealed, with their own hefty price tags in tow. Apple's iPhone 6s is also thrown in for comparison, though an iPhone's depreciation is always known beforehand.

We are only listing the prices for carrier phones, or compatible unlocked ones straight from the manufacturer, as 80% of US wireless customers shop for phones in this way. Granted, you can get them for cheaper over at Amazon or eBay, but these are mostly international versions either compatible only with AT&T or T-Mobile's GSM networks, or without warranty, and often both, so we stick with the official pricing. We are also not including any current purchase bonuses or promotions, just the cold hard cash required to buy the phone outright from a carrier or manufacturer's store.

Launch priceCurrent price
Samsung Galaxy S7
$649 (Sprint) - $695 (AT&T)
Average: $672
same
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
$749 (Sprint) - $795 (AT&T)
Average: $772
same
LG G5
$630 (T-Mobile) -$689 (AT&T)
Average: $660
$408 (T-Mobile) -$689 (AT&T)
Average: $560
HTC 10
$648 (Verizon) -$699 (HTC)
Average: $673
$549 (HTC for all carriers)
iPhone 6s$649$549


So, what's my best bet?

If we look at the graph below, the steepest, 22% price decline for a 2016 flagship went to HTC, but the average numbers don't tell the whole story. The worst offender may be the LG G5, as it can currently be had for ~$400 on T-Mobile, or at Amazon compatible with Verizon's network. That's about a 35% drop from its average launch price, while the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge now go for roughly the same prices they were launched at, for instance, no discounts there.


It was quite the strange year, though, as the Note 7 drama resulted in people picking the S7 or S7 edge instead, while the G5's unorthodox modular construction may have hindered its wider adoption. Apple, on the other hand, is rather predictable with its $100 off the older model when it launches the new one, so you always know it will discount no more than 15% from one iPhone to the next. 

Thus, if you want your expensive high-end phone to keep as much value as possible, regardless of whether you are on iOS or Android, the obvious choices seem to be Apple or Samsung, the world's largest phone makers, how's that for an easy choice?

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28 Comments

1. AlikMalix unregistered

Probably should make a note about how long ago each device was released and how long it's been on the market compared to the others..

22. combatmedic870

Posts: 986; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

You didn't add in the buy one get one, or free iphones/s7s

26. AlikMalix unregistered

The most popular phones android also have those, they're set by retailers and carriers to promote foot traffic. They're not really "free" and you end up with a contract that would pay it off overtime.

27. sgodsell

Posts: 7601; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It still doesn't change the fact that this was the first year that I have ever seen the latest iPhone 7 go for free. Considering it was only released a few months ago. So what's the excuse? Hmm? Also Apple controls the pricing of its iPhones. Remember carriers have to buy the iPhones from Apple to begin with. So if the iPhone 7's were selling really well, then there would be no need to drop the price down at all, let alone get them for free during the holiday season. Naturally with Apple dropping the prices, they were able to sell more iPhones during the holidays.

29. diggie32

Posts: 388; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

You should know well that the iPhone wasn't free. The carrier gets their money back when the customer signs the contact, and the price of the phone rolled into the monthly payment. Your parents never told you nothing's "free"?

30. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

Free..? Lol.. yeah, okay. Cheaper the phone, higher the price of your phone plan.

34. AlikMalix unregistered

Come on man, of all the rest of the flock, you should know that this is not Apple making this deals - its carriers and retailers. They use the most popular devices to bring in foot traffic and new contracts. On contrary some of the promotions on Samsung devices and other android manufacturers actually come from Samsung or other android manufacturers where they are (not always the carriers and retailers) that are giving away free devices, memory cards, charging pads, gift cards just to promote their own device and win you over. So you can apply that logic of yours there to make it valid. Apple only reduces the price of older devices by $100 down the line (with release of a new model) this has been consistent for years. And on top of that they also upgrade older devices with bigger storage to match new device storage tiers just to make your choice easier if you cannot afford the newest device. This shows that Apple isn't as desperate as Samsung and others. Thanks for playing.

2. tokuzumi

Posts: 1961; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

HTC likes to tout "$150 off" of the HTC 10, but $549 has been the price for a good 4 months now. Time to just make that the normal price, and discount from that.

9. Z.....

Posts: 355; Member since: Feb 01, 2017

That's one ugly phone Htc10 like the Pixel.

13. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

smh lol

31. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

The HTC 10 us a beautiful phone. Great build quality. Better than the S7 series, that's for sure.

18. tywanjames

Posts: 65; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Actually the price has been $500 for the past few months. The $550 price is the Valentine's day special. Makes no sense as they actually raised the price

3. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2488; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I don't know if I would label this "flagship depreciation" considering this is the price that the manufacturer puts on the phone and not what the marketplace values the phone at. Usually when you are talking about depreciation you are talking about what the market says it is worth, not what the manufacturer thinks it's worth. Just because Samsung says their S7 costs the same as it did when it launched does not mean you can't find brand new ones on eBay for less than $600. And the value that LG and HTC put on their devices is above what you will find on third party retailers as well for a brand new headset. So, to summarize, depreciation is what the market puts on a product, not the manufacturer of said product.

4. Lauticol

Posts: 404; Member since: Jun 25, 2011

Agree. I bought my S7 Duos for US$510 in eBay on July 2016.

5. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

PA still cant report facts correctly. An unlocked Galaxy starting with the S4, is compatible on all US networks inclusing Verizon amd Sprint. I old S4 is from Verizon. It is unlocked. When i shove my T-Mobile SIM into it, it works just fine.

20. tywanjames

Posts: 65; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

But that doesn't mean that they'll work well on another network. For example, the Verizon S4 you had will work OK on T-Mobile but the T-Mobile version wouldn't get LTE on Verizon.

6. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

including*

11. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

It should be preferred for the phone to lose more of it's value quickly (1 year time). You can buy 1 year old flagship for really low price and it's price drop is going to plateau soon. I can buy G5 now for as low as 350€. Price is not going to drop below 300€ in the next year so most I can lose is 50€.

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

depreciation -" a reduction in the value of an asset with the passage of time, due in particular to wear and tear." Depreciation is the items worth as it gets used and ages. MSRP changes have nothing to do with depreciation. That's just an arbitrary number that's used as a reference point or sales price. What the phones are worth on the USED market shows depreciation, not what they are currently selling new for. Business 101. But lets be honest. No one picks one phone or another based on what they might be able to see it used for in a year or 2. its a disposable commodity to most people. anything recouped by resell is generally a bonus. I always keep my last phone as a spare just in case.

14. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

Yes...thank you, exactly...its a disposable commodity! Just like shoes!

16. willard12 unregistered

From what I saw on TV, they are all $9 on DealDash .COM

17. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

The resale price of Samsung phones is usually pretty bad, 12-18 months and resale value is about half it was on launch or less. Nobody buys Samsung phones for resale value, that's for sure.

21. rocker91

Posts: 92; Member since: Dec 09, 2016

Among android Samsung fetches the best resale value especially Note series. For resale nothing beats the iphone

32. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

I bought a brand new, sealed S7 edge off someone the other day for $300CAD. Flipped it for $575 today lol.

19. rocker91

Posts: 92; Member since: Dec 09, 2016

LG G5 had the maximum depreciation in my country it dropped from 650$ to 450$ within 3 months now sell around 350-400$ even cheaper than one plus .samsung s7 Edge value depreciated about $100 same with htc.

23. iamfury

Posts: 78; Member since: Oct 07, 2012

misleading title, to lure in people like me who are waiting for that eye candy (S7 edge) to get a little lighter on their pockets, lol.

25. DaBigDogg

Posts: 24; Member since: Sep 17, 2013

Shouldn't an article discussing depreciation really at least talk about the value of the flagship device on the secondhand market? A used iPhone will still fetch a higher price than a used S7...meaning someone who wants the latest and greatest would still probably have a better value proposition with an iOS device than with an Android if they intend on selling the old device to offset the cost of the new handset.

33. mikehunta727 unregistered

iPhones will always have better resell value then the competition, this isn't new

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