High-end phone prices increased drastically in 2017, was it justified?


Retail prices for high-end phones from the big three brands in the US - Apple, Samsung and LG - have been steadily rising from the very beginning of the race when the OG iPhone was introduced to our unsuspecting wallets, as you can grasp from the last chart above. That one was $500 at launch, and now the iPhone 8 starts off at $700, and you are left with a dollar. The first Samsung Galaxy was also priced $500, while spring season's Galaxy S8 blasted off at the shameful $750. 

You catch the drift, but ever since smartphone subsidies were removed by carriers, we've seen a much more pronounced rise in flagship phone prices, until we reached "the year of the $1000 phone," i.e. this year, with phones like the iPhone X or Note 8. Not only has the concept of the $400 flagship gone the way of the dodo bird, as Chinese makers like Huawei, honor and OnePlus have also increased their starting tags, but there's never been a launch price increase for high-end handsets as drastic as from last year to this year. 

As you can see in the slides above, every major phone's successor is more expensive than last year's edition, sometimes drastically so, raising the average year-on-year price significantly, to the highest ever. We aren't even including Google's own phone line, which used to be the best value-for-money before the search giant decided to vertically integrate, and we are now left with a Pixel 2 XL that costs north of a thousand euros, for instance.

There are plenty of reasons which can be cited for that jump, and corporate greed is not even highest on the list - 2017 phones got drastically overhauled in terms of design and materials used, 18:9 HDR displays became obligatory, and the basic storage amounts got bumped. These are all welcome changes, which were long overdue, though, and, faced with the prospects of calling $700+ instead of $600+ phones flagships, we are sure that a lot of folks would rather make do without fragile glass rears, a bit of extra storage, or cropp-y 2:1 displays, if they could shave a hundred off the average retail prices in the process, what do you think?

High-end phones' price increase has never been so drastic, is it justified?

Yes
10.11%
No
89.89%

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56 Comments

1. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Who da fuq voted yes? Why the hell would it be justified? just because smartphones are using bezeless designs? If thats the case, Sharp should have been asking for 1K+ since 2014....

18. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

The new panel with new ratio are more expensive. Sharp using the same panel as most phone at the time.

36. sgodsell

Posts: 6710; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Out of the list of 7 smartphones you listed. The LG G6 had the largest change from last year's G5. Not to mention it was the first of the 2016 entries this year that started 2017 off with the bezel less displays. The next phone in this list with the most changes is the V30 over the V20. The next on this list to offer the most changes over it's previous version. I would give that to the Note 8 from it's Note 7. Then it's a toss up between the Pixel 2 XL and the S8 over their previous versions. The last two that mainly offered a price hike verses actual changes would have to be the iPhone 8 and 8 plus over their previous versions, the iPhone 7 and 7 plus. If there was an award given to a company to offer the least updates and higher prices, then hands down Apple should win that award.

19. worldpeace

Posts: 3091; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

As reminder, Sharp aquos crystal (2014) use SD400, 8GB storage, 720p screen, totally not worth 1k, or even $500 at 2014

31. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

People complain about everything these days. There is absolutely nothing wrong with paying more money for crap we don’t need.

2. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Hey Daniel, here's a tip:http://www.techradar.com/news/samsung-galaxy-s8-wins-phone-of-the-year-at-mobile-choice-consumer-awards The S8 has just won the award of the best smartphones, and the best camera phone award too... And as if it wasn't enough, Samsung was awarded best manufacturer too. #DoBiggerThings

8. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

This is probably the first time I agree with you. The galaxy 8 series and the LG V30 probably are the best two phones this year. Apple, Google and all other manufacturers failed this year

38. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

This video alone shows why the S8 is the winner and why nothing else even matter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNz0OW_P1fM Especially starting at 17:10. If I had hair like white guys, I right now would be pulling it all out of my scalp over what I seen here.

42. sissy246

Posts: 6950; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Bet there will be no articles on that here, lol

3. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

It's not as easy as yes and no for all. Some offered a lot more for the money, others just increased it now that they're incorporating ancient tech. The former is justified, the latter isn't in my book.

4. Cat97

Posts: 1714; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

The Galaxy S8 is now 550 EUR in Europe, you don't have to buy on the first day. But yes, corporate greed is incredibly high nowadays. But it is also a free market: if the demand is high, prices are high.

14. Bondurant

Posts: 763; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

That also means outdated tech and drop in resale value. So spend a 1000$ every year or two and lose half its value in first 6months.

26. HansP

Posts: 542; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

You can get the iPhone 7 for less than €500 today on those discount stores. If you buy as phone as an investment, you're never going to get rich. Also, I have a feeling that the €550 price Cat97 is quoting is a refurbished/used phone.

33. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

This is ‘murica. O’ver hea we don’t n’derstand weird smiley face character currency.

39. HansP

Posts: 542; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

Your lack of education isn't my concern.

54. wesley.

Posts: 206; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

That's not the retail price. Buying from the likes of Banggood that ships to the EU does not count. No warranty and no insurance company will cover it because it wasn't bought from an EU shop.

5. jellmoo

Posts: 2529; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

The real issue for me is that we're seeing a great mid-range and bargain high end devices coming in at a great deal lower. When the overwhelming majority of users do the same relatively simple things with their devices, it's ridiculous to shell out $900+ on a device when their experience is largely the same on a $300 device. As far as I'm concerned, the Android One rollout in western countries can't happen soon enough.

7. Bondurant

Posts: 763; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

Even the mid range has increased their price to what was previously considering the top range. So in effect its just a illusion of pushing up top range while bringing up mid range to what was previously the high range.

11. jellmoo

Posts: 2529; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I disagree. Some devices, sure. But we still have options like the Nokia 6 at $229 USD, the Moto G5 Plus at $299 USD, and the Honor 6x at $199.

15. Bondurant

Posts: 763; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

Moto G series used to be half that price.

16. jellmoo

Posts: 2529; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

That's apples to oranges. They've split their products up since then with different offerings. They've transitioned the Moto E to serve that sector. along with the non-Plus version of the Moto G.

23. Bondurant

Posts: 763; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

So splitting their products proves what ? Another marketing strategy nothing more. Same range has increased in price while they introduced another category to fill the gap. You can buy a Samsung S7 instead of Moto g5 plus. End of day the price of phones have gone up at every range during theae years and filling gaps with new categories only gives the phone industry more ways to dupe customers.

29. jellmoo

Posts: 2529; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

No, it's diversifying their portfolio. They still offer devices at all of those price points. The range is what's changed. Prices have eeked higher and higher at the high end, with the other ends stabilizing. You can get devices at one fifth the cost of a flagship that will actually do a great deal of what people are looking for.

47. hurrycanger

Posts: 1754; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

Dude you compare the G with the more expensive variant of the G5 Plus? There is the 32gb G5 Plus and I'm pretty sure there is a G5 in the price range with the G back then.

34. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

Ahh.. USD! USD! USD!

6. Bondurant

Posts: 763; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

Thanks to all the professional reviewers giving iphone a fake positive review.

9. bucky

Posts: 3771; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Man you are so butthurt

10. Bondurant

Posts: 763; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

When was the last time you seen an iphone get a negative review for being priced high ?

12. libra89

Posts: 2213; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Nope.

13. BGChicago

Posts: 219; Member since: Nov 16, 2014

They took away from us removable batteries (cuts down average usage time from 3-4 years to 2 due to battery degrading). Then they "invented" the glass back - cuts down usage time from years to between hours and 2 years (remember the guy that broke his screen outside Ape store on release day?). Now they want even more money? No way

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