It's nuts to buy phones around the $1,000 range, right?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

When I first started in the industry, the original iPhone came out of left field to surprise everyone with its revolutionary features. Even crazier to think about now, the iPhone bucked the trend by selling at a then insane price of $499 for the 4GB model – and an even more $599 cost for the 8GB one. Those prices were unprecedented to say the least, but the iPhone series eventually adopted the typical price structure of $200 on-contract, which was in line to its competitors.

As we approach the upcoming holiday season, something intriguing dawned upon me. With the introduction of the LG V30 during IFA 2017 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 shortly before that, we're beginning to see yet another trend unfold in the smartphone sphere when it comes to pricing. Prices will continue to increase, that's just the reality of things, but we're now seeing a significant gap amongst high-end devices.

There was a time when $600 was regarded as the threshold for most flagships, and for a long time that has been the case, but this year's crop of high-end smartphones being launched in time for the holiday season are taking things to a totally new level. For the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, prices for it start at a wallet-crunching $930 – while the LG V30 is currently reported to be on track at around $750 starting. And don't even get me started about the rumors circling the "iPhone 8" or "iPhone X."

All of this brings me to question why it's nut to buy phones around the $1,000 range. I used to think that forking over $600 was crazy, but that's hardly the case anymore

The death of on-contract pricing

I'm not sure about you, but I'm still conditioned to the idea of on-contract pricing, which is probably why it's tough for me to wrap my head around the idea about paying outright for a phone. Flagships in the past, including the iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and everyone else, were typically priced at $200 on-contract – or for those inclined to go the no-contract route, it was usually $600.

For a good while there, most of us were comfortable paying $200 at the store to pick up any one of the flagships being touted at the time. That's obviously still cheaper than having to pay $600 out-of-pocket, but it meant being locked into a contract period of 2-years. Breaking off from that contract would incur significant penalties, usually resulting in early termination fees that eventually covered the full retail cost of the phone.

As we've witness the shift in carrier strategies in the last couple of years, they slowly adopted this new form of "financing" or leasing devices – resulting in the death of on-contract prices. This move is undeniably the single biggest thing that has changed consumer perception when it comes to smartphone prices. Instead of having to throw down $200 to pick up your favorite flagship with a contract, carriers now revert to telling them that there's nothing owed today, which is true, but there's more to it than just that.

Finance/leasing prices ease the burden

Like seriously, I don't think I'd be against someone telling me that there's no payment necessary when buying a flagship phone at a store. Paying nothing and getting a sweet new phone? That sounds fantabulastic to me! But come on, you know there's more to it than just that, right? Don't be too gullible now!

Several factors come into play when it comes to financing or leasing a phone nowadays. For starters, we're no longer dealing with crazy amounts like $200, $400, or even $600. Instead, a flagship that normally costs $650 is now broken down to monthly payments over a 24-month period. That equates to $27.08, which is a substantially easier figure to swallow than $650.

How about that $756 full-priced phone? Well, that breaks down to $31.50 per month over a period of 24 months. Needless to say, that's not too shabby, still better than going to the store and shelling out $756 from your wallet. The beauty about this strategy is that it really minimizes the shock value, so rather than being turned off by the insane prices, our fears are alleviated because it's not something that's greatly impacting our finances at that exact moment. 

Bring on the ultra-premium phones

So yeah, this bring me back to my original argument about how it's nuts to buy phones around the $1,000 range. It's actually not that crazy as long as carriers and the companies continue to offer deals with these leasing arrangements. For example, Sprint is easing the burden of having to pay off that $960 cost of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 because of its Sprint Flex lease option. You're basically paying $20/month for the phone itself for 12 months, with the option of upgrading to a new phone after that period – albeit, if you choose not to upgrade, you'll have to pay the leftover balance of the phone.

Smartphones hovering in this new threshold are more than just your flagship class, since they tend to have more features and premium designs. Just look at the Galaxy Note 8, which clearly as some new goodies in tow that attempts to justify its worth. From the S-Pen, to its slightly beefier specs, and software features, the $960 cost of Sprint's version seems to be warranted over the $850-priced Samsung Galaxy S8+. 

We can assume that the same can be said about the upcoming 10th anniversary version of the iPhone, which should carry some additional luxuries. Now to be fair, these phones in this class aren't really meant to outsell their standard "flagship" brethren. There are reasons why devices are classified as "flagships," not only are they super-spec'd, but they've been fashioned to appeal to a wider array of consumers. In contrast, these so-called ultra-premium phones will be sold in fewer numbers, due to the higher pricing and the demographics they intend to target.

Is it really nuts to buy them still?

For the longest time ever, it was the norm for me to shell out $200 every couple of years to upgrade my phone. You'd get a flagship level smartphone, but without having to pay that full price of $650. And now that we're approaching that $1,000 threshold, you'd think that people are nuts to even fathom buying them. However, as I've detailed above about how financing/leasing options ease the burden, it's not quite as crazy for people to tinker the idea of buying phones in this new price range.

Honestly, it's still a scary thought for me, just because I know that I'm still going to end up paying for that full amount one way or another. There are reasons why devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, iPhone 7, and others in that $650 to $750 continue to thrive and dominate the sales chart. But for these new breed of ultra-premium smartphones, they’re not meant to compete against their flagship brethren – they're here to complement them.

I know that I'm unlikely to spend that much, even with financing options and deals to woe me over, but that's just me. Others will appreciate the exclusivity that these ultra-premium phones offer, since they’re not going to be as abundant in circulation as most other typical flagships. And yeah, those financing deals won't faze people as much as having to deal with the shellshock of plopping down all of that money right at the onset.

Is it really crazy for people to buy phones at these prices? Not really anymore. What's crazy, though, is thinking about what's next. Limited editions would probably be a good start.



1. jellmoo

Posts: 2678; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Honestly? Yeah, I think so. I'm in the market for a new device and I just can't bring myself to spend that much. I'm looking to get something like a OnePlus 5 or Mate 9 for about half that price. I just can't believe that any device will literally be twice as good.

5. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

The Oneplus 5 performs way better than any flagship phone available and the multitasking is great if you get the 8 gb version. On my own usage I get extremely great battery life on an average of 7:30 - 8:00 screen on time and the finger print scanner is extremely fast. You have to bare in mind it is semi stock android and doesn't have all the bells and whistles like other Android phones (wireless charging - water proof, etc.) but all in all great phone.

45. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

My average ram use is only 800 MB on my 3 gig phone lol. you need like 10 games and more running to fill that much ram.

51. cheetah2k

Posts: 2323; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Not just the OnePlus, you also have Xiaomi MI6 which crushes the competition too in price- a $450 phone with nice screen, 6gb ram and 128gb rom with the latest SD835. Cant beat it... I blame Apple for price gouging, and leaving the door open to others like Samsung to follow.. Unfortunately the mentality is "if Apple charges $1000 for 2 yr old hardware, why cant we"... And so, we are where we are today... $1k phones that aren't worth that, but peeps still sell a kidney to get one..

66. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

"if Apple charges $1000 for 2 yr old hardware, why cant we" I think that statement died back in 2015 tbh, apple truly did use what many consider to be outdated hardware in comparison to say what samsung was using but back in 2015 they changed things with the 6s plus and If you believe a phone is outdated because it has a 1080p screen well that would be pretty petty of you. I do however agree that $1k for a phone is quite ludicrous indeed!

79. Kakarotto

Posts: 255; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

128GB of Read Only Memory? Ok...

80. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 746; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

"if Apple charges $1000 for 2 yr old hardware, why cant we" Simple: 1. That 2 year old specs still run flawlessly. And gets a lot of updates. How about a 2 year old specs for android. Does it still run flawlessly? 2. With 512GB of internal storage. Why shouldn't it be priced at $1k and above? 3. If it comes with pro motion display. I don't see why it shouldn't be. 4. You get 64 bit apps and is metal optimized. And if it's pro motion optimized. I don't see why it shoudn't be. 5. You get 5 years worth of software updates. As long as it gets a lot of updates. It gets optimized a lot. More and more apps get's optimized on the target smartphone ex. iphone 7 plus. 6. Since it's gonna be built for Augmented Reality. Apple pays a lot of money for those who would develop the app for every latest iphone tech. So by the end of the year. There will be a lot of AR apps that is made for the iphone 8. And many users would entice to bought it since they get premium apps. Android has AR apps since lenovo phab 2 pro. But there are hardly any premium apps that would entice the user to get the AR smartphone. Only a fraction of AR owned android smartphone users pay those AR apps. So there's a reason why peeps would get the newest iphone if it has a good hardware specs. And also a bigger internal storage to boot.

13. jphiller87

Posts: 92; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Love my Axon 7

33. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

I don't see the problem here. Don't like it, don't buy it. This phone has got enough new tech in the bag to stimulate interest from AR to FaceID to Promotion to 3D touch.. As for me, this will be a day one buy. My body is reeeaaaadddyyyyyy.

34. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yea, and don't forget that FPS under the screen. Basically, Infinity million percent confirmed it is. Aside from that, the last time I spent $1000 on a phone was the PadFone infinity package, which technically came with a 10 inch tablet so I don't think that counts (great device though). Let's see what superlatives they justify it with this time and then we can decide if it's worth 1k.

39. BuffaloSouce unregistered

What happened to FPS under the glass?

67. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

Same goes for you on every Android article.

49. diggie32

Posts: 388; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

Jelly scroll. Upside down display

62. Dagdigdug

Posts: 4; Member since: Apr 18, 2017

Why people are going nuts over the price of note 8? Here the iphone 7 plus 32GB costs 40 bucks more than note 8!!!! And you got 64GB of memory and free harman speaker

75. jellmoo

Posts: 2678; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Because it's possible to believe that both items are priced too high,

2. NoAllegiance unregistered

Two weeks pay for a phone that you are going to use for a year is not nuts, in my opinion. But this has to be the threshold, phones should not be more than a Macbook Pro.

9. techbuttcheex

Posts: 205; Member since: Jul 25, 2015

A Macbook Pro now costs upwards of $3000. A PC in 2017 starts at less than $1000. Does an iPhone do everything a Surface Pro, or any run of the mill Windows laptop can do? How about a 13 inch iPad Pro? I don't think so. The price is fallacious. They charge that much because everyone needs a smartphone these days, not because its actually worth that much.

17. NoAllegiance unregistered

I don't know where you are buying your Macbook Pro, but they're ripping you off.

22. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Yes - Apple - Macbook Pro for $2799. After taxes its nearly $3000. You must be blind. Yet I purchased this - Now when I purchased this Envy, I paid $1799 which was still $1000 cheaper than the Macbook which I was shopping for and also I was lookign at the Surface Book with the dedicated GPU, but it also was over $ 2500 and I decided its not worth it. Not only did I get a bigger displays, its 4K, I got double the RAM and its DDR4 not DDR3. It came with a 512GB SSD, but I swapped it for 1TB from WD and that was $250 extra. Still lest than the Macbook. My video card is better and shares the main RAM up to 8GB. Still has USB's, has a single USB Type C which is plenty. HDMI, SDCARD, gigabit RJ45 and more for far less money. And I still run OSX in a VM when I need it. Apple is a ripoff only because they act like a luxury brand, but they don't give you real luxury products. They give you great products, that tend ot be very limited, need to spend 100's on accessories to make them do what other products do and its not worth it.

29. domfonusr

Posts: 1101; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

I bought a perfectly good Toshiba Satellite with a Intel Core i3 processor and touch screen for just $550 back in 2014, when I needed a new laptop for going back to school. It worked fine for my needs, and I still have it. There is no way I'll ever spend $1000 even on a PC, let alone a phone. The Surface is just Microsoft's attempt to be as profitable as Apple... mostly by offering you things you don't need, and overpricing just like Apple does (perhaps not as much, but people are willing to pay Apple - not so much with Microsoft's history of cheap PC's... I won't ever give a Windows PC $1000 of my money).

50. diggie32

Posts: 388; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

Toshiba? Lol

53. domfonusr

Posts: 1101; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

I still have it, and it works fine. It got a little beat-up from being hauled around in my book bag for three years, but otherwise it is great. And I only spent a little over $500 for it, so I'd say that was a decent deal, considering some people here spend well over a thousand dollars for a PC that people won't laugh at.

54. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The Surface isnt what you claim it is. It's a fancy Windows PC. It's the same x86 hardware in a fancy shell. MS isnt gonna sell a lot. After all, after 30 years of Mac sells, Apple onmy sold like 130M. Windows OEMs sold far and away and UP were selling 12-15M every quarter.

64. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 2013

Okay if your going to quote the MacBook pro price, then start with the base model. The 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at 2,399.00. You of course chose to show the higher one, but you can obviously get one for less than 3k. But once a troll always a troll so i shouldn't expect anything less from you.

65. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 2013

The base model 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at 2,399.00 so yeah not close to 3k. Ppl need to provide accurate information if they want to post comments.

26. Pabliell

Posts: 189; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

In U.S. maybe, but not in the rest of the world. To buy Galaxy Note 8 right now I need to work 1.5 months. And I'm living quite a good life in a city.

3. afrohoxha

Posts: 264; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Well, note 8 review is done... With it's crazy and unjustified price back then and emphasising it as e big con ( from review). The new iPhone is around the corner, so it needs some articles to justify what was unjustifiable for the note 8. Expect another article to solidify this.

11. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1382; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I am waiting to see if this will be a reviewed con or not. Will there be hypocrisy or not on PA's part. We will see when the reviews are in.

4. cmdacos

Posts: 4388; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Don't find the value there, don't buy it. I've got no problem finding value in the note 8 too justify the price.

6. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

With that price you can buy a laptop or build a decent desktop pc. Not worth it for a phone.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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