Phone prices hit record, just as repair costs. Tired of innovatin' yet?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Phone prices hit record, just as repair costs. Tired of innovatin' yet?
Does anyone have doubts that phone makers will shove foldable phones down our collective throat and in less than two years they will all have Galaxy S Gumby and Huawei Mate Bendy versions parallel to their non-flexing brethren? Is there any way that this new "disruption" won't raise the average phone prices even further, and, what's more, shoot the price of accidental damage repairs through the roof? 

The 2018/2019 crop is the most expensive one that Apple or Samsung have ever released. Granted, we no longer have to deal with plasticky construction or puny amounts of storage, yet prices seem to have steadily risen over the past decade in a slow-boiling-frog pattern until the current versions are double the price of the originals that started it all.

Remember the days when you could get any premium phone for two Benjamins with the carrier subsidy, full retail started in the $600-$650 range, and there were even "$400 flagships" from various second-tier makers? Yeah, us neither. These times are seemingly gone and might not be coming back, as ever-increasing storage, premium hardware, and unorthodox designs have become the law of the land. 

We are buying the most expensive phones ever

How did we get from the $500 OG iPhone or Galaxy S to the $1000 now asked for Apple, Samsung or Huawei flagships? Check out this Bloomberg chart of historical prices, and it is easy to see the breakout point.

It's right around 2017, and there are plenty of reasons for this happening then - a perfect storm of subsidies removal, industry cool-off, and ever-increasing competition that makes companies chase expensive components and technologies. Nobody asked for Face ID biometry that needed a notch cutout in an OLED display yet Apple decided to set itself apart with it. Ditto for a hole-in-display, sliding, dual-screen, pop-up and other "all-screen" designs. In-display fingerprint readers perform worse than the good ol' scanners on the back of the phone, yet they are becoming the pricey norm. 

"Just" one camera or 4GB RAM won't do now and we are at the 12GB/1TB limit, as well as hexa-camera phones like the S10 5G or Nokia 9 PureView. Expensive AMOLED displays with a monopolistic supplier have also become ubiquitous, and don't even start us on impractical curved edges. Add to these multilayer glass coatings, reverse wireless charging, ToF cameras, and whatnot, and you got yourself plenty of marginally better experience that gets shoved down our collective throat for ever-increasing amounts. 

In fact, the $400+ phone price bracket (and the $800+ one within it), was the fastest-growing segment last year, explaining why Apple and Samsung still make plenty of money from phones despite flat or declining sales, as you can see from Counterpoint's graph below.

Repair prices are hitting record levels

Adding insult to the price injury, however, are the hundreds of dollars you still have to spend when your phone hits the pavement. A cracked screen of the OLED variety in the new S10 trio is north of $200, while a split glass rear of the XS Max is $600. Compare this with the replacement of the iPhone 7 Plus metal body or LCD display at half the price.

Most of today's flagships feature some sort of water-tight certification so you are basically left with very little choice but the official replacement prices if you want your iPhone or Galaxy restored up to spec. When we probed the phone makers for the panel replacement costs of their spanking new flagships, we also asked about the turn-around-time (TAT), or how long does it usually take for the whole ordeal - shipping or bringing the phone to the designated repair service places, then diagnostics, part replacement(s), and shipping it back to the owner. 

Those quotes are also included, but, as you see, they are largely the same - a 2-day allowance for travel back and forth, and about 5-7 days for repair - so you will be without a phone for about 10 days on average if you choose to go the shipping route. Apple can swap your broken screen in a jiffy, though, just make an online appointment for the nearest Apple Store, eat lunch and stroll the mall, then come back in a few hours, and the screen should be replaced already.

Marginal added value, highest prices, record repairs - circa '17

As you can see, while repairs may look bearable at a fraction (or a half in the case of Apple) of the retail price for a new phone, they are also the highest flagship repair costs in history if you crack your iPhone XS Max or Galaxy S10+. Accompanied by the highest ever phone prices, this dynamic duo should make you think twice what phone you are getting and how long will you keep it. 

Did you ask for Face ID? Hole-in-display? In-screen fingerprints? Six cameras? We didn't think so, but you are still getting them and will pay top dollar for the privilege to watch what's essentially a shareholder-friendly pissing contest in a flatlining market. What do you think?

Is all phone innovation since 2017 worth the record phone and repair prices?




1. Tipus

Posts: 894; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Apple didn't have to innovate to jack up prices :))

4. TheOracle1

Posts: 2331; Member since: May 04, 2015

True. What the article fails to emphasize is that the manufacturing costs haven't increased that much to justify the extortionate prices. What they also fail to point out is the rise of the Chinese companies has been due to excellent mid-rangers at reasonable prices. Consumers are beginning to realize that something like a Pocophone is just as capable as any high-end phone.

18. oldskool50 unregistered

How much does it cost to replace a $1000 laptop? Here let me show you these prices are not totally insane. HP charges $275 for 1 year of accidental breakage coverage which also extends the mfr's warranty an extra year. with it, the OEm will repair or replace your PC. I used it because i carcked my touch display on my 17" Envy. HP didn't have a display to replace it with because my a laptop now 2 years old. so they gave me $2000 in gift cards so I can buy a new one. which is their warranty to repair or replace. Now I have a new Envy and display for $275. When you consider a $1000 phone, which is basically a pocket sized laptop, $200-$250 to replace it is cheap. because you could be paying the full $1000 again or more. Just like paying the deducible on car insurance of $250-$5000 is still cheaper than paying $40,000 to replace it. Mfr'ing costs have increase. the Note use to cost Samsung only slightly more than the S model. The Note 9 for example cost over $400 to make. So $200 to replace is cheap.

25. eli577

Posts: 142; Member since: Jun 29, 2010

What a stupid argument you made there. You paid insurance fee for your laptop, and got lucky, because they couldn't fix it, rather replace it with a new one. Repairing is not the same as insurance for a product.

50. oldskool50 unregistered

When you buy the carriers insurance, yes someone repairs the phone, but it isn;'t them. They ship the broke hardware to someone for the repair. Apple doesn't repair your phone, they replace it with a refurb. Its the same thing ALL insurance do. if you total yoru car. Your insurance gets you a replacement if it can't be fix. How is it any different bruh? You know ZERO about insurance. if you don't know what you are talking about, then don't try to counter anyone's argument.

64. eli577

Posts: 142; Member since: Jun 29, 2010

I think you are the one who has no clue at all. How can you not differentiate between insurance and repairs? For insurance you pay a fee and in certain cases you do get a replacement. But if you are just average Joe and don't have insurance on your gadget, then you must pay the full amount of price for the repair (supposing its not under warranty repair). So as I said before repairing is not the same as getting a replacement under insurance. I'm not talking about insurance policies, I'm just differentiateing it from repairs BRUH.

40. riteshrkm

Posts: 157; Member since: Apr 15, 2015

u r making a fool of yourself if u think Phones are pocket size laptops. The day i could write a damn Java code n run it. Can run 10 google chrome and minimizing them. Come back n tell me they are true pocket laptops!!!

51. oldskool50 unregistered

Maybe your phone isn't, but mine is. My phone can do nearly everythign a laptop can do. In fact I can rn Windows 7 and 10 on my phone directly. And its not a hack either. can your phone do that? My phone can do exactly what I can do on any Windows PC, including running X86 and 64bit apps together, which even iPhones were terrible at which is why Apple dropped 32bit support. Other than directly running X86 apps without using a virtual machine, what is it laptops do that smartphones of today can't? I'm not talking high-end creative stuff. I talkign about things people mainly use laptops for. Microsoft Office on MY phone is 99% identical to the desktop version. I don't need desktop Photoshop. The mobile version I use does enough for what I need. I can do email, watch movies, including bluray. Because my phoen allows me to hook up any external USB capable device, I can use optical drives, mice, keyboards and I can even read multiple file system, including Linux, NTFS and FAT. Just because YOUR phone can't do those things, doesn't mean none of them can. I can even wireless connect to a display of any size. Smartphones are pocket sized computers and yes my galaxy Note 9 can do pretty much anything a laptop can do.

58. riteshrkm

Posts: 157; Member since: Apr 15, 2015

Boy i dnt knw whts ur age n FYI i use a Note 9 currently n even 10% a Note can do what a laptop. Is watching movies,excel sheet ur prime thing what u do in Laptop? u r in what high school? thers a whole world of software creation tht goes on with a Laptop. the software n apps tht u use in ur Note 9 is done by some Laptop. The day this all things can be done in a phone. Tell they r pocket size Laptops Again i repeat i use a Note 9 n evrythng u said can be done by a phone bt they dnt even come close to 10% of Laptop use.

19. oldskool50 unregistered

That is false. Phone manufacturing cost have doubled and close to triple. The iPhone 6S was $220 to make. The iPhone X was $480 to make. The Note 3 was $275 to make, the Note 9 is $450+ to make. How is it you claim mfr'ing prices have not increase. Glass and metal may be cheaper than plastic to make, but it cost more to manufacturer when you need ot make millions of them.

37. TheOracle1

Posts: 2331; Member since: May 04, 2015

Get your facts straight. The cost to make the iPhone X is around $380. The iPhone 8 is about $300.

52. oldskool50 unregistered

It doesn't matter, about exact price. You claimed the phon prices haven't increased that much. That was a complete lie. The iPhone 6 as I stated was a $220 phone to make. The cost to produce a phone, rops over time. $380 is still more than $220 and it is nearly double like i stated. You so worried about correcting people. You were wrong to begin with. I only guessed the dollar amount of how much those phones cost to make. I wasn't trying to be exact. But you were just flat out wrong. deal with and move on.

63. TheOracle1

Posts: 2331; Member since: May 04, 2015

Errrmm you seem to have a problem with English and mathematics. IPhone 6 cost about $247 to make. But it retailed for about $650. IPhone X costs $380 but retailed for $1,000. Do the math Einstein. A $600+ margin versus a $400 margin for a $133 cost increase.

23. BuffaloSouce unregistered

Ask the average consumer has never heard of a Pocophone...

7. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Its a premium product just like macs. Need to have premium price so people don’t see it cheap like android.

13. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

A premium product with butterfly keyboard bug since 3 generations.

17. oldskool50 unregistered

And they didn't either.

28. p51d007

Posts: 705; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Not to mention the top tier producers, for the most part, have a markup between build & retail, minus marketing of 300 dollars build, to 1000 dollars retail. Can't blame em...but perhaps that window is closing, since sales are flat or down. People want to keep them longer, because they are "good enough", and not worth spending thousands every couple years.

2. JohnR

Posts: 158; Member since: Sep 08, 2017

Phone prices will go up regardless. Inflation alone will take care of that.

3. User123456789

Posts: 1001; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

My phone had many accidents but rear glass has never shattered. How can rear glass of iPhones cost 4x compared to other phones?

8. mackan84

Posts: 547; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Because except for the screen everything is glued and nailed to the back... Miss the old iPhone 4 where it was two screws and you slide the back off.

9. User123456789

Posts: 1001; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Other phones with glass are too. Replacement of glass of iphone is 4x the price asked by Samsung. Gorilla 6 is not much more expensive than.

46. mackan84

Posts: 547; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Apple designs it so it’s easier to replace screen and Samsung designs it so it’s easier to replace back. I’ll bet you if you break the expensive side of the smartphone from either company you’ll get a replacement unit.

21. oldskool50 unregistered

The screen is glued too. What are you talking about. Even though now the touch digitizer and display are built as one piece, there are some glue parts on some displays depending on model and mfr.

45. mackan84

Posts: 547; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

The screen is easier to repair because motherboard and everything between the screen is fixated to the back. The screen only has rubber glued for water-resistence which cuts easily.

53. oldskool50 unregistered

Not in every phone. In Samsung phones, the the components are mounted to the center bezel. It has been that way since the S6. And even before the S6, when you open a Samsung phone, the parts inside were modular and easy to remove with just one sized screwdriver. Samsung does not glue or mount parts to the bottom of the phone like Apple does. If you break the back glas, you can remove it and replace it with messing with ANYTHING iside. Not everyone makes phones the way Apple does. And even with Apple making the iPhone the way they do, charging $500 to replace it if you break the back glass is simply greed and ridiculous. Even if I smash my phone to a million glittery pieces, it will still only cost me $200 to replace the whole phone, plus the 9.99 I pay per month for the insurance.

10. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

There are lots of choices out there. So it's pretty simple, if you can't afford it don't buy it.

54. oldskool50 unregistered

Just because you can afford something, doesn't mean the price that it cost is reasonable. Whether there are other options or not. Everyone here seems to think, that when a person has an issue with the cost of something, it must mean they can't afford it. You ever thought, that the issue is simply; it costs too much? No! that seems to be too logical. lets just attack people and say they can't afford something. How about, if my insurance replaces the whole phone for $200, then what is Apple charging $500 to do the exact same thing? And this is $500 you have to pay, in addition to paying for AppleCare. Why do you think most people look for 3rd party repairs on Apple products as an example? Because they know apple charges way to much to replace their on products.

11. almostdone

Posts: 449; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

It has little to do with innovations driving up prices. Apple's greed in the last few years has led to record breaking profits year after year until people stuck up their middle finger and said no more.

12. almostdone

Posts: 449; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

When sales slowed they can now magically offer a price freeze or even cuts compared to previous year.

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