EXPECT this year’s smartphones to take better photos, run better apps, offer faster downloads, and deliver bigger, clearer screens. But it will come with a cost.
Samsung and Apple are locked in a battle to prove they are the most innovative. But the fallout appears to be producing more expensive phones
EXPECT this year’s smartphones to take better photos, run more powerful apps, offer faster downloads, and deliver bigger, better screens.
But you should also expect to pay significantly more for them, as experts warn the pocket-sized devices are set to hit our pockets harder than ever in 2017.
The warning follows Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 launch in New York this week, which saw the world’s leading smartphone maker unveil its most expensive handset yet.
The device will cost $1499 when it arrives in stores on September 22 — $150 more than last year’s Note and $300 more than Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 released earlier this year.
But Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said Samsung would not be the only major smartphone company lifting its prices well beyond the $1000 threshold.
“This year we’re going to see the re-emergence of the premium smartphone market,” Mr Fadaghi predicted.
“We’ll see a number of handsets at a very high price point.”
Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson warned the price of Samsung’s new top model phone could “give some existing Note users pause as they think about upgrading.
The Samsung phone’s price has risen 60 per cent in Australia since its arrival in 2017
“Samsung has been pushing the boundaries on price with its last couple of launches, and we’ll have to wait and see how consumers respond to the pricing here, which is quite a bit higher than past Note devices,” he said.
Mr Dawson said many consumers are likely to defray the additional cost with 24-month phone plans, and Australian telcos are lining up for their business, with Vodafone and Amaysim launching discount offers within moments of Samsung’s Thursday event.
Mr Fadaghi predicted many consumers with cheaper smartphones would upgrade their handsets regardless of price this year, as the competition between Apple, Samsung, and emerging competitors increased.
“Australian consumers who flirted with low-cost handsets will move up in value, given the arrival of new products and their increasing dependence on smartphones,” he said.
Samsung’s new big-screen smartphone is expected to go head-to-head with redesigned handsets from Apple this year, with the latest rumours tipping a September 13 launch event for its 10th anniversary iPhone.
Internet giant Google is also expected to issue a follow-up to its Pixel smartphone in October, competing for a share of Samsung’s Android-loving audience.
Creative Strategies principal analyst Carolina Milanesi said some consumers would wait to see what Apple launched before choosing a new, high-end smartphone this year, and Samsung clearly targeted the company at its Note 8 launch.
One of the biggest cheers at the event followed a thinly veiled jab at Apple’s removal of the iPhone headphone jack.
“Everybody is gunning for the iPhone market,” Ms Milanesi said.
“They’re still seen as the market leader, the one to beat and the company to compare yourself against.”
Both Apple and Samsung were under pressure to keep up with each other’s innovations to justify their high price and customer loyalty, she said.
Samsung this year added dual rear cameras, for example, while Apple was now tipped to emulate Samsung inclusions.
“That rivalry is there,” she said. “A lot of the features that Apple is rumoured to be launching, Samsung already has, like wireless charging.”
Ms Milanesi said Google would need to “step it up” in terms of smartphone technology to seriously challenge the two dominant phone companies this year.
Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung.
THE RISING PRICE OF SMARTPHONES
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Price: $1499 (up from $1349)
— Dual l2-megapixel OIS cameras
— 6.3-inch Super AMOLED curved screen
— Water and dust resistance
— 64GB storage plus memory card slot
— Improved stylus