Is any phone actually worth $1000?

Welcome to 2017, when the best phones from almost every company that makes high-end smartphones will cost just shy of $1,000. And plenty of people are buying them.

Samsung and Google tend to be pretty firm on the price and aren't going to haggle with you.

I'm not wondering why people are buying them. If you want to play, you have to pay and it's not like you're going to be able to call up Samsung or Google and make a deal. The phones themselves are better than ever, the parts inside of them are better than ever and even the way you can buy them — 0% interest for 24 months, anyone? — is better than ever.

Enthusiasts, as well as people who need the features that come with a top-of-the-line phone, have to pay the sticker price. I get that. Heck, I'm one of the people buying them, just like many people reading this are. If we want the flagship model with the most memory and biggest display, we're paying for it.

I just can't shake the feeling that paying $1,000 for a phone is crazy. Even while I'm doing it and can honestly recommend you do it, too.

Let me stop for one second and call out LG. We don't know when an unlocked V30 will be sold in the U.S. but we do know places like B&H already have a listing for it (opens in new tab). We also don't know the price, but most people are assuming it will be in the vicinity of $750 or so. We do know what U.S. carriers are going to charge (right around $850) and LG usually sells an unlocked model just a bit cheaper than a carrier does. $750 is a lot of money, too, but it happens to be about 75% of the price everyone else making a superphone at the end of 2017 is charging. And it's just as feature-packed and awesome as any of the others.

Where to buy the LG V30

And yes, there's an LG V30+ that's just the LG V30 with an extra 64 GB of storage. (Why, LG? Just stop.) Of course, you can only buy it through Sprint ($900) and U.S. Cellular ($800) because LG just does things like this. If you count those, and I don't because even LG knows that hardly anyone will be able to use them and nobody is switching to Sprint for 64GB of storage, then LG is creeping up on the $1,000 mark, too.

I'm not saying any company is trying to play a bit of the price gouging game. I sincerely don't believe that and don't want to believe that. But I know that I can buy a 2000 Honda Accord V6, with a warranty, for the same price as a new Note 8. I'm pretty sure the Honda uses even more premium metal and glass and a whole lot of Gigabytes would fit in the trunk. All that's missing is an S Pen.

13-inches of OLED, glass, and aluminum is cheaper than six-inches. ಠ_ಠ

While comparing a Note 8 (or any of these phones) to a 17-year-old Honda is silly, you can make the same comparison with a laptop. While you can spend $2,800 on a Surface Pro or $4,200 (WTF?) on a MacBook Pro, you can also buy a really nice Dell XPS13 (opens in new tab) for about $850. It can do everything your new Note or Pixel or iPhone can do, has an even bigger QHD+ display and is made of "premium" materials to be thin, light, and beautiful. Even the new Pixelbook, which everyone says is outrageously priced, is nicely spec'd at $1,000.

Anyway, let me circle back around to the beginning. I know why we pay so much: we have no choice. I know why we want to pay so much: these phones are really cool and we want or need the best. I just don't know what makes them worth the prices being charged.

Maybe someone out there can make a case better than "small stuff is more expensive" and help me figure it out.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

329 Comments
  • No.
  • No. again. Here's the problem. Most phone reviewers will put down a really really good mid-tier phone. Like the Moto G5S Plus w/4 gigs ram 64 gigs mem. In favor of a "premium feeling phone", with a glass back so it has wireless charging, NFC for Samsung or Android pay, Quad HD screen, aircraft aluminum, dual front-facing speakers, and about 8 gigs of ram and a water resistant rating of 200. Most people that are buying all these "features" more than likely will never ever use them. That is a fact! Most people get these phones for the sheer reason of bragging rights and showing off to their friends and family that they make enough money to afford them. Don't get me wrong, to each his own and I'm not hating. But here is one economic fact, as long as people are willing to pay an exorbitant rate for phones they're going to keep going up!!
  • I bought the note8 because I enjoy the functionality of the pen and I'm a display nerd and the display is fantastic. My friends and family have no idea what a note8 is or how much it costs.
  • Why don't they know? Does most of society live in a river?
  • They don't know because those things don't matter in the real world for the vast majority of people. All they know is its a Samsung, apple, Windows or BlackBerry. All that needy stuff means nothing.
  • I use Samsung pay nearly daily (probably in the neighborhood of 80% of my purchases).
    I use android pay every so often (mostly only if there is a deal).
    I use wireless charging nightly.
    I use my S-Pen a few times a day (selecting text mostly).
    I use my display constantly (so I like high resolution and good color).
    I gravitate to high end phones, and because I have a problem I trend to but two or three a year. Hopefully I can not buy any more after the note 8 until at least the note 9 (again I love the S-Pen). I buy cheaper phones for my family who don't use the features I did and do can use cheaper phones without losing out. There's a market for pretty much every phone released, because of there's not then three company wouldn't release it.
  • 2 or 3 phones per year, that's crazy. Seems more like nobody is building the phone with your needs. I have a Note 8 as well, but I am also aware that all those premium flagships are not worth the money we pay for them. We are simply helping these companies marketing campaigns set a new normal. The first argument I ear everyone say is: "But I carry my phone all the time, it is the tool that I use the most".
    Since we accept that fact and we already know what the price of a good laptop is, we are comfortable with laptop prices.
  • I am glad that my basic need for a removable battery in a smart flagship phone was completely rejected by Samsung....Now I find myself never wanting to spend a fortune on mobile phones...I will stick it out for as long as possible with my two Note 4 phones....I simply enjoy removing the batteries from my phones to charge them in their external battery chargers (made by Samsung)....no need for me to worry about a Note 8 or any future Notes if they came with sealed up batteries. ...I never cared about buying an iPhone or a Sony phone or any other manufacturer's masterpiece....I got hooked on the Galaxy Notes 1 ,2 3 and 4 but then got badly let down regarding removable batteries in Notes 5 and 7 and now I am OVER it...
    ...I do not mind an old flagship phone in my pocket ...and just so that my original Note 4 might give up on me I bought another Note 4 as a spare (a pre owned phone in very good condition and at a very good price)...and I am happy with my lot now...
    For me removable batteries remain more important than the new technology packed into the new Note 8 .....and the sexy look of the phone is a bit strange after the initial infatuation. ...it still does look good ..but I find my Note 4 to be much more comfortable to my eyes....
    If I get the urge I might buy a Note tablet at some future time if some clever person posted a video on YouTube describing how to go about opening the back in order to replace the battery....
    But I will not be shelling out money for a Note 8 or any future phone with a sealed up back.....
  • I agree totally ! I have a galaxy s5 that's about 3 1/2 yrs old. It survives because it has a removable battery that costs just a few bucks. I'm happy with it and it does all of the basics. When I bought it my girlfriend and I got the same phone and they only cost $125 each thanks to some samsung offers and bonus points from us cellular. Try finding discounts for existing customers now days. Like Mahendra I 'll keep it till it gives up the ghost. Unlike a used honda, modern, expensive phones, won't last more than a year before the battery starts to go and after a couple of years it becomes a very expensive throw away phone unless it can be torn apart and the battery replaced probably at a fairly major expense. The phone companies have duped people into thinking that style is more important than longevity.so now the sky is the limit when it comes to cost. Ever hear of "planned obsolescence " ?
  • Same here, I have that little Samsung flip open charger. I love not having to worry about battery life.
  • We are in the same exact boat with the same phone Mahendra. I 100% relate to what you're saying.
  • I agree with this comment. My last favorite phone was also the Note 4. I too had Notes 1, 2, 3, and 4. The waterproofing and stupid glass or metal backs that the pundits so like in their stupid blogs are no substitute for the removable battery. Another very useful feature is FM Radio and the 3.5mm jack. These are in the way out too along with MHL and Slimport to HDMI (Samsung does offer this with the S8 and Note). My daily phone is now the LG Stylo 3. It cost $225 plus tax. It has a lower end Snapdragon processor, excellent 5.7" screen, a Stylus, FM Radio, and a 3.5mm jack. It lacks only a decent camera. I have a LG V20 and a Note 4 that I use if I need to take good pictures. Phones are obsolete in less than 6 months. Why does one need "build quality" and a $1000 pricetag or $40 per month for a aluminum/glass phone with less features? I'm not paying for that anymore. If Samsung would go back to the removable battery, I would buy their stuff again. I'd prefer a lighter, less costly plastic frame and a flat screen I could protect with a cheap tempered glass shield and a plastic case. Everyone has followed the Idiot-Phone's design and build quality to our detriment. Thank you cell phone pundits and bloggers for judging build quality to be everything so we get less features.
  • absolutely with you on this one Alex. I had my Note 2 for almost 4 years. moved to Note 4 just so I can have a bigger screen and better CPU. Loved the phone, but it died on me in mid use after only 6 month. since it was a refurb, no warranty.
    Samsung services could not troubleshoot the issue and guestimate a repair bill of about 250USD.
    so LG Stylo 3 Plus here I come.
    264USD total. good screen, even better than note 4, much better visibility in sunlight.
    a little sluggish some times, but very usable. the only thing I wish LG had done are, in order of importance
    #1. wireless charging
    #2 Better camera, I sue my phone for everything and camera is **meh
    #3. Stylus with a none-smooth head. it is a challenge to get the stylus out, especially when I use the case. need something to grip.
    and as an after though, water resistance. good to have but I had used 5 phones over the years so far and none of them got wet.
  • I have to know why you use the Stylo over the V20. I have an S8 and V20 and like them both but can't imaging stepping down to a crappy camera, with 2GB of ram and a SD435 and leaving the V20 sitting at home. Must be the stylus I guess.
  • No, none of them are worth 1k, a couple hundred over cost and throw in another 100 for r&d but as long as us morons keep paying 1k for a damn phone the prices are just going to go up.
    With in 10 years I predict a 2 and 3k phone easy, maybe more.
    People are paying 400k for 50k house, 50k for a 8k car, the world has gone nuts!!
  • Price != value
  • I know right! I still keep going back to my Nexus 5X because it just works and seems to be the perfect phone size for me. It is fast enough, and does everything my S8 does! Without the bloat I might add!
  • Ironically, I seem to notice that it's the people who can't really afford them that are buying them. People who can, don't care enough to spend that much.
  • If the iPhone X didn't exist for $1000, this article about phones costing $1000 wouldn't exist. Sorry. That's the truth
  • Maybe.  
  • No, definitely not worth it, but is a Rolex worth $10k or Chanel bag worth $5k or a Bugatti worth $2 million? If you compare the cost of engineering and materials for the price for one of these phones vs one of these expensive watches, bags, or cars, the phone would be a bargain. But not everyone can afford or have the desire to buy an expensive watch, bag, car, or phone so there are plenty of less expensive and pretty good alternatives. If you really want one of these expensive phones, you can always wait a year or 2 and buy it for at least half the price.
  • Except a Rolex bought 47 years ago is still working, and worth 4311.7647058824% more than its original selling price. https://www.minus4plus6.com/PriceEvolution.php https://www.bobswatches.com/vintage-rolex-submariner-5513-black-insert.html
  • Nailed it, Jerry!
  • Short answer is that a Rolex, a Bugatti, even an air cooled 911 is still usable and maintainable. A three year old phone is heading for landfill. Making a "premium" product with built in obsolescence is pure consumerism.
  • Hell No. My Nexus 5x can do 95% of what a $1000 phone can and it cost me $249.
  • Amen. I've got the Honor 8 and 5x and both are perfectly fine. I think I paid about the same as you for the 8 and significantly less for the 5x. I wanted my switch to a cheapo carrier (StraightTalk) to actually save money. If I switched just to get a more expensive phone, I wouldn't have saved anything.
  • Buy a used Honda and you'll be sinking more money into it for repairs over the next 2 years. It's a stupid comparison.
  • Buying a car is much more of a necessity than a phone
  • Depends on where you live. I know several people who have never had a car, or a driver's license.
  • Unless you're talking about the US, then a phone is MUCH more important than a car.
  • When's the last time you saw a phone booth?
  • It's been years. But I see car booths everywhere.
  • lol
    1st 17 yr old Honda is more reliable than a new VW or Mercedes. And it definitely won't cost you thousands and thousands to repair unless it was salvaged auction sales.
    2nd you must be one of those who takes everything literally. Of course, using a car is not adequate comparison. To recharge your car it will take you a trip to a gas station and $20+ to pay for it. recharging your phone more convenient and almost free (0.X cents). Jerry "struggles" finding the reasons, simply because they are not worth much more than any other mid range phone. no phone is worth more than a few hundred bucks. but, in the market based system with shareholders expecting great returns these prices are more than realistic. There is a huge infrastructure to support from hardware to software divisions, R&D, marketing, customer service, unsold devices in projected time (eventual discounts), etc and it all costs a lot of money, then you have to add all possible litigations current or future. Sum all that up and add sweet executive salaries with most important Investment Returns for shareholders to keep them happy and bring more in.
    So, on top of the actual value of the device you need as much cushion as possible to add to it. Otherwise, your customers won't be happy (lack of support, quality control, timely updates, etc) or you are just going bankrupt. That's why the little guy can't compete - we just don't see great OEMs who just make phones.
  • Yup, I was thinking pretty much the same same thing. It's the rule of three. Whatever something costs, multiply by at least 3, to recoup as much cost of manufacture and pure profit as possible.
  • Forgot to add that if a phone actually cost $1,000.00 to manufacture, it would likely sell over $3,000.00 on that alone.
  • No it’s not. I just recently gave away my wife’s college years 1992 accord a few years ago for tax purposes. I drove the car to work and back everyday for almost 10 years. With proper maintenance and a good mechanic I spent no more than the price of an oil change every other month to maintain it along with an occasional expense for tires, battery replacement, etc. I’m presently driving a 2005 accord and I’ve been driving it every day for the past 8 years. Hondas have excellent long term durability if they are taken care of. And yes cell phones are too damn expensive.
  • It's Japanese, it won't need much repairing, if any.
  • Well, one that someone is willing to part with for $1,000 probably will.
  • I have an 1998 Toyota Avalon, and have taken good care of it. Mobile 1 only. I've dumped thousands of dollars into it to keep it running. Bearings, oxygen sensors ($1400 to replace California sensors), suspension, and so on.
  • May as well buy a good guitar. https://youtu.be/kzim1iYhmGA
  • Subjective. If someone wants to spend that amount of money on a device and they feel it is necessary then the answer is yes.
  • Buy the $1000 phone and use it like it's $200. Watch videos, text, social media and music 😂
  • Exactly...
  • Oh yah, and taking pics here and there lol
  • Please indulge me, how would I use my phone at a 1000 dollar rate? What activities would justify a phone above 200 dollars using your own set framework based on your statement. I'm curious.
  • What would you do with a 1k phone that's different from a much cheaper phone?
  • I’m assuming you carry a $200 device? You tell us...
  • Regardless of the price, I did exactly what I said earlier. Text, , social media, musics and pictures. Exactly what a 1k phone can do. Why pay more for something so little to do? Average consumers does the same thing.
  • Average customer isn’t paying $1000 for a phone. Average customer is still carrying their iPhone 6s.
  • Maybe they can afford the better things in life. And no one I know of paid $1000 for the Note....
  • Or use it for more than that. It's your choice with an upper end phone
  • If I could use more colorful language, I would. Since I can't, though, I'll just say, "NO!!!." Even so, if you're comparing Samsung to Google, at least Samsung gives you everything but the kitchen sink in terms of features to try and justify the prices they charge. Whether you use them or not is a whole other story; but even if you don't, it's still a comfort knowing they're there-- until the phone gets so bogged down by installed apps' cache and lag that it becomes unbearable. Then you have bare bones Google that runs like a champ, but is boring as hell, because instead of learning from Samsung and implementing some actually useful features, they instead give you the gimmick of a squeezable frame.
  • ^^EXACTLY^^
  • I can't justify spending that kind of money on a flagship anymore. My last device was a OP3T, and I think that's the price range I'll be in moving forward.
  • No, it's not. The way we use our phones today haven't changed at all from 3 or 4 years ago. We use them the same way, mainly to consume media and make phone calls and receive text messages. There's nothing justifying these ridiculous hike prices.
  • Apparently there is
  • No phone is worth that kind of $$... Unless it has a removable battery. Your $1k will die a slow death after every 14-18 months.
  • This...
  • My Droid turbo will be 3 years old in 2 weeks. My battery life is fine.
    The plus model iPhones are also fine after 3 years.
    Choose wisely.
  • I should have added this point to my comment.
  • True that! I got the lg v20 last year. It totally has ever bell and whistle I ever wanted in a phone! Big beautiful screen, nice camera, removable battery and even an IR Blaster that I use everyday! No bootloop issued here 😊
  • That depends on how do you view a phone. Sure, there are more affordable phones that do the same things, but the experience you're getting from the more expensive ones are different in the sense of build quality level, software fluidity, and what people think when they see you with this phone. It's like getting a piece of jewelry. They cost so much, yet they do nothing much aside from being adornments and display of wealth. Yet, people buy it for the experience and feeling of joy it brings to them. It's like getting a luxury piece, a sense of opulence. That said, I'm not considering to get one soon, not until I can afford to have one.
  • There is an important difference though between expensive jewelry and an expensive cell phone. Jewelry will often increase in value over time and the more rare or elaborate the jewelry the more it can potentially go up in value. It becomes an investment. Then you can either sell it for a profit or hand it down to loved ones for future generations. Cell phones begin to lose value the moment they are turned on due to the nature of technology and unless your phone is made out of the same rare minerals that most jewelry is crafted from they will be worth less and less the longer you hold on to them.
  • Jewelry is not an investment
  • Read the entire jist of the comment. He's talking experience and he's right. If I can afford it why should I not have it?
  • As long as the sheeple pay that much, companies will continue to charge that much. What is particularly galling is how fragile and disposable they are. A device that is not supported after 2 years is definitely not worth it. One that is fully functional and up-to-date for 5 or more comes closer.
  • And you used sheeple, so we all know you don't really understand, but instead just parrot what others say.
    Five years of software support? Not very likely, even Apple's support lacks that far out (missing features, lag, etc). Greeting Qualcomm, broadcom, etc. To support their chips that far out is not going to happen either, they don't have an incentive.
    But yeah let's call people names and wish for the moon.
  • Why are you in particular taking this personally? Lol.
  • If Google can get it done with the Pixels, why not the rest of the OEMs? Apple though. It's $$$ so keep upgrading!
  • Hell No! Once T-Mobile came up with the idea of letting the customer pay the entire price for the phone. Well the sky is the limit! A mobile device is the most overrated device in the last 10 years. Let the buyer beware...
  • You can tell this is biased as as soon as he says that it costs 2/3 of all other high end phones. First of all, 750 is 3/4 of 1000, which is much more than 666 which is 2/3. Secondly, most high end smart phones coming out now are priced around 850, which, guess what, is also the current price of the LG phone. The LG phone is currently no cheaper.
  • no, that was just an editing error when I cut a ridiculously long paragraph about crazy deals with carriers. I know math, and I'm not biased because I think every phone mentioned in this article is crazy expensive. The V30 is just less expensive. I'll fix that.
  • So once they were up front about customers paying for the device instead of hiding the balance in the 2 - 3 year contracts .. the price of the phones went up? No, your comments are wrong. You paid the entire price over that period whether you knew it or not. Ignorance was blissful but that doesn't change the fact that they didn't go from $300 to $1000 because of payment structures. Sorry. Try again.
  • This. Right. Here.
  • I will say yes they are worth it today. Here is my reasoning.
    For those of you that are under 50 you'll need to go to a used bookstore and pick up a copy of MacWorld or PC World to confirm what I'm saying.
    In the mid to late 80's 1 MB of RAM for an Apple IIe cost approximately $50.00, so to outfit a PC today that comes with 6 GB of RAM in 1980's dollars that would be $300,000.00 alone for RAM. Want a 20 MB EXTERNAL hard drive to go with that IIe? You'll have to pony up another $2000.00. How about a whopping 128MB video card from Orange Micro? Another few thousand dollars please..
    IMO There has never been a time for better consumer value per dollar in technology, as there is today.