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Do you think phones have become too expensive?

OnePlus 7 Pro and Galaxy S10e
OnePlus 7 Pro and Galaxy S10e (Image credit: Android Central)

The advancements we've seen in the smartphone industry over the last couple of years has been incredible. Processors are ludicrously fast, bezels have pretty much vanished, and some camera packages capture shockingly good photos.

All of that's great, but so much innovation comes at a cost. If you've purchased a new phone recently, you'll know that prices have skyrocketed — sometimes reaching well over $1000.

Recently, this sparked a conversation in the AC forums about whether or not phones are too expensive.

If you think high price is related to quality. It isn't necessarily. It's more related to profit margins. The phones which used to be cheaper brands are now more expensive because they know that can get the $$$

103Softail

If it wasn't for Jump On Demand, I wouldn't be upgrading nearly as much as I do. The tech only gets better. The phones only get nicer. Price is by far the biggest culprit, but yes, there's something to be said for not needing to upgrade so often. But on another level, there really isn't a need for any of these flagship level phones. We want them, we don't need them.

hasasimo

You guys have to remember we in this forum are a very small number of the phones sold, we buy more often. The general population do not and at these prices, they will slow down buying phones. Most everyone I know, they buy every couple years or more and at these higher prices they are leaning to longer. I think the average user, they found the it's to expensive price mark. Sales being down is...

trucksmoveamerica#AC

I agree. Smartphones are getting way too expensive. The iPhpne XS Max retails for $1550 from my carrier. That's almost two months rent for me. Insanity. That makes the iPhone X's price look like a toy phone from Toys R Us. One reason why I'm getting the S10e - other than the smaller size, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, flat screen, aesthetics, and camera - is because of the lower price...

Morty2264

Now, we want to hear from you. Do you think phones have become too expensive?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

29 Comments
  • Uhhhhh, ya think???
  • $500 is about my upper limit.
  • I always went for the flagships, but replacing my GS8 Plus with a Pixel 3a XL was pretty eye opening, and I'm not wanting for anything. There are options out there, and I'm never buying anything for $800 plus ever again.
  • The problem is one of timing. This rise in prices comes at a time when the US economy is close to a tipping spot. It's not just phone prices but all goods and services. Folks tend to forget that the American worker is the American consumer. It's the teeming masses that support the economy yet for years wages have remained stagnant while prices soar. It's a recipe for disaster. Money may trickle down but it flows upward. Will Rogers said put money in the hands of working people and the rich will have it before night anyway but it will have at least passed through the poor fellas hands.
  • It's also a matter of priorities. My current phone is so good that the new hotness doesn't temp me. I'd rather pay off my car, take a vacation or buy essentials before even thinking about another phone. I don't care if it has the best cameras, or it's breaking sales records in India, or it charges it's battery in 20 minutes. Mine works just fine.
  • I agree with you. My 2xl camera is still amazing and nothing out there had caught my imagination or made me say, "I have to get that one" recently. They are all the same. The pixel 4 might spark that in me, but I will never buy a phone at launch. 3 months later the prices fall hundreds. I'll wait for the sale price now.
  • No, they haven't. There are plenty of good phones in the $200-$700 that have everything the average person needs. My husband and kids have Moto 6 and 7's that they've been very content with. I didn't pay more than $300 for any of them. The problem is that people aren't intelligent about shopping around and buy whatever deal the network provider stores give them, thinking that $50 / month over 2 years added to their bill is "a good deal" without doing any of the math. I recommend that people look outside the TMobile/Verizon stores and go direct to the manufacturers or shop around on Amazon. Most manufacturers have 18-24 month payment plans with 0% interest.
  • Phones have definitely gotten too expensive in my opinion. I remember when I got my first smartphone (Moto Q), I thought that $265 was expensive but definitely worth it. I had saved up my money for over two months in order to be able to get it outright. Now, with phones going over $1,000, where's it going to stop? Buying the phone outright is not really an option for people anymore and that makes me sad.
  • 30 years ago the computer you wanted was always $5000.00. That changed. My dad's first transistor radio was the size of a pack of cigarettes and cost hundreds (I think about $400). Dog only knows how much our first TV (black and white Hoffman, with doors to cover the screen when not in use, maple cabinet) cost. Now the phone you want is $1000. The good news is there are cheaper options for most everything so you don't have to wait till you save the money unless you really want to.
  • Yes, they've definitely gotten too expensive. Since coming to the Android world from Blackberry two years ago I've been with Motorola/Lenovo and have been relatively happy with them. I feel they provide good value for the price. I just treated myself to a Pixel 3a XL which was on a promotion at Amazon. Basically $100 off. I'm very happy with the Pixel. I can't ever see spending a grand on a flagship. The $400 I spent on the Pixel is probably as high as I'll go.
  • Also, for the people who tend to hold on to their devices for as long as possible, the longevity of a device now a days is around 1.5-3 years! These manufacturers know exactly what they're doing!
  • I have never paid full price for a new phone. I pay a little extra each month on my phone bill and then when I want to upgrade, I have enough credit on my account to pay for it. That said, I do not upgrade every year. Just not worth it to me. I usually go every three years and then wait for 6-9 months after release to buy. That gives time to work bugs out and read reviews of users and watch the price drop to a more affordable range, about 30 to 40% off. Currently have S8 and have not seen enough added tech to upgrade yet.
  • I'm remembering a decade ago when I talked myself into dropping $200 for a Palm Pre, and thinking that was expensive. Oh, for those days to return.
  • I've never had enough saved up to buy unlocked, so I was stuck with what was in the T-Mobile store. For me, the most important things are camera and battery life. To get those where I wanted I had to buy flagships. With the Pixel 3a, I'm now seeing light in the cheaper tunnel. We'll see what the Pixel 4 brings to the table, then I'll decide on what my next upgrade will be.
  • Yes, phones are too expensive! To the point of you don't even need the lastest and greatest.. you can wait for the current model to drop in price which will still receive the lastest OS update. I have a Pixel 3 I snagged earlier this year (Feb) when Google ran a $200 instant discount on them.. $599 is much better than $799 I couldn't pass it up.. So my advice wait for the deals never purchase a phone on launch 💪🏼
  • I upgrade about every two years, so I don't feel like I am wasting as much money on phones as others may be doing. I was going to stick it out with my S8 but it started acting loopy, so I bought manufacturer refurbished Google Pixel 3XL for $500. I don't think I'm ever going back to a new phone again. Especially if I can get a flagship at a more reasonable price.
  • People learned to stop listening to phone reviewers for the newest, greatest thing and realized that the stuff that they praised about phones didn't have anything to do with every day uses!! Faster processors, more ram, better screens, glass backs, wireless charging.... all that extra stuff that made the pricing go up, I realized I don't need that crap!!! Years of having an Android phone, now I know what I look for in a phone and those things aren't it. Phone reviewers we have stopped listening to y'all telling us that we need to spend an exorbitant amount of money on phones to get a great phone.
  • Actually yes. Thank you Google for Pixel 3a 😎
  • Flagship prices, in particular, have gotten out of hand. Samsung chasing Apple for ALL the wrong reasons followed along and jacked up prices for all their models. (Can't really have the specced out Sx+ price bumping into the Note price. Yet every boring, pedantic iteration becomes more expensive YoY. But doing so, OEM's force consumers to question "should I REALLY compromise my like/want for feature x when the device costs so much?" And the answer FOR MANY is a resounding NO.
  • Claro k OS preços estão muito caros para os celulares... Por isso é que agora eu só compro celulares chineses como os da Xiaomi ou Oppo.. tendo em conta as especificações e qualidades acompanhado de um preço muito acessível!!
  • I would never go flagship. Why pay £1000 when my Nokia 7.1 for originally £280, does every thing I need from a smartphone. The 7.1 is not even a year old now but can be purchased from CPW now at £180. Anyone that shells out over £800 for a phone needs their head testing. Or they're very rich.
  • I actually wrote a small blurb about this trend back in Q1 2018. What I find to be most troubling about the trend is that developers are becoming more aggressive about locking down their phones' bootloaders, and then they aren't doing their part to provide a steady stream of software updates. With the price of laptops and smartphones being so similar across all segments (premium and low-end), it's unreasonable of smartphone manufacturers to force you to rely on their proprietary software. You can check out the little analysis I did on the longevity of phones with unlocked bootloaders here: ultraviolet.world/ (sorry for the unprotected link im too poor to host a decent website).
  • OMG. The pop ups are beconi g unbearable. I'm about ready to ditch this app...
  • Agree. I've gone back to the desk top version.
  • Too expensive but most are quickly discounted by carrier deals or third parties.
  • Yes and no. Yes. The flagship range, often starting from $1,000 and up to close to $2,000, while quite extraordinary, are obscenely expensive for a fragile device with generally uneconomical repairability. There will always be a market for them, but the value of a flagship vs a mid-range phone is something akin to the value of a Tesla "Ludicrous" mode vs a 'normal' edition - both will do virtually anything you need them to do quickly and smoothly, with the extra price (even more of a delta for the flagship phones) getting very little additional benefit in exchange. And no. Entry level phones are getting less and less expensive every year, while rapidly offering performance and capabilities that equal or surpass that of mid-level phones of just the 1 or 2 years prior. Mid-level phones are available that rival the functionality (if not statistical performance) for real-world use of flagships costing 2-3 times as much.
  • Or switch to Huawei, and get better processor, far better battery and infinitely better camera for $400 instead of $1000. They're gaining market share despite Trump ban, while both Apple and Samsung are losing market share. Gee, I wonder why. Maybe the price has something to do with it...
  • You can get a flagship for usually less than half 6 months after release. If it were not for carrier BOGO offers and or Samsung and Apple trade in offers new mobile phone sales, annually, would plummet! The only thing that moves hardware annually is / are these offerings. I personally cannot imagine having a phone payment. That's silly.. I traded in my S7 for half the value of my S9. It's 100 percent the only reason I did so.
  • Yes. They have become way to expensive. I used to buy flagship products nearly every year. Now I promised myself to wait at least 3 years between products.