This week the tech headlines have been dominated by one thing: news about Samsung’s hotly anticipated Galaxy Note 10 family of phablets.
The reason for this is pretty simple, the phablets are scheduled to make their debut on the 7th of August at Samsung Unpacked in New York. In many ways the hype sounds like, for once, it’ll be justified. There have been all manner of exciting “leaks” about the Note 10 that make it sound like it’ll be an amazing device.
These include everything from rumours of an improved S-Pen stylus and rear camera setup, to speculation Samsung will unveil Plus and 5G Note 10 variants alongside the vanilla Galaxy Note 10.
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While this is on the one hand awesome, for us here at Trusted Towers, there’s one essential missing that could spell doom for the Galaxy Note 10: a Galaxy Note 10e variant.
This may not be the sexiest idea, after all who can get excited about a stripped down, slightly cheaper version of a flagship phone? But there’s a good reason why Samsung needs to keep pushing it’s ‘e’ line.
For those that missed it, the ‘e’ line is a concept Samsung debuted on the Galaxy S10. It effectively lets you grab a slightly stripped down version of the main Galaxy S10 that maintains all the phone’s key selling points – an amazing screen, top-notch design and solid rear camera – but costs considerably less. The combo made the S10e one of our favourite phones to arrive this year, with it scoring an impressive 4.5/5 stars in our Galaxy S10e review.
The ‘e’ line is important because, the fact is, while people still get excited about flagship phones, they’re not buying them. Take a look at the sea of company financial statements we’ve seen hit the headlines this week.
Sony and LG’s smartphone divisions both reported sizable downturns over the last four months. Even the big-players like Samsung and Apple reported downturns in top-end flagship phone sales. Apple in particular suffered with sales of the iPhone accounting for the lowest proportion of the company’s profit in over half a decade.
As I’ve said time and time before, the fact is, people don’t want to spend £1000 on a smartphone and they’re waiting a lot longer before upgrading their phone. This is why every analyst house and industry expert under the sun is reporting the mid-range £300-£600 market as the sweet spot at the moment. It’s also why key handsets, like the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, have been such big hits.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL were unveiled earlier this year and cost £399 and £469 respectively. Google highlighted strong sales of both as a key factor that helped reverse the company’s ailing smartphone sales in its latest quarterly financial report.
That’s why I think Samsung needs to think about making a semi-affordable Galaxy Note 10e targeting the same segment of the market, rather than focus on yet more expensive variants like a Galaxy Note 10 5G, if it wants to succeed.
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This is especially true given the current state of 5G. Let’s face it, while there are live networks, the tech is still in its infancy. In the UK EE and Vodafone are the only ones running 5G networks at the moment and even those are limited to select locations in big city hubs.
Three and O2 are set to join the party by the end of the year, but again only with limited rollouts. This means even if you have the scratch to buy a 5G phone, like the Galaxy S10 5G, you’ll still only get 4G most of the time.
This is why, unless you are lucky enough to live next to a live zone, we’d recommend most people wait until summer time next year, at the earliest, before considering doing the jump to 5G.