Analysts and tech writers, such as we fine folks at Trusted Reviews, have been screaming from the rooftops that flagship phones are getting too expensive for quite some time.
After all, does anyone really need to spend over £1000 on a new blower when in 2-3 years the tech is almost certain to be out of date, or the battery will degrade to the point it’s unusable? For me the answer is unequivocally no.
And its seems I’m not alone in my belief given the recent news about Google Pixel 3a sales.
If you missed it, Google revealed in its latest quarterly earnings call on Thursday that the arrival of its latest Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL phones “doubled” sales of its handsets year-on-year. The reason for this? The two phones’ super reasonable £399 and £469 starting prices.
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Every mobile phone sales report we’ve seen recently has listed the £300-£500 segment of the market as the fastest growing. This is why every Android OEM under the sun has been racing to release a smartphone targeting this price bracket.
We saw this with the OnePlus 7, Samsung Galaxy S10e, Xiaomi Mi A9 and Asus Zenfone 6. So it’s no surprise the tactic worked a treat for Google, after the super expensive Pixel 3 was one of its lowest selling phones to date.
Google CFO Ruth Porat was forced to confront the Pixel 3’s poor sales with investors during the company’s previous earnings call where she conceded, “Hardware results reflect lower year-on-year sales of Pixel, reflecting in part heavy promotional activity industry-wide given some of the recent pressures in the premium smartphone market.”
The above being a clear admission the company knew top-end phone sales are dying, or at the very least, plateauing.
Kantar World Panel experts mirror Porat’s sentiment. The research house recently stated the rise of mid-range Android phones as a key reason the OS accounted for 80.1% of all smartphone sales across the five major European markets (EU5) over the last four months.
Apple’s iOS, which makes up pretty much the rest of the market, saw a 0.8% sales decline in Europe and 2.4% drop in the US by comparison. The reason for this? It’s new phones are too expensive.
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Yes you can get an iPhone 7 for £449, but no one except for the most die hard of Apple fans will want to do this, especially when new affordable phones with flagship features – like the Pixel 3a with its top notch camera – are available on Android.
If Apple wants to reverse stagnating phone sales, it’ll need to take a page from Android’s playbook when it launches its hotly anticipated new iPhone 11 later this year.
Sadly, speculation suggests this won’t be the case.
According to current industry rumblings, the company’s planning to stick to the tried and tested regular Max and XR triple release strategy it debuted last year. This means the cheapest new iPhone you’ll get will be an iPhone XR 2 which, if it follows its predecessor, will cost over £700 at launch.
If this happens it will be a massive shame, as despite my personal preference for Android, I know plenty of tech savvy iOS fanatics eager for a new iPhone 5C or SE – the last semi-affordable iPhones.