Samsung's Galaxy S-series flagships may be among the very best offerings on the Android side of the mobile market but they also represent a genuinely poor monetary investment according to recent figures from BankMyCell. Tracking the overall trade-in value of handsets on an hourly basis from 2018 to this year, the company says the Samsung Galaxy S9 lost 59.72-percent of its value in only nine months from its March 2018 launch.
For the Galaxy S9 specifically, that equates to a shift from its $720 initial sale price to just $290 and 41.66-percent of its total value was lost in the first month. Among all other cell phones, it ranked third in terms of physical value lost too, with the Galaxy S9 Plus falling in fourth. The former handset depreciated in physical value by $156, compared to the latter device's drop of $147.
Blame the iPhone?
BankMyCell seems to attribute drops in Android handset trade-in value to the launch of new iPhones. Pointing to the trends around the release cycle of the Samsung Galaxy S6 through the Samsung Galaxy S8, the company says that the announcement of new Android devices doesn't result in big drops in resale value. On average, the depreciation on that side of the equation only occurs at around five to thirteen percent.
The drop in trade-in value also applies to Apple's own gadget trade-ins, with sales of the iPhone X averaging more than $100 more prior to the following Apple announcements.
Summarily, the sudden drop in trade-in value for Samsung's Galaxy handsets can't be attributed to the launch of new devices from Samsung or other Android OEMs but there may be at least one more factor to consider in this equation. Namely, Samsung is among the most highly-leaked companies on the mobile scene. Rumors, speculation, and alleged documentation begin appearing for its next-generation smartphones almost as soon as the current-generation device launches.
One example of that is the appearance of Samsung Galaxy S10 leaks, including details about new innovations and even some specs in the weeks and months following the launch of the Korean tech giant's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus. More recently, the same pattern has occurred following the August launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — regarding the next-generation Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Speculation has also already begun to circulate about began circulating about the next iteration of the core Samsung Galaxy S series, indicating that the company may abandon that branding for those handsets. Importantly, the Samsung Galaxy S10 hasn't even arrived yet for many users who pre-ordered it.
That rapid cycle of hype-building could feasibly have much more of an impact on the resale, physical, and trade-in values for Samsung's models than the actual release of a new device. Samsung isn't along on that front either. Nearly every top Android manufacturer suffers the same type of leaks-before-release cycle.
But what does this mean?
For the average user, the value a smartphone holds arguably has more to do with its capabilities and features than its ability to hold value over time. Studies have previously shown a rising trend of consumers holding onto their devices for longer. Samsung fans and fans of other rapidly-depreciating smartphones who do update regularly aren't going to get a great return on their investment, particularly if they don't update relatively quickly. But consumers are shifting away from yearly updates and toward ensuring they get their money's worth with each new handset. So, while the value reductions are bad news for some, the trend isn't necessarily going to have a widespread negative impact for end users.