Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 10 series last week. Since then one of the more often debated topics has been the Galaxy Note 10 pricing. This debate has not only raged with potential customers, but also with the tech news sites covering the launch. That includes this site with some of our team thinking the Galaxy Note 10 pricing is too expensive.
The problem is those criticizing the Galaxy Note 10 pricing are drawing on poor comparisons. But let’s start with the basics.
$1000 phones are here
Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 costs $1000. That’s the baseline price as well. Technically, it only costs $949 for the baseline model but what’s $50 on a $1000 check. Especially when you add in any taxes and other fees associated with getting the phone. So yes, the Galaxy Note 10 is most definitely a $1000 phone. Again, that’s if you want the baseline version. If you want the best of the best then you are looking at $1100 for the Galaxy Note 10+ and $1200 if you want the 512GB version.
Is the Galaxy Note 10 pricing at $1200 too much? Yes, it is. But you don’t have to pay that much. You can just pay the $949. What’s more, if you don’t want to pay close to $1000 to begin with then you can opt for any of the infinite number of Android phones that are out there. Or you could move to iOS although you'll pay $1000 for an iPhone Xs as well. Yep, $1000 phones is not a Samsung thing even though some would have you believe otherwise.
But, but, but OnePlus
OnePlus appears to be one of the most commonly-used arguments as to why you shouldn't buy the Galaxy Note 10. Apparently, the OnePlus 7 Pro priced at $669 is just too good. In other words, anything priced $670 or more is a waste of money. That’s the narrative many in the community are sticking with and maybe they are right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Galaxy Note 10 is not overpriced.
For one thing, you cannot compare OnePlus to Samsung. As good, and as much as OnePlus has achieved in the last few years, we are talking different levels here. Samsung, like Apple, makes phones for Samsung loyalty users. Resulting in phones that are not only packed with features, but also highly compatible with all of the company’s other products. When you buy a Samsung device, you are buying into a Samsung ecosystem. More to the point, you are more likely to buy another Samsung device. Again, the same can be said for Apple.
The same cannot be said for OnePlus though as the company simply does not have a portfolio to speak of. I mean, you could buy a backpack or whatever, but I’m not sure how compatible it is with a OnePlus smartphone. Again, different levels.
Of course, if you don’t want to buy into an ecosystem or pay a premium for the luxury to do so, you don’t have to.
Value paid vs value held
For the sake of arguments, if we’re gonna make the comparison between OnePlus and Samsung, there’s also the issue of how much value your device retains. Samsung may release 100 phones between now and the Galaxy Note 11 but until then there will only be one Galaxy Note 10 and so it will retain its value. OnePlus on the other hand has a habit of releasing a couple of phones each year with each new one designed to retire the last. Due to this, OnePlus phones lose value and status quick.
The OnePlus fan-base is a loyal one but make no mistake, there's a lot of OnePlus customers who feel aggrieved about buying a smartphone that the company replaces six months later. This simply doesn’t happen in the Galaxy Note world due to the absolute lack of direct competition the Galaxy Note line faces. It is a unique product unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro or for that matter, the Galaxy S10.
Arguably, when you are drawing OnePlus/Samsung comparisons you should actually be comparing the OnePlus 7 Pro to the Galaxy S10 and if you do then you might just find the OnePlus value proposition slips away. While the entry price for the OnePlus 7 Pro is $669, the entry price for the Galaxy S10 is $749. Both entry prices relate to a model boasting 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, and powered by a Snapdragon 855 SoC. Yet, they retain different values. Here's an example.
Trading in your OnePlus 7 Pro today to T-Mobile would get you a $255 trade-in value. If you were to trade in the Galaxy S10e you would get $275 back. Keep in mind the OnePlus 7 Pro is months newer than the Galaxy S10e and unlike the Galaxy S10e, the OnePlus 7 Pro is the current OnePlus flagship. For example, the Galaxy Note 9 which has now been superseded not once, but twice with the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 lines will still net you $245 today. That's $10 less than the OnePlus phone launched in May 2019.
The real reason to avoid comparisons
If you really want to delve into the comparison issue then you simply have to look at the road that led us to where we are today.
Yes, the OnePlus 7 Pro is cheaper than the Galaxy Note 10. Forgetting the differences and the associations with the different brands, the truth is phones cost more every year. The difference is the Galaxy Note line has not increased by as much as people think it has. One of the reasons for this was Samsung’s decision to start releasing more than one version of the phone. This is arguably the reason why we now have two Galaxy Note 10 options.
If you rewind to 2011/12 things become clearer. At least if you’re memory is good enough as there's a good chance if you asked someone how much the Galaxy Note 2 cost they’ll probably tell you about $300. Which would be true if we were talking in terms of phones that are greatly subsidized by carriers in return for a lengthy contract.
These contracts are one of the things consumers have wanted to get rid of it in recent years. T-Mobile has been widely praised for helping the shift in this respect and yet suddenly people are surprised they are now expected to pay more for a smartphone. If you don't like that, blame T-Mobile because you cannot have it both ways. You, as a consumer can't avoid a contract and still expect a carrier to gift you a phone? It doesn’t work like that.
Again, if we rewind to 2011/12 then how much did the Galaxy Note 2 cost? Well, the true cost was $700. That’s how much you would have paid outright for the Galaxy Note 2. There's no adjusting for market value there, that was how much the phone sold for back then. We’re now closing in on a decade later and the price of the Galaxy Note 10 is $949. Suddenly, that price doesn’t seem massively different. To the point that if you think the Galaxy Note 10 is not worth $949, then surely you must also have thought the Galaxy Note 2 was not worth $700? So where were the complaints?
But, but, but OnePlus
Okay, let’s take your and my favorite OEM, OnePlus again. Yes, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a cheap flagship phone and especially at its Galaxy Note 2 level $700 price. However, we don’t have to look as far back as Samsung to see how OnePlus phone pricing has increased.
It was back in 2014 when OnePlus arrived with the OnePlus One. A phone priced at $299 or $349 if you opted for the larger storage version. In the space of five years, the entry-level cost of a OnePlus phone has more than doubled.
2014, the same year as the OnePlus One, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 4. Like the Galaxy Note 2, the Galaxy Note 4 was also priced at $700. So here we have a direct comparison. In the last five years, the entry price for the Galaxy Note line has gone up exactly $250. The entry level price for the OnePlus smartphone line over the same time has gone up exactly $369.
Now, I’m no mathematician, but I did run the algorithms and crunch the numbers, and the results came back – OnePlus smartphones have seen a greater increase in price compared to the Galaxy Note line over the same period.
But the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G version costs $1300
Yes, this is true. The Galaxy Note 10+ 5G does indeed cost $1300. But you know what, you shouldn’t be buying a 5G phone right now. If you do, that’s on you. And yes, the Galaxy Fold costs $2000+. But again, if you buy the Galaxy Fold, that is on you. For most people, the Galaxy Note 10 priced at $949 is more than enough smartphone and especially if you plan to upgrade again next year, or the year after that. If anyone tells you differently, they are probably trying to sell you a new smartphone.
The same is true for the OnePlus 7 Pro or pretty much any other 2019 flagship smartphone. They are all enough smartphone for you.
5G and foldable phones are the phones of tomorrow so you should expect to pay prices that reflect the tomorrow point. If you need one today, then buy a phone of today which comes with far more reasonable pricing.
Yes, phones are reasonably priced
This is the main point to take away from all of this. Phones are not that expensive. The top tier level is expensive but that applies to every industry. If you’re buying a car tomorrow are you immediately going to ask the salesperson what’s the very best car on the market and then be surprised when you hear the price? No, of course not. Premium options cost premium money.
One of the benefits of today’s phone market is that you don’t have to pay those premium prices for a solid smartphone experience. You don’t even have to pay the “OMG, it’s so amazing” OnePlus prices. There’s a wealth of Android smartphones available and people might be surprised to find how much value they can get if they moved away from the most talked-about smartphones. Or for that matter, just waited a few months before buying as these phones lose market value super quick nowadays.
The price on the sticker is not the price you should be paying for a smartphone.
Be real about the value of your smartphone
If you still think phones are expensive and even those at the $1000 marker then ask yourself this one question: How often do you use your smartphone? Count up the hours you spend on your phone over its lifespan and divide that by the cost you are paying. That will give you your hourly cost of owning a phone. Then let me know what else you buy that offers a similar value.
Let’s say you only use your smartphone for two hours a day. Most people probably use their phones far more, but for the sake of the example we’ll apply a liberal amount. So, two hours a day and let’s say you upgrade every year. Again, most people won’t but for the sake of the example and all that. Two hours per day for 365 days that works out to be 730 hours. If you bought the OnePlus 7 Pro or the Galaxy S10 then that’s equal to or less than a dollar per hour. That’s based on two of the best and newest phones of 2019.
A ticket to see a two-hour movie will cost you anywhere between $10 and $20. Without taking into account the rest of the 'seeing a movie' costs.
The Galaxy Note 10 is not that expensive
Even if we draw on the horrific $1000 associated with the Galaxy Note 10 then that still only works out to be $1.30 per hour (based on the $949 Galaxy Note 10 price). Remember, that’s on the basis you only use your phone for two hours a day and upgrade every year. Change either of those numbers and the cost/hour ratio also changes.
That’s also ignoring other surrounding details that matter in a real world purchase. In this example you only keep your phone for a year so the assumption is you have the Galaxy Note 9. A phone Samsung is currently offering $600 in trade-in value.
On top of the $600 trade-in for your phone – you’ve only had for one year and only use two hours each day – Samsung will also give you $100 credit to spend on something else when you buy the Galaxy Note 10.
Forgetting the credit for a minute, once the trade-in value is applied the cost of the entry level Galaxy Note 10 comes down to $349. Based on your two hours per day and yearly upgrade cycle that brings the true cost of the phone down to about 47 cents per hour.
For the record, that makes it cheaper than the OnePlus 7 Pro on the same terms. While OnePlus now lets you trade in a phone, it will only give you $170 for the OnePlus 6T (its newest phone prior to the 7 Pro). This brings the OnePlus 7 Pro total after trade-in down to $499. Or using our hourly rate scenario – a cost of 68 cents per hour.