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Tech & Science The new flagship smartphones are all incredibly expensive, and it's a worrying trend that suggests 5G is only for those who can afford it

21:10  14 february  2020
21:10  14 february  2020 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

Samsung isn't updating one of its best phones from last year, and it proves how different its strategy is from Apple's

  Samsung isn't updating one of its best phones from last year, and it proves how different its strategy is from Apple's Samsung didn't launch a successor to last year's less expensive Galaxy S10e when it unveiled its Galaxy S20 lineup, and it also increased the prices of its flagship smartphones. That's a departure from Apple's approach, in which it positioned the cheaper iPhone 11 as its primary new model, while the pricier Pro was framed as an alternative for photography enthusiasts and power users. Samsung does offer cheaper smartphones, like its Galaxy A series and last year's Galaxy S10. But by keeping its flagship smartphone at a premium price, Samsung is sending a much different message than Apple.

a laptop on a table
  • Almost all top-spec Android smartphones of 2020 will come with 5G connectivity because the premium Qualcomm chip of 2020 supports 5G connectivity by default.
  • Samsung's latest Galaxy S20 phones with 5G start at $US1,000, and there's no cheaper version of the Galaxy S20 like there was with the Galaxy S10.
  • The high price of Samsung's Galaxy S20 phones set a worrying precedent that the cost of entry for 5G is high, and it will only be available to those who can afford it.
  • 5G wireless plans are also more expensive, or are only available on the most expensive plans.
  • Still, brand new generations of tech are often expensive at first, and prices come down when they flow into the mainstream. Let's hope the same goes for 5G.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

This year, the majority of premium top-spec Android phones will have 5G connectivity because the latest premium mobile chip from Qualcomm supports 5G by default.

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That's great, as 5G is said to herald in a new age of seamless, fast, responsive internet speeds on our smartphones, making any buffering or slow speeds from today's 4G LTE networks a thing of the past.

But 5G is proving to be an expensive innovation.

Samsung's latest Galaxy S20 phones are among the first to run on the 5G Snapdragon 865 chip, and they're incredibly expensive. To be sure, smartphones in general have been getting pricier and pricier, but at least there's usually a less expensive alternative.

Not this time with Samsung's Galaxy S20 lineup, and it's setting a worrying precedent that suggests 5G is only for those who can afford it. Here are the signs:

All of Samsung's latest Galaxy S20 phones support 5G, and the cheapest S20 you can buy starts at $US1,000, whereas the Galaxy S10e from 2019 started at $US750.

a hand holding a cellphone: The Galaxy S20 phones sure are pretty, and they can connect to fast 5G networks, but they're awfully pricey. The Galaxy S20 phones sure are pretty, and they can connect to fast 5G networks, but they're awfully pricey.

Yes, the Galaxy S10e was a slightly pared down version of the full-fat $US900 Galaxy S10. But the point is that there's no cheaper "e" version of the 5G Galaxy S20.

a close up of a cell phone: The $US750 Galaxy S10e had the majority of core features and specs as the $US900 Galaxy S10. The $US750 Galaxy S10e had the majority of core features and specs as the $US900 Galaxy S10.

It's not a simple case of rising smartphone prices.

a close up of a computer: The iPhone 11, right, costs $US250 less than the iPhone 11 Pro and still maintains the majority of core features and specs. The iPhone 11, right, costs $US250 less than the iPhone 11 Pro and still maintains the majority of core features and specs.

No doubt, smartphones have been getting more expensive, but smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung have also offered cheaper alternatives to counter those rising prices - there was the $US750 iPhone Xr for the $US1,000 iPhone XS in 2018, the $US750 iPhone 11 for iPhone 11 Pro in 2019, and the $US750 Galaxy S10e for the $US900 Galaxy S10 in 2019.

Samsung just unveiled a slew of new phones — and the most expensive model starts at a whopping $1,400

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And most carriers charge more for 5G in their plans, too, or only include 5G in their pricier plans.

a close up of a logo: T-Mobile's coverage map shows 5G coverage in dark purple, and 4G LTE in lighter purple. T-Mobile's coverage map shows 5G coverage in dark purple, and 4G LTE in lighter purple.

AT&T and Sprint, for example, only includes 5G access in their two most expensive plans. Verizon offers 5G access on all its plans, but it charges an extra $US10 for 5G. It's offering 5G access for free with its plans for a limited time at the time of writing.

T-Mobile is the only carrier that bundles in 5G access across all its plans, even its budget Metro-by-T-Mobile plans, without raising the cost.

With all that said, 5G technology will surely get cheaper over time, just like 4G LTE technology did. At least, I hope it does.

The first 4G LTE smartphone - the HTC Thunderbolt - sold for $US250 with a 2-year contract from Verizon (remember contracts?), which was slightly more expensive than 3G phones at the time that sold for around $US200.

And that's often the fact with brand new tech and innovations - the first few iterations of something brand new are often more expensive. Over time, the price of that innovation comes down as it becomes more commonplace and mainstream.

Let's just hope the same goes for 5G.

Samsung offers phone delivery service for test use to ride out coronavirus impact .
Samsung offers phone delivery service for test use to ride out coronavirus impactSEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics has launched smartphone delivery services for customers to test its new products, as the spread of the coronavirus has prompted the tech giant to cancel promotional events and brace for weak store sales.

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