With less than three weeks to go until Samsung officially unveils it next flagship Galaxy S phone, leaks and rumors have already given us what seems like a pretty good look at the phone. And despite a body that’s almost indistinguishable from last year’s phone—especially from the front—the Galaxy S9 is shaping up to be a solid update. However, there is one tidbit of info regarding the S9 that is much less encouraging: It’s price, which according to multiple reports will be higher than any Galaxy S phone ever before.
The first report came from Korean site ETNews, which claims that the S9 will cost between 945,000 and 1,000,000 won, up from the S8's price of 935,000 won. That translates to around $875 to $925 in the US. Then, just a few days ago, an insider speaking to Techradar said that in the UK, the S9 will start at £789, or £100 more than the S8's initial price last year.
While things like taxes and exchange rates make doing exact conversions a bit tricky, these numbers suggest that in the US, the S9 could arrive at around $775 to $800, which is a significant bump up from the S8's US launch price of approximately $720 (it varied slightly between carriers).
Now this kind of hike might not sound surprising after Apple’s iPhone X debuted at $1000 late last year, but that doesn’t stop it from adding to what is quickly becoming an expensive trend.
Up until 2017, most flagship phones were content to launch at $600 to $650, with an extra $100 tacked on for people buying plus-sized models. However, in the span of 12 to 18 months, and emboldened by Apple’s audacious pricing, 2018 could usher in a wave of super pricey flagship phones—and that could bring us right over the line of what many people are willing to spend on a new handset.
This is obviously sad for new phones buyers, where $750 could be the floor for flagships, while $800 is likely to be the new norm. But the more concerning thing is what kind of impact this will have on the industry as a whole.
Apple may have made more money on iPhones last quarter compared to the same period last year, but iPhone sales by unit were actually stagnant, with Apple selling 1-percent fewer phones in Q4 2017 than in Q4 2016. Samsung’s phone sales actually seemed to drop. Its mobile division saw profit fall by 3.2-percent year-over-year, despite record revenue for the company as a whole.
As phone prices continue to creep up higher and higher, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify spending the better part of $1000 every year or two, even if it is on something you use every day. That said, these are just rumors, so we’re still waiting on an official announcement to be sure. But for people hoping that Apple’s sky-high pricing might be the exception to the rule, it’s not looking good.