When Google first launched the Pixel smartphone it was clear the company behind Android was done targeting developers. Instead, it had set its sights on the premium segment of the market and the iPhone in particular. All one need to do was look at the similar design and price to know that Google was going all in and coming after Apple’s iconic device.
Google apes Apple
Unfortunately for Google, the Pixel has not proven to be the iPhone competitor it wants to be. In fact, sales numbers show that even after three years, Google still trails behind several other smartphone manufacturers, and hasn’t been able to crack the top five.
It’s not all Google’s fault, the Pixel is a fine phone. Phone sales have been declining for years now with nearly every premium smartphone maker starting to experience losses and slowdowns.
Part of this has to do with the current generations of smartphones reaching a plateau in specs and features. The other part of the equation is rising costs year to year for phones that feature only minor improvements over the previous year’s model. This leads to people holding onto their phones for longer. Or, we see consumers increasingly opting to purchase a more affordable (read: mid-range) phone when it comes time to upgrade.
With the current state of affairs in mind, Google made the decision to create the Pixel 3a series. In short, it promises essentially the same Pixel experience but in a much more affordable package. It offered the same camera quality you’d find in the Pixel 3 as well as security and OS upgrades for three years. Best of all, it came in at nearly half the price of the Pixel 3.
It turns out that struck a chord with many consumers and the Pixel 3a has been a hit. At one time it was the top-selling unlocked phone on Amazon in the U.S., and it has single-handedly helped improve Google’s hardware sales with the search giant showing an 88% increase in sales year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019 after launching the Pixel 3a.
Apple apes Google
Not one to be left behind, Apple has seemingly decided to come after the market of budget-conscious consumers. Targeting a segment of buyers it has long ignored, it’s expected that Apple will launch a $400 iPhone SE 2 in 2020.
According to rumors, the new iPhone SE 2 will be powered by an A13 processor and feature 3GB RAM. However, it figures to lack many of the other features found in the flagship iPhones. Multiple cameras or Face ID, for instance.
Unlike its predecessor, the sequel to the iPhone SE will feature a larger display similar to the iPhone 8. With that in mind, it appears iPhone SE 2 may have less to do with making a phone for users who prefer a smaller device, and more to do with targeting customers who high-quality phone on a budget.
It’s an interesting turn of events. After years of Google chasing Apple in the premium sector, it appears the tables have turned. Now Apple may be coming after Google in the mid-range because of Pixel 3a success.
Whether you’re a fan of Android or Apple, this is good news for both camps. For far too long, if you wanted a phone that performed like a high-end model, it commanded a premium price. Now, we’re finally seeing manufacturers realize that just because a phone doesn’t cost $1,000, doesn’t mean that it can’t offer a great user experience.