About 3 years ago Samsung released the Galaxy S 3 and with it, their “Next Big Thing” marketing slogan. At the time, the slogan fit the brand and where they were going almost perfectly. It wasn’t too much later that they released the Galaxy Note II and popularized the phablet. The truth is, that they were churning out hit after hit, but something happened along the way.
A man named John Legere happened. He took over as CEO of T-Mobile and promptly began changing the mobile paradigm. The first thing he did was move away from contracts. Instead of subsidizing the consumer’s phone and locking them into a 2-year contract, he replaced the contract with a loan for the phone.
I remember this very well, as I bought my Galaxy S3 around that same time. At the time, it was the best smartphone available. I had it for a few months and then the Galaxy Note II came out. I then opted to get that phone and passed the Galaxy S3 down to my wife.
An interesting thing happened over the next few years. My wife was content with her S3 and I was also content with my Note II. Before I knew it, my loan had been paid and my bill dropped by $40/month.
All of a sudden upgrading my phone became a big deal because it meant that my payments would be going up again. No, thank you. I was saving $40/month on my bill. So then what to do with my phone? The reality was that our phones had become midlevel phones, and they could still handle almost everything that we threw at them.
Later on my wife would drop her S3 and shatter the screen. Faced with the prospect of purchasing a new phone for her, I started looking at our options. About that same time, Amazon drastically discounted their Fire Phone and sold it unlocked for $180 with a full year of Prime included. I was in like Flynn. Of course, I made sure my wife was OK with it, but she’s not really a techy person and really doesn’t care that much about what phone she uses. In the end, we were very impressed with the phone, and it did everything she needed with ease.
Not too much later, I started looking into a new phone myself. I was fed up with the lack of support on my phone and felt like both T-Mobile and Samsung had strategically decided not to offer KitKat for the Note II. After all, the Note 4 was coming out, and they would rather I just purchase a new phone.
I ended up finding a new open box and unlocked Asus PadFone X for $200. I was, again, in like Flynn, and I was even able to sell my Note II for the same money. For those unfamiliar with the PadFone X, it has similar specs to the Galaxy S5, but with a 9″ tablet dock.
Now, many of the other carriers have followed suit and gotten rid of their contracts as well. So what happens now that more people can enjoy a lower cell phone bill while having a paid-off phone? Well for one, it makes getting the latest and greatest phone a much harder decision. Why spend $800 on a phone that is realistically way more than you will ever need or use? There are too many phones that offer great specs for nowhere near as high a price. Here are a few relatively inexpensive phones.
The cheapest phone listed here, the LG Leon, costs less than $100 and the most expensive, Motorola Moto X Pure, is still under $400. While the LG Leon isn’t a powerhouse by any means, it certainly can handle most tasks that a casual smartphone user would throw at it. The Moto G is a much better phone for under $200, but the remaining 3 phones have features that can challenge most other flagship phones.
While I think you’d have a hard time convincing a Galaxy Note 5 user that any of these phones is a contender, let’s take a look at how they compare against it.
While Zenfone2 doesn’t have the fingerprint scanner, S Pen, metal frame or 2K screen like that found in the Note 5, it has the fastest processor out of all the phones, and when you combine that with 4GB of RAM, it makes for a very fast phone for less than 1/2 the price.
The Moto X Pure also does not have the fingerprint scanner or stylus, but it has the highest pixel density and is the most customizable of any of these phones. And for a little over 1/2 of the cost of the Note 5, this phone is a real bargain.
The last one is the Blu Pure XL. This phone has a fingerprint scanner and a metal frame. It has 3GB of RAM and a 2k screen. Out of all of them it also has the most megapixels crammed into the camera. Coming in at $50 less than the Moto X Pure, it seems to be the best overall in the comparison.
Obviously the Note 5 is the top dog spec wise, but it is several hundred dollars more than any of the other phones. I believe that the reason that Samsung’s sales have been slipping is because they are pretty much focusing on their flagships and ignoring the market trends.
I’m not saying that there is no place for the ultra-specced flagship models. I’m just saying that Samsung should focus more on what people want. And what people want more than an ultra-specced flagship model today is an affordable cell phone payment.
Samsung could make a phone specced like a Galaxy Note 3 and offer it at a similar price point as Asus, Motorola, and Blu, but in the end it doesn’t fit with their current business model. So let them continue to focus on phones few people can afford, and they will find that people will spend their money elsewhere.
What do you think? Do you agree? What phone are you considering for your next device? Let us know in the comments below.