The end of the expensive Smartphone - How Long?

Piggie

macrumors G3
Original poster
Feb 23, 2010
8,343
2,584
Given, all markets mature and that the vast amount of the population are not tech geeks, and want something nice that does what they want.

How much longer, realistic lifespan do you think the expensive Smartphone has left?

5 years?

All tech markets seem to grow to a point where good enough before cheap enough to really question just why you would spend a hell of a lot more.

VHS Players
Home Computers
Laptops
DVD players
MP3 Players

We are now probably starting to approach a time where for the vast majority of the population the latest phone is going to be plenty good enough, and many are going to eventually burn out from the enthusiasm of paying big bills for the latest offering.

Lets pick for example iPhone 6 or SGS5 (both out later this year)

Now lets wind on another 4 or 5 years, when you could by then pick up a phone for say $150 contract free with the same specs as an iPhone 6 or SGS5

Are people then going to dismiss this phone as no good, or will needs then for a phone be similar to now, and many will think..... You know what. This $150 model is excellent, does all I need from a phone. I really don't think I need to spend $500, $800, $1000 on the latest model

It's going to happen. Every market does generally after the early growth days, which you cannot keep up, once the product is good enough, and the spec of the lowest price end models catch up.

What do you think?

Very few people now with buy a top of the line HiFi, DVD Player, Laptop, TV as well priced ones and now as good if not better than what was top end only a few years ago.
 

ttinc

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2013
126
0
Good question, although it seems as if top shelf phones have carried a premium price tag even back to the days of the introduction of the Motorola Startac...which was like $1000 or something, no? Mind you, that was about 20 some odd years ago...so who knows really.
 

sviato

macrumors 68020
Oct 27, 2010
2,278
45
HR 9038 A
There are already inexpensive smartphones. Otherwise, when the next best thing comes out to replace smartphones then they'll all be cheaper.
 

Hankster

macrumors 68020
Jan 30, 2008
2,360
269
Washington DC
It's interesting how different people think.

In my eyes USA smartphones are cheap. Look overseas. The average cell phone costs $600-$1000. They don't sign up for plans overseas, that's a USA thing.

Also, I think $200 for a smartphone is very cheap. I look at it this way: The average person with a smartphone uses that smartphone at least twice an hour if not 5-10-15-20 times an hour. But, lets take once an hour for an example. Say that person is awake from 9am to 9am (make it simple).

Smartphone used per day: 24
Smartphone used per month: 720
Smartphone cost per use per month: 27 cents

Now, lets be way more realistic. I use my smartphone probably 5-8 times an hour...and in the evening even longer. But, lets use 5 times an hour for the average.

Smartphone used per day: 60
Smartphone used per month: 1800
Smartphone cost per use per month: 11 cents

And, if you really want to be realistic people are on their smartphones probably 5-10-15 minutes an hour. That means the cost per use per month is really about 1-2 cents per use.

So, for me I am more than happy to pay $600 for $800 for a smartphone because I use it more than anything else in my life.
 

617aircav

Suspended
Jul 2, 2012
3,976
818
Inexpensive smartphones are available as we speak. You can choose to buy the cheap one or the expensive one. I think what you are looking for is the latest and greatest for a cheap price. Not going to happen.
 

CoMoMacUser

macrumors 6502a
Jun 28, 2012
671
3
I think what you are looking for is the latest and greatest for a cheap price. Not going to happen.
I'm not so sure. Granted, the carriers are finally getting out of the subsidy business, so in theory, that should mean people will start having to pay several hundred bucks for the latest and greatest. But I could see Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft offering deep subsidies if they believe they can recoup that, such as by upselling those customers on services.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
36,364
25,175
Behind the Lens, UK
I've never bought a subsidised phone and never will. It's just paying for the phone in monthly instalments when you do the math.

Some people will always buy the latest and greatest.

Some people are happy to have last years model at a reduced rate b

Some people are happy to buy a cheaper budget phone because they think it will work just the same.

Some people are happy to buy second hand options of all of the above.

In short we are all different and have different tastes, budgets and priorities.
 

cyks

macrumors 68020
Jul 24, 2002
2,090
7
Westchester County, NY
Funny, the video game industry doesn't seem to be having the problem you speak of. Most people aren't putting the Xbox One or PS4 down because the previous model was "good enough" and I don't see that happening with smartphones.

As the phones upgrade, people will still want the latest tech.

While there are people buying sub-$600 laptops and computers, there are plenty still buying the mid and top of the line models for their needs at the same $1-2k. That's no different than those buying the cheap smartphones available now.
 

BaldiMac

macrumors 604
Jan 24, 2008
7,410
7,488
I've never bought a subsidised phone and never will. It's just paying for the phone in monthly instalments when you do the math.
Depends on the terms you use to do the math. Carriers have different terms. If your "monthly installments" amount to an interest free loan, what's the problem? Heck, I'm tied to a particular US carrier for whatever reason. I don't get any discount on my monthly service fee for paying full price for a phone. Why spend the extra $450 dollars?
 

g35

macrumors 6502a
Dec 13, 2007
594
94
It's interesting how different people think.

In my eyes USA smartphones are cheap. Look overseas. The average cell phone costs $600-$1000. They don't sign up for plans overseas, that's a USA thing.

Also, I think $200 for a smartphone is very cheap. I look at it this way: The average person with a smartphone uses that smartphone at least twice an hour if not 5-10-15-20 times an hour. But, lets take once an hour for an example. Say that person is awake from 9am to 9am (make it simple).

Smartphone used per day: 24
Smartphone used per month: 720
Smartphone cost per use per month: 27 cents

Now, lets be way more realistic. I use my smartphone probably 5-8 times an hour...and in the evening even longer. But, lets use 5 times an hour for the average.

Smartphone used per day: 60
Smartphone used per month: 1800
Smartphone cost per use per month: 11 cents

And, if you really want to be realistic people are on their smartphones probably 5-10-15 minutes an hour. That means the cost per use per month is really about 1-2 cents per use.

So, for me I am more than happy to pay $600 for $800 for a smartphone because I use it more than anything else in my life.
No offence but what does that even mean? The cost to use your phone one time each month? Why would you ever want to calculate that? Why not just find cost per use (200/365/24), cost per day (200/365) or cost per month (200/12)?
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Original poster
Feb 23, 2010
8,343
2,584
What I mean is......

Like PC's, DVD Players, Flat TV's.

They start of VERY expensive and performance/specs are lacking.

As people here constantly say General Public, esp Apple Users are not tech junkies, that's not why they buy Apple.

When they can buy a £150 phone that does everything well, it's going to be harder and harder to fell than $900 model

the $50 DVD player is the easy choice, the $800 model becomes the hard sell.

I take the point on Consoles, but they are getting cheaper and cheaper in reality.
Bring out a $1000+ console and see how it sells.

Trust me. I LOVE things to be faster and faster but I'm not general public
General public annoy me as they kill progression as they are happy with things are they are.
 
Last edited:

g35

macrumors 6502a
Dec 13, 2007
594
94
Depends on the terms you use to do the math. Carriers have different terms. If your "monthly installments" amount to an interest free loan, what's the problem? Heck, I'm tied to a particular US carrier for whatever reason. I don't get any discount on my monthly service fee for paying full price for a phone. Why spend the extra $450 dollars?
Exactly. If you pay the same cost every month anyway, why not take the free money?

As an extreme example, in Canada before 2012 you got a better monthly plan if you agreed to a 3-year contract, so everybody signed a 3-year contract. If you were signing a 3-year contract, you were usually entitled to $500 off the phone's full price every 2 years. So it made sense for people to get a new $700 phone for $200 every 2 years. To go on a month-to-month plan would mean higher rates every month and $500 more spent on the phone every 2 years. That would have been a very expensive statement to make, so nobody ever chose that option.

Now, you effectively get a $70 plan for $50 if you bring your own phone. Over the course of 2 years that's a $480 savings, which is also roughly the amount of discount off the phone you get by choosing the $70 plan. So you can put up more money up-front and get an unlocked phone, or pay the money over the contract in instalments and get a locked phone. Neither choice is MARKEDLY better than the other.
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Original poster
Feb 23, 2010
8,343
2,584
Yes, but the $800 Blu-ray player becomes $50 over time and eventually replaced by newer technology. Same with smartphones.
Hence my question.............

How long has the expensive Smart Phone got, before cheap phones are good enough to satisfy the vast majority of people are more than happy with the cheap models that are as good as anything we have now?

5 years, 10 years?
 

BaldiMac

macrumors 604
Jan 24, 2008
7,410
7,488
Hence my question.............

How long has the expensive Smart Phone got, before cheap phones are good enough to satisfy the vast majority of people are more than happy with the cheap models that are as good as anything we have now?

5 years, 10 years?
Hasn't that happened already? Hence, Android's market share. ;)
 

617aircav

Suspended
Jul 2, 2012
3,976
818
Hence my question.............



How long has the expensive Smart Phone got, before cheap phones are good enough to satisfy the vast majority of people are more than happy with the cheap models that are as good as anything we have now?



5 years, 10 years?

Cheap phones are already good enough, it all depends on what you want. Newer phones will continue to cost more when the provide more. The choice is already available. With newer tech comes a premium price. It's a continuous cycle that never ends.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,819
2,381
New Sanfrakota
Hence my question.............

How long has the expensive Smart Phone got, before cheap phones are good enough to satisfy the vast majority of people are more than happy with the cheap models that are as good as anything we have now?

5 years, 10 years?
Never, because they'll want the newest technology eventually. Very few would be satisfied with a flip phone nowadays.
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Original poster
Feb 23, 2010
8,343
2,584
Never, because they'll want the newest technology eventually. Very few would be satisfied with a flip phone nowadays.
I think you are perhaps failing a little to understand what I mean..............

Years ago PC's, and Consoles (Atari VHS) Where leapfrogging each other again and again over a decade or two.

50Mhz, 100Mhz, 200Mhz, The Pentiums, etc etc
Voodoo graphics cards

BIG jumps as the makers were able, at each release really show how much better the new model was to the old one.
You just had to get the latest as it made the last one look total junk

As the years (decades) went by, this all matured, certain technical limits were come up against, programmers got more adventurous, The graphics cards (Direct X) matured, and we found ourselves leveling off.

Now, the best normal Intel CPU is barely any better than one 2 or even 3 generations ago.
Graphics cards likewise.

There is no point and no reason for most people to upgrade to the latest PC as the best one from 2 years ago is not that much slower.

The same will happen with phones.

We are now, and have been in, like the 1980's and 1990's of computers, with recent years smartphones, every year its twice as fast as last year.

This is great, it's fun I love it. But it's won't last.
Not only that, as I said. When say 2014's or 2015's tech becomes common place and the factories move on, are the general public going to demand the latest upgrade?

Or do as they do with their PC and Macs (mature tech) and say, you know what, this is fine, and the new one is only 5% faster, not worth it.

Phones will reach this point where they can't cool them enough to go any faster, and they will run out of clever ideas to get speed from low power.

It's not going to happen yet, I'm sure we have a good few years of decent jumps to go yet before we hit the wall that's going to slow progress down.

I know companies like Apple will have to then come up with new products to sell you, as the majority will be more and more content with models that cost vastly less.

We can't go on expecting to be amazed every year, and the smaller and smaller the jump is, the less and less reason there will be to pay for the new model of Smartphone.

Hence me wondering how long before we will get there. 5 years, 10 years?
 

iPodJedi

macrumors 6502a
Nov 28, 2013
711
0
Apple Store, USA
Given, all markets mature and that the vast amount of the population are not tech geeks, and want something nice that does what they want.

How much longer, realistic lifespan do you think the expensive Smartphone has left?

5 years?

All tech markets seem to grow to a point where good enough before cheap enough to really question just why you would spend a hell of a lot more.

VHS Players
Home Computers
Laptops
DVD players
MP3 Players

We are now probably starting to approach a time where for the vast majority of the population the latest phone is going to be plenty good enough, and many are going to eventually burn out from the enthusiasm of paying big bills for the latest offering.

Lets pick for example iPhone 6 or SGS5 (both out later this year)

Now lets wind on another 4 or 5 years, when you could by then pick up a phone for say $150 contract free with the same specs as an iPhone 6 or SGS5

Are people then going to dismiss this phone as no good, or will needs then for a phone be similar to now, and many will think..... You know what. This $150 model is excellent, does all I need from a phone. I really don't think I need to spend $500, $800, $1000 on the latest model

It's going to happen. Every market does generally after the early growth days, which you cannot keep up, once the product is good enough, and the spec of the lowest price end models catch up.

What do you think?

Very few people now with buy a top of the line HiFi, DVD Player, Laptop, TV as well priced ones and now as good if not better than what was top end only a few years ago.
I'm sure it will happen in a few years although I'm sure there will always be an expensive phone everyone wants on the market.

Kinda like talk time and texting, it use to be expensive but now all the carriers sell it for cheap...I bet in a few years unlimited data will become dirt cheap too.
 

The Doctor11

macrumors 603
Dec 15, 2013
5,923
1,334
New York
No I think they will stay expensive until the flip phones fall off the face of the earth then the low speced models will go maybe $150 unlocked. But you need to remember we have the 4s for free on contract so that's kinda cheap:D
 

TacticalDesire

macrumors 68020
Mar 19, 2012
2,286
23
Michigan
No I think they will stay expensive until the flip phones fall off the face of the earth then the low speced models will go maybe $150 unlocked. But you need to remember we have the 4s for free on contract so that's kinda cheap:D
But you'll be left paying $80/m for a useable plan. So you're actually paying for the phone hidden in the contract.
 

cyks

macrumors 68020
Jul 24, 2002
2,090
7
Westchester County, NY
What I mean is......

Like PC's, DVD Players, Flat TV's.

They start of VERY expensive and performance/specs are lacking.

I take the point on Consoles, but they are getting cheaper and cheaper in reality.
Bring out a $1000+ console and see how it sells.
At launch, both the original Xbox and base model 360 was $300. The new Xbox One is selling very well at $500.

Where are they getting cheaper?
 
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