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The Rise of the $1000 Smartphone: Will Businesses Embrace Expensive Phones? 

Michael O'Dwyer| February 02 2018

| IT insights

iphone-x-1000-dollar-smartphone

The prospect of spending more than $1,000 in cold hard cash on a smartphone seems ridiculous to many of us, but after the much-publicized release of the iPhone X, the prospect became a very real one.

After all, Apple customers are among the most discerning in the world, blindly buying the next iPhone ‘upgrade,’ selling their prior model on the second-hand market to raise some of the funds necessary. A vital organ or two sometimes makes up the shortfall. Anyone else see a problem with this?

But we can’t blame Apple for retaining gullible customers. Is their marketing department a team of modern-day Svengalis, harnessing their dark powers to subvert our wills and force us to purchase Apple products? I don’t think so. However, the iPhone X presents a consumer-level smartphone as a realistic solution with a high price point. An important distinction – this is aimed at the consumer market and not business customers.

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Are companies going to embrace the iPhone X or any other similarly-priced smartphone as their chosen company phone, resulting in a substantial investment per employee? Are employees likely to include their new and expensive smartphone in a BYOD program and lose admin rights to their own phones? I believe the answer is a resounding no in both cases.

It’s Still Just A Phone, Isn’t It?

Okay, enough with the Apple-bashing, although I do like to imagine myself as a modern-day William Tell. I just lack volunteers willing to face my crossbow. The fact remains that $1,000 is a lot of money for a phone.

Is it worth it? What is gained by such a purchase?

“No phone is worth $1,000, regardless if it runs iOS or Android. After a certain amount of money, (depending on where you live, usually something like $200) it is no longer a phone, but a portable computer in the form of a phone,” said Sorin Mustaca, CSSLP, Security+, Project+, an independent IT security consultant.

A valid point, it seems manufacturers are trying to blur the lines between form factors rather than waking up to the fact that a watch will never aid e-mail processing and that a computer is necessary for productive tasks. Smartphones and tablets are restrictive in many ways – especially in the amount of internal RAM available.

“A phone is not and is never going to be, a computer. Even though Samsung is trying to sell their Galaxy Note 8 as a desktop computer (using DeX Station), said Mustaca.

The above product claims to convert your Galaxy Note 8 or Galaxy S8 into a desktop computer and, to the untrained eye, it does allow you to connect to a large screen, keyboard, and mouse. However, this alone does not a desktop make. It’s useful for frequent travelers who, for whatever reason, do not pack a laptop for productive use.

Love Me, Love My Cellphone

As a business owner, regardless of company size, would you spend $1,000+ on a phone? Few will admit to doing so.

“With this amount of money, a workstation or laptop computer can be acquired, or if needed, a good Android phone (with or without service). Without a service, you could buy two or three phones or tablets. With service, at this price it would also pay for a good contract for at least one year,” said Mustaca.

Yep, $1,000 can buy lots of stuff, but let’s say you want a smartphone… What drives your purchase?

Mustaca is more diplomatic and charitable than I, preferring to see those with expensive smartphones as victims of society’s perception of status symbols, where the type of smartphone you own reflects your position in life.

“What do you know about it?” you ask. Well, I upgraded my smartphone last year and based my selection on careful internet research. iPhones were never in the running as I prefer devices with expandable storage options and without expensive proprietary accessories. I finally chose an Oppo R9s plus and have no complaints. I bought it in an Oppo store in China for what converts to $492.  Therefore, for the price of the iPhone X, I could have two Oppos, a much better prospect. It takes great photos, is fast (has 6Gb RAM–the iPhone X has 4) even with all my apps installed and has a dual-SIM option. Its primary function is that of a phone with secondary functions including camera and e-book reader. I have a laptop and desktop PC for productive tasks. I believe I spent my money wisely… and have no connection to Oppo other than that of a satisfied customer.

In conclusion, while I do not recommend the purchase of an expensive smartphone without purpose, I’d argue that my cheaper purchase outperforms any Apple/Samsung product. In addition, as Mustaca pointed out, “the producers of such expensive phones are addressing two categories of customers:

  • fans who would pay anything to get the brand
  • those who have enough money and care about their status symbol.”

We call them ‘posers’ in Ireland. They attempt to impress others with their possessions, with waiting thieves probably the most appreciative audience.

While Apple and Samsung lead smartphone sales, plenty of other companies are on the rise.

“They are seriously competing with Apple and Samsung: Xiaomi, Huawei, Google and others. While their phones are cheaper, they are not much below the $1000 limit. They have also seen the obvious: there is a customer segment who is willing to pay that much for a phone, so they are now investigating what can be done to reach those customers,” said Mustaca.

This is certainly true, but it is worth noting that many such companies, especially the Chinese ones, have a wide range of products, from those with entry-level specs to expensive models that compete directly with the Apple and Samsung offerings.

If you are thinking of purchasing a smartphone, for personal or business use, consider what is important to you in terms of features, functions, security and pricing. There is no single correct product selection, and the consumer is always right, except when it comes to warranty agreements and related product damage. Best of luck…

 

 

Topics: IT insights

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Michael O'Dwyer

An Irishman based in Hong Kong, Michael O’Dwyer is a business & technology journalist, independent consultant and writer who specializes in writing for enterprise, small business and IT audiences. With 20+ years of experience in everything from IT and electronic component-level failure analysis to process improvement and supply chains (and an in-depth knowledge of Klingon,) Michael is a sought-after writer whose quality sources, deep research and quirky sense of humor ensures he’s welcome in high-profile publications such as The Street and Fortune 100 IT portals.

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