By Alexandra Burlacu | May 17, 2013 01:42 PM EDT
Google I/O 2013 brought lots of exciting announcements, but most intriguing unveilings was definitely the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google edition with pure vanilla Android.
The new version of Samsung's Galaxy S4 powerhouse runs stock Android and raised plenty of interest, but also questions regarding its $649 price tag. The high-end unlocked smartphone sports a normal price tag for such a device, but some were appalled nonetheless.
The reasoning behind the device's price and people's reaction is quite simple. Today's market is filled with subsidies, waving away consumer flexibility for the deceiving benefits of a low up-front price. The truth is that subsidized phones have a low initial price, but almost always end up costing more over two years than they would cost unsubsidized. In a bid to attract subsidy-hungry consumers, Google rolled out its Nexus 4 smartphone last year, slapping an attractive $200-$300 subsidy per phone.
The Nexus 4, however, is a rare thing simply designed to boost Android further into the market. As PCMag points out, most other phone manufacturers don't have greatly profitable businesses on the side to support subsidizing handset prices.
For the sake of comparison, an unlocked iPhone 5 costs exactly $649, as does the HTC One "Developer Edition." Sony's Xperia ZL comes in at $629, while factory unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 handsets cost $699 on Amazon. High-end smartphones are available with lower price tags, but without the top-notch features and components of 2013. The unlocked Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone costs roughly $540, for instance, but it lacks the 1080p displays and Snapdragon 600 processors the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 boast.
Why $629 Makes Sense
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the highest-end, coolest and smartest smartphones currently on the market, packing cutting-edge components and providing a fast and smooth experience. In other terms, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is pretty much what gaming PCs are in their field, i.e. sporting the newest and most expensive parts.
High-end smartphones usually come with a price to match, and that makes sense. Potential buyers are not simply buying the handset, but also paying the normal premium for the extensive R&D necessary for developing such cutting-edge devices.
The smartphone world has a strong, competitive market for the latest, greatest, highest-end components. Device and component manufacturers have been racing to feed this demand for the latest and greatest, and so far app developers always found exciting ways to put the new hardware to good use.
In conclusion, potential buyers looking for the latest smartphone packing cutting-edge components and technology must be prepared to pay the price. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the hottest devices of 2013 and an unlocked, stock Android version was bound to sport a price to match.
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