Last week my partner came home from a late evening shopping trip looking guilty. Loaded with branded bags she struggled to open the front door and avoided my gaze as she unloaded her new purchases.
“What did you get?” I ask, not really knowing what to expect.
“Oh, just some things,” She says hurriedly, trying desperately to hide a small box from me.
“What’s that?” I probe, trying my hardest not to enjoy the inquisition too much. See, my partner has been on the hunt for a new phone since her last one met a watery grave and I suspect that she has bought a replacement.
“Oh, it’s a new phone… I spent way too much money”
She glares at me with a face that says: ‘don’t you dare say anything’. I would love to ask her how much she spent and on what, but she blurts it out anyway.
“I bought the new iPhone… it was over $2000” She winces as she says two thousand dollars and I can’t help but feel like we have both been suckered. I recently bought the new Samsung Galaxy s10 from Harvey Norman and while it’s a great phone, it was also a large chunk of cash.
Why are we paying so much for a new phone, and is it really worth it?
Let’s see what you’re made of.
To explain the ludicrous asking price of some phones, It’s tempting to write a lengthy discussion about the economics of offshore manufacturing and foreign workforces. Ah, who am I kidding? I won’t pretend to understand the underlying forces that dictate the price of things or the value of my money, so let’s focus on what makes a premium smartphone pricier than the average.
A big contributor to price is material selection; what the phone is made of and what elements does it need to function. I’m not talking any wind water fire elements here; no, electronics as complex as a smartphone contain a jewelry box of different precious metals and elements like gold. The more powerful the smartphone, the more good stuff it will need.
And it’s not just what the smartphone is made from that is important, its HOW its made. To create the parts needed requires incredibly fine precision, only possible by using specialized and expensive machines. Specialist equipment needs a specialist to operate it, a premium phone like the Galaxy s10 from Harvey Norman is only made possible because of years of experience that proceeded it.
Who are you?
So, a premium phone is made from precious metals and other expensive materials, its understandable that the cost starts to add up. Yes we have gold and other shiny bits in our phones, but a few grams of rare elements don’t add up to a few thousand dollars, what else are we paying for?
As mentioned early, the raw materials need to be processed into parts, this requires highly sophisticated manufacturing techniques, techniques only possible through years of research and experience. What does all that mean? Complicated stuff is hard and expensive to make if it were easy, everyone would make it, and it wouldn’t be valuable.
It’s easy to complain about the price of a premium smartphone. After all, they are small. Easy to lose and break and are superseded every nine months by a new, faster model. The reality is, if you want the latest and greatest in handheld technology, you will have to pay for it.
If you look a little closer, you will see the value in a premium smartphone. I don’t mean the value that it has to you, but from a pure parts/materials/expertise breakdown, the costs add up. Perhaps the big question is, should we WANT to spend that much on a premium phone?