Another phone launch. And another day with many smartphone enthusiasts in India calling the new phones overpriced. This time it is the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ (by the way, what is this terrible "+" and why can't companies just use "Plus"). Samsung launched these two flagship phones in India on Wednesday. Unlike the earlier the Galaxy S7, which debuted at a price of 49,999 in India, the Galaxy S8 has a starting price of Rs 57,900. The Galaxy S8+ has a starting price of Rs 64,900. The increased price compared to the Galaxy S7's is not going down too well with many in India.
Yet, again it is much ado about nothing. It is not that there are no phones that are overpriced. But I don't believe the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ are such phones. These are not cheap phones. In fact, they are ridiculously expensive phones in a country like India. But then so are the Google Pixel phones and Apple's iPhones. The Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ have a price that befits their brand and what they bring to the table. They are not meant to be affordable. More significantly, they play in a price segment where the price doesn't matter. More or less.
If you ask someone who doesn't like the price of the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus about what could have been the right price of these phones, he or she will say that something like Rs 50,000 or Rs 52,000 would have been nice. And that is true because if a consumer gets to save even Rs 5, that is a good thing.
But at the same time, it is also true that in this ultra high-end segment, a difference of Rs 5,000 doesn't matter. The person who is willing to spend Rs 50,000 on a phone is going to do so because he or she sees incredible uniqueness in that phone and the features it offers. And a person who is willing to spend Rs 50,000 will easily pay 10 per cent more.
The phones are overpriced in the mainstream and budget segment. This is the sort of market where a difference of Rs 5,000 matters a lot. In this segment, people are looking more for the value for money. This is in contrast to what happens in the ultra high-end market, where consumers don't look for the "value for money". Instead, they look to get a product that will satisfy them. They want to buy a product that will appeal to them, irrespective of its price, or may be because of the price. Apple understands this very well. This is why its phones are always unapologetically expensive. With the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung treads the same path and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong in it.
The best way to understand the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus price is the OnePlus 3T. If there is -- or ever was -- a phone that is priced "aggressively" it is the OnePlus 3T (and OnePlus 3). The OnePlus 3T is a high-end phone. It is as good a phone as any in the market. You can compare it to the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7, Pixel XL, iPhone 7 Plus or any other phone you want and you will realise that OnePlus 3T in terms of software, hardware, screen, camera, performance, storage and core features more or less matches much pricier phones. And OnePlus 3T sells for Rs 29,999!
The point is that if you are looking for value for money, why will you not buy the OnePlus 3T? What is it that this phone is missing? Hint: nothing. In fact, in many ways it is even better than most -- but not all -- of the other pricier phones.
If Samsung -- or for that matter Apple, HTC, Google or any other company -- wants to offer the same value for money, it will have to sell its top phone for Rs 29,999. In other words, to really give users "value for money" Samsung will have to price the Galaxy S8 at Rs 29,999. Considering the fact that a phone like the OnePlus 3T exists, there is no other way for Samsung to offer "value for money" with Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+.
So Samsung decides not to play the "value for money" game. And that is its decision. The Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ aren't OnePlus 3T. They are different phones. They don't claim to offer the best smartphone experience, not the way I see. Instead, these are the phones that offer the best Samsung experience to consumers, and for many consumers that might be the best smartphone experience.
It is at these -- you can say discerning -- consumers that Samsung is aiming the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus. And it is to these consumers it is offering features like the infinity display, a gorgeous glass and metal design, the add-ons, and overall Galaxy S8 package. It is a very distinct package compared to what any other phones in the market provides. The Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ have been priced at Rs 57,900 and Rs 64,900 respectively because they are Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+.
It is possible that they might also be pretty great phones, which is something we will figure out in the reviews. But then if you talk of the great phone, OnePlus 3T too is a great phone. The premium that Samsung asks for the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ is for the everything that is unique in these phones. Paying this premium won't make sense for everyone. But for those who see the uniqueness in the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8, it will and for them a difference of Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 in this price segment doesn't make any difference.