OverPriced Phones: July 2013 Edition

These are the times of “Get better or get eaten”. Phone manufacturers that were mammoth half a decade ago are today seen fighting to keep whatever is left of their user-base. Especially in a value-conscious market like India, pricing a phone right is nothing short of a tightrope act. No denying that every company is in the game to make money and increase profits, but not at the cost of losing their potential customer to another enterprising phone maker. “Indian” phone makers like Micromax, Karbonn, Lava etc. have really stirred the market up by offering compelling spec’ed phones at too-good-to-be-true prices. Sure, there’s no way that’s happening without cutting some corners, but people are willing to forgo brand value and minor drawbacks for that oh-so-delightful feeling of getting the most of every penny spent.

Although most phones today are reasonably priced for what they have to offer, there are a few handsets that could do with a drop to their Market Operating Price (MOP).

Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos i9082 (Current Price — Rs. 18,600)

The Galaxy Grand enjoyed massive success because of that sweet Rs. 20k price point, thereby driving aspirants into the store who didn’t want to spend many thousands of rupees more on the Note II. But phones like the Micromax Canvas HD have a comparable offering for at least Rs. 4,000 less. There is a big advantage with the Canvas HD too; a near-300 PPI, 1280 x 720 pixel HD display compared to the 800 x 480 pixels on the same 5-inches screen size of the Grand Duos, dropping the PPI count down to 187. A crisp display is always a good thing to have, as it improves readability quite a bit and even will portray images and video better. We’d say the Grand Duos ideally deserves a price cut of Rs. 4,000.

HTC Butterfly (Current Price — Rs. 42,000)

This has to be the most preposterous over-pricing I have come across yet. For one, HTC announced their most recent flagship, the HTC One, just two months after the announcement of the Butterfly. The One is better than the Butterfly in many ways — the aluminium body, double the internal storage (32GB vs. 16GB on the Butterfly), the UltraPixel camera with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), the front-facing stereo speakers and a marginally bigger battery. Currently, you can get all of this for just Rs. 2,000 more. So who in their right minds will buy the Butterfly for Rs. 42k in this case? HTC has two choices — lower the price down by at least Rs. 7,000 (making it competitive with Sony’s XPERIA Z) or just discontinue the damn thing.

BlackBerry Z10 (Current Price — Rs. 40,000)

Blackberry’s flagship Z10 is training its guns at the premium flagship Android phones and the iPhone; at least that’s what the price seems to be suggesting. The BB10 UX is interesting, and their app library is growing fast, but then let’s look at it this way — other than fans of BlackBerry who’ve wanted a good touchscreen handset, is it compelling enough to warrant Rs. 40,000 to others? We don’t think so, as neither the hardware nor the software/ecosystem is competitive enough to make Rs. 40k justifiable. One way to lure the Indian consumer would be to drop its price down to somewhere between Rs. 32k to 35k max.

On another note, the hardware QWERTY laden Q10 is selling for an even more atrocious price of Rs. 43k. But given the fact that there is no other high-end phone with a physical keyboard in the market today, BlackBerry is making the most by cashing-in on people not ready to let go of a QWERTY keyboard.

iPhone 5 (Current Price — Rs. 42,500)

The pioneer in over-the-top pricing since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has never failed to break hearts of its aspirants (and break banks of the ones who took the plunge). Apple was in fact, the first company to cross the Rs. 40,000 mark with the launch of the iPhone 4S in 2011, when all competing smartphones hovered in the Rs. 30k range. The iPhone 5 is a desirable phone with its rich app store, familiar user interface and brag-value. But seeing how other phone makers are offering a lot more, it would be nice if the iPhone 5 was available for at least Rs. 5,000 lower.

But then because of the strong brand value Apple has in the mind of its users, it is doubtful whether they would bother taking a hit on their high profit margins.

HTC Desire 600 (Announced Price — Rs. 26,860)

The Desire 600’s price in India is pretty much DOA. It is powered by a ARM Cortex A5 based Snapdragon 200 chip — a quad-core variant meant to be placed inside inexpensive smartphones. That Adreno 203 chip isn’t going to be as good as the Adreno 320 on the XPERIA ZR or even the XPERIA SP. That’s also probably the reason why video recording on the Desire 600 is capped to 720p HD and not 1080p Full HD. Next, the display has a yesteryear qHD (960 x 540 pixel) resolution, which is a shame because competing phones in and even below its price range come with an HD (1280 x 720 pixel) one.

It clearly needs a price drop of around Rs. 6,000 to start making some sense.

Rohan Naravane

Rohan Naravane is in charge of content & product experience on PriceBaba. When he’s not writing about technology, he likes to talk about it and will ramble on if he finds you remotely technological. His on-going endeavours include creating a perfect routine that allows him to get back in shape, followed by marathoning of TV shows/movies after work.


    • Rahul
    • July 8, 2013

    Surprised you put the IPhone in the list.
    Is the Micromax intervention reason for most phone manufacturers to reduce price? Is the value of badge reducing?

    • Rohan Naravane
    • July 8, 2013

    I have always firmly believed that the iPhone has been an overpriced phone since the beginning. And yes, it sure looks like big-brand phone makers have had to cave in to be competitive with local phone makers. Just look at the adoption of Dual SIM — now almost every big-name phone maker has a good number of Dual-SIM handsets in their portfolio. This wasn’t the case before.

  1. The thing with iPhone also is that Apple has a loyal following and the resale value for iPhones is stellar. HTC has a tougher road with Samsung leading Android and sales / profitability being a challenge. I would have expected HTC to be far more aggressive on the pricing front!

    • Nikhil
    • July 12, 2013

    With this overpricing strategy I wonder how cheap really would be the “cheap” iPhone be ?

    • Rohan Naravane
    • July 13, 2013

    The keyword here is “cheaper”, not “cheap”. That is, it will be cheaper than any new iPhone that is announced. I think it would be as much as the current price of the iPhone 4 (~ 25k), but with better features.

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