Life Tech The smartphone rip-off is over — except for iPhone
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The smartphone rip-off is over — except for iPhone

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A flood of cheap Androids is pushing down smartphone prices, giving users hope of long-overdue price relief.

A leading tech futurist predicted the cost of these devices was headed below $100 in response to consumer demand.

“The vast majority just want something that does the job, looks good, doesn’t embarrass them and is easy enough to use,” futurist Morris Miselowski told The New Daily.

“They really want the functions, they want the form, and they want something that is relatively inexpensive.”

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This forecast was in line with that of a global research firm, which in August reported “steadily falling” prices. The International Data Corporation (IDC) report confirmed its earlier prediction of a price war “to the bottom”, with global averages projected to fall from US$297 to US$241 by the year 2018.

“While premium phones aren’t going anywhere, we are seeing increasingly better specs in more affordable smartphones. Consumers no longer have to go with a top-of-the-line handset to guarantee decent hardware quality or experience,” IDC mobile phone research manager Melissa Chau said in a statement last year.

“The biggest question now is how much lower can prices go?”

Three devices prove the trend

The Obi Worldphone SF1 is helping drive down prices.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 is helping drive down prices.

Last month a company co-founded by former Apple boss John Sculley unveiled a new device with a decidedly un-Apple price tag.

The Obi Worldphone SF1 will sell for $329 without skimping on features. It is “probably one of the best designed Android phones at any price”, a tech analyst wrote for TIME Magazine.

The New Daily recently reviewed another of these cheaper Android devices, the Motorola Moto G, and found it to be reasonably priced at $369, especially because it was water resistant.

Another cheap August release was the OnePlus 2, which will retail in two versions for $329 and $389. It does not run Android, but has likewise been heralded as one of the best low cost, high performance phones on the market.

Good news for consumers

This trend towards more affordable smartphones was welcomed by consumer advocacy group, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

“Not everyone can pay up to a thousand dollars for a high-end iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Some may not be able to afford these. Increased competition in the marketplace will help to push prices down,” ACCAN spokesman Luke Sutton told The New Daily.

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The OnePlus 2 is being marketed as a ‘flagship killer’.

“We welcome this development because it means that more Australian consumers will be able to access affordable smartphones.”

Bad news for iPhone users

All this is good news for Android and other non-Apple users. Just don’t expect the iPhone to get cheaper.

There are rumours the cheapest model will retail for just over $1000, with the premium version costing more than $1500, Dutch blog TechTastic reported.

This is because the premium market of Apple devotees is “much more valuable” to the company than chasing market share in the bargain market, research firm IDC speculated in August.

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