Fewer than 10 percent of consumers are spending over $1,000 on their smartphones

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Premium smartphones have been commanding around $1,000 for well over two years now. Even though consumers are more comfortable with the idea now than they were initially, that doesn’t mean people are forking over the big bucks in droves.

According to data from The NPD Group’s new Mobile Phone Tracking service, fewer than 10 percent of consumers are spending more than $1,000 on their smartphones.

Considering the high cost of 5G-enabled flagships – early examples are regularly going for around $1,200 – and the fact that this trend isn't likely to deviate in 2020, some are worried that 5G might not make as big of a splash out of the gate as originally anticipated.

Others are concerned that current 5G tech simply isn’t scalable due to its extremely limited range and line-of-sight requirements. Others, still, have reservations with regard to thermal limitations.

That said, the deck isn’t entirely stacked against 5G. Awareness of the new tech has reached three out of four consumers according to NPD’s Mobile Connectivity Report. Furthermore, a third of smartphone owners reported interest in buying a 5G-enabled handset.

Masthead credit: iPhones by Hadrian. Galaxy Fold by AquaSketches

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ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
I carry two phones - a S5 and S10.

My S10 is 4G. Why? The 5G version had a huge screen. It would not even fit in my pocket. Why else? Because 4G is fast enough for my needs. Although since they have been rolling out 5G, it has noticeably slowed down. A marketing scam.

The S5 is strictly for work purposes. I don't install any apps other than for work or my music streaming. As the work apps have been updated, it seemed as though the battery wasn't lasting as long. What would most people do? Throw it in the trash. What did I do? Figured it was the batter, which is removable. What a neat concept of removable batteries. Replaced the battery and now it lasts for almost 3 days without charging. What have the manufacturers done to force us into upgrades? Force us into integrated batteries. Removable batteries saved me from an unnecessary expense.

My other is a S10, which I was forced to upgrade because my S8 had such a brittle screen it cracked less than a week after I bought it brand new - because of the crappy and inherently curved glass. Another scam to sell new phones - brittle screens. Eventually it would have gone in the landfill because the battery would have decayed over time, in which they weld the battery permanently too. They want us to keep throwing devices in the landfill and give them our wallets.
 

Damocles

TS Member
Agree. Some people seem to have more money than sense when it comes to forking out for their smartphone toys, especially when villains seem to regard them as fair game on the streets. Risky business, using them in public these days. Apple stuff in particular seems to be over-rated and grossly over-priced but I suppose that's the proof the fanbois need that they (allegedly) produce quality products. In reality, other companies make items that are just as good, if not better and (more to the point) cheaper!
 

RaXoR

TS Maniac
I carry two phones - a S5 and S10.

My S10 is 4G. Why? The 5G version had a huge screen. It would not even fit in my pocket. Why else? Because 4G is fast enough for my needs. Although since they have been rolling out 5G, it has noticeably slowed down. A marketing scam.

The S5 is strictly for work purposes. I don't install any apps other than for work or my music streaming. As the work apps have been updated, it seemed as though the battery wasn't lasting as long. What would most people do? Throw it in the trash. What did I do? Figured it was the batter, which is removable. What a neat concept of removable batteries. Replaced the battery and now it lasts for almost 3 days without charging. What have the manufacturers done to force us into upgrades? Force us into integrated batteries. Removable batteries saved me from an unnecessary expense.

My other is a S10, which I was forced to upgrade because my S8 had such a brittle screen it cracked less than a week after I bought it brand new - because of the crappy and inherently curved glass. Another scam to sell new phones - brittle screens. Eventually it would have gone in the landfill because the battery would have decayed over time, in which they weld the battery permanently too. They want us to keep throwing devices in the landfill and give them our wallets.
You can replace the battery on current phones. It is a lengthier process and requires a few tools but it is still doable. One time investment for the long term ability to do so. Yes, non removable batteries are stupid but it is not a permanent and impossible obstacle. You have to also consider that a lot of the design choices they made were to meet IP68 rating. There's a big difference between IP67 and IP68. IP67 is temporary submersion in water up to 1 meter. IP68 means that the device can be continuously submerged underwater, in this case up to 1.5 meters which is what the S7-S10 lineup offer. Ofc Samsung will put limitations so that they are not liable for any actual possible malfunction of the seal.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
You can replace the battery on current phones. It is a lengthier process and requires a few tools but it is still doable. One time investment for the long term ability to do so. Yes, non removable batteries are stupid but it is not a permanent and impossible obstacle. You have to also consider that a lot of the design choices they made were to meet IP68 rating. There's a big difference between IP67 and IP68. IP67 is temporary submersion in water up to 1 meter. IP68 means that the device can be continuously submerged underwater, in this case up to 1.5 meters which is what the S7-S10 lineup offer. Ofc Samsung will put limitations so that they are not liable for any actual possible malfunction of the seal.
They made it so nearly everyone is not going to do it. It's not just popping out the old and new one in. Are you saying there is nothing anywhere on the market that is IP68 with (consumer-friendly) removable batteries? I'd say they are using it as an excuse for a cash grab.
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
It has to make you wonder what these manufacturers are thinking to make that much capital investment and get so little back. It would be interesting to see them market their products at half the current rate and see how much sales would pick up ......
 
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yRaz

Nigerian Prince
For my needs I never needed to upgrade from 3g. To me, 4g is a nice luxury item that conveniently comes for free with something I'm already buying.

If 5g ends up being the same then great. But until it makes it to the $400 smartphone market I won't even consider it. It will never be a buying point for me.

5g as a technology just seems like it has too many limitations that have no real solutions.
 
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Rayneofpayne

TS Enthusiast
I am a huge tech guy and have probably spent too much on PC components since I was 12 years old but.....
Paying over $500 for a cell phone is just way out there.
Mid range phones have had banging years since OnePlus, essential, Razer, MotoXPure, have been selling phones with great features for very reasonable prices that have flagship qualities.
Cellphones are like swiss army knives these days they do alot of things very decently but have never really mastered anything, they are still average cameras and are no where near good on music quality to replace a high quality DAP, it's more about convenience than quality, and for $1k I would expect real high quality, not the garbage Apple tries to push as premium experience.
 
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Danny101

TS Evangelist
I've never spent over $250 for a phone and likely never will. I still think this is too much. Got a Moto G7 Power now along with a decent case. Hopefully, it'll last for a while. My experience with phones lasting more than a year is nil. Perhaps you get what you pay for, but I've also made stewardship mistakes. Motorola has promised the Android 10 upgrade for this phone so we'll see. With each passing year, the speed and features at the $250 price has been satisfactory. I'm a PC power user so that's where I'll overspend if I do so. Smartphone? Meh. As long as it gets the job done and I don't have to charge it every four hours, it's good.
 
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yRaz

Nigerian Prince
I've never spent over $250 for a phone and likely never will. I still think this is too much. Got a Moto G7 Power now along with a decent case. Hopefully, it'll last for a while. My experience with phones lasting more than a year is nil. Perhaps you get what you pay for, but I've also made stewardship mistakes. Motorola has promised the Android 10 upgrade for this phone so we'll see. With each passing year, the speed and features at the $250 price has been satisfactory. I'm a PC power user so that's where I'll overspend if I do so. Smartphone? Meh. As long as it gets the job done and I don't have to charge it every four hours, it's good.
I've noticed that phones at that price point have lots of software issues. Hardware wise they've been great for atleast the last 5 years. But all the ones I've used have caused me headaches on the software side. Prime to constant freezing and random restarting. I had a T-Mobile branded phone that was $200 that was a nightmare. There was a Chinese brand phone that it replaced that I also owned. It ran better but was still prone to freezing and random apps crashing.

Currently, my favorite phone I've used to date is my Google 3a XL that I got on sale for $300 but full priced I think it goes for $550, I'd never pay that for a phone.
 

Danny101

TS Evangelist
I've noticed that phones at that price point have lots of software issues. Hardware wise they've been great for atleast the last 5 years. But all the ones I've used have caused me headaches on the software side. Prime to constant freezing and random restarting. I had a T-Mobile branded phone that was $200 that was a nightmare. There was a Chinese brand phone that it replaced that I also owned. It ran better but was still prone to freezing and random apps crashing.

Currently, my favorite phone I've used to date is my Google 3a XL that I got on sale for $300 but full priced I think it goes for $550, I'd never pay that for a phone.
I bought mine from BestBuy, unlocked. It's worked fine for the most part, but I do know what you mean. I've had glitchy phones prior, mostly Blu's and I got tired of them and decided to go with Motororola hoping for an increased quality at that price point. I assume any phone can have glitches at any price point. Maybe custom roms like Lineage can help that situation, so long as your willing to go through with that process. Something I'll look into when I end up looking into my next purchase. Except for Tracfones, I haven't bought a phone from a carrier since 2008. There was one exception. I was out of town and my unlocked phone broke and I had to buy one from Cricket, but I quickly sold it off and replaced it with an unlocked of my choice once I got home. The longer you can make a phone last, the more it will pay itself by the year. The more research, the better.
 

FPSChris

TS Enthusiast
Bring back 4-5" smart phones and price them sensibly.
I can't fit any of the 6" ones in my shorts or jeans comfortably so I'm sticking with my rooted Samsung from 2016.
 
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Danny101

TS Evangelist
Bring back 4-5" smart phones and price them sensibly.
I can't fit any of the 6" ones in my shorts or jeans comfortably so I'm sticking with my rooted Samsung from 2016.
Yes, there still a place for those. Unfortunately, I don't see that well anymore. I need a 5.5 at least.
 

poohbear

TS Evangelist
Ok I paid on black Friday to upgrade to a Note 10+ from my nearly 3 year-old beat-up S8+ from 2017....it was a Black Friday "sale" @ $960 USD, but honestly this thing is a BEAST and I love it. For my small business, it's a godsend. Did I pay too much? Well I'm keeping it until 2023, so that's $320/year, and for me that's totally reasonable. To each their own, but for tech guys that spend hundreds a year on stuff we don't use often, a new smartphone that I use everyday and is as powerful as a laptop is a pretty practical purchase.
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Evangelist
SD765 has 5G for budget phones so we should be fine.
*fingers crossed*
Ha ha, try and find a SD7xx phone in the USA. These chips mostly found in phones sold third world.
5G is currently a farce and Qualcomm is a disgrace for only offering SD865 with a separate modem which has to be 5G. There will be no 4G flagships in 2020 which means **** battery, bigger heavier phones and 5G coverage is a sick joke. Even in 4G mode battery life will be worse. In 2102 Qualcomm came out and said why separate modems are bad and here they are hell bent of trying to push 5G down our throat they do just that.
 

yRaz

Nigerian Prince
Most people don't want to spend over $1K for something they do not need and that actually gives them no benefit. I wonder why.
I see significant diminishing returns after the $400 price point. I have no performance issues on my Google pixel 3a XL that I got for $300 with some significant promotions and deals. It has a great camera, an OLED display and it's performance has been more than I can ask for.

I've owned iPhones, Samsung Galaxy devices and other high end smartphones. Granted, I stopped buying those ~5 years ago, but modern phones at a 1/3rd the price out perform what I expected out of $800-1000 5 years ago.

And I love the Pixel 3a XL because it gives me an untampered with version of Android. No bloatware I got with Samsung or custom versions that are poorly optimized like I got with LG or Moto.

There is the questionable data collection you get with Google devices but, realistically, that stuff doesn't apply to me. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. But I also don't care because they can sell my data all they want and it won't affect me.
 
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hahahanoobs

TS Evangelist
Ha ha, try and find a SD7xx phone in the USA. These chips mostly found in phones sold third world.
5G is currently a farce and Qualcomm is a disgrace for only offering SD865 with a separate modem which has to be 5G. There will be no 4G flagships in 2020 which means **** battery, bigger heavier phones and 5G coverage is a sick joke. Even in 4G mode battery life will be worse. In 2102 Qualcomm came out and said why separate modems are bad and here they are hell bent of trying to push 5G down our throat they do just that.
Haha 5G service is so spotty, the modem is the least of your problems.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I see significant diminishing returns after the $400 price point. I have no performance issues on my Google pixel 3a XL that I got for $300 with some significant promotions and deals. It has a great camera, an OLED display and it's performance has been more than I can ask for.

I've owned iPhones, Samsung Galaxy devices and other high end smartphones. Granted, I stopped buying those ~5 years ago, but modern phones at a 1/3rd the price out perform what I expected out of $800-1000 5 years ago.

And I love the Pixel 3a XL because it gives me an untampered with version of Android. No bloatware I got with Samsung or custom versions that are poorly optimized like I got with LG or Moto.

There is the questionable data collection you get with Google devices but, realistically, that stuff doesn't apply to me. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. But I also don't care because they can sell my data all they want and it won't affect me.
I bought my wife and myself a Moto X4 - a $400 phone on sale at 50-percent off. It is both mine and my wife's first smart phone. It is actually my wife's first cell phone. In many ways, the X4 is way more than I need, but the flexibility is great. The main reason I went with the X4 is that it was well-reviewed and one of the limited number of phones without massive amounts of bloatware. At this point in time, I honestly do not see myself buying a flagship phone.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
Create a feature shopping list, do your homework and THEN decide which product fits your needs/budget.

I need:
  1. texting
  2. email
  3. calendar and scheduling
  4. phone and voice mail
  5. bluetooth connection to car audio
  6. GPS location
  7. mapping and directions
  8. a marginal camera for when I forget to pack one.
  9. a browser is nice but not required

Other than 6+7, pure text can solve my needs and $1000USD is just stupid conspicuous consumption (philosophic and economic principle).
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
...[ ]...There is the questionable data collection you get with Google devices but, realistically, that stuff doesn't apply to me. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. But I also don't care because they can sell my data all they want and it won't affect me.
The biggest portion of Google's "invasion of privacy", is centered around tracking your buying habits, in order for them to sell, "targeted ads".

Now, if someone is so stupid and weak minded along with beingsusceptible to ad content, that those ads cause you to max out your credit cards, that's really a personal problem, nor some draconian invasion of privacy and ulterior motivation on Google's part.

Hey look, you knew you were going to be tracked, and have ad content delivered to you when you signed up for that "free" Gmail account. Get over it.and move on with your life.

TBH, and to the best of my recollection, I have always bought things I wanted, needed, and searched for on my own, not from the ads at the top of the gmail page.

For god's sake Amazon is at least as invasive as Google in regard to ads. It's a certainty that whatever you buy from them, will net you a, "you bought this, now you need to buy this too", ad assault.

Amazon's not a search engine, just an internet leeching service. With any sense and self restraint with regards to Google, you really can get a host of excellent free services. And Gmail does provide that trash can item for anything you don't want in your inbox. Face it, you really didn't have to give your email address to everybody who asked for it. You reap what you sow, big time.

My glorious Prince
, you surely realize of course, that none of these pejoratives and observations apply to a person of such divine wisdom and intelligence as yourself.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
For god's sake Amazon is at least as invasive as Google in regard to ads. It's a certainty that whatever you buy from them, will net you a, "you bought this, now you need to buy this too", ad assault.
Those "ads" are a riot. They should read (in the spirit of your post) "Some unsuspecting poor soul that lacks self-control bought this crap, too, along with the item you are looking at. Wouldn't you want to buy this crap, that you obviously do not need, too?"
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Those "ads" are a riot. They should read (in the spirit of your post) "Some unsuspecting poor soul that lacks self-control bought this crap, too, along with the item you are looking at. Wouldn't you want to buy this crap, that you obviously do not need, too?"
Half the time I already have the item they're trying to tack on the coattails of my original purchase. And about half of that half, they're the ones who sold it ti me. :rolleyes:
 
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