Fancy Phones: Now An Even Worse Deal

About twelve years ago, Apple released the first iPhone.[1] While it was an expensive device, the original iPhone had all sorts of features that the competition lacked. Of course, the first iPhone is a pretty extreme example.

Even in 2012, the year the iPhone 5 was released, I felt that there were significant differences between the latest, high-end phones and phones that were sold at lower price points.[2] I didn’t think the latest, greatest devices were actually worth the cost for the typical consumer back then, but I could at least understand the appeal of those fancy devices.

Today, things are different. Hardware has continued to improve, but it’s not clear that hardware improvements have had much to offer to the typical consumer. Today, you can get an unlocked Motorola G6 or G6 Play without any carrier subsidy for less than $200.[3]

The G6 performs well for the sorts of things typical consumers use their phones for. The phone’s cameras are pretty good. It has a fingerprint reader. Hell, the phone even does pretty well in terms of aesthetics. I’m struggling to come up with meaningful limitations it has compared to higher-end phones. It’s not waterproof?

Perhaps the high-quality of low-end phones these days explains why the latest iPhone models haven’t sold well. My point is not that the higher end phones don’t have better features. They do. Having the best phone these days may matter if you’re an Instagram star, you want to play the most intense mobile video games with the highest possible performance, or you want to make your friends jealous. On the other hand, if you use your cell phone for pretty typical purposes, you can save a lot of money without forgoing many useful features.


  1. The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. See Wikipedia’s History of iPhone article.
  2. The iPhone 5 was released on September 21, 2012. See Wikipedia’s article on the iPhone 5.
  3. At the time of writing, Amazon charged $139.99 for the “Prime Exclusive” version of the G6 and $179.99 for the standard version. Archived Amazon page here. The photo of the G6 comes from Motorola’s website.

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