Samsung Galaxy S10: innovation at too high a price?

Analysis: Just like their arch competitor Apple, Samsung is pricing their Galaxy S10 series too high to tempt consumers to upgrade, writes Alkesh Sharma in San Francisco

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Wednesday's Galaxy S10 series launch was just the tonic Samsung needed after ending last year with dwindling sales and a slashed market share.

The South Korean electronics giant needed to offer something exciting to win back consumer confidence and that is what they did with a selection of innovatory marvels, setting the pace right for a rebound.

Broadcast from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco to the world, Samsung quenched the curiosity of fans and foes alike, surprising consumers with one feature after another.

There are many firsts in this Samsung line-up that are quite promising, such as five cameras, 5G functionality, and an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and the phablet Galaxy Fold - a phone with a flexible screen.

However, it seems that Samsung is repeating the same mistake as its arch competitor Apple – pricing the new phones too high.

The costs are elevated at a time when customers are reluctant to upgrade and the trend is haunting the smartphone industry. Here's a list of the base prices:

  • Galaxy S10e: Dh2,699
  • Galaxy S10: Dh3,199
  • Galaxy S10+: Dh3,599 

The entry-level S10e could still attract budget-conscious buyers, but the top models are likely to be out-of-reach for many. The S10+ price can reach Dh5,799 with additional space.

Aside from the pricing structure, Samsung’s supremacy in the global smartphone market is being challenged by China's Huawei, which surpassed Apple last year in terms of market share. The Shenzhen-headquartered company will reveal its new line-up of P30 series Android smartphones in Paris on March 26.

The S10 line-up has all new features but they are not compelling enough to convince a S9+ user to spend another Dh3,500 to shift to a new device.

The S10 5G is not going to hit the market until the second quarter of this year, starting from selective markets.

It promises fast data speeds but it’s not very enticing for consumers except the factor of fast downloads. 4G phones can support real-time video calls and music streaming – but it is still a mystery how 5G phones will add to customers’ experience and make the new devices must-haves.

The Galaxy Fold is certainly a great innovation of 2019, and will deliver a new kind of mobile experience, but at a huge cost of nearly Dh7,273.

It can run up to three applications simultaneously, when expanded, and it supports app continuity between screens which means there will be no interruption when folding or unfolding the screen.

However, it will not hit the shelves until the second quarter of 2019, giving Samsung’s rivals enough time mull similar products it might have in development. Many of them are expected to do so at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.