Samsung ramps up price wars with cheaper smartphone
The world's biggest smartphone maker has revealed plans to launch a sub-$1000 flagship phone in Australia next month, in a move designed to appeal to cash-conscious Aussies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The early October launch could also see Samsung's newest smartphone line beat new Apple iPhones to market by weeks.
Samsung revealed its first range of Galaxy S20 Fan Edition smartphones in a streamed event overnight, unveiling models in six colours, including 5G options that will undercut the company's top S20 Ultra model by $600.
Samsung Australia mobile vice-president Garry McGregor said many Aussies were holding on to their old smartphones during the country's first recession in years; caught between the high prices of the top models and compromises in entry-level smartphones.
"We're going to make sure that we give Australians a premium smartphone experience at a very accessible price point," he said.
"We have product we believe will be able to stimulate people who have been holding back, waiting to upgrade."
Smartphone sales in Australia had been further complicated by higher prices for 12 and 24-month phone plans, Mr McGregor said, leading more potential buyers to stay out of the market or seek to buy cheaper devices outright.
"What's happened in the Australian marketplace in the last 12 months, all carriers have removed subsidies from their smartphones," he said.
"That has meant that Australians have been asked to pay an extra $20 or $30 a month than what they've been used to.
"Some Australians have decided they'll hold back and just wait until things settle down. With COVID, the idea of committing on a 24 or 36-month contract also feels very long-term."
The Fan Edition of Samsung's S20 line-up will feature a slightly larger screen than the S20, at 6.5 inches, but at a lower resolution.
It will also deliver three rear cameras, at 12 and eight-megapixel resolutions, a powerful 32-megapixel selfie camera, a larger battery than the S20, but half the RAM at 6GB.
The smartphone will come in six colours, from red to lavender and mint, and will be available for $999 in 4G or $1149 in 5G from October 9.
Presales for the budget phone will begin in Australia on Friday, the same day as Samsung launches its premium, folding handset, the Galaxy Z Fold2.
Despite its $2999 price tag, Mr McGregor said there had been "four times more interest" for the company's second generation folding smartphone than the first.
Both smartphones are expected to beat this year's Apple iPhones to market, after the company launched everything but a smartphone last week, and warned earlier this year that it expected "supply to be available a few weeks later" than normal due to manufacturing delays.
Both phone giants could have their work cut out for them in 2020, however, with Gartner finding smartphone sales dropped by 23.9 per cent in Australia during the second quarter of the year compared to 2019.
Gartner senior research director Anshul Gupta said "travel restrictions, retail closures and more prudent spending on non-essential products during the pandemic" fuelled the drop, though Apple fared slightly better after it released a budget iPhone, the SE.
Originally published as Samsung ramps up price wars with cheaper smartphone