As device makers and carriers prepared to announce the first 5G smartphones, there were reasons for concern: early prototypes looked thick and carried the risk of crazy pricing. When Samsung announced the 7.94-millimeter thick Galaxy S10 5G and foldable Galaxy Fold last month, it demonstrated that 5G devices wouldn’t necessarily be thicker, but it left the pricing question open. Would users have to pay $1,500 or more for a 5G smartphone?
Mercifully, the answer is no — though that doesn’t mean they’ll be cheap, either. South Korea’s ETNews reports that Samsung has priced the 256GB version of the Galaxy S10 5G at 1.39 million won, roughly equivalent to $1,200, or around $100 less than the entry price forecast last week by “industry sources.” The 512GB model will reportedly sell for 1.55 million won, close to $1,350.
While $1,200 is still a lot of money for any smartphone, that establishes a $200 pricing delta between Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ and S10 5G models, not all of which is attributable to the cutting-edge 5G hardware inside the latter device. The S10 5G also includes a larger screen, bigger battery, and extra camera, plus front and rear 3D depth sensing camera capabilities. All of those premium features suggest that Samsung could have added 5G capabilities alone to the S10+ for half or less of that $200 premium.
Samsung’s 5G premium mirrors that of OnePlus, which said last year that it planned to limit the 5G premium to $200 or $300 over prior $550 models. Though the smaller rival hasn’t officially announced the price of its first 5G phone yet, it has built a business on aggressively priced phones, and at $750 would be able to compete directly with near-flagship 4G devices such as Apple’s iPhone XR. Other device makers are likely to price their phones higher than OnePlus.
For Samsung, the closest competitor on features and price will be Apple’s iPhone XS Max, which costs $1,249 with the same 256GB storage capacity as the S10 5G, but has fewer cameras and no 5G functionality. As such, it will be interesting to see whether Samsung is able to take on its most popular competitor by including the latest rather than last-generation cellular technology — a key reason we advised holding off on the XS Max last year.
Since the rest of the Galaxy S10 series has reportedly been outperforming sales expectations, the S10 5G may follow suit, assuming there are enough customers near early 5G networks to take advantage of its capabilities. Sales of the new phone are expected to commence on April 5 in South Korea, where parts of dozens of cities will offer mobile 5G access, followed by a U.S. launch on Verizon, which will commence mobile 5G in two cities after a four-city 5G home broadband launch last year.