Apple, which previously used to be the brickbat for its expensive pricing, now has to compete with new Android launches for the badge of “most elite flagship” smartphone. Elite, unequivocally means expensive. While Samsung has been present in the arena with its pole position launches such as leading Galaxy and Note series, Google invaded it with the launch of the Pixel and Pixel XL, both of which boasted a “premium price” badging.
Pricing the phone lower than visible competition such as iPhones and high-end Galaxies can lead to a perception problem as anything badged as “budget” is likely to dilute the likeliness of the phone being a status symbol.
Recently released in India at Rs. 54,999, the LG V20 treads the same path to be enlisted as a premium flagship. At the same time, companies like Oneplus are producing and selling phones like the Oneplus 3T which competitive specs at half the price of such flagships. So the larger question remains – are high-end flagships really bound to price their products unusually high to gain a buzz in a market where a new smartphone launches every day.
LG V20 was the first phone ever to boast Android 7.0, at the time of its global announcement in September this year, even before the launch of Google Pixel. Just this would have saved LG from the wrath. The last flagship from LG – the LG G5 was priced $170 lower (approximately Rs. 10,000). At the same time, while Samsungs and iPhones are people’s favourite devices to flaunt for the price, LG doesn’t enjoy that fandom in the market. Pixel’s launch and the Note 7 catastrophe have somewhat altered this but LG remains away from the league of winners.
The specifications on the LG V20 are, from no angle, leading or cutting-edge. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with a 4GB RAM. The rear features a set of two cameras – one 16-megapixel shooter with f/1.8 aperture and another 8-megapixel snapper with f/2.4 aperture. Although the LG V20 camera allows a wider range of view while clicking picture as compared with that on iPhone 7 Plus, it lacks clarity of the iPhone’s camera. The reputation of QuadHD displays has been squashed for being more power consuming and adding extra sharpness that goes unnoticed by the human eye.
With the launch of Google Pixel phones, the Nexus fanbase has ridiculed Google for the price as much as praised it for its superior User Experience. Google has adopted a marketing philosophy which allows it to be featured across a wider base of user-friendly media including TV commercials, billboards, online ads and newspaper promotions. So the Google phone has, apparently evolved, to suit everyday customers and not just developers, and thus comes with a premium to be paid. Key elements of this evolution include a spectacular camera and refined battery, making it a versatile consumer phone. Its price is still a hesitation.
Andrew Grush of Android Authority strongly feels that Pricing the Pixel phone lower than visible competition such as iPhones and high-end Galaxies could have led to a perception problem as anything badged as “budget” is likely to dilute the likeliness of the phone being a status symbol. The iPhones, on the other hand, are cheered for the data protection features, integrated iCloud experience, and a pleasing performance. While Android and iOS have continually borrowed gestures from each other, update after next, a gamut of performance and UX preferences that set the two apart.
The question, despite all preferences and analyses remains, is whether you really need a phone which costs more than a high-performing laptop? The answer for most consumers remains No, and brands have to build a base for their unique value propositions to upsell in the name of user experience. While Apple and Samsung have accomplished the art of “Premium Pricing,” Google is catching on with the Pixel. The LG V20 is likely to face a tough beating from existing brands in the segment, with the lack of a unique offering, especially when $400 phones are giving flagships, a run for their money.