back to article Samsung needs to eat itself, not copy Apple's X-rated margins

Rarely has a phone been as widely trailed as Samsung's 2018 Galaxy flagship. When the S9 is formally unveiled in Barcelona in a fortnight there will be few surprises – not only are the design and specs widely leaked but so are the carrier variants. But what does Samsung want from its phone range – and what does the world …

  1. K Silver badge

    Whilst Huawei is the most visible competitor is Western markets, there are several more that go under the radar, including Xiaomi and OnePlus.. Which I'd rate way more than Huawei on both innovation and pricing.

    In addition, I suspect the real competition is not from Huawei directly, but from their Honor sub-brand... I think if you look at the number of posts on XDA-Developer in each phone sub-forum, which give a good indication of this..

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters


    Oh yes, the Phone that is banned from being used by the US Government and has been dropped by several US carriers... All because of Chinese Government Spyware...

    As for the iPhone 6S, why not get a secondhand one and get a £29.00 battery swap from Apple? Does that not make it even better?

    It has TouchId which in my mind is superior to FaceID but at least the latter hasn't been fooled by a Photograph like the Samsung version.

    It is all a game of cat and mouse between Apple and Samsung. Each one trying to out-do the other.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge


      All because of market protection and some Representatives not getting the right campaign contributions.

      If the US Govt was serious about Chinese Spyware - every single tech import from China should be banned.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        @Gordon 10 - import from China

        There's a difference between "made in China" and "manufactured in China". How is a contract manufacturer going to put spyware on something where someone else controls the software? They can't put spyware on an iPhone, or on a Samsung phone (some Galaxies are made in China but IIRC most are made in Vietnam)

        For a Chinese OEM like Huawei, sure they could add spyware, but surely the Chinese government realizes that when they are caught (I won't say 'if' because it would only be a matter of time) their economy would take a massive hit. China wants to spy on its own citizens, it doesn't care about spying on an average American or Brit. Why should it? Even if they did, I'd personally feel more safe as an American having China spy on me than my own government, because my government can take action against me much more easily than China's can.

    2. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Huawei?

      ...banned from being used by the US Government and has been dropped by several US carriers...

      That still leaves more than 95% of the human race then. I am much more concerned about being spied upon by criminal organisations from across the Atlantic (like the MAFIAA, NSA, CIA etc) and the US corporations that they work for. Certainly, the Chinese intend to be a greater worry to our national defence but they have no need to spy on me. My choice between Huawei, Samsung, OnePlus and so on makes no difference to national security.

      OnePlus, for example sold me a nice, bloatware free, phone. If they want to spy on me, I just want them not to sell it to dodgy US corporates and eveven dodgier US financial organisations.

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: Huawei?

        I got news for you, OnePlus are already spying on you:

        1. K Silver badge

          Re: Huawei?


          I'd rather be spied on by the Chinese, who are looking for juicy intel (which consists of shopping and mundane porn habbits), than the US and UK corporations who trying to milk money from me!

  3. djstardust Silver badge

    Too expensive .... agreed

    I got the Note 8 as I have a 25% discount with Vodafone. It's a good handset but not worth the extra compared to others.

    It doesn't have the "wow" factor, in fact it's a bit bland actually. Apart from the better camera, it's pretty much the same as the Note 4 but £300 more expensive.

    I agree that Samsung (and many others) are under the impression that if Apple get away with it then so will we. I don't think they will, and as your report says the likes of Honor and One Plus may steal the show as their handsets are almost an equivalent for a lot less cash.

    On a personal level, Samsung are using Knox as an excuse to lock their handsets out of the developer community. I like to Root to increase the pitifully low headphone volume and for backup purposes but Samsung are making it more and more difficult.

    Certainly won't buy from them again.

  4. Named coward

    Galaxy S9 Lite

    Like a Galaxy A9? Just like the A8 is to the S8?

    1. Naselus

      Re: Galaxy S9 Lite

      Came to say the exact same thing - Samsung already have 2 'lite' model lines in the J and the A, along, of course, with the other 'lite' flagship in the Note. Basically, they already have complete market coverage. That's why they sell the most phones in the world, after all.

      The S series will continue to track Apple flagships, because at that end of the market the price is actually part of the appeal. Both the iPhone X and the Samsung S series will continue to hike in price until that part of the market ceases to exist altogether, while the real battlegrounds will be in the low-to-mid ranges.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Galaxy S9 Lite

        It's pretty obvious what Samsung are doing, the 2017 J7 doesn't allow a replaceable battery but the 2016 J7 did.

        So all they've managed to do is lose the customers who were looking for phones with replaceable batteries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Galaxy S9 Lite

          "So all they've managed to do is lose the customers who were looking for phones with replaceable batteries."

          Which in the real world is about 0.1% of the buying public.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I downvoted your comment about replaceable batteries ...

            ... but if what you're really saying is that 99.9% of cell phone buyers are ignorant, easily manipulated dupes who don't care about being coerced into buying a new phone every two years when the battery starts crapping out, or about soil and groundwater pollution from piles of prematurely discarded electronics, or about wars and forced labor in central Africa for rare-earth minerals for all those new phones, maybe you are onto something. I kept my last smartphone for ten years, at a cost of around $16 every two years for a replacement battery that took me around a minute to swap in. Thanks to people like you, when it came time to upgrade, I couldn't find a single decent phone with a user-replaceable battery that supported enough of my carrier's bands to be usable. I'm glad you're all getting phones that are 0.5mm thinner and 15g lighter and that you can take with you when you go scuba-diving.

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Galaxy S9 Lite

            You're forgetting what's important for many people who buy phones at that price point.

          3. Triggerfish

            Re: Galaxy S9 Lite

            Is that correct though, for example if you had the S8 out with a removalable battery vs one without, same specs and design in all other ways. I am pretty sure the replaceable battery one would win out.

      2. Twitchy

        Re: Galaxy S9 Lite

        Since when was the Note a lite edition?

  5. sorry, what?

    DeX Pad == ASUS PadFone + Bluetooth Keyboard?

    ASUS did this a while back, though sadly didn't release in the UK. The gadget that the first PadFone had that I thought sounded really fun was the stylus that worked as a handset too (with mic and earpiece) for when you were busy in "tablet mode".

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: DeX Pad == ASUS PadFone + Bluetooth Keyboard?

      The difference is that the PadFone was essentially two devices in one and had to switch OSes. DeX takes advantage of the beefier ARM chips and improvements in Android's windowing code.

      1. Duffy Moon

        Re: DeX Pad == ASUS PadFone + Bluetooth Keyboard?

        Before it was nerfed via an Android update, I could stick my S4 in a dock, plug in a mouse/keyboard and a monitor. It worked very well too.

    2. Twitchy

      Re: DeX Pad == ASUS PadFone + Bluetooth Keyboard?

      They did. I owned the Padfone2 from CarphoneWarehouse

  6. teknopaul Bronze badge

    s9 lite

    What about the s8 as the lite version, I saw dex demoed on an s8 and it looked really good.

  7. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    I thought ...

    ... that A5 was S7 lite, so a new release of A... could take the place of "S9 lite"

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Something wrong with the assumptions in the article

    Samsung executives know that the competitive threat comes not from Apple, but from an ever-improving, ever-evolving Huawei.

    Like you I think that the market for the most expensive phones is limited but I also think that the biggest threat for all manufacturers comes from the "I'm happy enough with the one I've got brigade" who won't buy a new phone every two years. Pretty much all the highend phones of the last few years are technological marvels but even so they have hardly moved the needle on the day-to-day experience. With the S6 Edge Samsung did discover that there was money to be made in aesthetic improvements and volumes for the subsquent highend phones would suggest that there is a fairly large market that will pay a premium for the styling (and the underlying technology). It has also got better at selling cut price versions of the highend devices so that it wins whichever way the market goes. Apple is now very much playing catchup technologically even as it maintains an edge with the GPU and CPU.

    It's the same with DeX. If Samsung can do this well and fast enough it stands to do well in sales – might be only a couple of % of the total but still millions in absolute terms and will reinforce the brand because this is something that people will pay for.

    And I do think the brand is worth more than you suggest. From my own experience, but also anecdotally from the posts here, the reason for switching seems to be as much about customer support (and software updates) as it does about price or technology. Personally, I'll always be looking for a phone with good AOSP support.

  9. James 51 Silver badge

    Any chance they'll do something truly revolutionary such as put an easily replaceable battery in their phones again?

  10. Martin Summers Silver badge

    I have an S8. Quite simply if the S9 costs more than that did then I won't buy it. It won't be worth it and neither is the iPhone X. I'm not going to be fooled into buying entry to an exclusivity club. Just like HTC have screwed themselves with poor build quality, software bugs and complete lack of customer care. You can see it coming Samsung will screw themselves by following the expensive is good route. That will only ever work for Apple tax payers. People who buy premium Android phones are savvier than that.

    1. Lotaresco

      "That will only ever work for Apple tax payers. People who buy premium Android phones are savvier than that."

      Having checked prices online, although it's true that the Samsung phone is cheaper, the like for like (64GB storage) monthly rental on a two year contract is the same. The phone market is still mostly rental. I checked SIM only deals when I renewed my phone this year. Several years ago it was cheaper (just) to buy a phone and take a cheap SIM. This year it's cheaper to rent the phone.

      The mass market is rental. Apple/Android works out about the same cost either way. Given that, it's just a case of go for whichever phone gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.

      BTW, I wouldn't have Samsung anything ever again even if they paid me to have it; not after the experience of their consumer electronics which have been the most unreliable tat I've ever owned. If I could afford to take the time off work I'd fly to Korea and stuff my useless TV and "Smart" media box up the fundament of their CEO. YMMV.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apples and Pears?

    I think the author is forgetting something.

    Samsung, unlike Apple, cover pretty much every price bracket.

    By pricing a phone model at £900, it's not going to kill it off. It has mountain of low profit phones starting at about £110 for the J3 and then progressing throughout the entire price range. So it's not like. Oh I can't afford £900 for a Samsung, I'll buy a completely different brand, as they don't offer anything else.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Apples and Pears?

      the thing is, if I dont go for the bling of an S9, what keeps me from buying an Honor or a Xiaomi?

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Apples and Pears?

      I think the point is that competing Android OEMs sell phones that are pretty much equivalent to the Galaxy S / Note phones for half the price or less. Sure, Samsung sells phones for a lot less, but they aren't equivalent to their flagships. They can't be, otherwise people would not buy the flagships.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Apples and Pears?

        Yup. Unless you really must have the cutting edge tech most lower-cost Androids are more than adequate - but for the same low price, the no-name ones give you more tech than the entry level brand-name ones...

  12. handleoclast Silver badge


    So nice of the author to remind us of the Russian clone of Concord/Concorde, nicknamed Concordski.

    Does this naming convention also apply to Andrew Orlowski?

  13. Slipoch

    Thats just a tupelov too far...

  14. Panda1

    Apple & Samsung should learn the lesson that Tesco have from Aldi & Lidl.

  15. Twitchy

    A-series anyone?

    S9-lite? Samsung has a perfectly good midrange line up in it's A-series phones . Really need to do your research!

  16. Saigua

    Void Public Promise#(Self)

    [checks GlobalSpec readin' laptop:] I don't quite understand. You mean they need to do a GE where they emulate South American large spiders and make grove nests of 40 startups at a time, making microwawashers and fridgeohobs and SSDberkeleyDBCriterionReleaseo3DScreens, but without faceplanting and firing everyone again to be certain? Or just renew themselves as a chaebol and make scuttle anew that only eventually reaches covet of EMEA?

    Probably missing a perfectly obvious Korean Film reference here...

    A fridge, audio monitors only, and long metal straws, stocked with bimbimbap? Like that?

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