Before Apple unveiled the iPhone 8 and iPhone X last week, Samsung’s $930 price for the Galaxy Note 8 seemed perfectly acceptable. It’s still more expensive than any smartphone to date, but it seemed in line with what’s expected from a 2017 iPhone rival made by Samsung. But now that Apple unveiled the prices for all three 2017 iPhones, the Galaxy Note 8’s price seems like one huge gimmick.
Soon after Samsung introduced the phone, I wrote that the Galaxy Note line should not exist as it is now. Aside from the signature S Pen feature, the only feature that stands out is a dual camera that’s already rumored to hit the Galaxy S line next year. It certainly looks like Samsung is merging the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines now that all-screen designs are possible, and the Note line is losing its identity. It’s like having Apple launch the 4.7-inch iPhone early in the year, and then release the 5.5-inch iPhone less than six months later.
Since then, Samsung announced that the Galaxy Note 9 might sport a revolutionary bendable screen, which seems like a step in the right direction, a way of making the Galaxy Note stand out from the Galaxy S crowd again.
But now that the iPhone 8 and iPhone X exist, it’s clear that the Galaxy Note 8 isn’t worthy of the near $1,000 price tag.
The Galaxy Note 8 is not as fast as the iPhone 8 or iPhone X, as the A11 Bionic chip dwarves the Note 8’s chips when it comes to performance. It also doesn’t feature any brand new features like the iPhone X’s Face ID TrueDepth camera, which would warrant the extra cost.
What does the Galaxy Note 8 have that the Galaxy S8 lacks? A bigger OLED display, sure. But screen profits go to the same Samsung parent company. Of note is that the iPhone X’s OLED screen is the most expensive component inside the iPhone X, and Samsung is going to get all that cash too. And we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the iPhone X screen is more costly than the Galaxy Note 8’s, even if the same company makes them. Apple suggested as much on its iPhone X pages, by saying the phone features “the first OLED screen that rises to the standards of iPhone,” and implying no other screen can match it.
Then there’s a dual camera on the back of the Galaxy Note 8. But is that enough to justify the price hike? Or is it the new stylus that’s more expensive to make?
I don’t have any inside scoops on the bill of materials for the Galaxy Note 8, but it seems to me that Samsung hiked the entry price of the Note 8 just because it knew that Apple was going to do the same thing with the iPhone X.
Think about it, in a world where the iPhone still sets the bar in the mobile business, launching a phone with an iPhone-like price sends the message that your new phone is on par with the latest iPhone, if not better.
Yes, it’s all about perception here. And Samsung, just like Apple, can choose to price its products however it sees fit. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But the $930 Galaxy Note 8 is not on par with the $999 iPhone X when it comes to hardware, performance or novel features. Not even with the $699 iPhone 8 or $849 iPhone 8 Plus. These two “boring” iPhones are just as powerful as the iPhone X.
This year’s Galaxy Note 8 competes against the iPhone 7/Plus family at best, regardless of what its official price may imply.