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As Told By Tam: Outrageous cell phone prices

Is anyone else sick of paying over $600 for a phone? A phone that tends to break down after two years of usage, sometimes more, if you are lucky. I am sick and tired of paying an insane amount of money for a cell phone that does not last very long and did not cost much to make in the first place. I am also sick of paying an insane amount of money for a phone that only has a few changes from my previous phone.

The iPhone 7 (Photocourtesy of Wikimedia)

I have seen two options for buying a phone through AT&T – I can either buy the phone at full price or pay a certain amount for it every month on top of the monthly bill. Even with the new monthly plans, you will still be paying a hefty amount for your phone every month. I compared the iPhone 7 costs at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. I found that AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all offer the exact same monthly plans or offer for you to pay the same amount in full for the iPhone 7. T-Mobile, on the other hand, only offers customers to buy the iPhone 7 in full, without the option of a monthly plan. When I looked at prices for the iPhone 6S, each company offered a different price either in a monthly plan or to pay for the phone in full, except T-Mobile, which only offers to buy the phone in full. In previous years, whenever a new iPhone model would come out, the previous model would be reduced in price by half the cost, and sometimes the model before that would be free with an upgrade. Now, though, the phones are not advertised at a lesser cost but seem to stay in the more expensive price range. iPhone’s are not the only costly phone – Samsung Galaxy’s cost over $250, the new Pixel phone by Google is over $600, and Moto Z Droid by Motorola is over $600. These are just a few phones that cost an insane amount of money.


The iPhone’s used to be around $200 for the least amount of storage offered, but now they are over $600 for the least amount of storage offered. Of course, that also depends on what model you choose. No matter the model, cell phones should not be costing $400 and above to buy, especially when they do not cost that much to make. Of course, I realize that the cell phone companies are trying to make a profit, but it should not cost that much when a similar phone used to be hundreds of dollars cheaper.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

If we are going to pay $400+ for a new phone, I expect the upgrades to be substantial and not minimal. Some of the phone upgrades tend to come with a better camera and a few improvements that only the new phone’s user can do, while the old phones do not have the capability.

In my opinion – and do not get me wrong, I am guilty of this too – we are wasting our money on cell phones that should not be this expensive. The phone companies know that if they raise the prices and customers will still pay for the features and in turn, the phone company makes more money. Instead of paying these insane prices, customers should start complaining to the phone companies and get the old phone prices back. It is time to stop wasting $400+ on a phone when we can buy a laptop for the same price.

Collegian writer Tamra Smalewitz can be reached at or on Twitter at @tamrasmalewitz.

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    Bryan Jon SmithOct 23, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    ‘Premium Brand’ phones have always been $500+. It’s the carrier contracts that bring them down. But ‘Premium Brand’ doesn’t always mean ‘Premium Performance.’ Heck, even Google is now just ‘copying’ designs. Because there are many other options sold for $150-350 not only with similar specifications as mid to high-end $500-750 phones, but from the Chinese and Taiwanes Original Device Manufactures (ODMs) that actually make many phones, including some of the ‘Premium Brands.’

    Putting Apple aside …

    The Google Pixel is merely HTC’s existing One series rebranded and just updated with the Snapdragon 821 + Adreno 530 that is already shipping in many phones, and is virtually no faster than last year’s 820 + 530. Qualcomm is really falling behind, but they are the only major maker of network ASICs for CMDA bands. The HTC move was the result of the Google fall-out with Huawei, so I seriously doubt Google designed that phone, but ran to HTC at the ‘last second.’ Huawei made the Nexus 6P for Google, while the 5X was by HTC … and now the Pixel.

    Huawei is really the 21st Century IBM, already #3 smartphone maker, owns their own foundry and platform, including being the #1 network equipment and ASIC manufacturer (so they don’t have to go to Intel or Qualcomm like Apple and HTC-Google do). Their 2015 HiSilicon 950/955 already eat up the top marks for web browsing and video playback (the 950/955’s A72 ARMv8 integer performance was unbeatable), and their new HiSilicon 960 (A73 ARMv8) + ARM Mali G71 (8-core) should obliterate any Android option in performance/power, let alone price.

    Unfortunately the US doesn’t get the latest Huawei products. Fortunately they sell their 9-month olds as ‘hand me downs’ under the Millennial ‘Honor’ brand.

    E.g., check out the Honor 8 for $399 list, usually $349 net after $50 gift-card. It’s basically last year’s Mate design, now sold in the US with full 2 year-warranty.

    The only people that have problems with Huawei are the ones buying their flagships via ‘gray market’ (non-US models with different LTE bands and no warranty option). In fact, Huawei’s main reason for pulling out of the Google deal was because Google kept making promises it couldn’t keep, like on carrier partnerships and, now, refusing to put ‘Huawei’ on the phone.

    I don’t blame them either, because most Americans don’t know who they are. And since Google wanted to keep it that way, Huawei pulled out. But Huawei seems to be patient. They are continuing to only sell their largely un-marketed ‘Honor’ line in the EU and US, building word-of-mouth. They already have the technical leadership, and realized earlier this year that it costs a lot to ‘buy’ marketing in the US.

    Understand Huawei left copying in the ’00s, and are greatly innovating in the ’10s. In the ’10s, you not only have to partner with Huawei if you’re doing any backend network equipment, but more and more are having trouble not using them to fab end-user equipment, especially ASICs some platforms don’t offer. So they are trying to establish their brand, but recognize Americans are more about status, than substance.

    Although not with us Americans who have to work for a living. That’s why I dropped Nexus products by 2014, after so many purchases, replacements, factory resets, etc… and have gone full Huawei. I found I even like the EMUI interface, although Huawei makes it each to change back to the Google Now Launcher if one wants.