Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do you really need to pay for a phone again?

I've carried an iPhone 4 for the past 18 months (since it came out).  It's been a great phone but I recently picked up a Galaxy S II from Wal-Mart.  It's also a great phone but the best part was the price which was free!  Well, I paid $106 with tax but they handed me a $100 gift card which I promptly used to buy groceries.

Given the quality of this phone and the price I paid it really got me thinking about the current state of mobile phones in the market.  Back in 2007 when the iPhone was first released, we didn't really have the post-PC market we have today.  Most of the "smart phones" were not all that smart and we really did just think of the phone as a phone.  (Those who think WM6 devices were smart need to really reconsider that position).  Because of those dynamics you didn't see the aggressive pricing you see today from the major players.  Today, manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, LG, and others are fighting daily for your business.

The other factor here is that the market has finally caught up with Apple.  Check back tomorrow for a piece on that topic.  You don't have to buy an iPhone to get a very good smartphone experience.  While Apple suffers from the law of diminishing returns, greater competition drives features and quality up while pushing prices even lower. (Now if we could just get that at the gas pump)

Today we have so many great choices.  Yes, the iPhone 4/4S is a great device but so are the Windows Phone 7 devices and the multitude of great Android phones.  I also own a 2010 Samsung Focus (WP7) that I plan to use for development purposes.

We used to think of "free" phones as old inventory and last years product.  Well, here's a quick rundown of the features on the Galaxy S II:

  • Dual core 1.2Ghz CPU (this thing is crazy fast)

  • 4.3" Super AMOLED screen

  • All the sensors you could want including a gyro and compass

  • Expandable memory (I'm looking at your WP7)

  • 8meg camera, 2meg front camera

  • 1080p video camera

  • HSDPA (4G speeds).  not LTE but really who cares

  • Flash support.  You don't really get it till you see it work.  oh yeah!

  • Great battery life.  With light to medium use I can get nearly 2 full days!

  • The customization of Android

Last year's tech?  Hardly.  This thing frankly rocks hard!

Given that Black Friday comes around every year and there is quite often other special days during the year when retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon "sell" their current devices for either free or $0.01, I ask you again, do you really need to pay for a phone again?  I'm not sure you do.