Opinion: If a phone looks too good to be true, it probably is

Nokia 5.3 and Nokia 7.2

Let’s talk about phone prices and how components are chosen! I’ve seen this many times, and I’m sure you have to. A new Nokia phone is announced, and most of the comments are complaining about the lack of spec X or spec Y for the price range, and then many complaints about how the phone is too expensive. But is this really the case? Are Nokia phones too expensive and under specced? This is what I wanted to address in my latest video.

Why compromises are made

I thought of this topic after reading the recent interview of Juho Sarvikas by Telegraph India, where he talks about how Nokia mobile is more focused on giving users a balanced user experience, rather than trying to cram the highest specifications at every price point. I think he makes a very valid point. When you look at a device such as the Nokia 5.3, it has a very balanced spec sheet. Nothing stands out as a crazy feature that does not fit into its class, and this is totally intentional. When you break down its specs, you notice that it has an HD+ resolution display for example, when some competitors offer 1080p displays. But when you look closer, there are advantages and disadvantages of this choice, and it might not have anything to do with trying to cut costs. A 1080p display looks much better on paper, but it also means a higher strain on the CPU which also means that the battery life will be negatively affected. It also means a worse graphics fidelity experience, as the Snapdragon 665 might not be able to play graphic-intensive games at high settings if the display was 1080p. It also brings up a big question: Would you rather have a good 720p panel, or a bad 1080p panel if you had to choose?

How companies cut costs

So how can some companies offer better specs for the same price? They have certain advantages over Nokia when it comes to economies of scale, as they rely on a bigger volume per part to buy parts for cheaper. Some of them add bloatware or even built-in ads into their operating systems. Some decide to buy lower quality components, that might die quicker. Do you guys remember the Nexus 7? And some of them sell phones almost at cost or with tiny profit margins in order to grab as much market share as possible. But this is good for us as consumers, right? Not exactly. What happens when companies that do this take over the market, and kill their competitors? We end up with less competition, which also kills innovation. Or their competitors have to adapt and have to cut costs somehow in order to compete, so we might end up with much worse quality control, and much less investment in research and development as well. I’m not a fan of either of those things.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many cases of companies simply pricing some products completely over its segment. It happens to everyone. But when a phone offers so much for so little, I become very skeptical. Where did the cost savings come from?!

Why is it that big reputable brands that have huge economies of scale struggle in the midrange and budget segments of the market because they are deemed by the average consumer as “too expensive”?

The best solution of course for you not to fall into a headline trap is to do as much research as possible before picking up a phone. Ask existing owners, read online forums, and look for long term experiences. This will help you understand exactly what kind of things you can expect, which will help you make the right decision for you.

Always keep in mind that most “reviews” that pop up online when a phone is announced are very short term reviews.

Anyways, this is my insight on this topic. My thoughts are scattered but I hope I managed to bring it across in a clear way. What do you guys think about this topic? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.