Samsung has launched its latest and highly anticipated flagship smartphones, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, in India. The 32GB Galaxy S6 is priced at Rs 49,900, 64GB at Rs 55,900 and 128GB at Rs 61,900. The 32GB, 64GB and 128GB Galaxy S6 Edge have been priced at Rs 58,900, 64,900 and 70,900, respectively.
Going by Samsung’s past launch pricing for its flagship products, the Galaxy S6 was surprisingly priced under Rs 50,000 for the 32GB variant (the Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched at Rs 51,500 for a 16GB variant). But with the Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung has stuck to its high price point launch, charging users an almost Rs 10,000 premium for what is essentially a Samsung Galaxy S6, although with curved edges on both sides.
No doubt, the Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge do indeed look beautiful and Samsung has finally got rid of the plastic build and incorporated metal in the build. Features such as fast charging, improved camera, improved UI with less bloatware are certainly good. But to charge a Rs 9,000 premium for a phone whose internals are the same as the Galaxy S6, makes little sense.
One needs to note that although Samsung has priced its Galaxy S6 at Rs 49,900 for the 32GB variant, the Android smartphone market is completely different now since the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy S4 launches. The Chinese smartphone players such as Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo and Gionee have redefined the Android flagship segment in the last one year. By Samsung’s standards, a sub-Rs 50,000 launch price may seem good, but today’s smartphone buyer has a lot many choices.
It is quite evident that Samsung is gunning for users who may be considering the Apple iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, which have a higher starting price point. The Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus have recently got a price hike with the base models starting at Rs 56,000 for the iPhone 6 and Rs 65,000 for the iPhone 6 Plus.
But here is the kicker. As compared to Apple, Samsung seems to have priced its phones well. But we also know for a fact that Samsung is known to slash its flagship phone’s prices within a couple of months, unlike Apple whose prices pretty much remain the same from launch till the next refresh cycle.
Take for instance the Samsung Galaxy S5. It was launched on 11 April 2014 in India for Rs 51,500, but by 21 April 2014, the price was slashed to Rs 48,990. Not a huge difference you may think. Come mid-June 2014 and the price for the Samsung Galaxy S5 (16GB variant) slipped further to Rs 36,000, at least on online retail stores. Even with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which was launched for Rs 58,300 last November for the 32GB variant, the price has now slipped to Rs 49,500 on many online retailers.
The Galaxy S5 wasn’t the best Galaxy device Samsung sold, as was evident from the price drops. By the pricing of the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, it dosen’t look like Samsung really wants to disrupt the market. OnePlus One sells for Rs 21,999 and has last generation’s flagship features. Xiaomi launched the Mi 4 at Rs 23,999, again with top end features. Paying almost double this price for the Samsung flagships, is not really as easy a decision for buyers now than it would have been two years ago. Xiaomi, with its monster sales in India, is yet to launch its 2015 flagships – the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro, which come with the latest flagship features.
By pricing the Galaxy S6 Edge over Rs 55,000 it is a bit difficult to gauge what message Samsung is sending across. Looking at Samsung’s past record, it is safe to assume that the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge prices will drop to (hopefully) sensible levels 6 months down the line. It is a bit confounding why Samsung does not release their products at an attractive price point to begin with. Considering small players such as OnePlus and Xiaomi are willing to sell phones at almost cost price, a large conglomerate such as Samsung can certainly take a lesser profit margin to increase sales volumes.
Xiaomi managed to sell over 1 million smartphones in the August – December 2014 period thanks to its unique flash sales model. According to Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president of international said that the big factor behind the million plus sales, was the “the combination of a small portfolio and longer average selling time per device.”
Xiaomi continues to sell older devices in spite of the new product launches. While Samsung also has a longer average selling time per device (the Galaxy S4 is still selling at an attractive sub Rs 20k price point) its product portolio is huge – a strategy which is certainly not helping Samsung increase sales numbers.
We all know that Samsung has recorded a not-so-stellar performance as far as sales were concerned last year. With a high entry point for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge pricing, potential buyers will either wait for the prices to drop or go for other brands which offer a much better value proposition than Samsung flagships. Both these scenarios do fairly little to boost Samsung smartphone sales.
We would have loved to see the Galaxy S6 under Rs 40,000 and the Galaxy S6 Edge from Rs 45,000 onwards. Six months down the line, we would not be surprised if the prices are indeed down to these levels. Speakers at the Galaxy S6 launch mentioned that Samsung will start making the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in India in the coming months. The phones will be made for the Indian market and this should get the prices down as there will not be any duties imposed on the phones.
What do you’ll think about Samsung’s pricing for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge? Do you believe that a Rs 9,000 premium on the Galaxy S6 Edge is justified? What amount would you be willing to shell out for the phones? Do let us know in the comments section below.