February 16, 2018
What Does an “Affordable Phone” Mean in 2018?
A few years ago, an Indian startup promised to launch a smartphone with a pretty decent configuration that would only cost around $4. As you might expect, the interest in such a product was through the roof – Freedom 251 was pre-ordered by more than 30,000 buyers before its website crashed under the pressure. Unfortunately, this dirt cheap smartphone seems to have been nothing but a scam – although the manufacturer claims to have delivered 5,000 units, its managing director Mohit Goel was later arrested for fraud.
A $4 phone does sound unrealistic today but it’s not as far from becoming a reality as it sounds. Smartphone manufacturers have understood that to break into growth markets like Africa and some South American nations (not to mention India, one of the biggest market for Chinese phone manufacturers) they have to adapt their offer to the realities of these markets. And to do so, they will have to produce handsets with a decent hardware and a low price that the potential customers in these areas will be able to afford.
Some manufacturers have already started to release handsets that might not be the highest-performance ones out there but they are at least very cheap. EuroStar’s ONYX-1S, for example, has a configuration more than capable of browsing the web, playing at online casinos, watching videos, and playing music, and it also comes with a decent camera and a 5″ screen, and can be bought for as low as around $60. Other manufacturers – usually Chinese – also offer their customers smartphones with similar prices that might not be good enough for the Westerners but they are perfect for other, emerging markets. And they redefine the concept of an “affordable phone”.
Of course, these phones are not fitted with the latest Qualcomm or Samsung chips – but they have pretty decent MediaTek processors that have an acceptable performance at a low price. They don’t have 4,000mAh batteries – but they make do with 2,500. And their internal storage is also usually limited to 8 or 16 gigabytes, but it can be expanded with the use of memory cards. And they will also be on par with the market leaders, too, when it comes to security thanks to initiatives like Google’s latest Android Oreo Go Edition, built with exactly these affordable but limited-performance handsets in mind.
We are seeing perhaps the biggest price gap between the cheapest and the most expensive smartphones in history. We have handsets on both ends of the spectrum – on one hand, we have the 256GB iPhone X that costs $1,149, on the other, we have the EuroStar ONYX-1S with a $60 price tag.