Samsung Learning Downside Of Launching Expensive Phone During Pandemic

The manual on launching an expensive new product in the midst of a pandemic will probably be pretty slim. No doubt, Samsung will get a chapter.

With prices starting at $1,000 and ranging up to $1,500, the new Samsung S20 5G (and more expensive upgrades) has had a hard climb since it became available March 6. In the short history of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S., that was the same  day President Trump claimed the nation’s “perfect” coronavirus test was available to “anyone who wants a test.”

It turns out that as the contours of  the pandemic were revealing themselves, what many consumers really didn’t want at that moment was a new phone, even if it is a very good one.

For those who did, many of the stores that sold such phones, run by wireless operators, were en route  to closing up shop because of the disease. 



Plus, the phone is at the tippy-top of the price range for smartphones, 5G or not, which may have put off many consumers -- along with wild rumors of 5G health risks.

Proof of this trend was found in the sales figures the first day the phone was on the market. 

According to the Phone Arena website, nationwide, just 70,800 Samsung S20s were sold, which compares to 140,000 Samsung S10s on its first day last spring, and 220,000 Galaxy Note 10s sold on its introductory day in August. (Curiously, Phone Arena said that the Galaxy S20 Ultra, priced at an ultra-stiff $1,400, was selling far quicker than was anticipated.)

The Galaxy S20 is now being deeply discounted. AT&T is offering a $700 savings (paid out as credits over 30 months)  on the phone, but there are some other asterisks that would make the final cost higher. 

Likewise, T-Mobile is also offering a $500 discount, also doled out monthly over a couple years, without a long list of other contractual obligations.

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