There is little denying that this has been an exciting year for Android smartphones so far. While a few phones like the HTC One M9 were met with a fairly mild reception, we’ve seen a number of impressive devices debut in 2015 at all sorts of price points. At the higher end of the pricing spectrum the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 are currently the kings of the hill, but the two phones are finding an increasing amount of competition and not by similarly priced devices, but by handsets that significantly undercut them in the pricing department.
Depending on where you shop, a brand new unlocked LG G4 can set you back around $550 or more, and a 32GB GS6’s premium can exceed $600. Such high price points have made us wonder if these two devices are worth it, especially when compared to more affordable gear with similar hardware and features.
Chinese upstart OnePlus recently shared its latest handset with the rest of the world and it looks very promising. The company’s new OnePlus 2 has launched with a somewhat complex ordering system that might rub some potential customers the wrong way, but the device’s $329 price tag is hard to deny. The OnePlus 2 won’t be the only affordable flagship smartphone to challenge LG’s and Samsung’s crown jewels. Motorola’s highly anticipated Moto X Pure Edition will soon go on sale for $400. It’s these type of competitive options that make the Galaxy S6’s and G4’s hefty asking prices start to seem even more extravagant.
So are the G4 and Galaxy S6 actually worth the extra coin? Let’s take some time to discuss this.
What Makes Samsung and LG so Special?
LG and Samsung are household names. Not limited to just smartphones and tablets, both companies crank out a large number of consumer electronics ranging from TVs to kitchen appliances. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you may own at least one piece of hardware made by either firm. Even so, are logos and brand recognition enough to justify higher prices? A simple answer would be no, but when it comes to consumer tech, things are hardly ever that easy.
Samsung is currently the world’s largest smartphone vendor and it makes some impressive devices. The Galaxy S6 is no exception. It’s a combination of premium hardware wrapped in a well-crafted package. Its entrancing display looks good enough to make you stare at your living room TV with disdain and its brutish processor’s power is irrefutable. Samsung’s tier one smartphone also features a fingerprint scanner, heart rate sensor, wireless charging, an exceptional camera, and the company’s upcoming mobile payment system, Samsung Pay. So there’s no shortage of gimmicky features here.
As for LG, it’s definitely no slouch. When it comes to the number of smartphones moved, the company is several slots behind its cross-country rival, but it easily holds its own. A couple of months ago, the South Korean firm unleashed its G4 on the masses and it has received critical acclaim and praise from early adopters.
More than just a name brand franchise player, the G4 is also the real deal. From its 5.5-inch 2,560 x 1,440 QHD display to optional genuine leather back covers. This handset is truly unique. The G4 also retains a removable battery and an expandable storage slot. Today, these attributes appear to be going extinct in the world of premium smartphones, but the G4’s push towards greatness doesn’t end there. Loaded with a feature-heavy camera that will keep shutterbugs pointing and shooting, the LG G4’s appeal is undeniable.
In addition to high-end phone designs, LG’s and Samsung’s prominent positions in the tech industry almost guarantees a product’s longevity. This gives repeat and potential new customers peace of mind, when making a purchase. The G4 and Galaxy S6 are also available at every major wireless carrier. Such partnerships further increase opportunities for long-term hardware and software support.
What About the Competition?
Flagship smartphones aren’t always expensive. If you’re not trying to win a popularity contest, a lot can be had for very little out of pocket. As noted earlier, devices like the forthcoming OnePlus 2 are jam-packed with high-end bells and whistles. You just might not see as many people out and about with the Chinese phone maker’s latest handset for at least months to come, if not longer. However, if you’re comfortable going against the grain, you’ll come away with a massive 5.5-inch 1080p display, 3GB of RAM, and forward-thinking features like a USB Type-C port and a fingerprint scanner. This can all be obtained for half the price of a new G4 or Galaxy S6. Also, if you can afford to shell out an additional $60, your device’s specs will get bumped up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space.
Now if you’re looking for a familiar face, but want something brand new, Motorola’s 2015 Moto X Pure Edition pleads a good case for your money. Due out this fall, its outer appearance can be customized via Motorola’s Moto Maker and the device’s specs are more than admirable. The former Google company’s new smartphone will ship with a 1.8GHz hexa-core Snapdragon processor, 3GB of RAM, a 21-megapixel image sensor and Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The big selling point here is Motorola’s pledge to make its new flagship compatible with all US wireless carriers. This is something that can’t be said about unlocked versions of the G4 and Galaxy S6.
Lastly, a device to help support the argument that LG’s and Samsung’s flagships might not be worth their high markup would be Asus’ Zenfone 2. Full disclosure: this handset isn’t a next-gen marvel, but for just $300 you’ll get 4GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch display, 64GB of storage and a 2.3GHz Intel processor. Shipping with Android 5.0 out of the box and an entry-level configuration priced at just $200, this handset might make even the most hardcore smartphone elitists see things a little differently.
The Bottom Line
Not too long ago, it was commonplace for Android enthusiasts to tease iPhone fans for buying Apple’s expensive hardware. Today, however, modern smartphones like the G4, GS6 and even the Nexus 6 are starting to bridge the pricing gap that once divided these two groups. The Galaxy S6 and G4 are both great phones. This is undeniable. That said, unless you’re deeply committed to Samsung’s and LG’s brands, it can be hard to justify such high prices.
Call this editor cheap, but if you’re purchasing a device outright, why not stretch your money as far as it can go? Remember, new smartphones are released every few months. Why not put together a steady roster of devices instead of hopping from one phone to another every year?
For those considering picking up a new device but looking to save a little money in the process, here are just a few articles and best lists that can help you on your quest: