Its flagship phones, the ones that bring it the most money, have seen slower sales this year, but now, at the end of 2018, one other thing is becoming clear too: Samsung is losing the mid-range battle.
The data has been piling up over the last few quarters, but it really peaked towards the end of 2018.
The current situation: a downward trend or a downward spiral?
The A series vs OnePlus and Pocophone
See, the A series actually did look interesting, even if a bit overpriced, last year, with a sleek glass design and water-proofing that other phones in that class then lacked, but what Samsung has done this year is strip the A series off the waterproofing feature, while at the same time failing to deliver much novelty. At the same time, the aforementioned OnePlus and Xiaomi continue making phones with the flagship Snapdragon 845 chip at prices lower than Samsung mid-rangers, yet with hardware that much surpasses them.
Just take a look at this brief comparison and notice how the Pocophone F1 is cheaper yet offers so much more:
Well, again, those phones are way ahead of the Samsung mid-range.
Specs don’t tell the whole story, but they are indicative of Samsung failing to catch up:
Once again, you can see that Samsung does not seem to have an answer for the more powerful OnePlus with its newer software and far superior cameras.
And it’s not just about the specs. Here is an example: while even the cheapest, $100 phones of this year come with the trendy new gesture navigation and meaningful improvements in either battery life, camera quality, or both, Samsung has not offered such a feature on its phones. At all! The gesture navigation has not even officially arrived on the flagships, let alone other Samsung phones!
Of course, gesture navigation is not the one thing to bring Samsung down. It’s actually a complex of things that Samsung has failed to provide and that users have recognized in other phones. The other well-known issue with Samsung’s mid-range phones is the update situation. Samsung has never been great with software updates, even for the flagship phones, but when it comes to updates for mid-rangers, those basically never materialize. With phones that are not exciting and no updates in sight, you are looking at a rather poor investment of money with a mid-ranger.
Android One phones promise timely updates, something Samsung cannot match
The way forward
So… is this the end for Samsung?
No, of course not. A company the size and scale of Samsung certainly has the resources to bounce back from a few unsuccessful devices and get back on track. Plus, it’s still the number one phone maker globally, despite slowing sales.
What we want to see is a focus back on the fundamentals. Samsung has proven that it can bring great-looking Super AMOLED screens to even its mid-range phones, but it seems to forget that things like speed actually matter a lot to users too. Things like the quality and not the quantity of cameras. Things like guaranteed updates so users know their phone will still run well in a one, two, three-year period.
And yes, at the same time, it has to differentiate its flagships as that is the company’s big money-maker, but do it in a much smarter way than it does now. The new generation of smartphones has proven that users can easily spot a great device, even if it comes from a brand that they have not heard of (take OnePlus, Honor and Pocophone as exapmles). And we are certain that Samsung can make a great device to rival all of these. It just needs to want to.