Pixel 7’s $599 price seems low, but carrier iPhone and Galaxy deals are better

the new from google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro promise to be impressive phones that could rival Apple’s iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22, while undercutting Apple and Samsung on price. Even with great software and camera features, Google made a point of pointing that out at Thursday’s conference. Pixel Event. The Pixel 7 starts at $599 (£599, AU$999) while the 7 Pro starts at $899 (£849, AU$1,299).

In contrast, Samsung charges $799 for the S22 (or $1,200 for the S22 Ultra). Apple, meanwhile, is pricing the iPhone 14 at $799 and the 14 Pro Max at $1,099. Unfortunately for Google, that price difference may not matter to the American public, where consumers still largely buy devices from wireless carriers.

When you go this route, the price difference disappears as the top three vendors offer a variety of trade-in and upgrade deals on iPhones, Galaxies, Pixels, and other devices to new and existing users. At Verizon, for example, depending on your trade-in plan and device (and your willingness to stay with the carrier for 36 months), you can get an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14, Galaxy S22 or Galaxy S22 Plus for free. Devices like the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Galaxy S22 Ultra, or Z Fold 4 can be had for up to $1,000 off. AT&T and T-Mobile regularly offer similar deals.

For carriers, subsidizing the price of a device is a good way to lock users into 24-36 month financing plans and make it harder to switch to a competitor. It’s also a good way to entice people to upgrade to newer and sometimes more expensive monthly unlimited plans. While the three providers get plenty of deals on new Pixelsthey offer similar discounts for Apple and Samsung phones that make the price difference that Google highlights less.

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According to Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, 75% of people in the US upgrading to a new phone during the June-through-September period did so with financing on an installment plan. 

“People in the US largely fall into two categories. Flagship phone buyers who want all the bells and whistles and budget buyers for [whom] price is most important,” Entner told CNET. He adds that while the Pixels are “a bit cheaper than the iPhone,” it won’t be “enough to really notice if you’re funding” and won’t play a role that if you’re paying out of pocket for the phones.

Always playing a long game at home and abroad

Pixel 7 International Markets

Google is expanding Pixel availability with the 7 and 7 Pro.

Screenshot by Eli Blumenthal/CNET

After years of working on building the Pixel brand as an alternative to Apple and Samsung, Google still doesn’t have much to show for it. A recent report from Canalys that assessed the market during the second quarter of 2022 saw the company grow 230% annually, but even with that growth it only maintained a 2% market share in North America.

“I think more aggressive pricing will help Google,” says Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst at Technalysis Research. “But given the small size of their market share, even if they doubled it, it would only turn out to be incremental.”

One area where Google could benefit from a lower price, however, is overseas. The company is expanding Pixel availability with the new 7 and 7 Pro and will sell the devices in 16 countries.

“I think it also gives them more opportunities internationally,” O’Donnell adds, noting that if Google “can start to gain momentum, it gives them momentum to move forward. That’s probably as important to them as anything.”

Avi Greengart, analyst at Techsponential, agrees. “The biggest news is that Google is expanding its retail footprint into new markets, making the Pixel line less of an American phenomenon and more globally accessible.”

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