I feel like every time a new Nexus phone comes out these days, we all complain about the price. It’s time to stop. The age of entitlement is over.
It has been a while since we revisited 2013’s Nexus 5, so let’s refresh our memories.
It packed a quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and a beautiful 1080×1920 (1080p) panel with 445ppi, all suited in a svelte, rubberised armour. It offered flagship specs at the cheap and cheerful entry price of $399 (or $449 for the 32GB version).
At the time, it was out of this world. It was the Android phone. And then, time marched on.
Phones went back to their normal prices of between $700-$1100, and some phones broached the insane $1500 price bracket that hasn’t been seen in years. The Nexus 5 was a fluke, and we just can’t let it go. But it’s finally time, because we’re only hurting ourselves.
When it comes to making a smartphone, a manufacturer will put together a clever little gadget, box it, market it and sell it to the people. That gadget in its purest form as a system of components probably only costs around $US200 to purchase wholesale and assemble at a factory, and then the vendor marks the price up to recover its intangibles and make a modest profit. That’s business.
Intangibles for the Nexus 5 include paying for the design of the phone, paying for the marketing and even paying for all that free stuff you use on Google’s dime. We’re talking the 100GB of Drive space and the ongoing operation of Google’s cloud ecosystem; Google Docs; Google Play Music All Access (as it was clunkily called back then) and more. Google’s beancounters are able to put a price tag on absolutely everything, even if you don’t see it or part with cash for it.
It’s fair to assume then that the Nexus 5 was sold and operated at a massive loss.
Further confirmation came from how the Nexus 5 was sold against its relative, the LG G2. The G2 was an awful phone because of LG’s software, but Google liked what it saw and repackaged it as the Nexus 5. LG sold the G2 for $699 when it came out. The price discrepancy between LG — the company that puts the phone together — and the company that eventually sells it — Google — is $350. You could have bought two Nexus 5 devices and had change, or you could buy a single, awful LG G2.
That gets wilder when you consider that LG is a much smaller company that doesn’t give anything away for free when it comes to the likes of apps, cloud storage or other peripheral services.
The problem is that Google sold the Nexus 5 at a massive loss to drive exactly the reaction it’s getting out of you now.
It turned what was ostensibly a device intended for developers into a quality, mass market must-have, and with that newfound brand identity, Google used the Nexus program to create flagship devices that would always have a special place in the hearts and minds of Android lovers.
So now, whenever a Nexus phone comes out, you might actually start considering shelling out $659 for a Nexus 5X or even $899 for a Nexus 6P. You loved it back then, and maybe it’s worth the extra money?
To be honest, the Nexus 5X and 6P are still bargain phones. They pack in the power of other flagships like the LG G4 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Edge+ for a fraction of the cost. What would you rather, $1500 for a 128GB Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ or $1099 for a 128GB Google Nexus 6P? You’re still saving money, just a bit less than you did way back when.